Iliamna River Lodge is located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Lake Iliamna Basin. Accessible only by jetboat or floatplane, their location on the Iliamna River, at the east end of Lake Iliamna in Pile Bay, is dead center in the middle of some of the finest sportfishing in Alaska. Their only neighbors are bears, moose and a few million fish.
Nestled among pines overlooking the Iliamna River where the lodge’s float planes land and take off, the lodge affords guests easy access to fabled local waters to fish for trout, salmon, and Arctic char, as well as nearby saltwater species such as halibut and bottom fish. Guests are accommodated in newly built and spacious heated cabins with walk-in showers, full bathrooms and a front porch that offers fantastic views of nearby peaks and the Iliamna River.
Iliamna River lodge is strategically located within a short flight of Katmai Preserve and adjacent National Park, hosts to some of the most remarkable landscapes in the world. Stepping out the front door of your cabin and turning your head, you will see, in turn, heavily forested mountains, vast expanses of tundra (Alaska’s underfoot Narnia), and everywhere, water. There are active volcanoes, agate beaches, glacier mountain ranges, wild blueberry bogs…it is no wonder this area is considered one of America’s most precious and pristine natural resources. And the region’s watersheds, gin-clear and cold, pouring from ancient tarns, harbor some of the largest remaining salmon runs on the planet. Just as easily accessible from the lodge, to the northwest, are the protected waters of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, a labyrinth of rivers, creeks, and lakes, teeming with trout, grayling, Arctic char, and northern pike. With a squadron of four float-equipped DeHavilland Beavers, the menu of daily fly out fishing locations is extensive.
And if for some reason you don’t or can’t fly out, the Iliamna River, the lodge’s home-water, is “a bread and butter” fishery with exceptional fishing for Arctic char, rainbow trout, and sockeye salmon.
Reservations & Rates
• Six Nights & Six Days Guided Fishing (4 Flyouts & 2 Home-water Fishing Days): $9,800
• Six Nights & Six Days Guided Fishing (5 Flyouts & 1 Home-water Fishing Day): $10,400
The home water at Iliamna River Lodge is an incredible fishery. However, daily flyouts in the lodge’s float planes add diversity to your week, exploring different river destinations with flight-seeing along the way. You may choose between 4 or 5 flyouts included in your trip (additional flyouts added at a rate of $600 per angler and may be arranged once you’re at the lodge).
The lodge only accommodates 8 - 10 fishermen each week. There may be less, but there will never be more!
Transportation to the lodge from Pedro Bay and transportation to the best fishing destinations by air or boat for fishing up to 6 different rivers per week (depending on number of flyouts chosen). The lodge has 4 DeHavilland Beavers at their disposal and some of the most seasoned Alaskan pilots you can find. All chef-prepared meals, guiding, use of all boats and motors, use of aircraft, all equipment including rods, reels and flies & leaders are included. They can also provide waders and wading boots if you need them or would like to leave yours at home.
Gratuities, liquor, 7-day Alaska fishing license, chartered air travel between Anchorage and Pedro Bay (this flight will be set up by the lodge through Lake Clark Air). Cost of the round-trip charter is $575 per person, with 75 pounds of luggage.
Seasons at Iliamna River Lodge
The fishing season at Iliamna River Lodge runs from early June through the end of September. While predicting the weather in Alaska is a highly inexact science, there are some general trends that normally occur. Typically, June is a warm month that is getting warmer, with some short rain storms blowing through. July continues the trend – it is often the warmest month of the short season – and as with June, the days are extremely long, often with little to no actual darkness during the night hours. In August the days begin to shorten a bit, normally still with warm days but cooler evenings. Septembers are usually cool during the day and cold at night. If it seems there were an awful lot of “typically’s”,
“normally’s”, “often’s”, and “usually’s” in the last few sentences…well…welcome to weather reports in the Alaskan bush!
