- Price:$8900 // 7 nights / 6 days fishing
- Fish Species: Trophy Rainbow Trout, all five species of Pacific Salmon, Arctic Char, Dolly Varden, Grayling, Northern Pike, Lake Trout
- Seasonality: June – October
- Location: King Salmon, Alaska
King Salmon, Alaska
Alaska Rainbow Lodge is a premier fly-out fly fishing lodge located 35 miles NW of King Salmon on the banks of the Kvichak River, a world famous trophy rainbow trout destination fishery. Guests travel commercially to Anchorage, AK and then connect onward to King Salmon where they are met by the lodge’s floatplanes. Most guests opt to spend Thursday night in Anchorage before pushing onward to King Salmon on Friday.
Trophy Rainbow Trout, all five species of Pacific Salmon, Artic Char, Dolly Varden, Grayling, Northern Pike, Lake Trout
The Kvichak River, where the lodge is located, not only has one of the largest salmon runs in the world, it is THE trophy Rainbow Trout fishery in Alaska. The lodge’s daily fly outs also provide access to more than 30 other excellent rivers in the area and unmatched diversity in the lodge’s fishing program.
Alaska Rainbow Lodge is open June – October
Choosing a date to fish anywhere in Western Alaska depends on which species you would like to target. Fishing is excellent all season long, but the conditions and species available vary from month to month and may impact when you decide to visit. All months are excellent for viewing wildlife. (See WHEN TO GO for more details).
Alaska Rainbow Lodge is a great option for hard-core anglers as well as mixed groups looking for the “all inclusive Alaska” kind of trip. While trips here center around fishing as the dominant activity, there is no better way to experience all of western Alaska’s wilderness, scenery, and wildlife than on a fly-out fishing trip. With deluxe accommodations, Alaska Rainbow Lodge is a great option not only for fly fishing, but conventional tackle and anglers of all ages and skill levels as well.
7 Nights / 6 Days is $8900 per person
Rates are inclusive of all guided fishing and daily fly-outs, accommodations, meals, full bar including beer, wine, spirits and soda, and use of fishing equipment (rods/reels). Additional expenses include but are not limited to airfare to King Salmon, hotel accommodations in Anchorage when applicable, and gratuities. (See RATES for details).
You the client don’t pay a penny for our travel services! Our destination recommendations, organization, and pre-trip planning services are completely free of charge – and oftentimes less expensive than booking direct with a lodge or outfitter. We can assist with every question, concern, or special request related to your adventure at zero cost!
Alaska Rainbow Lodge is the newest addition to our catalog of fly-out lodges in Southwestern Alaska. Ideally located in the heart of Alaska’s best trout and salmon fisheries 35 miles north of King Salmon, AK, the reputation of Alaska Rainbow Lodge has been formed around Alaska legend, Ron Hayes. Ron built the lodge in 1982 and it is now run by Texas natives, Chip & Amanda Ferguson. Alaska Rainbow Lodge prides itself on its willingness to fly just about anywhere, making sure to find the best fishing possible, all while flying under the safety of their excellent pilots. They pilot three DeHavilland Beavers on floats alongside a fleet of over 40 premium jet boats and one Wooldridge jet boat.
Comfortable accommodations in five double occupancy bedrooms with private baths plus three private bedroom duplex cabins allow a maximum of sixteen guests. This incredible riverfront property features an outdoor gazebo, a large common area with a fully stocked bar, outstanding food, wifi internet and telephone access. They also fly the flag of each guest’s home state, which is a nice touch!
Their fishing program is purely based on variety and offering the best fly out service in Alaska. Each evening a guide will take requests on which river and/or species you would like to target and schedule accordingly. Anglers can fish the same river everyday or choose a different river each day, it’s all up to you! In a typical season, they will have flown to over 50 fishing locations in the Bristol Bay area, far surpassing the standard fishing program of competing lodges. If weather happens to play a role in flights that day, anglers have the option to fish the “Flats” of the Kvichak River, which is without a doubt one of Alaska’s largest rainbow trout producers, in addition to other salmon species and grayling.
