Alaska West

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Kanektok and Arolik Rivers

    Alaska West Overview

    Hard-Core Alaska Fishing without High Thread Count

    The idea behind the Alaska West operation is very simple… Take a sophisticated tent camp program with clean and extremely comfortable accommodations equipped with all the amenities of home. Now employ it with the hardest working guides and staff you can find and drop it on the banks of one of the greatest all around Alaskan freestone rivers; the Kanektok. Nothing about the Alaska West Camp is fancy or upscale. If you are looking for high thread count sheets, this is definitely not the place for you. However, if you are interested in spending long days on the water fishing hard with some of the best guides in the business along with wonderful food at an affordable price, than look no further. The Alaska West camp is tailor-made for anglers who want to maximize the ‘hard-core’ angling experience.

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    The Kanektok River

    The Kanektok River is a one hundred mile gem of a fishery located in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in Southwestern Alaska. It is a river that offers up everything the Alaskan angler expects… all five species of salmon, beautiful leopard rainbows, arctic char, and grayling. The Kanektok is a winding river with very differing characteristics through each section. The lower and deeper sections of the river demand a little more fishing ‘drift style’ on board one of the lodge’s fleet of aluminum boats (equipped with jet propelled 40 HP outboards) - however wading opportunities are common on the lower sections as well. Upstream from the lodge the river has a much wider, shallower braided section that is ideal for wading.

    The Arolik River

    In addition to the Kanektok, Alaska West also operates weekly trips on the nearby and smaller (but equally as impressive) Arolik River. This is an exclusive fishery only accessible by guests staying at the Alaska West camp, and can often be offered as a combo trip with a few days on the Kanektok as well.

    Comfort & Affordability

    Alaska West is certainly not the “fanciest” operation in Alaska…not even close. The Alaska West experience is all about the fishing. Of course they provide comfortable and clean accommodations, fabulous food, and excellent service, however the spirit of a trip with Alaska West is to spend a lot of time of the water fishing hard. Your pocketbook will also not suffer when booking a trip with Alaska West, as their price tag is not nearly what anglers shell out for a traditional fly-out lodge these days.

    Destination Description

    Alaska West is located on the banks of the world famous Kanektok River, in the Bristol Bay region of western Alaska. The lodge is situated approximately five miles from the mouth of the classic hundred mile freestone and the native village of Quinhagak along the coast of the Bering Sea. Quinhagak is a coastal community in the southernmost reaches of Kuskokwim Bay. It is 425 miles WSW from Anchorage, 75 miles due South of the hub village of Bethel and 190 miles WNW from Dillingham. Basically, Alaska West is right in the middle of nowhere.

    The Togiak National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 4 million acres of lands that the US government deemed appropriate to manage by the objectives set forth in the National Wildlife Refuge system’s directive to, among other things, conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity. Its northern border is the Yukon Delta National Wilderness Refuge. Its Eastern border is the Wood Tikchik Lakes and Wood Tikchik State Park. The southern border is Bristol Bay and the western border runs 50 miles inland of Goodnews and Platinum until it bisects the Kuskokwim Bay coastline. Several villages fall within the refuge’s boundaries including Eek, Quinhagak, Platinum, Goodnews, Manokotak and Togiak. The refuge is mainly comprised of coastal flats, river flood plains & high tundra plains. Two mountain ranges run through the refuge-- the Kilbuck range and the Ahklun range. Both are heavily eroded by ice, wind and water, and their highest peaks are less than 4,500 feet high.

    The area is habitat to over 48 mammal species, 31 land-bound including caribou, wolves, moose, brown and black bear, foxes, beaver, muskrats, minks, river otters, voles and porcupines. 17 marine mammals live in the refuge including sea lions, walruses and whales. Three main river drainages host all five species of pacific salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, arctic grayling, arctic char and pike. Over 200 bird species nest in the refuge including golden and bald eagles, peregrine falcons, murres, numerous species of waterfowl and shorebirds. Willow and cottonwood make up the scrub forests along the riverbanks and the tundra is flush with lichen, berries, dwarf trees and grasses.