June and early July is a great time for those who love to swing streamers for big trout, as well as offering some limited dry fly fishing. There are no salmon around yet, and often not many Dolly Varden or Arctic char, either; what you have is some rivers with resident trout, as well as small concentrations of big rainbows that have ganged up in the inlet and outlet areas of various lakes, gorging on the small sockeye salmon fry as they enter and exit the lake. Every trout in the region is fine-tuned to this baitfish “smolt” migration, and they are waiting and ready, feeding voraciously. We love to fish weighted streamers on both floating and sinking tip lines this time of year, as the trout are often busting the bait on or near the surface - watch for the Arctic Terns diving on the bait balls. And because they are surface-conscience, skated mouse patterns can also be productive. As well, there are a few streams that have resident trout and some limited insect hatches, offering the relatively rare option to fish dry flies to bib Alaskan rainbows. Typically, around the first week of July, massive runs of sockeyes begin entering all of the rivers. These mint-bright salmon – averaging 6 - 9 pounds – are tremendous gamefish on a 7 or even 8 weight outfit, and there are literally so many salmon, they disrupt the trout fishing! The trout don’t go away, however, and for those who like warm weather, non-stop action for sockeyes and some pretty good fishing for Dolly Varden and rainbows, this is a great part of the season. As with June, the trout are best fished with 6 or 7 weight outfits, as these make throwing weighted streamers relatively effortless.
By the very end of July and the first of August, the hundreds of thousands of sockeye salmon begin to actively spawn; overnight, these fish that had spent the past few weeks disrupting the trout fishing suddenly become the darlings of the angler’s world. Big lake rainbows immediately flood the streams, joining their native river brethren hovering behind egg-laying salmon, gobbling the endless conveyor belt of free-floating salmon eggs. For the next 6 - 8 weeks this gluttony continues unabated; trout that weighed in at three pounds in June, might tip the scales at five, come September. Trophy fish that started the game at six pounds could reach the magic 10-pound mark. Inches don’t always mean a lot, this time of year, as trout are often obscenely and disproportionately obese; fish sizes are simply guessed in pounds. While streamers are still fairly effective, dead-drifting single egg patterns dominate the fishing, in all the rivers. As the warmer August days begin to give way to the cool autumn temperatures of September, not a lot changes (except the trout, Dolly Varden and Arctic char continue to pack on the protein pounds). In fact, the egg fishing remains productive nearly through the end of the season, but there is one last variable that occurs as the salmon all die, and sink to the bottom in massive aquatic graves.
As in all of nature, nothing goes to waste…here, the rainbows, feeling the urgency of a long winter spent in lethargy beneath the ice with little or no feeding, turn finally from the dwindling egg supply to a seemingly never-ending source of food, drifting salmon flesh. Needless to say, this is prime time to swing or dead-drift small to giant salmon flesh streamers, and as it happens, these late season trout can be fairly aggressive to almost any large streamer – black, olive and ginger are favorite colors. As well, we begin skating mouse patterns again – you might be surprised how many egg-bloated rainbows can be willing to come to the surface to savage an imitation rodent. Remember, it’s all about protein intake…
Iliamna Basin Weather:
With the Bering Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the south, the one weather factor that is constant, is change. While moisture laden coastal air envelops Bristol Bay, crisp inland air drifts through the interior valleys. June has the longest days of the year, and you’ll often change your base layers between dawn and dusk. 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 crimson and gold, ripe blueberries feeding the migrating Sandhill cranes, and frost on the deck in the morning. By September, the mountain peaks receive a dusting of fresh snow, and dressing in warm layers keeps you warm. Bring several high tech layers, a top quality outer shell, a good pair of waders, and a pair of wading boots that fit well.
Getting to Iliamna River Lodge
Arrive in Anchorage any time on Saturday and overnight at one of the many fine hotels.
On Sunday, you will need to take a cab or hotel shuttle to Lake Clark Air (LCA) at Merrill Field no later than 3:00 PM for your check-in, with a 4:00 PM departure flight to Pedro Bay, Alaska arriving at 5:00 PM. From Pedro Bay, you will be met by the staff of Iliamna River Lodge and transported to the lodge via a 27 foot enclosed cabin cruiser, arriving at
approximately 5:40 PM. Cost of the round-trip charter is $575 per person, payable to Lake Clark Air at check in. LCA accepts credit cards, cash and business checks. There is a 75 pound luggage weight limit.
