If you have ever found yourself wondering what it must have been like to fish for salmon in years gone by, then Alaska remains the last place where you can reliably experience fishing of this calibre. The rivers still maintain very prolific runs of all species of Pacific Salmon as well as sea-run Dolly Varden, Rainbows and Grayling. Most of Alaska epitomizes true wilderness, with much of the only meaningful habitation close to the rivers that in turn sustain both local communities and much of the wildlife in the region. A trip to Alaska represents a fishing experience like none other, just do not end up using it as your benchmark in terms of catch expectations when you fish closer to home!
From mid-June to mid-July Aleutian Rivers Angling’s Sapsuk River (some call it the Hoodoo River) is home to one of Alaska’s healthiest remaining runs of king salmon. These are powerful chrome fish up to 40 pounds that aggressively take a fly, test your tackle, and keep you coming back for more. The Sapsuk River is characterised by long runs and good holding pools that are perfect for fly-fishing, both using a double-handed rod or a single depending on your preference. The team of experienced and dedicated guides will do all they can to ensure you can get to grips and tame these unbelievably strong salmon.
All fishing lodges are subject to a considerable amount of conjecture, however, Pat Vermillion, one of the founding brothers at Sweetwater Travel and head of Alaskan Fishing considers the fishing on the Hoodoo as being the most productive King Salmon Fishery he has come across. It is of course not just about big Kings. Jack King Salmon (under 20 inches) keep the interest up and the river has a reasonable Chum Salmon run towards the latter half of the King run. The river also has a run of unusually aggressive Sockeye. But returning to the main effort. 30lb+ King Salmon are what the early season anglers come for, and with a good shot at a 40lb King Salmon each week, it is a serious draw to this ultra-remote fishing lodge.
In 2014 the river had the second largest run of Kings that they have seen in a decade bucking the trend from a number of Alaskan rivers. Mandatory catch & release is upheld and this proactive management will hopefully go a long way to ensuring the quality of the fishing for the immediate and mid-term future.
The Sapsuk Camp is located 16 miles north-west of Nelson Lagoon on the banks of the Sapsuk River. Access to the camp is only available via jet boat, a scenic 50-minute upriver ride. With just 6 anglers each week the camp has an intimate feel that was as much part of the ethos and concept behind the camp, as was access to the fantastic fishing.
The camp is located on a high bluff looking over the river. There is excellent access to the 'home pools' which some of the most productive on the river, giving anglers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the virtual 24hr daylight. The camp has a great shower house (with endless hot water), kitchen/dining tent, a lounge tent and 4 guest tents with a twin pair of beds in each. Wood floors and walkways connect them all. Above all the camp has mesmeric views towards Mount Dana and Pavlov, an active volcano.
Chinook (King) Salmon
The biggest of the Pacific salmon, they got their name by default. They are the ultimate freshwater challenge and once you have hooked a fresh from the sea silver king salmon on a fly rod it will recalibrate the way you play fish. Extraordinarily powerful, they arrive into the Aleutian River systems from mid-June and continue until the end of July. Catch expectations range from 2-5 King Salmon each day with 5-6 hookups.
Chum (Dog), and Sockeye (Red) Salmon
Chum are willing to slam almost any fly offered like a speeding freight train and can strip every single inch of backing off your reel and send you leaping for the boat in a single bound. They are faster than the speediest large arbour pick up and unable to accept the concept of QUIT... what more could an adventurous angler wish for?
Sockeye, pound for pound, are one of the hardest fighting and the most aerial of the five Pacific salmon. Although not known for their willingness to take a swung fly, on the Sapsuk the fish are an exception and seem to be unusually keen to take a fly. On a light fly-rod they are exceptionally good sport.
Trout & Dolly Varden
On bright days when the Kings are less willing to bite, heading upriver will take you to some excellent Trout fishing. This upper part of the river receives close to zero fishing pressure, it would be no exaggeration to say that many of the Trout will not have seen a fly before. Fishing with mice patterns can be explosive.
Coho (Silver) Salmon
The main run on the Sapsuk is from August to September. They average 7-10lbs and arrive silver bright from the Bering Sea. They are both aggressive and fantastic fighting fish. A good Silver on the Sapsuk is in the 17-20lb range. You can expect to0 catch Silvers all day long until you are exhausted!
There are very very few rivers in N.America where you can calm a whole river to yourself. The upper sections of the Sapsuk, where the best Steelhead water is to be found, are only fished by the Aleutian Rivers Camp catering for just 4 anglers/week. The river changes in character here with a slightly steeper gradient and the finer gravel bottom of the lower river reverts to stones and boulders creating perfect lies for the Steelhead.
The camp has two guides, Mike & Joe. Both are exceptional and will do all in their means to ensure you have the best fishing possible, from expert advice on kit, casting and technique as well as being great guys to spend time with. Anglers are split into two groups of three moving up and down the river using jet boats. Although most of the best King Salmon fishing is within 5 minutes boat ride there is also excellent fishing to be had upriver of the fish-counting weir which can take a little longer to reach.