    Alaska West is certainly not the “fanciest” operation in Alaska…not even close. The Alaska West experience is all about the fishing. Of course they provide comfortable and clean accommodations, fabulous food, and excellent service, however the spirit of a trip with Alaska West is to spend a lot of time of the water fishing hard. Your pocketbook will also not suffer when booking a trip with Alaska West, as their price tag is not nearly what anglers shell out for a traditional fly-out lodge these days.

    The Fishing

    The Kanektok is a river system with many different characters… The headwaters of the Kanektok are a tiny trickle on a gravel bar and it dumps into the Bering Sea one hundred miles later as an impressive navigable river flowing at several thousand CFS. It is an extremely winding river mainly lined with cottonwoods and willow trees. The lower sections of the river demand a little more fishing ‘drift style’ on board one of the lodge’s fleet of aluminum boats (equipped with jet propelled 40 HP outboards) - however wading opportunities are common on the lower sections as well. Upstream from the lodge the river has a much wider, shallower braided section that is ideal for wading. Boats are outfitted comfortably with ample storage, removable chairs, and can access the skinniest of water… delivering anglers conveniently to every beat of the river. The water on the Kanektok is always very easy to read, with first time anglers identifying the gravel bars loaded with char, the pods of salmon stacked up in back eddies, or the logical cut banks holding the rivers famous leopard rainbows.

    The Bristol Bay watershed is most famous for its amazing run of all five species of salmon in addition to world renowned rainbow trout fishing. Other anadromous species such as Dolly Varden and Arctic char congest the river in huge numbers, not to mention loads of grayling. The Kanektok is known as a river that receives epic runs of all salmon species as well as exploding trout populations. The Kanektok is one of the few fisheries in Alaska where everything an angler needs resides in ONE spot… no need to invest in expensive fly-out trips each day.

    Spey or two-handed fly rodders from around the world with attest that the Kanektok is ground zero for chasing kings. The character and style of the river sets up perfectly for experienced and novice anglers to have success with the mightiest of all the salmon with two-handed fly rods and conventional gear. Of course you could walk across the river on the backs of sockeye, pinks, and chums nearly all summer long, however late July through the end of the season brings the cooperative and aggressive silver salmon to the Kanektok. Thousands upon thousands of silver (coho) salmon return to run the Kanektok to spawn each summer providing Alaska West guests with one of the most consistent fisheries for this acrobatic species.

    No Alaskan experience would be complete without targeting big rainbows, and the Kanektok is home to a huge population of the eclectically spotted leopard rainbow trout throughout nearly all sections of the river. Trout are consistently taken using a variety of methods including egg patterns, leaches, and most notably the Kanektok offers some of western Alaska’s best mouse fishing when conditions are favorable.

    The Arolik River

    In addition to the Kanektok, Alaska West also operates weekly trips on the nearby Arolik River. The Arolik offers a comparable angling experience in terms of species targeted, however the river itself is approximately half the size of the Kanektok. Anglers stay at the Alaska West camp and commute each day to the Arolik. This is an exclusive fishery only accessible by guests staying at the Alaska West camp, and can often be offered as a combo trip with a few days on the Kanektok as well.

    Alaska West is allowed to operate a sportfishing operation on the Arolik with a joint venture with their friends at Qanirtuuq Inc, the native corporation in Quinhagak. This arrangement gives them exclusive rights to guide on the river, and they currently fish two or three boats per day on the Arolik. Accessing the Arolik involves taking a short bus ride through the village of Quinhagak and down the Arolik Road to the edge of the river, where the guide boats are stashed.

    Accommodations

    The Alaska West facility is a “tent lodge.” It is made up of a combination of permanent and semi-permanent structures, and is designed to combine comfortable living, eating and lounging areas with a location right on top of a phenomenal river.

    Dining Tent

    The dining tent is a spacious 24’x 60’ heated structure with wood floors and is always kept neat and clean. The kitchen has the state of the art equipment such as gas ranges, convection oven, microwave, refrigerators and freezers.