Monday - Friday:
Your day starts with a friendly wake-up knock as your morning beverage is delivered to your cabin door. Meanwhile, a hearty breakfast is being prepared for you in the lodge. After a delicious and filling morning meal, it’s off to the day’s adventure via boat or float plane.
Lunch is taken on the fly and your guide will take a midday break for hot soup, riverside lunch, and maybe some fresh-caught salmon prepared over an open fire.
You’ll return to the lodge at the end of the day with sore arms, plenty of fish stories, and ready for a steaming hot shower before appetizers and beverages are served in the main lodge, followed by a delicious and professionally prepared dinner. You can watch the chef prepare your meal and enjoy a beverage or play a game of horseshoes, cornhole, or ping pong with other guests and staff. Or take a nice hot sauna to ease those muscles weary from catching fish all day.
It's departure day, but you will have the opportunity to fish or adventure for 6 or 7 hours before you depart back to Pedro Bay for your return flight to Anchorage. You’ll return from fishing by 3:00 PM to get organized, pack, enjoy a light meal, and say goodbye to your newfound friends before departure from the lodge at 5:00 p.m. Your flight from Pedro Bay via Lake Clark Air departs at 6:00 PM, arriving at Merrill Field in Anchorage approximately one hour later at 7:00 PM. We suggest you schedule your commercial flight out of Anchorage no earlier than 10:30 - 11:00 PM. Or you have the option of spending Saturday night in Anchorage and departing the following morning.
Lodging at Iliamna River Lodge
The newly built log-constructed lodge was modeled after its sister lodge - Rainbow River Lodge. It boasts an open layout with a commercial kitchen, dining area, and comfortable great room overlooking the Iliamna River. Share a fish story by the wood stove, enjoy a cocktail at the bar, or chat with our executive chef at the kitchen counter about your own culinary interests. The main lodge is built from hand hewn logs with massive picture windows, and there is an elevated deck that oversees the home river, offering a comfortable space to enjoy the company of your fellow anglers.
The spacious guest cabins are well-appointed with efficient heating, walk-in showers, full bathrooms, comfortable log cabin-style beds with cozy bedding, dressers for clothes, along with plenty of space to unpack and get settled. Each cabin features a covered front porch that boasts fantastic views and the Iliamna River right out your front door.
The bell for breakfast rings early for anglers anxious to get out and fly fish this treasured Iliamna Lake region of Alaska. Lunch is taken in the field unless you are fishing the home-waters, where you have the option of returning to the lodge for a hot bowl of homemade soup and a delicious sandwich, homemade pizza or ceviche. After a day out on the water there’s nothing like sitting down to a gourmet meal. Dinners like one would find in finer restaurants are served in the main lodge and include such dishes as steaks, roast beef, fresh seafood, halibut, king crab legs, and salmon from the bounty of the Pacific, paired with crisp garden salads, fresh-baked bread, and punctuated with homemade desserts - all painstakingly prepared by professional chefs. Whether you’re dining or relaxing, the lodge provides the perfect setting for many pleasant moments, conversations, meals and memories.
Rest assured that you won’t leave for a day of fishing without a full belly. The gourmet chef receives the highest praise from guests. Also note that because Pedro Bay is a dry village guests are responsible for providing their own alcohol, and the crew is happy to assist you in that process.
Fishing at Iliamna River Lodge
In general, the Iliamna River is "the bread and butter" fishery for Iliamna River Lodge with exceptional fishing for Arctic char, rainbow trout, and sockeye salmon. There are numerous braids and back channels that offer different methods of fishing (wading, drifting, shore fishing, etc). The river itself has an aquamarine turquoise color that is truly unique to the region. The neon red sockeye salmon glow against the blue in a color combination that can't be seen anywhere else in nature. Depending on your choice of angling package, fly outs to other regional fisheries for trout and salmon will add even more variety to your fishing experience.
