Fly Fishing In The Alaska Backcountry

A photo essay of an unguided unsupported back country float for 7 days on the Alagnak River in Katmai National Park. 

The fishing had been getting better and better as we floated, and the prior day had seen us finally start to get into some serious salmon. On the 6th and final full day on the river, I was up with the intent to fish the seam below the gravel bar that we were camping on. We had arrived a bit too late the night before to get down there and I was hoping for big fish! The water was so stinking high during the trip that even getting to the end of the gravel bar was a bit of a chore. It was pretty cool though. An old school cabin had been picked up by the flood water and washed down the river before it landed it on the gravel bar. All the construction was done by hand and topped with a corrugated tin roof. Unfortunately, whoever had built it was out of luck because it was definitely not salvageable. 

The bottom of this particular gravel bar looked perfect; two mid paced currents meeting in a deep seam with the current from river left forming a really nice drop off into the seam. The fishing couldn’t have been better! I had a 20” rainbow to the bank and no one else was even out of the tent! I ended up getting another 16” bow and a nice chum salmon before it was time to head back to camp, gather the troops, heat up some water, cook some oats, break down the tents and hit the river. That 6th day turned out to be magic. We hooked and landed innumerable salmon, dollies, grayling and a bunch of big bows. We camped that night at the takeout reminiscing about the trip over a dinner of fresh salmon washed down with swigs of whiskey. The perfect end to an incredible trip.












-Mike Eaton

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