Guests at Rapids Camp fly out daily aboard one of lodge’s four aircraft to remote streams and rivers in the area. With three de Havilland Beavers on floats, a de Havilland turbine-driven Otter on floats and the option to convert one of the Beavers from floats to tundra tires, Rapids Camp guests are best equipped to access the area’s remote fisheries and wildlife viewing areas. In the event that weather precludes flying, the incredible rainbow trout and salmon fishing of the Naknek River is right out the front door. In fact, many guests throughout the season forgo a fly-out day for longer fishing hours and the convenience of the Naknek. The Naknek is home to some of Alaska’s largest rainbows — many exceeding 30 inches – and tremendous runs of all Pacific salmon species.
Rapids Camp guides are well versed in the program and many have over a decade of experience fishing, guiding, and exploring Alaska. Nearly all the guides grew up fishing the famous salmon and steelhead rivers of the Pacific Northwest – and are well kept professionals with excellent manners and instructional ability. Whether you have your children in tow or are looking to learn to cast a spey rod, Rapids Camp guides can handle guests of all skill levels, ages, genders, and levels of physical fitness.
RIVERS AND LAKES
Rapids Camp maintains custom jet boats on the Naknek and many smaller jet sleds stashed on various rivers throughout the region including two boats on the Kvichak and three boats on the Nushagak. Float trips in comfortable rafts are also part of the weekly routine depending on the season and anglers’ interests. Southwestern Alaska offers an incredible diversity of fishing opportunities with eleven freshwater gamefish species available throughout the season.
In addition to the traditional freshwater fisheries, Rapids Camp offers a saltwater program in beautiful Geographic Harbor and the waters around Kodiak Island. Guests may venture down and try their hand for halibut, salmon, lingcod, rockfish, yellow-eye, and many others. Geographic Harbor is also a wonderful spot for viewing bears, humped back whales, orcas, seals, sea lions and tons of other marine and bird life.
Anglers and guides typically take the turbine otter down to the coast where modern 26’ closed cabin Hewes Craft boats are moored. It is a gorgeous flight over Katmai to the saltwater bay, and well worth taking a day off from the river. This is a wonderful addition to the unique program, and is really something for everyone to consider. Rapids Camp only conducts the saltwater program when seas are calm, and this is a great side trip for families as well as those interested in witnessing a part of Alaska not frequented by other lodges. Geographic Harbor (or “Geo”) is one of the prettiest places on earth!
Rapids Camp visits nearly fifty of Bristol Bay’s best river systems. The following is a brief description of the most popular spots — but the four airplanes (3 on floats and 1 on tundra tires) provide access to many other lesser known rivers that can seasonally fish off the charts and don’t have much competition from other fly-out lodges.
The Naknek is the home river. It is big water for big fish! The lodge is situated on the Naknek approximately fifteen minutes from the King Salmon Airport just downstream of the rapids section of this massive drainage, and approximately ten miles downstream from the outlet at Naknek Lake. The river in front of the lodge is very large allowing for easy float plane access. It boasts an enormous salmon run and some of the largest rainbows in Alaska. Upstream of the lodge a few clicks, the river chokes down in width and becomes more wade friendly from shallow shelves and along the willow lined banks. 22-28 inch rainbows are par for the course on the Naknek, with many 10 pound + specimens coming to hand throughout the season.
Early season smolt runs offer incredible rainbow opportunities as huge trout will move out of the lake busting bait balls. The middle parts of the season offer consistent bead/egg fishing for bows, and the salmon runs for all sub species are enormous in “The Nak.” Experienced anglers from all over the world make a fall pilgrimage to the Naknek and Kvichak rivers during the latter half of September in search of the largest rainbows on earth. Starting around September 20th, “The Swing” turns on when the largest lake run rainbows enter the river system. This event allows anglers the world’s best chance for catching multiple 30+ inch rainbows. “Steelhead style” fishing with two-handed spey rods is most effective while wading the gravelly shallow shelves and banks of this stunning freestone.
Dumping out of Lake Illiamna (the largest lake in Alaska), the Kvichak is also one of the most famous rivers in the world for harboring huge rainbows. The Kvichak is also big water, and a must-do river on any fishing trip to Alaska. Rapids Camp keeps two jet boats on the “braids” section of the river, a renowned stretch of the river that lends itself to easier wading opportunities and the ability to sight cast to huge rainbows in the 25-32 inch range. The Kvichak also has a similar run of chromed up rainbows during the annual June smolt migration as well as a September swing for huge steelhead-like rainbows in the main stem.
Tributaries of both these lake systems hold huge char; and RCL regularly has guests catch 35-inch trophies — oftentimes several fish over thirty inches a day per angler. Unlike many places where char of these proportions are found, RCL is within easy striking distance. Ugashik is accessed by float plane on one of the lakes and anglers easily wade the one mile connecting stream loaded with thousands of char feeding on salmon roe. It is like shooting ducks on the pond and a really fun distraction from the hard-core rainbow fishing.
