GPS Coordinates: 59°52’48.59″N 160° 7’28.37″W

Trip Questionnaire: Please click on the link below. This will take you an electronic questionnaire form that we ask you to complete and submit to The Fly Shop®. Please be sure to click the “Submit” button at the end of the form. The information provided will help us — and the outfitter best coordinate your trip.


Bring a Sleeping Bag:
You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, preferably a bag rated for 20° Fahrenheit, a camp pillow and a camp towel.

Fishing the Kanektok River is one of the ultimate fishing and wilderness experiences in North America. From its remote headwaters deep within the Ahklun Mountains, the Kanektok begins its journey towards the Bering Sea. It’s the spawning ground for all five species of pacific salmon, and home to exotic artic grayling, sea run Dolly Varden, arctic char, and the magnificent leopard rainbow trout. This prolific freestone river flows roughly seventy-five miles from Kagati Lake, through the wilderness of the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, and into the Bering Sea. Gathering strength from its tributaries and increasing in size as it emerges from rugged rock strewn mountains, it twists and turns its way through the vast tundra plain, and finally to the coastal Yupik village of Quinhagak. This is a wilderness fishing trip of dreams, with caribou walking trails along the tundra bluffs, and brown bears feasting savagely on thousands of pacific salmon. The Duncan’s have been operating in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR) since before it was established in 1982.  The TNWR is an extremely unique area that provides some of the best fishing and wilderness opportunities available today. We should all feel privileged to experience an area that is as unique and unchanged as the TNWR.

Togiak National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR)
The TNWR was established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be managed for the purposes:

  • To conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity including, but not limited to, salmonoids, marine birds and mammals, migratory birds and large mammals (including their restoration to historic levels).
  • To fulfill the international treaty obligations of the United States with respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats.
  • To ensure, in the manner consistent with purposes set forth in subparagraphs (1) and (2) the opportunity for continued subsistence uses by local residents.
  • To ensure, to the maximum extent practicable and in the manner consistent with the purposes set forth in subparagraph (1), water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge.

Although none of the refuge purposes relate directly to providing for recreation uses of TNWR, they do provide standards for establishing public use goals and objectives. The goal of the public use program at TNWR is “to provide high quality lands and wildlife-oriented recreation, subsistence, interpretive and educational opportunities consistent with the refuge’s resource-oriented purposes.”

With the Bering Sea to the west, and the Gulf of Alaska to the south, the one factor that is constant is change. While moisture laden coastal air envelops the lower reaches of the Kanektok, crisp inland air drifts through the mountain valleys. June has the longest days of the year, and you may change your clothing layers several times during the day. In July you can be fishing in a light long sleeve shirt, relying on sunscreen to protect your face. Late August may have the first fall weather, with the tundra turning fall colors. Bring several high tech layers, a top quality outer shell, a good pair of waders, and wading boots that you love.

The River:
The Kanektok is approximately 75 miles long and located in southwest Alaska. Beginning in the Ahklun Mountains with headwaters in Kagati and Pegati Lakes, it flows westward into the Bering Sea at the village of Quinhagak. Most of the river is located within the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, and the last seventeen miles belong to the Quinhagak Village Corporation. The upper half of the river runs over a rocky bed surrounded by high bluffs and spectacular mountains, and the lower half twists and turns through a low gradient coastal plain, surrounded by alder and willows in a bed of gravel. The course of the lower river is constantly changing as the gravel banks erode, exposing the alder and willow root structures to wash away and build up into perfect rainbow trout habitat.

The last quarter of the river is perfect for swinging flies from gravel bars, providing excellent king salmon fishing. The river runs clear green and remains typically clear with rainfall.

The Fishing:
Anglers headed to the Kanektok to fly fish for rainbow trout, king salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, Dolly Varden or grayling will find the gear and techniques similar to that used for these species elsewhere in Alaska. As always, there is no substitute for quality equipment, the value of which is immediately apparent upon hooking into your first wild Alaskan gamefish!

The Duncan’s have a limited number of spare rods and reels. They are intended mostly as emergency back-ups should anglers, though with forward notice they are happy to supply gear for those needing it. As a general rule, you’ll need to bring all your own fishing and personal equipment with you to the camps.

