The International Angler hosted its annual trip to Alaska at the end of September which included a stay at both the Royal Coachman Lodge and the Copper River Lodge. There were 5 of us from Pittsburgh that made the trip to Alaska. Of those, 3 were repeat fisherman and 1 was a veteran of 6 consecutive IA Alaska trips. That in itself speaks to the success and gratification of fishing in Alaska. Logistically we started our week at the Royal Coachman for 3 days of fishing and moved to the Copper River mid-week for the final 3 days to finish out our trip. This trip affords the fisherman the opportunity to experience a multitude of angling opportunities for various species of fish as well as the geographical differences, breathtaking landscapes and wildlife that Alaska has to offer.
The Royal Coachman
We arrived at the Royal Coachman Lodge on Sunday for the first half of our trip. Traveling to the Royal Coachman requires a flight from Anchorage to Dillingham where we were met by a couple of our guides and pilots for the final flight to the lodge. The final leg of the trip is by the 2 float planes the lodge has which is also your mode of daily transportation for the duration of your stay. The planes take off from Aleknagik Lake outside of Dillingham and it is just about a 45 minute flight to the Royal Coachman Lodge. The lodge sits on the banks of the Nuyakuk River in the Wook-Tichik National Forest so you are never far from a fishing opportunity. The first afternoon upon arrival a few of us proceeded down to the river and caught many Grayling on dry flies and droppers. A couple of us even had doubles where one fish took the dry and one fish took the dropper simultaneously. What a way to set the fish catching tone for the week. The next 3 days fishing out of the Royal Coachman afforded us a variety of fishing options that included high mountain lakes and various rivers throughout the Togiak/Tikchik region of Alaska. We had a variety of weather conditions that confronted us during our stay which include rain, snow, and a sunny balmy day around 50 degrees. You just need to be prepared for the changing Alaska weather, and rest assured under all of these conditions the guides had locations that we fished and were successful. The emphasis is on variety of fish and the guides had us catching Rainbows, Salmon, Grayling, Dolly Varden, and even a special strain of large and gorgeously-marked Char (Dolly Varden) found only in one lake system. On the sunny and 50 degree day 4 of us ventured into one of the high mountain lakes that the lodge has exclusive access to once a week. It was by far one of my best fishing days I have ever had. We actually had to leave (per our guides enthusiastic requests) the pod after pod of 10 pound plus silver salmon in which all 4 of us had fish on and were landing them simultaneously time after time. Well our reluctance was soon forgotten when we got into some of the most incredible Dolly Varden (char) you could ever imagine. Again, numerous, beautifully colored, large and willing to eat as long as you did your part presenting the fly. They were even hitting mouse flies skated across the surface. Even our 6 year veteran Al was quoted as saying “this was one of the best days of fishing I have had in Alaska” which after 6 consecutive trips truly describes how special that day was. Big thanks to Tony, Brad and Thor our pilot for presenting that remarkable unforgettable experience.
The Copper River
The second half of the week was spent at the Copper River Lodge which is located on the banks of the Copper River close to the mouth which empties into Iliamna Lake. Iliamna is the largest lake in Alaska, eighth largest lake in the United States, and one of the largest in North America, covering about 1,000 sq. miles. The lake is 77 miles long and up to 22 miles wide, with a maximum depth of 988. The float planes transported us from the Royal Coachman and about an hour and 15 minutes later we were landing on Iliamna. From there it is a short boat ride to the lodge. One of the cool things about fishing both lodges and locations is the change in topology. The areas that we fished out of the Royal coachman were more tundra and flatter in nature. While in the Copper River region it was more forests and mountains and bears. The bears were plentiful as they were on the feed grabbing as many salmon carcasses that they could before hibernation. We were instructed to not go off of the deck around the lodge after dark as you may run into a brown bear and risk startling them. One night a bear bit through the water line under the lodge and we had a brief period without water. The bears were always around but not really a threat as long as you staed out of their way. The fishing on the Copper is primarily for large Rainbows with some Dollies and a couple of Salmon thrown in for good measure. The Rainbows migrate into this river from the lake when the salmon run taking the opportunity to eat the eggs during the spawn. There is a good chance of catching a 30 inch Rainbow out of this river with most of the fish being caught in the 17 to 23 inch range while were there. I was witness to one of these 30 inch Rainbows being hooked by Al, unfortunately the fish came unbuttoned and was lost. Our group was the last group to stay at the original Copper River lodge which has been in existence since the 1960s. It was kind of surreal thinking it was the end of an era and we were the last group of many fisherman over the last 40 plus years to enjoy this historical lodge. There was a lot of character and historical décor that adorned the walls of the lodge both inside and out. We did have the opportunity to see the new lodge being constructed further up the hill which is to open for the 2014 season. The new lodge looks like a fantastic facility and is setup much like the Royal Coachman lodge with small cabins and private baths in each cabin. At the time of our stay the future of the old lodge had not been decided.
This was one of the best weeks of fishing in my life. I’ve fished a few places here and there, and but the Royal Coachman and Copper River had the best combination of fishing quality, variety, size of the fish and scenic beauty I have ever encountered. The guides were top-notch, the food was terrific and the accommodations were extremely comfortable. How many other remote lodges can offer a hot sauna to help relax those sore muscles after a long day on the river?
So, if you would like to catch a variety of big fish on the fly while using your PA trout and steelhead equipment and steelhead techniques, as well as be immersed in the beauty of one of the largest wild and untouched wilderness locations in the world, I would highly recommend that you put this trip on your short list of places to fish.
I will leave you with a couple quotes from members of our group:
“The biggest fish you ever caught, the most fish you ever caught, and that’s just the beginning…..”
“Where else can you catch huge, fat, wild fish that give you the fight of your life.
|We have TWO spots remaining on our premier trip to the Bristol Bay region in Alaska.
Our adventure consist of 7 nights lodging, meals, and 6 days guided fishing. The fishing week is split 3 days at the Royal Coachman Lodge, and 3 days at the Copper River Lodge.
Trip dates: September 20 to 27, 2015
Cost: $7,100.00 each, double occupancy
Species: Trophy Rainbow trout,
Coho (Silver) Salmon, Arctic Char, and Grayling
The 2015 trip will be our 8th consecutive year with this fabulous destination. Feel free to contact us, (412) 788-8088, for additional information.
Copper River Lodge
September 20 to 26, 2015
6 Nights lodging, meals, and 7 days
$5,200.00 each, double occupancy
Fishing for trophy rainbow trout on
“Trophy Rainbow, Fly Fishing Only” river,
the Amazing Copper River.
ONLY 2 SPOTS LEFT
Royal Coachman Lodge
September 20 to 27, 2015
7 Nights lodging, meals, and 7 days
of guided Fly out fishing
$8,375.00 each, double occupancy