July Has Been Epic at ATA Lodge! Of course the Sockeye Salmon start to stream in to the Alagnak Wild River in Early July. And they did not disappoint again this season. The fishing for sockeye was "off the chain" again this year! Lots of happy guest throughout the whole month were able to catch as many sockeye as they wanted. Most were released, but many guests retained their daily limits to take fresh salmon back home to eat and share with family and friends!
The run sustained through the whole month and limits were still being caught even the last week, even if it took a little more effort. The run is strong for about 3 weeks, with an unimaginable number of salmon in the river, as they make their annual migration to their spawning gravels up stream of the lodge. So they all pass right past our doorstep this time of year.
It's been a fun month to say the least with many returning guests who come back year after year to partake in the bounty that this river provides. They have become like part of our extended family here at ATA Lodge. We also had some long time friends of the family that were able to join us this season, together with many first time guests. The lodge was full every week!
Sockeye are hard fighting and very strong fish, that seems impossible to wear out. Everyone is always surprised when they catch one for the first time to see just how strong they can be!
One of the best ways to enjoy them, is to do a shore lunch and cook a freshly caught sockeye salmon right on the banks of the river. These fish are delicious and many a shore lunch was had this season, which is always a highlight for many!
The next salmon to enter the system is the Chinook Salmon which is also referred to as a King Salmon. King Salmon numbers have been down across their entire range, but we still managed to catch some. These fish can get over 50 lbs on our river. They are the biggest fish we get. And man are they strong! It is often necessary to get in the boat and chase them when they turn down stream and run with the current. There is absolutely nothing that can be done to turn them around, no matter what tackle you are using, if they decide to turn and run. It can be mayhem, when a big one grabs your fly. Beau Beasley, who owns the Virginia and Texas Fly Fishing Festivals, was a guest the very end of July and he landed a fantastic King that bit his streamer. We even have a great video of his fight with the fish on our social media channels. Rod bending action!
Chum Salmon start to run around the middle of the month. These fish are always a favorite as the are also a very strong, hard fighting salmon. People are fascinated with the colors they develop once they enter fresh water, turning green with purple "tiger stripe" patterns. Their teeth look very menacing as well and give some credence to their other appellation of "Dog Salmon". Native American peoples have used chum salmon for centuries to feed their dog which is the other reason that chums are often referred to as Dog Salmon.
If you saw our blog post about opening week of the season, you would have seen just how good our rainbow trout fishing was in June. But this season, the trout fishing has sustained with impressive sized rainbow trout being caught every day by lucky anglers. We have had an incredible number of nice rainbows being landed throughout the whole month of July, including a couple real trophy fish!
One of our guides Matt landed a trout that may well be the biggest leopard rainbow trout we have ever seen find the back of the net on the Alagnak River! The strike was a powerful grab that let us know it was a big fish from the start. Matt was fishing an 8 weight rod with a sink tip. The very first run took Matt deep into his backing immediately as the fish careened downstream at speed with the current. I looked over to him and said you better jump in the boat because we are going to have to chase this fish. That trout stayed down deep and never showed himself, and there was a moment when both Matt and Wayne, who was operating the boat that day, both thought that maybe that big trout was actually a King Salmon! But eventually after an epic battle, Matt managed to lead him into the net for the photo!
We caught some fantastic lake trout this season as well, with some great specimens being landed both on the river and up at the Nonvianuk Lake. And of course the grayling fishing has been exceptional! Lots of 18", 19" and 20" grayling have been landed as well as a couple over 20 inches! We have a world class grayling fishery here that is not to be missed. They are so much fun on light tackle and dry flies. When you find one, you are probably going to get a whole lot more from the same spot. We had a group of three anglers that caught 75 trout and grayling on dry flies in one day! We even got a few northern pike on our "hike for pike"!
Of course, with the arrival of all these salmon, we see the bears start to arrive in early July as well to feast on them. And with arrival of the bears, we see the arrival of our photographer guests. We are so honored that world class photographers like Charles Glatzer and Kevin Dooley come back every year, bringing with them other talented photographers as guests to get some of the most "National Geographic" quality photos you've ever seen!
This year, we got to witness an incredible encounter between a moose and a bear. A couple of our guides with clients in the boat (including a couple photographers), saw a moose. Then they saw a bear that was trying to sneak up on it. They were right there, with cameras on hand when the bear managed to catch the cow moose in the river and take it down. The whole thing was captured on film and video. In fact the video of Bear vs Moose, went viral with millions of views and was picked up by online news sources like Yahoo news, Outdoor Life and Field and Stream, among others! If you saw that video, it was filmed right here by two of our ATA Lodge guides Sam Vassar and Matthew Shepard!! Well done guys! Here are a couple of the photos of that "once in a lifetime" encounter!
Speaking of videos, although we have already sent out a newsletter about the episode on Netflix's new documentary-series called Our Plant 2; we were so thrilled to see it ourselves on Netflix when it premiered in June of this year. If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, check out the second episode starting about minute 26 for footage filmed on location at ATA Lodge. The iconic nature documentary maker Sir David Attenborough narrated the series! What an honor to have been chosen by the film crew, to come and film with us here for two weeks in 2021. Our Planet 2 has already been viewed by millions of viewers around the world!
Bear viewing is a favorite activity this time of the season and we tend to see in excess of 25 and sometimes over 40 bears a day at ATA Lodge in July. They walk right up on us while we are fishing almost everyday. But they never cause and issues as there are so many fish, they prefer to focus on that, while we get to focus on watching them catch fish! In fact we had another video of a guest fishing when a young bear walked past. That video went viral as well on Instagram and generated over 17.5 million views! If you want to follow our season, you can always follow us on Instagram. Our "handle" is: @alagnakriver
But the best part of our season is always our guests! While each week has a different "feel", every week is so much fun! It is such a privilege to be able to host people from all around the world and share this very magical part of Alaska with them! Of course it's great to welcome back "old friends" who have been here before, but it also lots of fun making new friends every week! If you think you'd like to come and experience what it's like to spend time in such a beautiful and wild part of our planet, get in touch to inquire about availability in 2024 and beyond! Email us at: email@example.com or call on: +1 877 801 2289.
Our website has most information about what you need to know when considering coming on the "Trip of a Lifetime" at ATA Lodge.
Our website is: www.atalodge.com
We Hope to Hear From You Soon!