Ron Foster and I just returned from an incredible trip to Unalakleet River Lodge in Unalakleet, Alaska. Unalakleet is a small Eskimo Village located on Hudson Sound 400 miles Northwest of Anchorage. We were invited by lodge owners Jeff and Sally Appel to visit the lodge to have a better understanding of their operation. After a week of wonderful food, hospitality and of course great fishing, I can excitedly say we will be honored to be associated with the Unalakleet River Lodge. The lodge sits on the bank of the Unalakleet River approximately 10 miles upstream from Unalakleet. The river is home to one of the most prolific Silver Salmon runs in all of Alaska. In addition to the tremendous Silver Salmon, anglers will also catch pink, chum and king salmon as well as dolly varden and world class grayling. Stay tuned for an exclusive page on our website www.tailwatersflyfishing.com with more info on Unalakleet River Lodge.
Enough with the promotion!!! Ron and I departed Dallas early Saturday morning July 18, short stop in Denver and on to Anchorage. We rented a car in Anchorage and spent that evening and the next morning exploring. I’ve heard tale of “Combat Fishing” during salmon season but have never had the opportunity to experience it. See the picture below……no explanation necessary.
After our morning exploration, we were off to the airport to catch our flight to Unalakleet. Although close to the arctic circle, the trip to Unalakleet River Lodge is actually quite easy. There is a daily 1 and a half hour flight on Pen Air into Unalakleet. Our flight was a little delayed due to weather but we made it safe and sound.
Once in Unalakleet, we were whisked off to the river for the 15 minute boat ride to the lodge. As you get closer to the lodge, the surrounding area becomes increasingly more beautiful and as you round a bend, the lodge sits high on a hillside surrounded by trees. Very majestic. As I travel more and more, I’m continually amazed at how remote lodges are able to offer the quality of amenities they do. The main lodge is built with huge timbers that were brought in by boat. The kitchen is fully stocked, huge commercial stove, refrigerator, freezer etc…..every thing has been brought in by boat. The logistics of running a remote lodge are mind blowing.
After hors-d’oeuvres and dinner, its time to rest up for tomorrow’s fishing. Being this far north, it never really gets dark so your internal clock is a little confused. The long day has caught up with us and going to sleep is no problem and as the week progresses, the long fishing days with 100 fish days….very easy to sleep.
Ron and I both are early risers in Texas so when we awake at our normal time it’s about 3 a.m. Alaska. We manage to stay in bed until 5:30 but it’s time to get up. Coffee, breakfast and off to the river by 7:30. Our guide for the week is our good friend and Tailwaters employee Matt Jones. This is Matt’s 3rd season and Ron and I could not be more exited to spend the next 6 days fishing with our buddy. See Matt’s Alaska Journal on this blog (See tab at top of page).
I won’t bore you with a daily recap of the fishing….each day is very typical….60 pinks, 10 chum, 5 dollies, 5 grayling and 3-5 silvers. We are a week early for the silvers this season but typically a day during silver season would look like this 100 silvers, 60 pinks, 10 chum, 5 dollies and 5 grayling. The pinks are very fun to catch but after 30 or so, you are happy to land a hard fighting chum or a beautiful grayling. The grayling in this part of of Alaska are world class….many in the 17 inch range and a few up to 20 inches. (Check out some images from our trip below)
I forgot to mention, in addition to Tailwaters employee and Alaska fishing guide, Matt is a professional photographer. Check out all the underwater shots below!!!! www.mcjphotography.com
Here’s what we were ‘packing’ for all these different species: Sage Z-Axis 7136-4 Spey Rod w/ Hatch 9 Plus reel, Rio 550 grain Skagit. Sage Z-Axis 6126-4 Spey Rod w/Able Super 9 reel, Rio 450 grain Skagit Sage Z-Axis 6110-4 Switch Rod, Rio 400 grain ABS Outbound. Sage TCX 10 Wt. w/Able Super 10, Teeny T-450 sinking line. Sage Z-Axis 691-4 w/Tibor Freestone reel, Scientific Anglers Sharkskin. Simms Waders, Simms Guide Boot, Simms G4 Boots, Simms G4 Jacket, Simms Guide Jacket, various layers made by Simms and Patagonia. (Now that I write this down, we must have looked like walking billboards!!!)
After 6 days of fishing, it’s time to go home…..we are very disappointed about our return to Texas but I can honestly say I’ve never had some much fun at a lodge. The host’s, guides and staff at Unalakleet River Lodge are second to none. Everyone is so happy, friendly and accommodating. I’m truly excited about the budding relationship between Tailwaters Fly Fishing Company and Unalakleet River Lodge.