Look up "classic Alaskan fly fishing lodge" in the dictionary, and there is a picture of Bob and Lula Cusack's operation.
Situated in a protected cove on the shores of famous Lake Iliamna, you couldn't ask for a more idyllic setting. Look one direction out the window of your two-story room, and you see pristine wooded wilderness, mixed with small tundra meadows; glance the other way, and you see nothing but rocky, forested islands and lake. Squint really hard and you might just make out the mouth of the famous Copper River, about a 30-minute jet boat ride away, and just
out of sight (about a 10-minute floatplane flight away) is the spectacular, trout-filled little Gibralter River. Lula does all the cooking, and her food is memorable; Bob does all the flying he pilots both a Cessna 180 and a Super Cub and has an impeccable safety record; and their grown daughters, Marisa and Nicole, often are on hand to do work around the lodge and are a wonderful addition to this family operation.
Reservations & Rates
There is a lot to like about Bob and Lula's lodge, from The Fly Shop's perspective.
Package Cost: The cost of the week-long Bob Cusack's Alaska Lodge package is $6200 per person
Inclusions: Included in your angling package at the Bob Cusack's Alaska Lodge is guided fishing, all meals and accommodations, fly out fishing in good weather interspersed with some boat fishing days, and rafts, tents and sleeping bags for optional overnight float trips.
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your angling package at Bob Cusack's Alaska Lodge are flights to and from
the lodge, fishing license, gratuities, alcohol, fishing gear, or items of a personal nature.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. Click HERE for Travel Guard's Policies and more information
There isn't a finer, more predictable dry fly, trophy trout fishery in Bristol Bay than the Copper River.
Each June and early July the stream experiences strong hatches of caddis, small stones, and a variety of mayflies, and the river's healthy population of big rainbows take full advantage of this floating smorgasbord. A typical early season day sees anglers fishing nymphs beneath indicators during the normally cool mornings, switching to dry flies after lunch when warming temperatures spark prolific hatches. Small streamers, imitating the masses of outgoing sockeye salmon smolt, are also very effective, and sometimes account for the largest fish of each day. Bob loves this time of year, and offers both jet boat fishing in the lower stretches of the stream, and upper river floats which we feel are a "must do" for adventurous anglers. A fly out to the Gibralter River normally entails a full day float, with streamers normally producing excellent daylong action. As well, for those who love to fish dries all day long in beautiful surroundings, Bob has some "sleeper" streams that are loaded with 12-16 inch rainbows, are fished by no-one else, and provide non-stop action on attractor dries.
In early July immense squadrons of sockeye salmon invade the Copper and Gibralter rivers, and change the fisheries dramatically. Suddenly, every run, riffle and pool are flooded with these chrome sea-runs, which quickly morph into their Discovery Channel wardrobes of brilliant reds and vivid greens. Before long they are pairing up, digging spawning redds, and laying eggs in numbers that stagger the imagination. Suddenly, trout that had weeks before been perfectly satisfied chomping nymphs and
sipping dries, now have eyes only for this massive infusion of protein that literally surrounds them. Dead-drifting single egg patterns becomes highly productive, and trout that had previously been healthy by any standards, now quickly lapse into figures defined by gluttony. The Copper River tends to harbor excellent numbers of 18-23 inch trout during the months of July and August, while the Gibralter is just stupid with numbers of rainbows, of all sizes. Also, from mid-August through early September, Bob routinely flies anglers to a small coastal river that fills with dime-bright silver salmon and sea run dollies, making for a fun diversion from the daily rainbows. Late July sees a good push of chum salmon here, as well, which are a great fly rod fish.
By early September, the sockeyes are fading into memory, but their decomposing carcasses provide one last major feeding binge for all of the region's streams. This is the single best month for serious trophy trout hunters, as good numbers of oversized rainbows ascend (and descend) from area lakes into integral rivers. If you are going to have a chance at the elusive 30-inch trout, this is when it will most likely occur. Anglers still do well on egg patterns, but streamers emulating chunks of rotting salmon flesh are very productive now, and often account for the largest rainbows. The overnight upper Copper River floats can be amazing, this time of year, weather permitting the changing colors are spectacular, and the upper river is normally full of big trout.
Getting To Bob Cusack's Alaska Lodge
The progressive air services you'll use to reach Cusack's Alaska Lodge are a wonderful reflection of your journey into the wilderness.