The guides will get up at 6:00 A.M. each morning and will have coffee ready by 6:30 A.M. We usually serve breakfast at 7:00 A.M. and are on the river at 8:30 A.M. We have a deli-style lunch along the river at 1:00 P.M. and usually camp between 5:30 P.M. and 6:00 P.M.

Seasons on the Kanektok:
The Kanektok is one of the few rivers in all of Alaska that offers world-class rainbow trout fishing and incredible ocean-bright salmon fishing.

The King Salmon run begins on the Kanektok in late June, lasting well into July. The lower river is fairly wide and comprised of a series of long, deep beautiful runs, perfect for swing fishing to these sea liced chromers. An average king here will be 20 – 25 pounds, with fish over 40 an everyday possibility. As well, the river’s sockeye and chum salmon runs overlap the kings, and offer good sport for those looking for a bit smaller game – sockeyes average 6 – 8 pounds and the chums 8 – 12 pounds. This same early season stretch will also see the river’s big leopard rainbows aggressively chasing large streamers and mouse patterns – trout in the 2 – 4 pound range are common, and larger fish are routinely hooked. Look for the annual upstream migration of sea run dollies to begin in this same time period, making this the perfect mixed bag time of year.

As July flows into August, two major events occur. First, hordes of chrome silver salmon invade the river, their sheer numbers inundating every slow pool and calm backwater in the river. These aggressive-to-the-fly battlers are a fly fishers dream, averaging 6 – 12 pounds, and willing to take surface poppers as well as streamers. Secondly, as all of the earlier-run salmon are now laying eggs, or dying and decomposing, the river’s trout populations are taking up sharply defined feeding positions. Anglers can target big numbers of good-sized rainbows and dollies in shallow spawning redds behind procreating salmon, and swing flesh patterns under the banks and behind drowned alders in search of apex predators. With so much feed available, these fish quickly become stout beasts shaped like footballs and fight like heck! The season is short in this part of wilderness Alaska, and by mid-August the fishing season is over and weather too unpredictable.

Specific Gear By Species

King Salmon:
King salmon are the largest pacific salmon to target with a fly. They average 15 to 25 pounds, with trophy specimens in the 40-pound class.

Single-Handed Fly Rods:
For anglers using a single-handed rod, consider a 9’ or 9’ 6” graphite rod designed to cast a 9 or 10-weight fly line. Sage, Winston, and Scott produce high quality rods, built to cast sinking lines and fight fish large, powerful fish.

Single-Handed Fly Reels:
A high quality, machined single-action fly reel with a superior drag system is what to look for in a fly reel capable of handling powerful king salmon. Reels should be filled with a minimum of 150 yards of 20 or 30 lb. high-visibility backing. Hatch, Ross, Hardy, Abel and Galvan reels are an excellent choice.

Fly Lines for Single-Handed Rods:
The proper selection of fly lines is critical to your success and will get your fly in the best location in water column. Scientific Anglers, Airflo and Rio make excellent sinking lines for the various situations you will encounter.

Two-Handed Fly Rods:
Two-handed Spey rods are very effective when fishing for kings. Their advantage is that you can cover a lot of water very efficiently, while maintaining amazing line control, given the 13 to 15 foot rod length. Scott, Echo, and Sage produce excellent two-handed rods.

When considering a two-handed rod, don’t automatically go for the longest and strongest rod on the market. Get together with a casting and rod expert, and test several different weights, lengths and manufacturers until you find the rod that best fits your casting style, as well as the type of water and lines and flies you will be fishing.

Two-Handed Fly Reels:
Fly reels should be of high quality and capable of holding at least 150 yards of 30-pound backing. Saltwater models are a good choice, as they are built to stand up to screaming runs with smooth, reliable drag systems. Outside palming rims are nice when a fish is in close. Quality reels include those made by Hardy, Galvan, Hatch, and Ross.

