Well, the 2023 season started with a bang! What a great opener we have had this year. June is arguably my personal favourite time to be at ATA Lodge!
The flight in, guests were able to see Moose on their approach just before landing on the airstrip at ATA Lodge. And the very next morning, we even saw our first Bear of the season from the property before hitting the water! Despite the wind and cold, everyone had high hopes for the days of fishing ahead. It’s been a late spring, and the weather was cold and blustery for most of our long opening week. The mountains on the horizon were full of snow, and the wind was gusting as our first guests arrived. Conditions were tough and not optimal with wind and colder temperatures, but the fish didn’t seem to mind!
As the opening day on June 8th fell mid-week, we offered intrepid guests the opportunity to either come for a short 3-day, 7-day or 10-day option. And we had various guests that choose each offering. All I can say, is that regardless of how long each guest was with us to kick off the 2023 season, they all left with smiles on their faces and memories of epic battles with strong and feisty, hard-fighting Trout, with the average-size topping well over 20” inches, up to 27” inches. Each and every guest can recount stories of the “one that got away”, as well, left only to shake their heads a speculate just how big those fish might have been!!
We had clients who have been coming for years because of just how good the early-season Trout and Grayling fishing is! Each of them said that this opening week resulted in the best quality Trout they have experienced to date, catching multiple Trout that topped their previous personal best! Trout were distributed throughout the upper system and although challenging conditions made some days slow, regardless at the end of each day, each guest has multiple hookups and many great specimens found their way to the back of the net!
Streamers were usually the ticket, but a few were landed on mice patterns skated across the surface of the river, and some days nymphs were what was required to provoke the bite. Anglers had to be creative to figure out what would produce the best results and it seemed to change from day to day in terms of fly size, colour and presentation. We couldn’t just rely on old faithful flies patterns that were tried and tested.
Conditions were certainly not ideal for dry fly fishing for Grayling, but even so, later in the week, we had better conditions and the Grayling didn’t disappoint either on the surface when using caddis and stimulators, with those who targeted them catching multiple Grayling in just a few short hours!
But with the quality of the Trout fishing we were having, if truth be told, it was difficult to put down the streamer rods and pick up a dry fly rod to target Grayling with hard fighting trout of 23” to 26” plus size being such a constant source of rod bending runs and jumps! A few Lake Trout were also landed as well. “Lakers” will come down out of the lakes and into the river, chasing the Salmon Smolt as they migrate from our headwaters out to the sea. June is always the best time of the year to get a chance to catch a Lake Trout with us.
The tide was out and one Bear was out in the tidal flats digging for clams. Other Bears could be seen nearby, and guests were even treated to a sow nursing her cubs right on the beach! Weather and pilot availability put plans to fly out to Halo Bay to view and photograph Bears on hold till the end of the week. Yet thankfully, a couple of days before the end of the week, we managed to get a fly-out organized, and those that took advantage of it had an amazing time. The Cessna 180 flew over lakes and rivers, mountains, glaciers and volcanos to eventually land on the beach of the wild and rugged Katmai Coast.
With the mountains surrounding the bay, and a stream coming right off a glacier and running through a meadow right down to the beach, the scene is a dramatic setting to get up close and personal with these coastal Brown Bears.
On the flight back to the lodge, guests saw 6 Moose from the air and were given a scenic flightseeing tour of the region’s iconic Valley on Ten Thousand Smokes! This is the sight of the largest volcanic eruption in the last century and 3rd largest in recorded history! It is a fascinating landscape where volcanic ash fields covered up rivers, resulting in plumes of steam coming up through the ash; thus giving the region the name of the Valley 10,000 Smokes. The “smokes” have long since disappeared but the ash remains, and in some places, it can be 100’s of feet deep! The valley has a lunar-type landscape, that in some places, looks like a mini Grand Canyon. In fact, it is the location where US Astronauts trained for their first lunar mission!!
Along with the great Trout fishing. We caught not only Grayling, but a few Char and lake Trout as well! There was a great atmosphere at the lodge as like-minded guests made new friends among themselves, sharing stories of each days adventures around some delicious meals.
It was great having some ladies among our first guests this season. Kathleen, Linda and Kat, braved the wind and cold and got some great fish, doing it in style! All in all, we had a fabulous time and feel honoured to be able to share this amazing river with those who come to visit us here at ATA Lodge!
If you would like to come and try, what in my honest opinion, is the best time of the year to target our Leopard Rainbow Trout before the salmon arrive; get in touch to book your week!
Fancy joining us on a trip to ATA Lodge in Alaska? Then take a closer look at the tour pages; you’ll find all the information you need to prepare for the trip of a lifetime!