The Aleutian Rivers camp has a supply of back up gear, however, anglers should plan on bringing their own equipment. For King Salmon, double-handed rods of 13-14ft are the norm. Heavy Skagit style floating lines are the most appropriate combined with fast sinking tips on the 5-10ft range. Those wishing to fish for the other species of Salmon should take a lighter double-handed or single handed-rod for the best sport. The guides will have a good selection of flies which you can use as well as able to help out with sinking tips etc if you do not have the right ones. Whenever you go pack for cold and wet days, the weather in the Aleutians never stays the same for more than about 6hrs!
Anglers should always plan on arriving into Anchorage the day prior to the start of the trip. The following day there is a private charter flight from Merril Field Airport (approx 15 mins from the international airport). From there you will fly to Nelson Lagoon on a modern jet-prop aeroplane. The final journey to the camp is a 50-minute boat-journey, however, the lower section is tidal dependent so it may require a wait of up to 5 hours prior to departure. On the return, similar conditions apply. Although you should arrive back in Anchorage around 3-4pm you absolutely should not plan on an international flight on the same day as weather issues can cause significant delays.
Very many thanks again for hosting such a great trip to Sapsuk. I really enjoyed it & it exceeded my expectations. Mike & Joe were true stars & I don’t remember being so well guided anywhere.
Hello Justin, It was a fisherman´s paradise, I enjoy every moment. Especially the evening fishing was incredibly wonderful. The trip was much more than I ever expected. Jari-Finland July 2018
Thank you Justin - After my aspiration to experience an Alaskan fishing adventure I booked through “ WhereWiseMenFish “ with a trip to the Sapsuk River. After our flight from Anchorage, We commenced by boat from Nelson Lagoon. Camp was very organised. We hooked too many Salmon to keep count, with many fish up to 30 lbs, the trip exceeded all expectations and I had high expectations!!! Justin was a fantastic host and together with our magnificent guides, Mike and Joe, The fishing was awesome, great company, made good friends and we were so well looked after, 1st class. Trip of a lifetime….Memories forever…..Including the Friendly Bear !!!
Dear Justin, great trip, thoroughly enjoyed it. Good camp, no frills, good food, guides were great. The kings were definitely there in good numbers. Nice to have an end-of season week that has lots of fish rather than the dregs of a run. Everyone had fish over 100cm and the biggest were 103cm some of that size were weighed and were 32-34lbs. I personally banked 58 fish, 4 at 103 cm, and 27 of those were over 90cm, which was generally agreed to be the 20lb mark. -July 2019
Hello Justin, Just to let you know I had a great trip, what a remote location, wonderful place. I caught 28 Kings and a lot of Jacks as well, but only 1 Sockeye! It was still a great trip and the group were good, couldn’t of had a better bunch to share 6 days with and that also goes for the guides Mike and Ian. They were spot on, got us into the fish and kept us catching all day long. It was a fantastic week and I feel very lucky to have had such an experience. -July 2019
- Arrive Anchorage
- Overnight Anchorage
Hotel accommodation in Anchorage is not included
- Fly Anchorage-Nelson Lagoon
- Boat transfer to camp
- Brief on arrival
- Unguided fishing
Flight is approx. 2 hrs to Nelson Lagoon
- 6 full days fishing as per the weekly fishing schedule
Schedule arranged with guides the previous day however typically depart to go fishing from 7.30 onwards
- Depart Nelson Lagoon
- Arrive Anchorage
Overnight stay in Anchorage. Not included
Travel times to the Aleutians can be affected by weather. Overnight stays in Anchorage before and after are a necessity
Season: The season runs from mid-June- early September
- Mid June-July - prime King Salmon week --- $4,500/person
- Aug - Sept silver salmon week --- $4,500/person
- Seven (x7) nights
- Six (x6) and a half days fishing
- Price includes full board accommodation
- Flies, lures and terminal tackle -- Loaner gear available if required
-All meals, soft drinks, house wine & beer
Anchorage – Cold Bay-Nelson Lagoon –Approx $1,600USD
Price does not include gratuities or fishing license. Lodge capacity is 6 guests (+ host rod)
Chinook (King) Salmon
Best fishing is from mid-June to mid-July. Fish of 30lbs are an everyday possibility.
Coho (Silver) Salmon
Best fishing is from late July to early September
Sockeye (Red) Salmon
Best fishing is mid-June-mid July
Pink (Humpies) Salmon
Pink Salmon run in even-numbered years from late July to mid-August.
Chum (Dog) Salmon
Excellent from early July-late July. Fish average 10lbs and are exceptional fighters.
Fishing is excellent from late June to September.
Late August - September. Fish average 7-15lbs
12Alaska Fishing Videos
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