Fly Lines for Two-Handed Fly Rods:
The majority of the time you will find kings near the bottom of the water column.  This type of water calls for fast sinking lines that get down in a hurry. A good assortment of 25- 30 foot shooting heads is useful and should include sink rates I – VIII, or tungsten T-14 – T-20. For running/shooting lines either mono or factory running lines work the best behind shooting heads and should be no lighter than 25 pounds in strength. Scientific Anglers, Rio, and Airflo are great choices in quality lines. If you are uncertain which line you should select to properly match your rod, do not hesitate to contact us.

Skagit style lines are basically shortened, condensed shooting heads developed in the Pacific North West by a group of anglers looking for a way to cast sinking tip lines and large weighted flies long distances, with a very short compact casting stroke. These lines have become very popular with steelhead and pacific salmon anglers due to the fact that they are easy for both the expert and novice to cast, and extremely useful in situations where room for a back cast is limited. These lines also work very well for people who prefer to fish shorter 12’-13’6 foot rods,

Leaders & Tippet:
Typically, the guides forego tapered leaders altogether in favor of straight lengths of Maxima Ultra Green Tippet in spools of 12 lb., 16 lb., and 20 lb. The guides will use this to construct your leaders as they prefer.

King Salmon Flies:
Flies used are standard attractor patterns tied on stout hooks, sizes 4 to 2/0.Your flies should vary from heavily weighted to non-weighted. Colors should range from black, to orange, pink, purple, flame, red, chartreuse, or any combination thereof. A large weighted black streamer can be deadly. Comets with bead-chain eyes are highly effective. Large egg-patterns like large Glo-Bugs, King Caviar, and Egg/Sperm flies and the Egg-sucking Leech (black/purple) tied on a long shank stout hook work well.

Silver & Chum Salmon

Fly Rods:
Single-handed rods are perfect for silvers and chums, as casting distance is not typically critical, but actively stripping the flies back in can be. The chum fishing is largely swing fishing or dead–drift presenting, and the single hand rods are perfect for this. We recommend a 7 or 8-weight graphite rod, 9’ or 9’ 6” in length. Sage, Winston, and Scott produce high quality rods, and The Fly Shop’s Signature Rods are an excellent choice at a modest price.

Fly Reels:
A high quality, single-action fly reel with rim-control feature is what to look for in a fly reel appropriate to handle ocean-bright silvers and chums. The reel should be equipped with a smooth, reliable drag system.  Reels should be filled with a minimum of 150 yards of 20 lb. high-visibility backing.  Hatch, Ross, Hardy, Abel and Galvan reels are an excellent choice.

Fly Lines:
The proper collection of fly lines is critical to your success and will get your fly in the right location in the water column for these two salmon species. You need two lines to effectively fish a variety of rivers.

  • Floating Line: Scientific Anglers makes one of the best, the Freshwater Titan Taper. When conditions are right a floating line can really come into play; either fishing a weighted wet fly just under the surface, or skating a Pink Pollywog across the surface.
  • 10’ – 15’ Sink-Tip: This can be an important line for covering varying water levels on the river. A Type III is a perfect sink rate.  We highly recommend the Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink tip.

Leaders & Tippet:
Typically, the guides forego tapered leaders altogether in favor of straight lengths of Maxima Ultra Green Tippet in spools of 12 lb., 16 lb., and 20 lb. The guides will use this to construct your leaders as they prefer.

Silver Salmon & Chum Salmon Flies:
The Bristol Bay silver and chum fishery is a typical Alaska summer run scenario – big, chrome-bright fish in the 8-15 pound range flooding into the rivers with cold water temperatures. The fish are aggressive to the fly and screaming hot when hooked, and silvers are often as aggressive to a surface popper as to a weighted streamer fished mid-depth. Traditionally-tied flies should be on hook sizes from 4 – 1/0. Egg-Sucking leeches should be full and long, up to 4 inches in length. Flies should be tied full with lots of flash in varying colors and color combinations.  Don’t be afraid to tie and throw larger flies for these fish, they love ‘em.

Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, & Grayling

Rainbow trout are one of the most sought after gamefish to target with a fly in Alaska. Kanektok rainbows average 16 to 24 inches, with trophy specimens pushing the 30 inch class. Sea run Dolly Varden are prolific in the river, averaging 16 to 24 inches, and it is not unusual to land dozens in a day. Grayling are beautiful fish – iconic to Alaskan rivers – and popular as they are often willing to take dry flies.

