Nushagak Wilderness Camp, Alaska

Fly fishing for trout and salmon in Alaska

The Nushagak is a fish bum’s dream come true. Rise as early or late as you please as there is no competition to race to the pool. Fish hard all day on 100 miles of accessible river, come back to camp and recharge with a hearty meal and a few fish stories. The “Nush” plays host to tremendous runs of king, chum, coho and sockeye salmon. With large resident populations of native rainbow trout, dolly varden, northern pike and Arctic grayling, this is  how fishing in Alaska used to be, and how it still is on the Nushagak.

Great Alaskan trout and salmon fishing fishing, with no-one else around

The sense of remote isolation is hard to match anywhere else in North America. Your only companions for the week are the folks that came with you, the moose and bears, and a million trout. The fishing is great and the overall experience is so much more than that.

Dave and Kim Egdorf’s camps are, in a way, a throwback to the 1940’s. Folks heading to Alaska for adventure fishing looked for nothing more than a dry tent and fishing that was right outside the door. The outfitters who accommodated them adopted a style of simple, comfortable, on-river camps. They were easy to set up and maintain in remote regions and offered immediate boat or foot access to the river.

Before the first king and chum salmon find their way nearly 200 miles up river, big beautiful “leopard” rainbow trout and grayling are the resident game fish. For those who love to fish streamers and mouse patterns for large, hungry trout, this early part of June is a hard time of year to beat with trout averaging 18-22 inches and trout in the 24-26 inch range a daily possibility. With higher water in June, access to water upstream is not the problem it becomes later in the season as water levels drop. there are also often predictable daily hatches of mayflies and stoneflies that are irresistible to the resident grayling.

Late June and early July see the upper river fill with king and chum salmon as they move up towards their spawning grounds. The occasional chrome fish is landed but most are in their spawning colours and bearing their exaggerated kypes. The trout and grayling follow the salmon, along with newly arrived sea run dolly varden. All eager to take advantage of natures bounty as salmon eggs escape the nests. July and August are a time of plenty in the river and July also sees a flood of crimson and green sockeye salmon arrive in the upper river.

Mid August to early September sees the final salmon push in the form of coho salmon. September sees the arrival of Autumn with crisp, cold nights. As the season changes, the fishing slows down and the fishing focus returns to the trout. Now gorged on eggs, this period offers the trophy trout hunter the best opportunity to land their rainbow of a lifetime. The dolly varden move into the vacated salmon spawning grounds and are in full spawning blush.

“What I like about Egdorf’s is that you’d be hard-pressed to find more rainbows in a river anywhere, ever. Combine that with 100 miles of jet boatable river, possibly the best camp pools in Alaska, and the endlessly fishable midnight sun of a Nushagak summer, and very good things happen!”
– Mike Mercer The Fly Shop® Alaska Expert

A rustic camp style Lodge

Lodge fishing in Alaska has since moved away from this rustic “camp” style, as fly-out lodges, with their amenities and indulgences have set a new standard of sorts. But it’s good to know guys like Dave are still out there, in the middle of nowhere, offering hardcore fishing, complete solitude…and plenty of creature comforts.

Each week a load of choice meats, fresh veggies, and pounds of basics like flour, sugar, coffee and bacon arrive into camp by float-plane. The cooks use their scratch ingredients and spice racks to produce the best home-style meals in the Alaskan bush. Think cowboy-cook meets cafe gourmet.

“Weatherport” tent-cabins are a staple in remote wilderness living. With wooden floors, comfortable beds and weather-tight walls and roofs, they’re incredibly simple and provide everything a die-hard fisherman needs to stay warm and dry.

Other amenities in camp include sauna, generator powered electricity, hot showers, outhouse bathroom facilities, and wood burning stoves for drying gear and warming hands on crisp September day.

Float planes and jet boats; this is remote Alaska

The Nushagak River flows 280 miles out of the Alaskan Range to Bristol Bay. Along its 280 miles, the Nush picks up tributary after salmon breeding tributary, including the Mulchatna, Nuyakuk and King Salmon Rivers, coupled with dozens of smaller tributaries, making the Nushagak River drainage the best salmon fishing in Alaska.

Getting there is straight forward and if your flight schedule allows, you can connect in Anchorage with the flight to Dillingham. We do suggest that you overnight in Anchorage to reduce the risk of any flight delay meaning you miss the Dillingham flight. After a night in the tiny outpost village of Dillingham, you will be picked up and driven to Aleknagik Lake (25 minutes) where you will board a float plane for the flight to camp (about an hour). From the plane’s mooring, the final mile to camp is on a jet boat.

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