King Salmon, Alaska is located three hundred miles southwest of Anchorage on the northwestern side of Katmai National Park, in the Bristol Bay watershed. The rivers and streams in the area are world renowned for their runs of wild Pacific Salmon and thriving resident populations of Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char, Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike, Lake Trout, and Dolly Varden.
Alaska Rainbow Lodge is a premier fly-out fly fishing lodge located 35 miles NW of King Salmon on the banks of the Kvichak River, a world famous trophy Rainbow Trout destination fishery. Guests fish the Kvichak and, with the use of the lodge’s three aircraft, hundreds of miles of nearby rivers and creeks (flight times range from 10 minutes to 1 hour), many of which are located in national and state parks and federal wildlife refuges with little or no human development. Western Alaska is the last American frontier in the world of fly-fishing, and there is perhaps no better venue to experience the wonders of this amazing wilderness than Alaska Rainbow Lodge.
Owner and pilot, Chip Ferguson, purchased the lodge from Alaska legend, Ron Hayes. Chip has taken the reputation that Ron built over 30 plus years and continued to deliver exceptional service, cuisine, hospitality, and of course fishing.
Each evening before dinner, guests visit with the head guide to discuss the next day’s fishing plans. If you want to fish a different river or lake everyday, you have that option. ARL prides itself on a completely customizable fishing program, catering to guests’ ideal fishing experience. With three DeHavilland Beavers on floats, 40+ jetboats, and a Wooldridge sports boat, ARL pilots and guides work together to deliver guests where the fishing is best, each and everyday. In the event that weather precludes flying, the incredible rainbow trout and salmon fishing of the Kvichak River is right out the back door. In fact, many guests forgo one or more fly-out days for longer fishing hours and the convenience of the Kvichak. The Kvichak is home to some of Alaska’s largest Rainbows — many exceeding 30 inches (lodge record 34.5″) and tremendous runs of all species of salmon.
ARL guides are all well versed in the program and many have over a decade of experience fishing, guiding, and exploring Alaska. Guides travel from all parts of the country and apply their home water skills while guiding – and are well kept professionals with excellent manners and instructional ability. Whether you have your children in tow or are looking to learn to cast a spey rod, ARL guides can handle guests of all skill levels, ages, genders, and levels of physical fitness.
RIVERS & LAKES
Depending on the specific rivers to be fished, on any given day guests either walk and wade streams or access more remote fishing areas by jet-boat after delivery to the area by aircraft. Fish species available throughout the season include the Pacific Salmon species of king, chum, sockeye, pink and silver, as well as the resident fish species of rainbow trout, arctic char, dolly varden, arctic grayling, northern pike and lake trout. The lodge maintains a huge fleet of jet boats stashed on various rivers throughout the region ensuring that travel time is cut and that there is no shortage of exploration of each river in search of the best fishing. Float trips in comfortable rafts are also part of the weekly routine depending on the season and anglers’ interests. Southwestern Alaska offers an incredible diversity of fishing opportunities with eleven game fish species available throughout the season.
Alaska Rainbow lodge flies to over thirty of Bristol Bay’s best river systems. The following is a brief description of the most popular spots. With three airplanes on floats, flexibility, safety, and speed also allows for easy access on many other lesser known rivers that can seasonally fish off the charts and don’t have much competition from other fly-out lodges.
The Kvichak is ARL’s home river. Dumping out of Lake Illiamna, the largest lake in Alaska, the Kvichak is one of the most famous rivers in the world for harboring huge rainbows. It also has one of the largest salmon runs, with all five species present. The Kvichak is big water, and a must do river with any trip to Alaska. Alaska Rainbow Lodge keeps six jet boats on the “braids” section of the river, a renowned stretch of the river that lends itself to easier wading opportunities and the ability to sight cast to huge rainbows in the 25-32 inch range. The “braids” section is a comfortable 45 minute ride in the lodge’s Wooldridge. There, anglers load up in jet boats and head out for the day. The Kvichak has a spectacular run of chromed up rainbows during the annual June smolt migration, as well as a September swing for huge steelhead-like rainbows in the main stem.
