A trip to the best trophy rainbow river in Alaska is now available for under $4000! Come experience the smolt migrations in June, the huge runs of salmon in July, the acrobatic silvers in August and the incredible trophy rainbow fishing in September....Read More
No longer will a trip to Alaska have to be ‘once in a lifetime’, because, according to Jim, a onetime shot of Alaska just isn’t going to get it done. No, for the true big fish junkie, once in a lifetime just isn’t enough. That is why the crew at Naknek River Camp has gone the extra mile to make Alaska affordable.
If you're wondering why Jim gets away with listing this trip for half of most Alaska lodging/fishing trips, ret assured there is no catch; Jim keeps costs down by maintaining a family-run camp. His wife is head of housekeeping, the chef and a full time licensed guide. His older son, an avid fisherman and 4 time Michigan State Casting Champion, is Jim's right hand man around camp. His daughter has also been the Michigan State Casting Champion. She is the official camp photographer and the desert chef. And his youngest son is just starting his career as a fishing guide. His specialty is netting big salmon.
Here are the several exciting species of fish you can expect to target depending on the time of year:
Early Season Fishing – June & July:
Smolting Rainbows on the Naknek: The best rainbow fishing is close to camp. The rainbows concentrate on salmon smolt and leeches migrating downstream to the ocean. The best offerings include large rabbit strip and marabou leeches in black, olive and dark brown. NOT egg sucking leeches. Minnow imitations are also deadly in small to medium sizes.
Rainbows at Brooks: Brooks is flies only. In June, July and early August, rainbows will eagerly take mice, dead drifted small dries, sculpins and leeches. Recommended Tackle: an 8 ½ to 10 foot fly rod for a 5-6 weight line. The WF floater is the most popular choice, although sink-tips (130 grain to 200 grain) will work as well. 3x to 5x tippets.
Grayling at Idavain: This fishing starts out with a 1 mile hike to the better fishing grounds. Grayling are best fished with light tackle. I would use a 4 or 5 weight fly rod with a floating line. #12 and #14 adams, caddis and stoneflies (dry), small beadhead nymphs, leeches, woolybuggers and deer hair mice will all work here.
Kings: These begin showing up mid-June, building throughout the month. Most of the fishing is down in the lower Naknek, where tide is important and the water is deep. Treble hooks are legal. By late July, they will begin moving into the rapids to prepare for spawning. Single Hook Only. Recommended Tackle: We have a lot of heavy rods and reels – spinning, revolving spool and fly – that guests can use. If you want to bring some, I would recommend a 7 foot spinning rod with 30 pound braid for casting, a 9 foot spinning or casting rod with 30 pound braid for back-trolling and a 9’ for a 10 or 11 weight for flyfishing. The fly reel should employ a 400 – 600 grain sink tip line.
Sockeye: Chrome sockeye begin their trip from the ocean around June 20th. This migration continues until late July (timing varies, of course, depending on weather). Until the spawn in mid- August, sockeye will hold in slow pools and side channels. They are usually turning red by early August. Recommended Tackle: A 6-8 weight fly rod in 9’ to 11’ lengths with a Climax Zip Line is by far the best choice. A floating line with either a strike indicator or a few split shot will also work well.
Late Season Fishing – August & September:
Rainbows on the Naknek: The best rainbow fishing is close to camp and in the rapids. The rainbows will still take salmon smolt and leeches migrating downstream to the ocean, but by far the biggest food source is salmon eggs. Sockeye eggs are 6mm, silvers and pinks are 8mm and kings are 10mm. Sometimes, oversize imitations work better. I like trout beads mottled beads in orange, dark roe and pinks in sizes 6mm – 12mm. Don’t forget #8 and #10 short shank hooks and toothpicks (or the clear plastic pegs). For leeches, I like articulated and bunny strip versions without eggs in front in black, olive, purple and flesh colors. Wool head sculpin also work well. Late in the season, flesh flies might be needed.
Rainbows at Brooks: Brooks is flies only. In early August, rainbows will eagerly take mice, dead drifted small dries, sculpins and leeches. By mid to late August, the sockeye spawning kicks in and 6mm – 8mm plastic beads are king.
Margot Creek: This is some of the best arctic char/ dolly varden fishing around, along with a decent population of rainbows. The stream is full of sockeye spawning by mid August, so beads are at great bet here, with or without a fly following behind. All the same patterns listed for Brooks work well here as well. If the water is discolored, 10 and 12mm beads are deadly. The rest of the time, 6mm and 8mm work best.
Silvers: By early August, silvers should be running into the Naknek on each high tide. Bright marabou streamers in purples and pinks and other bright colors, spinners in sizes 3-5 in pink, orange, chartreuse, and silver all work very well at times, as do wiggle warts in the same colors. Lots of local guides prefer jigs in 1/8 and 1/16 ounce in pink and purple, fished with or without an indicator. When they get spooky, however, nothing compares to a shooting line, a very small split shot or 2 and a small marabou streamer (like a woolybugger or PM Wiggler) in black, purple, pink, olive and cream, fished on 2x-3x fluoro.
The best rods are 9 ½-10 ½ for a 7wt or 8wt. Line. I would want to have a shooting line, a floater and, possibly, a 200 to 300 grain sinking tip. For spinning, a 7 ½ med light rod, a reel with a smooth drag and 8 – 12 pound test line is best.
Pinks: Every even year is a pink year on the Naknek, which means that 2012 will likely bring another strong run starting in July and continuing into mid-August. They are extremely aggressive, hitting all of the flies and lures listed for silvers, and then some. Small silver spoons and spinners work very well also. They are in the 3 to 6 pound range, and so can be a lot of fun on a little lighter tackle. Light spinning rods with 8 pound line or fly rods in the 5-7 weight range are perfect. Same lines as silvers.