    Lounge Tent

    The lounge is great place to relax after a full day of fishing. This large heated tent is furnished with comfortable chairs and tables. At your disposal are a refrigerator with cool soda, juices and mixers, poker chips with cards, board games, dart board, magazines, books, map board, telephone, satellite television and an online camp computer. There is a fly tying bench with a limited supply of fly tying materials and vises.

    Drying Tent

    After returning from your day’s fishing adventure this tent serves as a place for you to hang your wet waders, coats, boots and anything else you don’t want wet or dirty in your sleeping quarters.

    Gazebo/Viewing Deck

    This split-level wood structure has a great river view. The bottom area is open-air and enclosed with fine mesh bug screen. This is a great place to sit and enjoy the midnight sun without being bothered by our little biting buddies. Directly above is the viewing deck. Bring your camera-- the sunsets can be breathtaking!

    Showers and Restrooms/Outhouses

    Showers have hot and cold running water with a sink basin and chair. They are cleaned daily. The restrooms are indeed outhouses. They too are cleaned daily and they are strategically located near your tent cabin.

    Tent Cabins/Sleeping Quarters

    Your heated tent cabin is furnished with two single beds with full bedding and pillow, clean shower linen, nightstand, hang-down bug net, lantern, carpeted floor and clothes hangers. Housekeeping staff come through daily to make beds, empty trash and tidy up to ensure your new home stays neat and clean.

    Travel

    Alaska West operates on a 7 Night / 6 day Friday - Friday weekly schedule.

    For most guests the first leg of the trip to Alaska West is accomplished by guests reaching Anchorage, Alaska, on the Thursday prior to the Friday arrival at camp. Guests will overnight in Anchorage at one of our recommended hotels. The second leg of the trip, occurring on Friday, is on board a round-trip charter service (90 minutes) from Anchorage directly to the little village of Quinhagak, at the mouth of the Kanektok. Once in Quinhagak, anglers travel upstream approximately 25 minutes by jet boat to the lodge facility. There is no fishing on the day of arrival.

    Sample Itinerary

    Thursday

    Anglers travel to Anchorage for overnight at a recommended hotel.

    Friday

    Anglers travel on board a ninety minute private charter departing at 10:00AM to the local native village of Quinhagak. Upon arrival in Quinhagak, anglers are met by a representative from Alaska West and transported upriver 25 minutes to the Alaska West facility. Anglers usually arrive around 5:30PM, unpack and rig gear, have a cocktail, and get prepared for the next six days of fishing. There is no guided fishing on the day of arrival.

    Saturday – Thursday

    Six full days of guided fishing on the Kanektok and/or Arolik!

    Friday

    Guests follow a similar procedure flying back to Anchorage with a direct private charter flight arriving back into Anchorage early afternoon. Most flights from Alaska to the lower forty-eight are overnight red-eye flights which depart in the evening, allowing plenty of time to catch a connection onward home. Guests originating in the Pacific NW can easily make it home Friday night.

    When to Go

    Alaska West operates from early June through the first week in September.

    Fishing in general is excellent any time in the season but the conditions and species available vary from month to month and may impact when you decide to visit.

    Rainbow Trout Seasonality

    Early Season (Mid-June through Mid-July)

    During this period, the Kanektok isn’t yet clogged with salmon. Rainbows are hungry after a long cold winter, and they’re really opportunistic feeders. Covering lots of water with big flies is generally the ticket. Sculpins, leeches, big flesh flies, and some opportunistic mouse fishing can make the early season a home run!

    Mid Season (Mid-July through Mid-August)

    This is generally the peak time for trout numbers. A wide variety of techniques applied in lots of different water all produce fish. Side channels, spawning beds, mid-river snags, shelves and the couch water get fished and the fish tend to do their part. Beads, flesh in a range of sizes, and the standard leech and sculpin patterns remain favorites. Mousing is awesome. BONUS: silvers, chums, pinks, sockeye, dollies, grayling!