The Naknek is big water for big fish! It boasts an enormous salmon run, with all five species present, and some of the largest rainbows in Alaska. The upper Naknek becomes more wade friendly, with many shallow shelves along the willow lined banks. 22-28 inch rainbows are par for the course on the Naknek, with numerous 10 pound + specimens coming to hand throughout the season.
Early season smolt runs offer incredible opportunities for rainbows as huge trout follow the smolt out of Naknek Lake busting bait balls. The middle parts of the season offer consistent bead/egg fishing for ‘bows. Experienced anglers from all over the world make a fall pilgrimage to the Naknek and Kvichak rivers during the latter half of September in search of the largest rainbows on earth. Starting around September 15th, “The Swing” turns on when the largest lake run rainbows enter the river system. This event allows anglers the world’s best chance for catching multiple 30+ inch rainbows. It is “steelhead style” fishing, often fished most effectively with two-handed spey rods while wading the gravelly shallow shelves and banks of this stunning freestone.
Tributaries of both these lake systems hold huge char; and ARL regularly has guests catch 35-inch trophies — oftentimes several fish over thirty inches a day per angler. Unlike many places where char of these proportions are found, ARL is within easy striking distance. Ugashik is accessed by float plane on one of the lakes and anglers easily wade the one mile connecting stream loaded with thousands of char feeding on salmon roe. It is like shooting ducks on the pond and a really fun distraction from the hard-core rainbow fishing.
BROOKS & BROOKS FALLS
You know that iconic National Geographic image of the bear catching the salmon in the air? The Brooks River contains the world famous Brooks Falls, where bears enjoy a perennial feast of salmon as they ascend the falls. This is a tremendous opportunity to see one of nature’s great spectacles. Brooks offers bear-viewing platforms to assist visitors in viewing and avoiding the bears. These platforms give you an elevated view of the bears in total safety; a must see for photographers.
The Brooks River can also provide excellent rainbow and sockeye fishing for anglers, provided the bears allow you to fish. At peak bear times there can be so many bears as to make fishing difficult, but the river is loaded with zillions of 18-28 inch rainbows.
With its crystal clear water, Battle Creek is a sight-fishing mecca. Although it can get a bit crowded at times, guides will conduct a float trip down the rich upper stretches in solitude, or stake out a proper beat of river on the lower sections bang away at the hundreds of gluttonous rainbows slurping on roe from spawning sockeye. The rainbows in Battle are constantly on the move with fresh fish moving up and down the numerous, windy, runs of the system. Right when you think you have fished out the hole and break for lunch, before you know it several more big targets visibly move into your spot.
Moraine Creek flows 15 miles from Spectacle Lake to Kukaklek Lake. Funnel Creek is its major tributary. The Moraine has the reputation of having some of the biggest rainbow trout in and around Katmai National Park. This stream consistently produces the largest trout of the season outside of the Naknek and Kvichak, with some fish exceeding 30 inches. Views of surrounding glacial valleys, wildlife, and river scenery also help make the Moraine one of the most popular spots for ARL guests.
The Upper Branch is a typical winding Alaskan river with a ton of structure. Islands, rapids, skinny riffles, downed trees and deep-water cuts are all part of this amazing stretch of river, offering anglers a fun variety of fishable water. This river is home to a huge number of “leopard” rainbows in the 16-22 inch range with the occasional 25 incher. Dolly varden, grayling and salmon are also present. For wildlife lovers, this is the river to be on for endless bald eagle encounters. Expect to see at least 50 if not more if you are on the lookout!
The upper (67 mile) section was deemed a National Wild and Scenic River System, making it illegal to store boats. Fortunately, Ron Hayes purchased a small plot of land in the 80’s allowing the lodge to legally store jet boats. Utilizing a jet boat makes exploring much more effective from a fishing standpoint and also saves a ton of time. The alternative is to launch small rafts at the top section of the river and do single or multi-day floats.
The American fishes great all season and is another river loaded with feisty 18-26 inch rainbows and char up to 27-28 inches. It is a steep drainage and is also a great spot to consider if you are interested in some mouse fishing. Some of the most beautiful hikes and often the best dry fly fishing in the state.