Kings: Early in August, the kings begin moving to their spawning areas, either up the feeder streams or in the rapids of the main stream. King season closes at the end of July, but many will be hooked throughout most of August. They must be immediately released, of course. Most of the spawning area is single hook only. Large streamers, small marabou streamers and large eggs all work well.
Sockeye: Reds are thick in August and most of September. They are either spawning, or holding in slower seams waiting to spawn. The river and creek mouths around Naknek Lake will also be full of them.
Tour Length & Price:
Jim offers 3 options for this trip: The "Do-It-Yourself" package, the "All-Inclusive" package and the "Deluxe All-Inclusive" package. All of these one-week packages offer a private riverfront cabin, all food and meals in your own comfortable dining room, and transportation to and from the King Salmon Airport. Here are the differences:
"Do-It-Yourself" package - $2,995 per person For the self-sufficient angler that wants to spend a week on the world famous Naknek, exploring this angling paradise on his own. It comes with all the above amenities as well as a boat and motor with gas.
"All-Inclusive" package -$3,995 per person One of the top guides in Alaska will take you to the best fishing that the Naknek and Katmai National Park has to offer. It comes with the cabin, meals and transportation as well as a visit to the world famous Brooks Falls and River and world-class guided fishing trips every day on the Naknek River.
"Deluxe All-Inclusive” package - $4,795 per person. This includes all of the features of the "All-Inclusive" package plus 2 float plane fly outs to some of Alaska's best fishing destinations.
The lodging for this trip includes hard sided cabins, real mattresses, a porch to enjoy the sunset and a hot shower at the end of the day. Also equipped with a nice kitchen to cook in, a dining room to enjoy great meals in, and a toilet in every cabin.
Naknek River Camp also has a few conveniences that neither one of us expected to have in the Alaskan bush, including phone service for both us and our guests. There is road access to the towns of King Salmon and Naknek, offering medical services, a general store, groceries and even fishing and hunting supplies.
A private riverfront cabin, all food and meals in your own comfortable dining room, and transportation to and from the King Salmon Airport. The cabins include towels, pillows and linens. Just bring your PJ’s, your toothbrush, your fishing gear and your sense of adventure. Jim will supply everything else.
What to Bring:
Jim has a lot of heavy rods and reels – spinning and fly – that guests can use. If you want to bring some, he would recommend: June & July: a 7 foot spinning rod with 30 pound braid for casting, a 9 foot spinning or casting rod with 30 pound braid for back-trolling and a 9’ for a 10 or 11 weight for flyfishing. The fly reel should employ a 400 – 600 grain sink tip line. August & September: a 7-9 foot spinning rod with 30 pound braid for casting and a 9 ½ for a 9 or 10 weight for flyfishing. The fly reel should employ either a 400 – 600 grain sink tip line, a floating line with a strike indicator, or a Climax Zip line (or other suitable shooting line).
Other equipment needed or recommended: Split shot in sizes b, bb and 3/0. Cone sinkers in 1/64th, 1/32nd, 1/16th, tapered leaders in 0x and 3x, fluorocarbon tippet in 2x – 5x, strike indicators in both 1 inch foam and yarn style, #12 black barrel swivels, forceps, nippers, floatant, brown or amber polarized sunglasses with strap, hat with brim, rain jacket, chest waders, wading belt, some like a wading staff, fleece pants, fleece sweater(s), wool socks, windproof fleece fingerless gloves, headnet, insect repellant, sun screen.
REMINDER- felt soles are illegal in all of Alaska! Please make sure you have rubber soled wading boots.
Captain James spends his summers running the Katmai Trophy Lodge, one of the preeminent Alaska fly fishing lodges. Born and raised on Michigan's Pere Marquette River, Captain James grew up fly fishing before he could walk....Read More
Captain James is a self-proclaimed fly fishing addict. When he's not taking care of the legendary Katmai Trophy Lodge, you can find him globetrotting to the boundaries of the world, testing the limits of what species can be caught on the fly.
Fill in date, party size, trip duration, and start time above to book and get out there with Captain James of Naknek Lake and Bristol Bay, Alaska and Captain Experiences!
Had the pleasure of fishing with James in Alaska several years back. He’s a talented fisherman with a great attitude. Still reach out to him today when I need tips... comes from a good fishing family. Highly recommend and plan to fish with him in Belize some day soon.
From the fresh waters of Alaska and Michigan to the salt of Belize, James is one of the fishiest guys around and he is a top notch guide! He is a joy to spend time with on the water!
James is a excellent fly caster and fisherman. He knows how to read the waters he is fishing. He is a excellent guide from sunny Belize saltwater to Alaska’s cold water Salmon, and big Trout. He knows and experienced it all. You can’t go wrong with Captain James.
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Feel free to enjoy responsibly, but please no glass.
You will get a refund if the trip is canceled due to weather.
You will need your own tackle.
Wader rentals are not available.
No cleaning service provided.
No, this boat does not have a bathroom on board.
Private Riverfront Cabin All Food in our Comfortable Dining Room Transportation to and from the King Salmon Airport A Visit to the World Famous Brooks Falls and River World-Class Guided Fishing Trips Every Day on the Naknek River
At an Additional Rate
No added costs.
Nothing required, we always recommend sunglasses, sunscreen, water, and weather-appropriate clothing.
Alaska Fishing License
Payment & Tipping
After paying the deposit, a QR Code will be emailed to you. On the day of the trip, your guide will scan your QR code to automatically transfer the remaining balance. The only cash needed is for a customary tip (we recommend 20%).
Yes, cancel for free up to 60 days before the trip.
Where to Buy a Fishing LicenseFind out more about licenses here.
Naknek River Camp, King Salmon, AK, USA | Bodies of water fished: Naknek River