    Late Season (Mid August - Early September)

    Time to look for Big Jerry. Kanektok rainbows get fatter and fatter as the season goes on, so late is good if you’re hoping for the fish of a lifetime. The trout tend to be a little more concentrated later in the season, so it’s important to spend your time in the right water.

    Side channels are less of a factor as the river drops. Upriver spawning beds and lower river snags are favorite spots. The couch water on inside bends still produces. A variety of flies get fished, but beads and smaller flesh patterns are the stars in the late season.
    BONUS: silvers, silvers and more silvers!

    Salmon & Char Runs

    June

    The month of June is marked by the arrival of the mighty king salmon. This is the time to try a hand at swinging flies for these giants. Although king salmon will hang around for the month of July, the last two weeks in June and first two weeks in July are considered prime time. Chums and zillions of pinks also begin arriving in great numbers toward the end of the month.

    July

    July is a month noted for its huge variety of options including the peak of the chum runs as well as the addition of the pink salmon --- and the beginning of the silver run. Throw in the longest days of the season, mild weather, the dollies, char and grayling --- and you have one of the best all around months fishing the Kanektok and Arolik.

    August – Mid September

    Hard fighting chums are still around through mid August, however this is predominantly the month of the silver salmon, which is the most acrobatic and eager of the five pacific salmon species. The silvers continue to pour into the river system until the lodge closed in early September.

    Alaskan Weather

    The weather is about the only thing you CANNOT count on with your trip to Alaska. Guests must plan on every type of weather to occur at anytime. Daytime temperatures range from cool to hot and rain showers can occur at any moment. On any given day you could see hot weather turn to cold, calm turn to windy, and sunny to rainy almost before your eyes. If you decide to visit Alaska a rain jacket is an absolute must. Typically, June and July are a little warmer and drier than August and September.

    2012 RATES

    Based on Shared Room / Guide

    Kanektok River Package - $5,000 per week

    Arolik River Package - $5600 per week

    What's Included
    7 Nights double occupancy accommodations; 6 Days guided fishing with shared guide; Daily housekeeping; Three meals per day including non-alcoholic beverages; Loaner fly rods & reels, flies, tackle

    What's Not Included
    Roundtrip airfare to/from Anchorage, Alaska; Roundtrip charter service from Anchorage to Quinhagak, Alaska ($675 per person); Accommodations while in Anchorage Thursday night prior to Friday arrival at the camp; Alcohol; Applicable fishing licenses; Use of lodge telephone and fax; All applicable gratuities

    Terms & Conditions

    Tailwaters Travel must adhere to the cancellation policies of the guides and lodges which it represents. Alaska West’s policy follows: A $500 deposit is required to hold all reservations made outside of 180 days from the trip. This $500 deposit is fully refundable for thirty days following receipt of deposit. 180 days prior to scheduled trip, a 50% deposit less the $500 deposit is due to confirm each angler’s spot. 30 days prior to the trip full payment is required. All monies received within 180 days from trip are NON-REFUNDABLE. Refunds of deposits/payments made on credit cards will be charged a 3.5% service charge to fully compensate Tailwaters Travel for all bank charges incurred. Receipt of deposit and/or final payment is acknowledgment that registrant has read and accepts the cancellation, refund and responsibility clauses.

    Consider Travel Insurance!

    Given the inherent strict refund policies associated with nearly all fishing packages, we cannot stress the importance of obtaining travel insurance to protect your investment. Travelers can obtain coverage for pre-existing health problems (related to yourself, your family, business partners, or your traveling partners), emergency evacuation, lost baggage, delay, life insurance packages; even “no questions asked” or “for work reasons” coverage.

    We will provide you with more detailed information about travel insurance from our sponsored provider, Travel Guard, when you book a trip with Tailwaters Travel. We can conveniently process a very comprehensive insurance policy for you in-house after asking a few simple questions.

    Call today to protect your investment: (888) 824-5420

    Please review our Policies & Cancellations section.

    Non-Angling Activities