ATA Lodge, situated on the Wild and Scenic Alagnak River of Bristol Bay, in Southwest Alaska is anticipating another fantastic season in 2023 after an Epic Season in 2022!!
What can we say about the 2022 season that has just finished? My concern in not about what to say, but rather, how do I fit it all in to one fishing report!!! 2022 was our busiest season ever at ATA Lodge and what a fantastic crew and group of guests we had this year! Our guests, also had an amazing time experiencing all the fabulous fishing in one of Alaska's most pristine and beautiful locations, remotely located far away from the crowds, and filled with adventure.
2022 saw the season start with some fantastic trout being caught right from the start. Opening week we had the honor of hosting famous fly fishing author John Gierach, together with renowned sporting artist Bob White! John has been an inspiration to many fly fishing anglers across the globe, including many of our guiding staff, many who have taken up the passion of fly fishing after reading one of his over 20 individual books! It was a real pleasure getting to spend time with both John and Bob and sharing this magical place together!
Bob White has been hosting groups to ATA Lodge every year during our opening week of trout and grayling fishing, before the salmon start to arriving in early July. It is a lot of fun watching Bob create some of his beautiful painting while at the lodge.
In fact, June is one of my favorite times of the season, because I love catching our big, leopard rainbow trout. Especially swinging big leech patterns or skating a mouse pattern across the surface of the river anticipating the next vicious take and ensuing fight!
But perhaps the highlight of this season was the fact that we saw another record breaking run of Sockeye Salmon return to the watersheds of Bristol Bay, and the Alagnak River got its fair share to be sure! It was ridiculous how good the fishing was. Over 79 Million Sockeye Salmon returned to Bristol Bay rivers in 2022; shattering the previous record for the most salmon to return to Bristol Bay since records have been kept! You could literally catch and release as many Sockeye as your arms were strong enough to fight! We had one pair of guests that had never fly fished before, try to see how many Sockeye they could catch in one day....and they landed over 100 salmon in one day between the two of them! The run was so big that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game upped the limit to 10 Sockeye per angler, per day after ensuring enough salmon entered the river to surpass escapement targets.
So many happy guests! So many fish being caught! And of course, Sockeye Salmon make for some great eating, so plenty of shore lunches were had on the banks of the river, cooked right there over a fire after having caught the salmon themselves. Of course, everyone who wanted to, got to take plenty of fresh caught, wild Alaska Salmon back home with them at the end of their week to enjoy for months to come!
Lots of Sockeye Salmon, mean lots of Bears too!
Seeing the costal Brown Bears of the Katmai Region are always another fascinating highlight of everyones time with us here at ATA Lodge. Our region has the highest concentration of bears anywhere in Alaska and you will see more bears than people while out on the water each day. In fact, the bears fishing for, and feasting upon salmon are a big draw at ATA Lodge.
Each year we have many guests that go out on the river everyday with cameras in their hands rather than fishing rods! We really enjoy getting to take guests out to experience this amazing spectacle of nature each season and help them to tick off a true "Bucket List" experience!
And it's always amazing to see the photographs that are produced. We are honored to have world famous wildlife photographers (like Charles Glatzer, Kevin Dooley, Denise Ippolito and others) that come every year, hosting groups of photographers on our bear viewing safaris!
In fact we are excited to announce in the near future, a special Nature Documentary project to be released on Netflix in 2023, with David Attenborough narrating; which was filmed in part, on location at ATA Lodge in 2021. We had the privilege of providing the professional services to the film crew for the project for 2 weeks. That is the kind of place ATA Lodge is!
The Bears aren't the only ones to eat well on the Alagnak River....our guests do too! We had an amazing team in the Kitchen again this year and we were treated to some real gourmet meals everyday! We take the food seriously. It's no joke being on the river 8-9 hours a day. Hearty and delicious meals go a long way to helping keep our guests fueled up and ready for all the fun filled days they spend on the river.
It sure seemed like everyone was enjoying their experience this season from all the smiling faces and stories told around the lodge at meal time when guests returned from their day's activities! Whether it be on the river doing battle with hard fighting trout and salmon, or photographing the amazing and prolific wildlife, or spending time with both old friends and new ones made during their stay; there was a great vibe and sense of enthusiam around the table each day at meal times once back at the lodge. A delicious meal is always something to look forward to after a long day on the water!We were really busy this year, with lots of return guests, some or whom we have had the privilege of seeing each and every year or every second or third year. But it is always so much fun meeting new first time guests as well; many of whom, more often than not, become part of our "extended family and friends" by booking a return trip as soon as they can find the time to come back! It seems that, once never seems to be enough, once you've had a "taste" of what ATA Lodge has to offer! We are so thankful to be able to provide such a welcoming and friendly environment for our guests to feel like ATA Lodge is their "home away from home" and some place they look forward to returning to as often as they can!