The Kulik is one of the most beautiful fly-out destinations in the Katmai region. Surrounded by mountains, the river is a little more than a mile long and drains Kulik Lake into Nonvianuk Lake. Kulik is a great fishery providing good numbers of aggressive trout ranging to 25 inches, with the average fish 17-18 inches. During peak times Kulik can be a little crowded, but on most days, the river is generous with fish, elbow room, and wilderness scenery. Alaska Rainbow Lodge operates unique float trips down the Kulik. It is a high volume style of fishing with medium sized fish, but is a great place for those looking to rack up the easy numbers.
The grand daddy of all Alaskan King Salmon rivers. ARL keeps two boats at the Nushagak for anglers who want to try their hand at the largest of the salmon species. Getting there is simple, a spectacular quick jump in the Beaver.
The Big Ku is a wide-open, larger river with beautiful views of Kukaklek Lake and surroundings. The Big Ku is a great early June trout fishery where trout lay in wait ready to attack clouds of salmon smolt as they make their migration to the ocean. Trout fishing remains good all season long – along with excellent sockeye fishing.
The Little Ku is a small tannic colored stream that empties into the west end of Kukaklek Lake. It is the smaller of the two rivers but the trout that return to it each year are not! The Little Ku has good numbers of big rainbows and can have a lot of bears. The Little Ku offers plenty of walking, however the appeal for those who endure the walk is the opportunity to catch big native trout without the crowds.
FISHING EQUIPMENT PROVIDED
Alaska Rainbow Lodge provides their guests with high end Sage and Redington fly rods and reels. The lodge rents waders and wading boots for guests who do not have their own or choose not to bring them.
Nothing caps off a long day on the water better than a hot shower and comfortable place to grab a cocktail and relax. Alaska Rainbow Lodge has you covered! The facility’s traditional log cabin style buildings are tastefully decorated and tailor made for a luxurious Alaskan wilderness experience.
The lodge sits on a bluff perched above the Kvichak with a great river view. The dock and floatplanes are right out the back door! Guests enjoy a spacious common area with fully stocked bar and high speed wireless internet. Meals are taken in the adjoining dining room.
ARL spares no expense when it comes to feeding their guests. The accessibility to daily flights from Anchorage allows the world-class chefs to pamper guests with meals of the freshest ingredients. They serve only the finest meats, have access to the freshest salmon and halibut on earth, and have fresh produce delivered weekly. The lodge employs two full time professional chefs that turn out phenomenal meals from fresh seafood to prime rib. Truthfully, the meals at Alaska Rainbow lodge are perhaps the best we have enjoyed at any fishing lodge . . . anywhere. Desserts are delicious, the bar is always well stocked, and the wine selection is always top notch. At the bar, guests can mix up their own cocktails, pour a cold beer or enjoy a variety of imported red and white wines. While out for the day, you will be offered a hot shore lunch of salmon and/or char (weather and bears permitting). If you are rafting or hiking the chefs will send along a delicious picnic lunch with hot soup, salad and sandwiches.
Guests stay in five spacious double occupancy bedrooms with private baths, plus three private bedroom duplex cabins. The maximum capacity of sixteen anglers is more intimate than most competing lodges.
ARL ensures the ability to deliver great trips by owning three de Havilland Beavers on floats. Enough cannot be said about this fleet of airplanes! Almost everyday, at least one group takes the Wooldridge up the Kvichak to chase big rainbows. As a result, ARL’s three planes are shared by only 12 anglers. No need to wait your turn – just hop on the plane with your guide and go.
The three Beavers are the backbone of ARL’s fishing operation. Though designed in the late 40’s, no plane since has taken their place. Each one of ARL’s pilots is assigned to one plane and maintains it during the summer. All three receive the very best maintenance available during the winter off season. The lodge always puts safety first during trips to and from the fishing locations.
Alaska Rainbow Lodge operates on a Friday – Friday schedule.
The first leg of the trip is accomplished by guests reaching Anchorage, Alaska, which is serviced by numerous commercial carriers. Most guests opt to fly to Anchorage on Thursday and spend the night at one of our recommended hotels before traveling to the lodge Friday morning.