BROOKS & BROOKS FALLS
You know that iconic National Geographic image of the bear catching the salmon in the air? The Brooks River contains the world famous Brooks Falls, where bears enjoy a perennial feast of salmon as they ascend the falls. This is a tremendous opportunity to see one of nature’s great spectacles. Brooks offers bear-viewing platforms to assist visitors in viewing and avoiding the bears. These platforms give you an elevated view of the bears in total safety; a must see for photographers.
The Brooks River can also provide excellent rainbow and sockeye fishing for anglers, provided the bears allow you to fish. At peak bear times there can be so many bears as to make fishing difficult, but the river is loaded with zillions of 18-28 inch rainbows.
With its crystal clear water, Battle Creek is a sight-fishing mecca. Although it can get a bit crowded at times, guides will conduct a float trip down the rich upper stretches in solitude, or stake out a proper beat of river on the lower sections bang away at the hundreds of gluttonous rainbows slurping on roe from spawning sockeye. The rainbows in Battle are constantly on the move with fresh fish moving up and down the numerous, windy, runs of the system. Right when you think you have fished out the hole and break for lunch, before you know it several more big targets visibly move into your spot.
Moraine Creek flows 15 miles from Spectacle Lake to Kukaklek Lake. Funnel Creek is its major tributary. The Moraine has the reputation of having some of the biggest rainbow trout in and around Katmai National Park. This stream consistently produces the largest trout of the season outside of the Naknek and Kvichak, with some fish exceeding 30 inches. Views of surrounding glacial valleys, wildlife, and river scenery also help make the Moraine one of the most popular spots for RCL guests.
The American fishes great all season and is another river loaded with feisty 18-26 inch rainbows and char up to 27-28 inches. It is a steep drainage and is also a great spot to consider if you are interested in some mouse fishing. Some of the most beautiful hikes and often the best dry fly fishing in the state.
The Kulik is one of the most beautiful fly-out destinations in the Katmai region. Surrounded by mountains, the river is a little more than a mile long and drains Kulik Lake into Nonvianuk Lake. Kulik is a great fishery providing good numbers of aggressive trout ranging to 25 inches, with the average fish 17-18 inches. During peak times Kulik can be a little crowded, but on most days, the river is generous with fish, elbow room, and wilderness scenery. Rapids Camp Lodge operates unique float trips down the Kulik. It is a high volume style of fishing with medium sized fish, but is a great place for those looking to rack up the easy numbers.
The Grandaddy of all Alaskan King Salmon rivers. RCL keeps three boats at the Nushagak for anglers who want to try their hand at the largest of the salmon species. Getting there is simple, a spectacular quick jump in the Beaver.
The Big Ku is a wide-open, larger river with beautiful views of Kukaklek Lake and surroundings. The Big Ku is a great early June trout fishery where trout lay in wait ready to attack clouds of salmon smolt as they make their migration to the ocean. Trout fishing remains good until hordes of adult sockeyes ascend the Lake in early July. Rainbow fishing is replaced by excellent sockeye fishing. Rapids Camp can also access certain spots that offer a unique opportunity for early season anglers to wade fish swinging flies for king salmon.
The Little Ku is a small tannic colored stream that empties into the west end of Kukaklek Lake. It is the smaller of the two rivers but the trout that return to it each year are not! The Little Ku has good numbers of big rainbows and can have a lot of bears. The Little Ku offers plenty of walking, however the appeal for those who endure the walk is the opportunity to catch big native trout without the crowds.
THE SMOKEY RIVER
Tucked down the Alaska Peninsula, the “Smokey” gets a generous run of Kings without the corresponding number of anglers. Small, clear and intimate is a rare find when it comes to the King of salmon. Perfect for the angler who wants to experience great fly fishing for kings but not have to get stuck without options to fish for other species. The perfect day trip to catch a king on a fly.
Flying along the coast and seeing the fish before you land just up the beach is the ultimate in fly-out fly fishing. Rapids Camp Lodge visits all the most prolific coastal drainages of the Alaskan Peninsula. The wheeled beaver allows this access to some of Alaska’s most remote fisheries filled with freshest salmon possible as they enter the river system from the salt.
ALL FISHING EQUIPMENT PROVIDED
Other than a few necessities such as sunglasses and a rain jacket, Rapids Camp Lodge can provide all the necessary gear for their guests. The lodge maintains high quality rods, reels, waders, etc. at no extra charge. All flies, leaders, tippet and other tackle are also included in the trip cost. You can show up at RCL with next to nothing and expect to be fully outfitted upon arrival.