Naknek River Camp - Alaska

Naknek River Camp - Alaska

WCO has been hosting trips to the Naknek River for years. We believe it is the best value found anywhere in Alaska. Not every big trip has to cost a lot to be really good, we like highend trips just like the next guy but there are several high quality trips out there that are affordable and give the angler, literally the best fishing that can be found anywhere. NakNek River Camp is one of those trips that is both affordable and tremendously rewarding, the fishing is outstanding!

We like Salmon, who doesn't but at WCO our staff really enjoys catching large trout, whether it is at our lodges in Chile or in Russia. What Alaska affords and more specifically the Naknek River, is an opportunity to catch a genuinly HUGE Rainbow. You can go anywhere in Alaska and catch Salmon, you can;t just go anywhere and catch big Rainbows like you can on the Naknek. It is truly one of the great river Rainbow fisheries in the world and that includes Kamchatka. You won't maybe catch the numbers you will in Russia but you won't catch bigger Rainbows anywhere.


The Fishing - Rainbows

Rainbows is why we like Naknek so much. The river has both resident Rainbows and Giant Lake Run Rainbows that enter the system to feed on eggs. Don't assume though that all you do is fish beads for these fish. You can catch Rainbows swinging flies on two handed rods and with floating lines and mice patterns. The guides at Naknek River Camp are all accomplished anglers and like to catch fish in many different ways. Fish Alaska Magazine identified the Naknek as Alaska's #1 destination for trophy rainbows! That is a big statement, but we think you will agree that the river can live up to the claim. The average fish will still be in the 2-5 pound range, but there will be a realistic possibility of bigger bows - up to 36 inches long - almost every day. If rainbows are your target fish, the best time is early and late season.

The Fishing - Char and Grayling

Char are just cool! They may be the most underrated part of any Alaska trip but there aren't prettier fish anywhere. Salmon and Trout are important to any Alaska trip but everyone needs to take a little time to target Arctic Char. They even eat mice flies! Same thing with Grayling, everyone should take some time to catch Grayling on dry flies. There are few places left in the world where you can legitimtetly catch a 20 inch Garyling, this is one of them. These are year 'round residents and make great fly rod targets. Grayling are especially eager to rise to a dry fly in early season, making them an ideal quarry for a 4 or 5 wt. fly rod and a floating line. The arctic char look a lot like brook trout, only larger. The best techniques for them are the same as for rainbows, so basically, anytime you are fishing for rainbows, you are also fishing for char whether you realize it or not. They spend a lot of time tucked in behind the spawning salmon, feasting on eggs, making egg flies their number one weakness.

The Fishing - Salmon

There is a reason why these babies are called the Kings - nothing in Alaska grows to the massive sizes of a chinook salmon. They begin running in mid-June, continue through much of July and spawn in August. Their eggs are also huge, (8 - 10mm) making king salmon eggs one of the very favorite treats for a trophy rainbow in August. Most people in Alaska fish kings with heavy spin or baitcasting gear, using deep diving plugs, spin-n-glows, or large spoons and spinners. They can be taken on fly gear, but the battles are epic and the angler loses the struggle much more often than he wins.

Sockeye are the best eating and most prolific salmon in the system, numbering upwards of 2 million per year. Everyone seemingly knows how delicious they are, but few realize that they are also tremendous fighters, especially on a 7 or 8 wt. fly rod. From late June through July, they can provide almost constant action. Their huge numbers are the reason why this area has such an abundant population of rainbows and bears.

Chum are called dog salmon, because they are a favored food for the sled dog teams, but you will call them something else entirely as they nearly tear the rod from your hand and bust up your tackle. Some pink salmon will run every year, but the run is much stronger in even years. Both will be most effectively fished with streamers and both will run in July and early August.

Last, but certainly not least, is the silver salmon. These incredible gamefish are easily my favorite salmon, getting large enough to put on a show and delicious on the table. They are also the most aggressive of the salmon, chasing streamers and even taking skating dry flies on occasion. They begin moving into the rivers in early August and the run continues on into mid-September. I usually use a fly rod in the 7-9 wt. range or a spinning rod loaded with 8-12lb mono.


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. Jigs (black, white, cream, brown, olive, silver) are also deadly, as are minnow shaped plugs, silver spoons and silver spinners. Sometimes, we fished both jigs and flies under bobbers (indicators). This fishing usually runs from early June - July

Recommended Tackle:

  1. a light spinning rod in the 7’ - 9’ range, loaded with 4 - 8 pounds mono.
  2. a 9’ to 11’ fly rod in the 6 to 8 wt range. I would want to have a 200 or 300 grain sink tip, a WF floating line and a Climax Zip line (or equivalent shooting line). 2x - 4 x fluorocarbon tippets.
  3. a centerpin rig can be deadly for this fishing, using either a jig or a streamer with split shot to get down.

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.


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.

Large streamers in bright colors with lots of action work very well (salmon snakes, rabbit leeches, popsicles, etc.) Plugs are very popular locally, with large Kwikfish being #1, followed closely by Wiggle Warts and Hot-N-Tots in Chart, Fire Tiger, Hot Pink, silver/green and Orange. Large spinners are especially deadly, with blades in sizes 5 - 8 in silver, pink, chart and orange.


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.

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.

Early Season ~ June to July  |  Late Season ~ August to September



Standard 7 Day Package $2995 per person

This is an all-inclusive fully guided week of fishing in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Naknek has some of the top guides in Alaska. One of them will take you to the best fishing that the Naknek and Katmai National Park has to offer. Naknek also includes a private riverfront cabin, all food in their comfortable dining room and transportation to and from the King Salmon airport. This package includes a visit to the World Famous Brooks Falls and River to sample the great rainbow fishing and the abundant brown bear photo opportunities. Deluxe "Best of Bristol Bay" Package $3595 per person

This includes all of the features of the standard package plus 2 float plane fly outs to some of Alaska's best fishing destinations.

All of Naknek packages start and stop at the King Salmon Airport (AKN). The only way here is by plane from Anchorage (ANC). Both Alaska Airlines and Penair offer daily flights to King Salmon. Naknek as a special Lodge deal with Penair. Call 1-800-448-4226 to book the "Naknek River Camp Lodge Rate".



$2495 per person (based on double occupancy)

Naknek is offering a less expensive option for the adventurous self-sufficient angler that wants to spend a week on the world famous Naknek, exploring this angling paradise on his own. We provide a boat and motor with gas, a riverfront cabin and all your meals.


Naknek is trying to provide an all-inclusive trip, but some visitors may want to customize their trip.

Fly-outs - Many float plane destinations are available for a day trip. The cost for a fly-out trip varies with the distance to the chosen destination, but many guided trips are available for $300 - $500 per person per day.

Bear and other wildlife photo safaris - In the course of our normal fishing day, we will likely have many opportunities to see and photograph the abundant wildlife populations. However, some serious photographers may want to spend more time pursuing the perfect photo. Let us know in advance of the trip and we will make sure that we plan a day or two in areas that maximize your opportunities for great photographs.


For more info on the trip to Naknek River Camp get with Marc at

Or call WCO at 317-733-3014

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