Alaska: Abundant Kanektok River Fishing Will Amaze You
The Kanektok River in the Togiac National Wildlife Park is regarded as one of Alaska’s finest fishing venues. Located in south western Alaska, it flows for some 90 miles from its source in the Ahklun Mountains, through some spectacular scenery and onward into the Behring sea. Twisting and turning, braiding, sparkling over riffles and gathering in deep mysterious pools, flowing past islands, becoming lost and tangled, the waters of the Kanektok are home to an amazingly abundant and varied fish population. In this remote, unspoiled, unpolluted and breathtakingly lovely landscape, you can believe that you have travelled back to a more generous time, when nature overflowed with her bounty, and the fishing was always good.
Kanektok River fishing is famous because of the variety of fish species it produces: Dolly Varden, leopard rainbow trout, Arctic char, grayling, steelhead, sockeye, silver and king salmon and more. Target species vary depending on the time of year, with fishing generally beginning in mid June and running through until mid September. If you are intent on catching a variety of species, then early season is probably the best choice, with July being the favourite month to yield a very mixed bag.
Later in the season most anglers are targeting the big fat rainbow trout which have spent the summer gorging on the abundant life of the river. Unless you are a dry fly purist, you will probably want to bring along some mouse patterns too attract that trophy specimen. Drifted egg patterns are also very successful. Dolly Varden seem to respond well to orange and apricot colors, they particularly seem to like marabou streamers and flies with plenty of flash. These match their exquisite spawning colors.
If you are planning to target Kings on your Kanektok River Fishing trip, make sure you have a good supply of marabou flies, particularly in purple and green patterns. The kings are generally swimming with large numbers of Sockeye, so a good guide, sharp eyes and impeccable casting skills are needed. The ability to Spey cast is an advantage on the lower sections of the river, and you need to be able to throw weighted flies.
The upper section, famous for grayling and char, calls for a five weight rod, while the lower reaches need something meatier to deal with the bigger, stronger, harder fighting salmon who run up the river – a seven or eight weight.
Options for fishing the Kanektok include float and inflated raft fishing, although some of the upper reaches are too shallow for this, and further down the river is regarded as difficult, though by no means impossible. There are plenty of submerged branches and other obstructions which, whilst making float fishing challenging at times, are often the locations for some amazing fish. Float fishing is a great way to cover a lot of water and get right onto those hot spots which are hard to reach by any other method. It takes about a week to float fish the whole river, and it’s generally a good idea to have a guide, who’ll not only be able to guide you to the hottest of hot spots, but will advise on choice of fly and ensure that you stay safe, both on the water and overnight when you’ll be camping. One thing to be aware of as you travel this remote riverine landscape is that brown bears are around, so be cautious, especially of course when camping and moving about at night and in the early morning, and take the usual precautions.
You can also take a motor boat from the mouth of the river upstream – motor boats are allowed on the river - or of course fly in to one of the outstanding remote lodges and camps which becomes your base for your Kanektok River Fishing adventure.
The chances of catching more fish than you ever dreamed of are high on the Kanektok. And they aren’t going to be little sprats either – most anglers will experience one or more personal best fish every time they come. And quantity is here as well as quality – fifty or more fish in a day is commonplace, and it isn’t foolish to suggest that you might want to ensure that you do a little work with the dumb-bells to prepare your muscles for day after day of heavy duty fishing.
All in all, Kanektok River fishing is an astonishing experience, and one which is highly addictive, so be warned – nobody comes just once.