After a year of uncertainty due to Covid, we are sure glad to be "back at it" up here at ATA Lodge, on the Wild Alagnak River!
In fact, June may well be my personal favorite time to be on the river. The salmon haven't arrived yet. There aren't many guests that come up for just the trout fishing. We've been missing the beauty of the river and area and are so happy to look over the meadow upstream and see those majestic mountians still clad with last winter's snow.
But I must admit, there's nothing I'm itching to do more than to swing a big streamer, or skate a mouse pattern across a promising seam in the river to try and temp one of our beautiful leopard rainbow trouts to bite!
Each of the past 5 years, we have seen a gradual increase in the average size of the trout caught in June, and we have been very encouraged about our fishery....but this season....all I can say is.....WOW!
Our trout seem to have really thrived over this winter, and we have been catching some real "slabs" that are very hungry and in great shape...very healthy! As these photos will attest, Alagnak River trout remain, in our opinion, the most beautiful trout on the planet!
Opening week saw a group of fantastic guests put together by our good friend Bob White. Bob is a renowned outdoors artist and every year he brings a group up for our opener! We were disappointed Bob could not join his hosted group this time around as his mother fell ill and passed away just a few days before the start of his week with us. We would like to take the opportunity to express again, our most sincere condolences at the passing of Bob's dear mother.
But we were thankful to receive his clients and let them have "first crack" at the river. This years group was such a great bunch of guests. We had so much fun with them both on the river and back at the lodge, swapping stories of what happened each day and getting to know each other better. Half of them had been here before and the other half fit right in and everyone got on like a house on fire! We finished the week feeling as if we had all just made a whole new set of friends!
After the first day fishing, it was evident that the river was delivering some really nice specimens. Tales spun at dinner about the fish that had been caught and released that day defied belief. You would have thought that some of these "fish stories" were a bit exaggerated. That is until the phones started to come out and photos were shared around the table while sharing some amazing food. The photos were the "proof in the pudding" that here at ATA Lodge, we catch fish so big there is no need to exaggerate when describing them!
I know that I personally had one of the most amazing days I've ever experienced in June with the two rods in my boat. We netted a total of 26 fish that day, 14 of which were over 24" inches and 4 that were 28" inches in length!!
The average size of the trout we catch in June seems to be bigger than during the rest of the season....don't get me wrong, those trout "beef up" once the egg drop starts in August after the salmon arrive and start to spawn. But during that period we tend to catch a lot of smaller fish as well feeding on the eggs. Earlier in July, before the spawning starts, the trout are harder to find and we have to "hunt" for them as they are displaced by the sheer volume of salmon flooding the river.
In June though, there are no salmon in the river yet and the dominate fish are controlling the best "lies" in each pool. So when we swing a leech pattern, or articulated sculpins, or skate a mouse pattern over a seam, those hungry trout are where they are supposed to be, and we get a higher percentage of bigger, more mature fish that attack a well presented fly.
We have even caught a fair number of nice Lake Trout as well these first two weeks. These lakers, have come down in to the river chasing the smolt as they are migrating from our headwater tributaries and lakes to go out to sea. The trout follow them in to the river and wait to ambush them in areas where the smolt are passing through.
The second week was filled with return guests who have all been here multiple times over the years. They come back because they know how good the trout fishing is here. It felt like a family reunion! And it's been a lot of fun fishing with family and friends. In fact, my father is spending this season with us and I had a great day on the river with him and Sue last week. Although we were only out for a very short time, but got some really nice fish!
The highlight of Week 2 was this incredible 31" inch leopard rainbow trout caught by John Nelson. John is a good friend and long time return guest to ATA Lodge. I was thrilled to be part of his "fish of a lifetime" catch. What makes this accomplishment so satisfying is that John had just tied the fly used to catch this behemoth that morning, and on a barbless hook no less!!
Grayling are also hitting the dry flies and are so much fun on light gear. When you find one grayling, there is usually a handful (if not dozens) of others in the same spot. It is especially satisfying when a large trout grabs a small dry fly, like a caddis perhaps, while targeting grayling. What a surprise when the rod bends over double after the fly has been "sipped" from the surface....thinking that it was another grayling, but in fact happens to be, on the odd occasion a nice bow instead!
Weeks One and Two have been a resounding success and we are looking forward to what the rest of the season will bring!
We are so proud of all our guide and camp staff for all their hard work that has been put in opening up camp and getting it ready for guests. And now that guests have begun to arrive, they have all done a great job taking care of them as well! Great meals, and service with a smile both on and off the water. Well done to everyone here for helping to make the start to the 2021 season the best one yet!
If you are wanting to come a visit this season, we do still have one week in July and 3 weeks in August that have a few spaces available. Don't hesitate to get in touch to book your spots!
2022 is also rapidly filling up and most beds in July are already sold out. But there is still room in June next year for more of this type of amazing trout fishing you have just seen and read about here! We also have space in August and September of 2022 as well!
Get in touch at www.atalodge.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!!