Fish Alaska Magazine identified the Naknek as
Alaska's #1 destination for trophy rainbows! That is a
big statement, but we think you will agree that the river
can live up to the claim. The average fish will still be in
the 2-5 pound range, but there will be a realistic
possibility of bigger bows - up to 36 inches long -
almost every day. If rainbows are your target fish, the
best time is early and late season.
Arctic Char and Grayling
These are year 'round residents and make great fly
rod targets. Grayling are especially eager to rise to a
dry fly in early season, making them an ideal quarry
for a 4 or 5 wt. fly rod and a floating line.
The arctic char look a lot like brook trout, only larger.
The best techniques for them are the same as for
rainbows, so basically, anytime you are fishing for
rainbows, you are also fishing for char whether you
realize it or not. They spend a lot of time tucked in
behind the spawning salmon, feasting on eggs,
making egg flies their number one weakness.
There is a reason why these babies are called the
Kings - nothing in Alaska grows to the massive
sizes of a chinook salmon. They begin running in
mid-June, continue through much of July and
spawn in August. Their eggs are also huge, (8 -
10mm) making king salmon eggs one of the very
favorite treats for a trophy rainbow in August. Most
people in Alaska fish kings with heavy spin or
baitcasting gear, using deep diving plugs,
spin-n-glows, or large spoons and spinners. They
can be taken on fly gear, but the battles are epic
and the angler loses the struggle much more
often than he wins.
Sockeye Salmon A.K.A. Red Salmon
These are the best eating and most prolific
salmon in the system, numbering upwards of 2
million per year. Everyone seemingly knows how
delicious they are, but few realize that they are also
tremendous fighters, especially on a 7 or 8 wt. fly
rod. From late June through July, they can
provide almost constant action. Their huge
numbers are the reason why this area has such
an abundant population of rainbows and bears.
Chum and Pink Salmon
Chum are called dog salmon, because they are a
favored food for the sled dog teams, but you will
call them something else entirely as they nearly
tear the rod from your hand and bust up your tackle.
Some pink salmon will run every year, but the run
is much stronger in even years.
Both will be most effectively fished with streamers
and both will run in July and early August.
Last, but certainly not least, is the silver salmon.
These incredible gamefish are easily my favorite
salmon, getting large enough to put on a show
and delicious on the table. They are also the
most aggressive of the salmon, chasing
streamers and even taking skating dry flies on
occasion. They begin moving into the rivers in
early August and the run continues on into
mid-September. I usually use a fly rod in the 7-9
wt. range or a spinning rod loaded with 8-12lb