Single-Handed Fly Rods:
Alaskan rainbows and Dolly Varden are best fished with a 9’ graphite rod designed to cast a 6 or 7 weight fly line. A 4 or 5 weight rod is perfect for fishing dries for grayling. Sage, Winston, and Scott produce high quality rods, and The Fly Shop’s Signature Rods are an excellent choice at a modest price.

Single-Handed Fly Reels:
A high quality, single-action fly reel with rim-control feature is what to look for in a fly reel appropriate to handle the feisty Alaskan rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. The reel should be equipped with a smooth, reliable drag system.  Reels should be filled with a minimum of 100 yards of 20 lb. high-visibility backing.  Hatch, Ross, Hardy, Abel and Galvan reels are excellent choices.

Fly Lines for Single-Handed Rods:
Traveling with a floating line and a sink tip line is always a good choice, as conditions vary depending on the waters fished. Scientific Anglers Freshwater Titan Taper is the perfect line for throwing air resistant mouse patterns and heavy streamers, and the S.A. Sonar sink tip is tough to beat for subsurface presentations.

Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden & Grayling Flies:
The Kanektok is an amazing trout fishery, with aggressive rainbows that are normally willing to eat a skated mouse or swung streamer all season long, as well as egg beads during the salmon spawn in late July and August. At that same time, Dolly Varden are feeding on salmon eggs and will sometimes eat a white or pink flesh streamer as well. Grayling can normally be coaxed to the surface to eat a dry fly, and love to take subsurface nymphs.

Leaders & Tippet for Trout:
Typically, the guides forego tapered leaders altogether in favor of straight lengths of Maxima Ultra Green Tippet in spools of 8 lb., 12 lb., 15 lb. and 20 lb. The guides will use this to construct your leaders as they prefer.

It is also recommended to bring some lead removable split shot, in sizes 3/0 and 7; a few of your favorite strike indicators for fishing egg beads in late July and August; and some dry fly floatant for fishing dries to grayling.

Catch & Release:
They practice catch and release fishing, using single de-barbed hooks and have found that it’s much better to de-barb all of your hooks prior to fishing so that you don’t have to de-barb each hook while fishing. This way no one will forget to de-barb a hook and unnecessarily harm a fish or yourself. We also strongly recommend that you wear polarized glasses for eye protection. The Kanektok River has a hook size regulation of nothing larger than #1 or 1/0.

Although the guides will try to release all the fish there will be times when guests will have to release their own. This usually happens when the guide or guides are busy releasing another guest’s fish or controlling the boat.

When practicing catch and release techniques the angler should try to get the fish in as soon as reasonably possible so that the fish is not too tired. In most cases the fish should be able to be released without touching the fish by simply removing the hook.

They want to keep the touching and handling of fish to be released or photographed to a minimum. If you have to touch the fish you should wet and wash your hands to get any Muskol or other impurities from them.

You should gently grasp the fish by the tail and under the belly, making sure not to squeeze the fish. You should never grab a fish by the tail and hold him vertically as this separates their vertebras. The gills on a fish are very delicate and you should take special care not to touch them. Always keep the fish in the water. You should gently take the hook out and hold his head into the current until it swims away.

When releasing a fish from shore, you should keep the fish in the water at all times, and always release the fish in at least one foot of water. If we are floating and you want to take a photograph of a fish, they will pull the boat over to shore. No photographs will be taken of fish from the boats unless it is of the fish in the water. They allow fish to be photographed but discourage excessive photographing of fish. They do not allow photographing of fish when natives are present.

Some of the natives are very sensitive to catch and release techniques because it goes against a religious belief that you should never play with a potential food source.

Local Yup’ik Eskimos view fish as thinking, feeling beings and a source of food. Fish consciously give themselves to the angler and must be treated with utmost respect. When a human touches a fish, in the Yup’ik view, the fish has been polluted and must be retained for consumption.

