North 40 Hosted: Swing For Giant, “Solstice” Kings on Alaska’s Kanektok River

Alaska_West_guided_kanetok_trip

Bring your spey rods to Alaska West and prepare for battle, June 17-24 2018.

Let’s face it—life ain’t that long. And, if you have a passion to swing Intruders and other beefy flies for enormous king salmon and other anadromous beasts, the window between now and the toe-tag narrows.

That’s because you just can’t fish all the killer swing water in lifetime. That means you can either throw in the towel, break those big sticks over a knee and say you just can’t face that reality . . . or, you can narrow the list into “Lifetime Trips” and hit as many of those as possible.

If you choose option two (and why wouldn’t you?), western Alaska’s incredible Kanektok River ought to rank at the top of your list. The “K-Tok”, which rests on the edge of the Bering Sea and offers some of the meanest, fly-scarfing king salmon on the planet, is just the right size for two-handed devotees, meaning not too thin to call those 14-foot 9-weight spey rods overkill, and not too wide to prevent anglers for reaching most of those chrome-bright tankers swimming upstream.

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These fish, which are also called chinooks, roll into the Kanektok from Kuskokwim Bay on each tide. In June—the early season—Kanektok kings are truly silver-bright, showing no signs of freshwater deterioration, as kings and other salmonids may display in July and August. So, if you are looking for the fight of a lifetime, from a fish at the top of its game, early kings on the Kanektok can’t be beat . . . anywhere in the world.

That’s why North 40 Fly Shop and Fred Telleen are hosting a trip to Alaska West. “AK West” as it often is called, is a classic fishing camp resting on the banks of the Kanektok, just a few miles upstream from saltwater, in prime position to intercept these fresh fish, which average about 20 pounds and sometimes stretch past the 40-pound mark. Additionally, if you can pull yourself away from those kings you can target rainbow trout on the Kanektok, where you’ll tie into “leopard” ‘bows ranging to two feet long, all eager to smash whatever they can catch. That means you can bring your trout spey setup and swing sculpins and smolt patterns, and maybe even mice, when you’re not trying to stop a king from running back to the Bering Sea with all of your line and backing.

Fly fishing at Alaska West is considered one of the Great Land’s best values—you get shots at giant kings and the undeniably beautiful leopard rainbow, with chances to catch sockeye salmon and dolly varden char . . . and you do so while fishing from an established camp with longstanding tradition. This is a sure bet on the fishing fun scale and we hope to share this experience with you in June. Limited slots available for this prime early-run king week, so book soon.

Contact/Book This Trip: fred.telleen@north40.com

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The Details

Dates: This North 40 hosted trip with spey guru Fred Telleen includes six days and seven nights, from June 17 to June 24, 2018.

Cost: Priced at $6,395 per angler, a week at Alaska West is considered one of Alaska’s best fishing deals. Flights and an Alaska fishing license are not included in the price of the trip.

The Season and Fish: Fresh, bright kings swim into the Kanektok in early June and don’t stop pushing in until late July. The early season fish—meaning the June timeframe—are as hot as any fish on the planet. Anglers commonly hook into a king or two a day during this time—often more—and they never forget the sight of their line peeling off the reel at warp speed. Anglers also swing up big Kanektok rainbows in June and may do so while swinging streamers off trout spey rods.

A Standard Day: It barely gets dark in Alaska around the summer solstice—which occurs during this trip—so rest up before you arrive. Alaska West guests start their days with breakfast, then grab their gear and meet their guide at the river. From there, anglers are transported to a prime run via 18-foot shallow-draft jetboats. Because the lodge sits on the lower river, boatrides to prime water rarely stretch past 15 minutes long. Anglers get to fish 10 hours a day if they choose, and then they meet at the dining hall for incredible dinners before repeating the process the following day. Note: Because Alaska West accesses prime water via boats guests don’t deal with downtime like they might at a fly-out lodge. Windy? Driving rain? Perfectly calm and sunny? Doesn’t matter—a boat is never grounded you can get your day of fishing in if you choose, no matter the weather.

North 40 Hosted Swing For Giant, “Solstice” Kings on Alaska’s Kanektok River (2)

The Guides: Alaska West offers some of the best-known and highly respected guides in the business and they are great instructors. If you want to try spey for the first time (and you should on this big river) these guides gladly walk you through a variety of casts and then put you on the fish. Then it’s up to you. In addition, your host, Fred Telleen, is a multi-year veteran at Alaska West and a self-described spey-junkie. He’s available each evening to answer questions and continue your king salmon/spey rod education.

Accommodation: Anglers stay in Weatherport tents with carpeted wood floors and individual beds. Each tent is equipped with a heater so you’ll sleep warm no matter how wet or chilled you may have become on the water. The lodge hosts no more than 20 guests per week and you’ll get to know these likeminded people as you swap stories and share breakfasts and dinners at a spacious dining tent. After dinner you can hang your waders and boots, and any other wet gear, in a drying room. Hot showers are available at all times. Outhouses are available, too. For a remote lodge located on the edge of the Bering Sea, Alaska West is very comfortable and allows anglers to live by the lodge’s motto: Fish Hard, Rest Easy.

Getting There: Anglers headed to Alaska West can overnight in Anchorage, Alaska or arrive on an early morning flight, via several major carriers, including Alaska Airlines. After a night in Anchorage or after that early morning arrival, guests take a charter flight from Anchorage to Quinhagak on an ERA Aviation Dash-8. Check in for this flight at 9 a.m. at the Anchorage International Airport. The flight leaves Anchorage at 10 a.m. Alaska West representatives meet guests in Quinhagak and shuttle anglers and gear upstream to camp. The flight leaves the following Sunday and arrives in Anchorage around 3 p.m.

North 40 Hosted Swing For Giant, “Solstice” Kings on Alaska’s Kanektok River

Equipment: When you fish Alaska West and the Kanektok River in June, you fish for kings and rainbows . . . likely with two-hand spey rods. These rods give you the power to cast far and reach fish that you wouldn’t touch with a single-hand rod. These kings are big and are hard on tackle, so bring everything you need, including flies, rods, lines and sink-tips (see gear list for full details). Because Alaska’s coastal weather is fickle, bring capilene long underwear, layers of clothing and the best waders and rain jacket you can buy. Alcohol is not provided. Coffee is always on.

Contact/Book This Trip: fred.telleen@north40.com

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I fly fish to live (25+ years guiding). I live to fly fish (obsession). At the age of two, I captured my first Bluegill in Southern Michigan. Since then, I have never stopped looking into waters for fish. My first wild trout came from the waters of Glacier NP a few years later. I spent much of my youth chasing fish in Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and throughout central Canada. I went to Alaska in 1989, where I met my wife, started a family and spent 26 seasons guiding anglers. Great Falls and the North 40 Fly Shop are now home base. Stop by and lets talk fish, bear encounters or even my experience with Bigfoot.

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