0 Comments Trevor Reid
So, you’re interested in fly fishing Alaska as your next fly fishing destination of choice?! Its tapestry of rivers cutting through the tundra like an interwoven fabric of tangled webs teeming with anadromous salmon and other fish. Well CONGRATULATIONS!!! I can’t recall the first time hearing about Alaska, but I sure remember the first time seeing it. As a fly fishing guide and avid angler/outdoorsman words can’t adequately illustrate how this will be the trip of a lifetime. You already knew that though, as it’s why you’re choosing Alaska in the first place! But after booking the trip, comes the more difficult part of how to plan and what you should bring for your upcoming vacation? What are the necessities?
Every year I marvel at the amount of gear people bring out for a week of fishing, not just getting out to a lodge, but in their day bags and vest on the river as well. It’s one thing when you’re not wanting to forget the necessities, an altogether different one when you pack your entire spare bedroom. I get it though, you’re excited, I play by the rule, “I’d rather have it and not need it, then need it, and not have it,” but how about we just tell you the TOP 5 DO’s when visiting an Alaska Fishing Lodge.
1. Communicate with your lodge not your local shop
If you are using a booking agent, I highly recommend reaching out to the lodge you’re staying with, AND the head guide as well. I can’t recall the number of times people show up having bought a plethora of flies, tippet, and tackle all because their local shop set them up for Alaska, and in turn not having the right gear out on the water. The head guide is (presumably) there all season, and while spending every day on the water, has likely spent a number of years on THAT water, and is intimately familiar with what you need to know for when. He/she will be able to give you a rundown on the specifics of what you should bring: which type of mouse works best, what streamers you should equip your arsenal with, or the color/size of beads you should think about bringing.
2. Put time into researching which salmon are running when you plan to visit
A common misconception anglers have when first visiting Alaska, is all species of salmon are present at all times. This simply isn’t the case. During our summers, the five species of salmon occupying Alaska’s waters run throughout the summer months, but all at distinct times. This can have a direct correlation to how the trout are in turn going to respond, (whether they are aggressively eating salmon eggs or keying on meaty streamers and mice). If you want a little more advice on when to find the different salmon species you can check out our previous blog post, Alaska Salmon Species and When to Fish For Them, to determine when you should visit for fishing which species.
3. Take the time to practice casting before you hit the water
Your guide is likely going be able to give you a few pointers putting you on fish, but you are going to appreciate the effort of putting a few hours in before game day. YOU ARE STILL FISHING!! Like anywhere, fishing is fishing. Alaska has good days, and not so great days, but at the end of the day if you can put it where your guide wants you to be fishing, your odds will likely increase tenfold. If you spend an hour a day every other evening a week or two before your trip just for a couple hours brushing off those casting cobwebs, you will thank yourself.
4. Plan for weather extremes
Yes, its summer and it gets hot, with recent summers hitting highs of 90 degrees, however we also get storms regularly. Days can go from downright sunny too pouring down rain in the matter of an hour. ALWAYS bring a rain jacket for out on the water, but don’t skimp on bringing the sunscreen!!! Here is a good rundown of what to bring.
5. Bring a positive mindset and leave work behind
This may sound obvious but I couldn’t begin to say how regularly people bring work with them or stress about what they have going on back at home. YOU’RE GOING TO ALASKA!!! IT’S A VACATION!! Leave behind the work, stress, and matters best left at home and come enjoy yourself fishing. Though your lodge might have internet, it likely isn’t your high-speed internet you have back at home, so leave it with your assistant or waiting for you at the office!!
As a seasoned Alaskan guide, and after collaborating with fellow colleagues, we have also compiled a short list of the TOP 5 DON’TS when visiting an Alaska Fishing Lodge.
1. It’s Alaska, there are bears, but don’t freak out
Your trusty guide will be carrying a reliable firearm at all times, so you don’t need to bring a gun and leave the can of bear spray behind! The bears are around, as it’s Alaska, but they are normally more intent on fishing than you are. They’re more afraid of you and your companions boomstick than causing trouble. The best thing to do if you see a bear gather close to your guide and make plenty of noise.
2. Don’t forget the state bird of Alaska is the mosquito
Not really, but it is worth mentioning mosquitos can be terrible at times. Depending on the time of year, it’s worth double packing mosquito repellent and brining a head net/buff while out on the water. They can be lifesavers for particularly buggy days.
3. Don’t stress about getting enough fishing time in
You need not worry about getting in enough fishing time, as there will be plenty of time for hunting rivers with fish. Enjoy your mornings, enjoy the gourmet food and scenery, and enjoy the little moments. Make sure before heading out on the water you double check your gear, you don’t forget anything before leaving the lodge, once you’re out on the water, you likely won’t have the option of returning to the lodge until the end of the day. It’s best to not end up wanting something you don’t have with you, like a camera for those trophy photos!!!
4. Don’t tell your guide how to fish
Every year there are the few anglers who show up thinking they know everything. They’ve fished around the world, they’ve seen it all, and think they’ve a better understanding of the fishery than their guides. Trust me when I say that nobody is beyond learning something new. Your guide has spent every day on “their” stretch of water. They know every rock, stump, and logjam that makes up the river bottom, and likely where the biggest fish in the river tend to hang out. They are there to ensure you are successful in your fishing vacation, but there is a difference between having a memorable vacation and a MEMORABLE vacation……they know where which fish hide that will make the difference. As well they are out there fishing every day. If they give you a pointer, its to try and help you get your cast a little further or placement a little better…
5. Don’t forget to tip the staff
The vast majority of lodge employees work their summer seasons with roughly 50% of their earnings coming from gratuities. They work hard to guarantee your stay is nothing short of exceptional, and will often go above and beyond to make your stay memorable. Make sure to show them your appreciation for all their hard work. If they go above and beyond, let them know. They will appreciate it.
Wrapping it up
At Talaheim making this the Alaska fishing trip of a lifetime for you is our number one priority. It’s why we are considered anglers destination of choice and Alaska’s #1 helicopter flyout lodge for over 30 years. We have fully outfitted rods, reels, flies, boots, and waders to help alleviate some of the headache in planning and packing. Our guides are all top-notch professionals who excel at teaching their craft, and are highly capable getting you hooked up on fish. We are still booking for this upcoming season and recently had a cancellation during OUR BEST WEEK OF KING FISHING!!! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! We will respond in a timely manner.