When photographing a fish from shore, you should gently hold the fish in the water until the photographer has the camera focused and has the light aperture set. Then quickly raise the fish from the water about six to eight inches and once the picture is taken, immediately lower the fish back to the water and release it.

Local People:
The natives have been using this river for subsistence hunting, fishing, ice fishing, berry picking and firewood gathering for thousands of years and we all respect their beliefs and culture. Their subsistence use is also very important to the local economy.

The Duncan’s have many friends in the village and they will be stopping at their camps in the lower river to say hello. We stress that you do not ever offer their friends any alcoholic beverages, the village of Quinhagak is “Dry” and it’s illegal to drink alcohol. If you wish you can arrange through our native friends to buy authentic native arts and crafts from the village.

Recommended Personal Items

The following is a checklist written by the Duncan’s themselves, pertaining to the various and Important personal items you should consider bringing on your trip.

  •  Sleeping bag: 20 degrees compact with pillow
  • Raincoat with hood or rain hat–good quality Gore-Tex
  • Rain pants–good quality, as above.
  • 2 pair of jeans or sweats or other pants
  • 2 pair long johns (Polypropylene, Fleece or Cap Ilene type)
  • T shirts, underwear and swim shorts
  • 4 long sleeved flannel, fleece or cap Ilene shirts
  • Warm vest and heavy coat
  • Wool socks and polypropylene socks
  • Warm Hat – Buff – ear/hat band
  • Lightweight fingerless gloves or Gore-Tex windproof
  • Towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, etc., etc.
  • Insect Repellent spray 25% to 40% DEET (No 100% DEET)
  • Waders and boots- No felt soles or studs
  • Small Waterproof Boat Bag
  • Polarized glasses (required for eye protection)
  • Headlamp
  • Powerbank or spare battery for camera/phone
  • Fishing License through the internet at
  • Water bottle (filtered). They have water bottles/cups and good filtered water in the camp/boats.
  • Steri-pen Ultra violet or Filtered water bottle (Grayl) highly recommended for daily water consumption while in raft during the day. This is great for daily drinking water in raft
  • Travel clothes, plus camp-wear shoes or leather hiking boots, sun hat, cortisone anti itch medication.
  • Air mattress, life jacket and Large waterproof bag (for your duffle) is provided by D.D.S.

All of the above should fit in one duffle (No suitcases) approx. 45lbs each. Please keep your gear minimized as space is limited in the airplanes.

You are also free to contact us with specific equipment and trip preparation questions at (800) 669-3474 or  We are extremely familiar with the techniques and equipment needed to best take advantage of the fishing opportunities on the Kanektok.

Travel Notes

They practice trace free camping; this means leaving absolutely nothing behind. If you smoke, we ask that you put the cigarette butts in your pocket or give them to one of the guides. Because we practice these techniques you will see very little litter in the wilderness area. Anything you see you should pick up or point it out to one of the guides. This includes monofilament fishing line or anything else that is foreign to the area.

The Therm-a-Rest air mattress that they provide are self-inflating and each morning you should put the mattress in your dry bag along with your duffel bag. They will provide the dry bags and will explain how to secure the opening in the top of the bag to ensure that it remains 100% waterproof when you get to the lake.

They also have spare dry bags if one is not enough. It really speeds up the process of breaking camp in the morning if you can pack your gear in the dry bags before coming over to the community tent for breakfast.

You can then leave the bags in the tent for weight so that in the event of a strong wind the tent will not be blown over. The guides will then drop the sleeping tents and haul your bags down to the boats while you are eating breakfast.

Communication on the Float: 
Duncan’s Float does not have Wi-Fi available for their guests – if you need to have communication during the float, you should consider bringing your own satellite phone. Guides will have satellite phones on hand in case of an emergency. As of this writing all of the float boats have Garmin InReach, which guests are welcome to use to send simple texts back home, if they like.

Medical Facilities:

  • The group will have an extensive first aid kit.
  • The village of Quinhagak has a clinic and nurse.
  • Bethel has a complete hospital and planes available for evacuation.
  • Anchorage has state of the art hospitals and medical professionals.

Travel Cash:
As a guideline we recommend that each guest travel with approximately $800-$1,000 for staff and guide gratuities, etc.