ANCHORAGE TO KING SALMON
The second leg of the trip, on Friday, is a one hour flight (285 miles) from Anchorage to King Salmon. After landing in King Salmon, guests and luggage are collected by ARL’s planes for the final thirty minute flight to the lodge. Upon arrival at the lodge, guests have time to unpack and get oriented before getting fishing licenses, meeting guides, and getting outfitted with any necessary gear.
Travel to Anchorage, Alaska. Spend the night in Anchorage at a recommended hotel. Hotel accommodations and meals are not included in package cost.
Travel to King Salmon on PenAir and onward to the lodge in one of their floatplanes. Upon arrival at the lodge, unpack and get oriented before getting fishing license. That evening meet the guides and get outfitted with any necessary gear. The ARL head guide also visits with each angler about customizing the week of fishing. Pick the rivers YOU want to fish, not the other way around!
SATURDAY – THURSDAY
Fishing days! Each morning starts with hot coffee and choice of juice delivered to your room. Breakfast is served between 6 and 7 a.m. After breakfast, gather gear and meet your guide. Planes depart lodge beginning at 7:30 – 8 a.m. After fishing, planes, boats, and anglers return to the lodge between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served before dinner, which is usually scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Guests at Alaska Rainbow Lodge are booked on a full week fly out package that includes six fly out trips if desired.
Departure day. Guests check out of the lodge after breakfast and are flown thirty minutes to the King Salmon Airport and check in for their commercial flight back to Anchorage. There is no additional overnight required in Anchorage en route back to the lower forty-eight, and most commercial flights are “red-eye” overnight flights arriving home early the following morning.
*Shorter week fishing packages may be available. See Packages and Prices for Details.
**On some occasions it is possible to fly directly through to King Salmon via Seattle, Washington with Alaska Airlines. Please inquire for details if you would like to avoid spending the night in Anchorage the Thursday prior to the Friday arrival at the lodge.
When to Go
Alaska Rainbow Lodge is open from early June through early October. Choosing a date to fish anywhere in Western Alaska depends on which species you would like to target. Fishing is excellent all season, but the conditions and species available vary from month to month and may impact when you decide to visit. All months are excellent for viewing wildlife, and anglers often find themselves sharing the river or stream with multiple grizzly bears doing a little fishing of their own.
The annual salmon run plays a huge role in the productivity and style of fishing. Every summer millions of Pacific Salmon return to their home streams to spawn and die, contributing in this natural cycle of life that maintains the health and productivity of the fishery.
JUNE – DRY FLIES, MICE & KING SALMON
The month of June is marked by the arrival of the mighty king salmon and the mass exodus of salmon fry heading downstream to the ocean. Trout fishing during this period is typically excellent and perhaps the best time of the year to experience some of Alaska’s dry fly and mouse fishing for rainbows as well as swinging flies and trolling for Chinook.
JULY – DIVERSITY – GREAT MONTH FOR “EVERYTHING ALASKA”
July is a month noted for its huge variety of options including the peak of the king and sockeye runs as well as the addition of the chum and pink salmon. By the end of the month nearly every fish migration is in effect on some level, and July is a wonderful month for anglers looking to experience a sampling of nearly all the species and styles of fishing Alaska offers.
AUGUST – SILVER SALMON
August is the month of the silver salmon (Coho), the most acrobatic and eager of the five Pacific salmon species. Although pinks and chums are still around in August, the silver salmon steal the show. As the silvers make their grand entrance, most other species are on their spawning beds and the rainbows, char and dolly varden are in tow feeding non-stop on the protein enriched salmon eggs. Fishing technique during august typically revolves around feeding egg patterns to eager and focused rainbows, dolly varden and char gorging below spawning salmon.
SEPTEMBER – RAINBOWS!
The highlight of the month are the huge rainbows! After a full summer of feeding on salmon eggs and flesh, rainbows are at their fattest weights of the year. The salmon runs are complete by the end of the month and the biggest rainbows are still on the move feeding on anything they can grab in anticipation of the conclusion of the gluttonous summer. September and early October offer the angler the best opportunity to catch a real legendary monster Alaskan Rainbow over thirty inches on the Naknek or the Kvichak. Both rivers are also excellent venues for learning the two-handed or spey cast while swinging flies for the big boys.
