by Michael Bales – Head Guide for Alaska Rainbow Lodge
In our last few BLOGs we described the fishing season as viewed through the eyes of Alaska Rainbow Lodge, including Bristol Bay and Katmai National Park with my recommendations on the various fisheries. We covered the Early Season(June thru early July), the July fishing, and August through early September fisheries over the last few months. This BLOG we look at the late season in the later part of the month of September.
For die-hard Trophy Rainbow fishers, the last weeks of September are exponentially the very best that Bristol Bay and the surrounding watersheds and tributaries can offer. Our resident Rainbow are available at any time during our season but come September, the Big Guns come out of the shadows. I’m talking HOGS here! Sockeye Salmon are spawning or, in most cases, spawned out. The Chums and pinks are leaving nothing but flesh and carcasses, and the Silvers are finishing their annual routine.
By early Septmeber, the Rainbow Trout are eating as many salmon eggs as possible from the spawning silvers. These breeder Bows are looking for any large food source to power on the protein for the very long winter ahead. Flesh imitating flies and leech fishing are the primary offering. You’ll have the chance of catching the BIGGEST rainbows of the season in September right up until the season ends. Some of my key fisheries to visit during September are below:
ONE – Fish the Kulik River, this is a very short river between Nonvianuk and Kulik lakes that we walk/wade or float thru various sections for the last sockeye spawn of the season. This is truly an Alaskan rainbow trout factory, with hundreds of rainbows up to 24 inches gorging on the last spawn for this drainage. You can sight fish to them in inches of gin clear water or swing leeches thru the drop offs for lager trout.
TWO – Walk and wade fishing on Lower Talarik Creek, a stream that flows into Lake Iliamna and is world renowned for its large rainbow trout. These large trout move into the creek from the lake and are all fattening up for the long winter ahead. During September the silver salmon are spawning here which provide a great food source for the hungry rainbow trout.
All the Sockeye, Chum, King and Pink Salmon are done. The few Salmon that remain are the Silvers, but they are not for harvesting – they are the LAST food source for these incredible Rainbow Trout of the Lake Iliamna and Naknek Drainages in Bristol Bay. You have the opportunity this time of year to fish for Silvers, BIG Silvers, and char at our remote Ilnik camp. Stay tuned for more information on this exciting program we’ll be bringing back for 2015!
THREE – The Naknek River is the main drainage for Naknek Lake, home to some of the largest trout in the state. This particular River is well known to produce huge Rainbow Trout this time of the year. We keep two jet boats for use on the Naknek. A day here would include fishing flesh patterns, leeches and even large bead rig presentations for these amazing fish.
FOUR – The Kvichak. The Kvichak is a destination of choice for all Trout bums in the know. The Sockeye Salmon spawn is wrapping up and on the Kvichak, this means one thing – Hungry Trout eating leeches! Swinging big leeches is very effective during this time for large chrome bright Lake Iliamna Rainbows trying to put on the calories before winter arrives.
FIVE – This is a great time of the season to revisit the Big Ku for some late season Rainbow Trout fishing. The spawn is complete in the Kukaklek drainage on Moraine Creek, Funnel Creek and Little Ku and most of these Rainbows will travel to the Big Ku in search of any remaining flesh or eggs being washed out of the drainage. Some VERY big trout are caught here in September.
SIX – Take a very short flight form the lodge to Location “X” for Jumbo Arctic Char in full spawning colors. You have the chance to catch fish over 30″ at this very small secret Char stream that feeds into one of the many lakes in the area.
Whether you target Rainbow Trout on the Kvichak River tossing leeches, fishing the main river or its famed side channels, the Naknek River in the canyon sections, or wade fishing the Lower Talarik, September offers anglers the chance to fish multiple rivers for the world renown Rainbow Trout of Bristol bay. Just another great time to experience what Alaska Rainbow Lodge has to offer in the fall. Our next BLOG will cover the last few days of the season in Bristol Bay.