First, you will fly a major jet service from near your home to Anchorage, Alaska; arriving here, most itineraries will mandate an overnight stay. The next morning you will board a small plane piloted by one of the fine bush pilots of Iliamna Air Taxi (often one of their Pilatus aircraft, a high-flying, very comfortable aircraft), for the transfer between Anchorage and the little village of Iliamna. Upon arriving, Iliamna Air Taxi's Iliamna crew will switch your gear from the mid-sized
plane to a smaller, float-equipped Cessna or Beaver, and after a short wait, you will be on the final leg of your adventure, touching down on the lake's surface in front of Bob's lodge a short thirty minutes later. For the remainder of your week, Bob will be your pilot, flying you into amazingly beautiful country in his two small airplanes, giving you a peek into the enormity and grandeur of his corner of Alaska.
Lodging at Bob Cusack's Alaska Lodge
Bob and Lula's handsome two-story log lodge sits on a narrow strip of wonderfully-kept-yet-unlikely Bermuda grass lawn between the shore of Lake Iliamna, and the pristine wilderness that surrounds it.
It is not unusual for the occasional brown bear or moose to stroll through the property, as this is truly their home. There are convenient wood walkways connecting the lodge to the lakefront (where guests will board the floatplanes daily), and from the lodge to the wader "mud" cabin, where anglers change in and out of their waders, and assemble their tackle daily. Downstairs in the lodge contains the dining room, kitchen, gathering room with wood stove, and two bedrooms; upstairs are the main guest quarters. The lodge is immaculately kept, warm and inviting, a wonderful home-away-from-home in the wilderness.
Fishing Day at Bob Cusack's Alaska Lodge
Bob does not like to bring his anglers to rivers that receive a lot of angling pressure from other fly out lodges; consequently, a day fishing with one of his guides will normally be a pretty solitary experience.
The exception is the lower Copper River, as there are two other lodges in the vicinity that also have jet boat access, but there are many miles of river available, and a seemingly endless succession of picture-perfect runs and pools to spread fly fishers out on. Normally you will do day trips here, reaching and fishing the river via jet sled.
The upper Copper River float is an entirely different matter, with mile upon mile of stream with little or no outside pressure. This upper corridor is virtually untouched, it's pristine banks lush with foliage, and dense with a mix of evergreens and hardwoods. For those willing to rough it a little, spending two days away from the lodge and camping out on a sandbar overnight, we highly recommend this experience; it is like a step back in time.
Bob will have you rise early on those days you are to fish the Gibralter River; after a hearty "Lula" breakfast feast, you'll load into his Cessna 180, and make the quick flight over to Gibralter Lake, your jumping off destination for the day's float. Your guide will inflate the small one-man Watermaster rafts, and each person will jump into their own and, led by the guide, ease into the stream's mouth to begin the downstream descent. The Gibralter is really more creek than river, a smallish stream connecting two major lakes Gibralter and Iliamna and is a fun fishery to spend a day on. While you can certainly fish from your raft on the way down, the real action occurs when the guide has you pull to the edge of productive riffles and runs, and shows you
the secrets of catching what are largely lake-run trout (coming upriver from Iliamna Lake, or dropping down from Gibralter Lake). Particularly in August and September, this little river can provide almost non-stop action for trout of all sizes; the majority are in the 12"-20" class, but fish in the mid-twenties are often daily occurrences. It is a great destination for novices and experts alike, and most people insist on two days here.
If you would like a shot at Cusack's secret salmon and char river during your stay, Bob will normally watch for the best weather day, and plan to make a day of it. The flight is spectacular, gradually climbing through tundra hills with cascading waterfalls and frequent animal sightings, finally cresting over the coastal mountains and out over the ocean itself. Though the flight alone is worth the price of admission, the salmon fishing on this remote river is superb, with anglers catching chrome-bright fish only hours from the sea. Bring your camera for this day, not only for the flight, but for the frequent brown bear sightings along the stream. Amazing!
Every day upon return to the lodge, Lula and the girls will have wonderful appetizers ready for you, followed shortly by dinners you will not soon forget. Stuffed, you can waddle over and collapse in the gathering room overlooking the lake, and tell stories from the day as loons call into the dusk outside the lodge. Relax, you are really here, and tomorrow, another adventure awaits...
Making Reservations to Bob Cusack's Alaska
To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.