We recommend staff and guide gratuities of approximately 10-15% of your package price. Tips are pooled and may be given to the head guide at the end of the week for distribution to the entire staff.

Alaska State Sport Fishing License:
The easiest way to handle your fishing license is to pre-purchase it online through the Alaska Department of Fish & Game at: Licenses are not available at the lodge, so be sure and have one before you arrive!

We recommend that guest do not drink the water from the river as they provide purified water in the boats and in camp for you to drink. However, we highly recommend you purchase a Steri-pen Ultraviolet with Nalgene type water bottle or a filtered water bottle (Grayl) this is great for daily drinking water in the raft during the day.  They will also have several varieties of soft drinks available.

DDS can no longer supply alcohol to their guests. If you want alcohol or beer, it can be ordered through Anchorage by contacting Brown Jug online at Have them ship it to Papa Bear Adventures 198 H Marker Lake Road, Bethel, Alaska, 99559 with your name and c/o DDS with the date of your trip. Or you can bring alcohol from Anchorage/home as long as it is in a good sealed container wrapped in a towel. Beer and alcohol are no longer available in Bethel.

Life Jackets:
We have commercial type Life Jackets available in each boat and recommend that all guest wear them while in the boats or in the water. Another option is to purchase a “float coat” which is more comfortable, and they provide adequate flotation. We require that everyone wear eye protection while fishing and if you wear waders you should use a wading belt.

Although it is extremely rare when a guest is not with a guide we would like to mention how to react if you encounter a bear. You will quite often see bears but rarely see them up close. Because they are hunted in the Fall and Spring, they are usually afraid of people. Guests are not allowed to bring or carry firearms.

They have never had a serious problem with a bear in all the years they have guided in Alaska. It is extremely rare that a bear comes close to camp and if they do it is during the night. Usually all it takes to send them on their way is for one of the guides to yell “hey Bear get out of here!” Just stay in your tent and you will be fine. They do not allow our guests to bring firearms of any kind. The guides do have shotguns with slugs for protection. Again, in over twenty years of floating Alaska’s rivers they have never had a serious problem with a bear.

When out fishing you should always talk loud so that you don’t surprise a bear, and when you see one you should give it plenty of room to do what it wants. Never run. It is a good idea to wave your arms and yell “hey bear”!” This will usually send them running and it also lets everyone else know that you have spotted a bear. We have found that a little common sense goes a long way in dealing with bears.

You will be around aircraft on several occasions during your trip. Please keep your safety in mind at all times. Please stay at least fifty yards away or more from any aircraft unless you are actively getting on or getting off the aircraft. While in Bethel you need to wait in Papa Bear’s Lodge until someone escorts you out to the de Havilland Beavers. When you land at Kagati Lake you will be met by Dave Duncan and Sons guides who will escort you away from the Aircraft. The guides will take care of off-loading your baggage, please stay away from the aircraft and take a moment to notice where the aircraft is physically located in relation to camp and other surroundings.

This is the landing area for the de Havilland Beavers and it is off limits and should be avoided whenever aircraft are in the area. Never walk on the floats of a de Havilland Beaver towards the front of the plane as this is where the prop is located.

DO NOT EXCEED 45 LBS (Approximately) OF GEAR!
Weight is CRITICAL in the bush plane environment. Weight regulations are FAA required and enforced by the pilot in command. Absolutely no hard suitcases, avoid HUGE duffel bags and rod tubes must not exceed five feet.  Keep in mind; two medium-sized duffels are much easier to pack into a small plane than one large one. (No Suitcases!!) Keep your gear down as space is very limited in the airplanes and rafts.

Anglers are reminded that effective January 1, 2012, footgear with absorbent felt or other fibrous material on the soles are prohibited while sport fishing in the fresh waters of Alaska. Please do not wear felt soled wading boots in Alaska this summer.

Contact Numbers:
If there is an emergency, guests on Duncan’s Float can be notified by phone. Just dial the Lower Camp, Brad Duncan, (907) 556-2482, or (907) 556-2481.

You can also always call us directly, at (800) 669-3474, (530) 222-3555 at The Fly Shop®.