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Updates from the Alagnak River in Alaska with ATA during COVID-19

Updates from the Alagnak River in Alaska with ATA during COVID-19

We have just received a great update from the team over in Alaska who while being locked down during the global pandemic used there time to get out onto the rivers and see how the rivers were doing, and lets just say, the quality of fish was outstanding!

I will now hand you over to Wayne for his great write up of the past few weeks on the water –

We have had a late start due to Covid19, but we are happy to announce that we are Open for Business As Not So Usual!   And what a great time to be here at ATA Lodge on the Alagnak Wild River!

Normally we would have an opening week starting June 8th with a lodge full of guests here for the great trout fishing that we have at the beginning of the season before the salmon start to arrive.  But this year we were forced to close for the whole month of June because of complications related to the Covid19 pandemic.  What that meant for us, is that our staff got to do a little fishing between opening up projects and see just what was happening on the river.  And we were pleased with the overall quality of Trout we were catching!

But fortunately we were able to open out doors to guests by July 5th in time for the Sockeye Salmon to begin their annual spawning migrations from Bristol Bay into the Alagnak Wild and Scenic River that we call home for 4 months every year!

And come they did….in their 100’s of Thousands!!!  In fact after the first trickle that we began to see in early July, by the end of the very first week we saw over 1.5 million chrome, sea run Sockeye start to flood the river.  They are, as I type, streaming past our dock in a non-stop column 3-6 wide!  The run this year is so heavy that Alaska State Fish and Game has upped the limit an angler can retain each day from the normal 5 fish to 10!

This is truly one of nature’s most amazing spectacles….the Return of the Sockeye is a sight that has to be seen to be believed!

And not only is the sight of all these Salmon in the river a sight to behold, so are the stunning locations that we get to target and fish for them.  It is a real privilege to be able to stand in the midst of such natural beauty while doing something that we love so much to do.  You couldn’t ask for anything more.  

I had the special added pleasure of being able to welcome one of my childhood best friends who came up to support us this year the very first week we were open to receive guests.  Jon and I have known each other since we were toddlers together in the church nursery and have remained best friends through high school and college all the way to this very day.  This was his first time to Alaska, but I’m sure it won’t be his last!  Truth be told, he was not a fisherman before he came, but like so many of us, this “once in a lifetime trip” soon becomes “once will never be enough” after having been here!

With the return of the Sockeye Salmon, you can be sure that the Brown Bears of the Katmai Wilderness will also return in mass to feed on the bounty that the Alagnak River offers!  These Bears are the original fisherman who return every season to feast on the Salmon and gain essential calories to prepare for another harsh winter’s hibernation that is only a few months away after the last of the Salmon have spawned and died.

We have been able to spend whole days on the river, putting our fishing rods down and picking up our cameras to capture amazing images of these most impressive apex predators.  For millennia they have thrived on the Salmon that sustain not just them, but the entire ecosystem that depends on the nourishment they carry from the sea, hundreds of miles inland to the banks of the rivers and lakes they return to spawn in.  These bruins will almost double their body weight in just a few short months entirely on a menu of fresh Salmon.

It’s been a pleasure have renowned wildlife photographer Kevin Dooley return for his 3rd year in a row to be here with us and help document this remarkable “Bear show” that is played out up and down the river during this magical time of the year!

Kevin and I also got to do an amazing trip down the Aleutian peninsula to photograph the walrus that migrate south from the Bearing Sea to feed along the coastline of Bristol Bay this time of year.  What a spectacle to witness over 1500 Walrus that had hauled out of the sea to laze around on the beach.

We did a fly out down the peninsula that lasted about one hour before we found this group.  We almost didn’t make it because of thick fog that forced us to land on the beach and wait for the fog to lift.  But once it did, we were able to continue on and we are so glad it worked out so that we could witness these truly wild and weirdly wonderful creatures.  We spent about 2 hours among them, working our way, slowly ever closer until we were just a stone’s throw away from these behemoths that weigh in excess of 2000 lbs each.  I can say in all honesty that being there made me feel a lot better about my beach body!

A warm fairwell from the ATA team

So although it is time for me to wrap up this blog post and say farewell, it is not goodbye as we still have a couple more months to go before the season is over and I will be back again soon with more updates and fishing reports from ATA Lodge on the Alagnak Wild River!

Tight Lines,

Wayne Mcgee

Wow! It certinly looks like the rivers are still continuing to generate amazing fish at amazing sizes and quantity , it just goes to show that negligence always improves a wild river! We cant wait to get back out here and wet a line on this umbelivable river once again.

Do you want to experience this river for yourself? If so, take a look at our dedicated tour page which is filled with catch reports, pictures, videos and many other great resources. Alternatively, you can contact our office on 01603 407596 or email us on info@sportquestholidays.com.

Tight lines,

Peter Collingsworth

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