As the month of July developed, we began to start catching Chum, King, Pink and even Silver Salmon as well, with the runs continuing well into August and September! One of the things we love about our river, is that the Alagnak Wild River offers an incredible variety of species of fish to target as well as wide variety of fishing conditions to enjoy catching them in. We get substantial runs of all 5 species of Pacific Salmon. The Alagnak is one of the few rivers you can go to and literally catch everything there is to catch in the region in one river! We have over 100 miles of pristine, crystal clear rivers that are accessible by jet boat from the lodge right on our door step; without the need to fly out to other rivers, or incur the extra cost of doing fly out charters!
After seeing a significant decline in chum salmon numbers in 2020 and 2021 across their entire range; we were thrilled to see good numbers of Chums back in the system again this past season. There had been reports of overfishing in the open seas by Russian commercial fishing boats in 2020, which seem to have swept up two age groups of Chum Salmon causing the decline. Some also attributed the decline to slight ocean temperature rises that affected their food sources as well. But whatever the cause may have been, we were happy to have these hard fighting fish back in 2022!
Being an even numbered year, the Pink Salmon came in huge numbers this past season as well. Pink Salmon provide epic days where almost every cast can produce a "grab" and put a bend in your rod!
It is not unusual in Late July and August to catch an incredible number and variety of fish and to even have 6, 7, 8 or 9 species of fish days, while catching dozens of fish. In fact, there were those who during the end of July and first part of August, got what we call the Alaska Grand Slam, catching all 5 species of Pacific Salmon in the same week, and in a few cases, in the same day!
As the month of August progressed, the Chums, Kings and Pinks continued to come in, with Silver Salmon (Coho) joining the parade in early August. Although the Silver run starts off as a trickle and was a bit late In 2022, we caught our first Silvers the very end of July and by the end of August and moving in to September, we saw another great run of Silver Salmon coming into the river. "Silvers" are always a favorite target for anglers because of their acrobatics!
But it's not just the prolific fishing and wildlife viewing that impresses the intrepid traveler to ATA Lodge. Located in the remote, far western part of the Katmai National Park and Preserve, the Alagnak Wild River provides stunning scenery, with dramatic skies as a backdrop to their experience. They find that everyone has the feeling that they have the whole river to themselves as you will rarely see another angler or boat, being so far removed for other visitors to the state. There is no "combat fishing" at ATA Lodge, as you won't be sharing the section of the river you are fishing with anyone else, or be competing with other boats and lodges for fishing spots. The only access to the entire area, is our own private runway on the property. You step of the plane, and you are surrounded by millions of acres of untouched, roadless wilderness. It is a true encounter with what many people come up to Alaska looking for and rarely find! We like to say that a week spent at ATA Lodge is an opportunity to experience the Wild Alaska that you have always envisioned in your mind! That's why our river is called the Alagnak Wild and Scenic River!
One of the ways that some of our guests "get back to nature" is to spend the week, rafting down the river on a guided float trip. Once they arrive, we drop them of up at the lake and with their guide at the oars, they will use a raft to explore and follow the river downstream for 7 days, camping at different spots along the way, and getting to fish to their heart's content, without being limited by the daily routine of the lodge! Our raft trips are among the least expensive available anywhere in Alaska and not only provide a great value for money, but also an "up close and personal" encounter with this magical river and all it has to offer!
Here are a few more photos of some of the variety of other experiences that you can hope to have depending on the time of year you decide to visit. We also occasionally catch beautifully colored Arctic Char in our waters, as well as the odd Lake Trout and you can even target Northern Pike as well should you so choose. Although most of our guests don't feel the need to incur the extra cost of a fly out to other areas around the region, because the quality of fishing and experience right at the lodge is so good; it is possible to charter a float plane to access other areas not directly accessible by jet boat. We organize a wide variety of fly outs for fishing our head waters and tributaries as well as other small streams, rivers and lakes in the region. We can also send you on flight seeing trips to explore the stunning costal areas with mountains, glaciers, volcanos, etc; or to visit Brooks Falls and other compelling Bear and Walrus Viewing locations, which change depending not he time of year you are here. Just ask us about what you might be most interested in and we will make it happen to fulfill your idea of the perfect Alaskan Experience!
Regardless of what your main reason for wanting to come to Alaska may be, we are confident that you will have your expectations exceeded during your stay with us! For 5 years in a row, our clients have made us the "Traveler's Choice" and top rated lodge in the region! Wether you are looking to just get away from the crowds, or want to catch more fish than you could ever imagine; surrounded by stunning scenery, Bears, Moose and Eagles, or just want to see one of Earth's last great, intact and pristine ecosystems; we are convinced that once you've been here, once will never be enough and you will be itching to plan your return to do it all over again!
And when you do decide to "Make Tracks" and come visit, whether for the very first time or to make your annual pilgrimage to come back again and again to "Put a Bend in your Rod" and "Scratch that Itch"; we will be waiting for you with the "Kettle On" to welcome you at ATA Lodge on Alaska's Wild and Scenic Alagnak River!
We hope to see you soon!
Get in touch for details about upcoming availability in the 2023 and 2024 seasons as many weeks are full or filling up fast!
For more information, you can find out more on our website at www.atalodge.com; or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +1 877 801 2289.
We look forward to hearing from you soon and even more, welcoming you to ATAL....A True Alaska Lodge!