The weather is about the only thing you CANNOT count on with your trip to Alaska. Guests must plan on every type of weather to occur at anytime. Daytime temperatures range from cool to hot and rain showers can occur at any moment. On any given day you could see hot weather turn to cold, calm turn to windy, and sunny to rainy almost before your eyes. If you decide to visit Alaska, quality rain gear is an absolute must. Typically, June and July are a little warmer and drier than August and September.
Although fishing is the predominant activity at Alaska Rainbow Lodge, we encourage non-angling companions to visit the lodge as well. Perhaps the best way to see Alaska’s beautiful countryside, wildlife, and wilderness is on a fly-out fishing trip. Although daily activities are oriented around fishing, guests at ARL can detour to enjoy some wildlife viewing, valley of 10,000 smokes, go on a hike, etc.
Wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities are everywhere including daily sightings of bears as well as wolves, moose, bald eagles, and other bird life. ARL is by no means a pretentious “fly fishing only” program. Beginner anglers are welcome and encouraged to use spinning equipment (provided) instead of fly-rods if required to make guests more comfortable and successful.
BEARS & OTHER WILDLIFE
Get ready to see a lot of bears! Katmai National Park has one of the densest populations of brown bears in Alaska (more than 2000). First time Alaskan anglers are blown away, but by the end of the week bears are almost an afterthought. Nearly every river system is overrun with brown bears during the annual summer run of salmon. You will share the river with bears doing fishing of their own just about every day. ARL Guides are well versed in bear etiquette, and will train anglers on the proper protocol when bears are encountered. Bears usually want to avoid a close encounter as much as you do, and they are a memorable and integral part of the Alaskan fishing experience.
It is also possible to see wolves, moose, otters, foxes, bald eagles, and tons of other bird life. Photographers and non-anglers will love the accessibility to these species provided by the superb fly out program at ARL.
All rates based on shared room/guide
7 Nights / 6 Days Fishing:$8900 per person
6 Nights / 5 Days Fishing:$7200 per person
Please inquire about pricing for a private room/guide, and for shorter week itineraries (based on availability).
7 Nights double occupancy accommodations at Alaska Rainbow Lodge; 6 Days guided fly-out fishing with shared guide; Daily transportation via aircraft to rivers, streams, lakes, and wildlife viewing areas; Daily housekeeping and daily laundry service; Three meals per day from a daily menu; All inclusive beverages including beer, wine, liquor, and soda; All transfers between the King Salmon Airport and Lodge; Use of, fly rods & reels, spinning rods, tackle; Use of lodge telephone and fax; Preparation of all harvested game in approved shipping container for traveling home.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
Roundtrip airfare to/from Anchorage, Alaska; Roundtrip connection to/from King Salmon, Alaska; Accommodations while in Anchorage Thursday night prior to Friday arrival at the lodge (when applicable); Applicable fishing licenses; Souvenirs; All applicable gratuities (10-20% of trip cost is customary).
TERMS & CONDITIONS
Tailwaters Travel must adhere to the cancellation policies of the guides, outfitters and lodges which it represents. Alaska Rainbow Lodge’s policy follows: A fifty-percent (50%) deposit is required at the time of booking to confirm all reservations. All deposits and final payments become nonrefundable 180 days before the trip start date. All trips must be paid in full 90 days prior to the trip start date and the entire fee becomes due even if the guest cannot make the trip.
A deposit may be transferred to another person who is not booked at the lodge for the current season. Deposits are refundable for cancellation only after/if the cancelled space has been filled. Refunds are not granted for non-flying days due to weather or reasons out of the lodge’s control. Refunds of deposits/payments made on credit cards will be charged a 3.5% service charge to fully compensate Tailwaters Travel for all bank charges incurred. Receipt of deposit and/or final payment is acknowledgement that registrant has read and accepts the cancellation, refund and responsibility clauses.