Fly out options could include silver salmon fishing on a coastal stream, chasing Arctic grayling with dry flies, or a day of casting streamers and surface patterns for northern pike…the fishing options are endless, only limited by your imagination and stamina.
Alaska Ecotourism at its finest…
Unique to Iliamna River Lodge is the variety of non-fishing activities and ecotourism adventures at your disposal, making it a perfect venue for the entire family. Activities include fat tire mountain biking, ocean tours and/or fishing for halibut, sea kayaking, beachcombing, flightseeing, nature viewing and photography, birding, rafting and more. Each day is customizable to your specific interest and you can count on the staff to work hard in making your Alaska adventure memorable and special.
RAINBOW TROUT FLY FISHING
Rainbow trout in the Iliamna region naturally grow to 18 pounds or larger, although most trout will average between 2 - 5 pounds. Rainbows are caught June through September. However, due to the return of millions of sockeyes in the month of July, the most productive rainbow fishing is in the months of June, August and September. Each fishing day is custom tailored to your wants and needs, either flying out to distant trout streams or enjoying a day on the Copper River - the home-water.
ARCTIC GRAYLING FLY FISHING
Fly fishing for grayling is fun, especially on a 4 weight, fishing dry flies. They are thick in many of the nearby streams and will attack a fly all season long, even in the worst of weather. Most grayling average 10 to 14 inches, although it is not uncommon to catch fish up and over the twenty-inch mark.
ARCTIC CHAR/DOLLY VARDEN FLY FISHING
Arctic Char and Dolly Varden are both members of the Char family, and although closely related are two distinct species. In general Arctic char inhabit the lakes and Dolly Varden are sea run. They average 2 to 4 pounds with the largest of the fish tipping the scales at 15 pounds. Available all season long, char are numerous, hard fighters for their size, and one of the most beautiful fish in the state of Alaska.
SOCKEYE (RED) SALMON FLY FISHING
Sockeye salmon enter the Iliamna drainage from Bristol Bay by the millions in late June and early July. For the first few weeks that they are in fresh water they are considered to be one of the hardest fighting salmon, pound for pound. Sockeye salmon average 6 to 10 pounds with a 15-pound maximum. Sockeye are outstanding table fare and best enjoyed fresh over an open fire during a shore lunch, expertly prepared by your guide.
CHUM (DOG) SALMON FLY FISHING
Chums average 8 to 12 pounds and love to eat streamers. Chums are the bulldogs of the Pacific salmon and offer great sport on a 7 or 8 weight fly rod. Chum salmon top the scales at 20 pounds and arrive in local rivers in July and early August.
PINK (HUMPY) SALMON FLY FISHING
The smallest of the Pacific salmon, Pinks average 3 to 5 pounds. They arrive in strong numbers in mid-July and August. What pink salmon lack in size they make up for in aggressiveness and are a great salmon to target for those looking for high volume catch rates. They typically run every other year.
SILVER (COHO) SALMON FLY FISHING
Fishing for silvers peaks in August and September and they are best targeted on coastal streams when they are mint-bright and aggressive. Most silver salmon weigh between 8 and 15 pounds with larger specimens approaching the 20-pound mark. Cohos are very aggressive feeders and love to attack flies, both wet and skated dry flies.
NORTHERN PIKE FLY FISHING
Northerns are native to Alaska and are aggressive predators, found mostly in lakes, ponds, back sloughs and stillwaters. Pike can get big, in the 25 to 40-inch class, and will hit anything that moves, both subsurface and on top! Their strike is lightning fast and vicious. Some of the best pike fishing can be found right out your cabin door on Pike Lake. They are available all season.
LAKE TROUT FLY FISHING
“Lakers” are a resident fish in Alaska and inhabit large, deep, cold lakes with the best fishing just after ice-out. Lake trout are not commonly a target species in Alaska but a welcome surprise. You’ll catch the majority of lake trout - “Mackinaws” - in the outlets and inlets of the lakes that surround the lodge.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• Iliamna River Lodge is located on the proverbial “X” when it comes to accessing a diverse array of fly fisheries either by aircraft or boat. Within easy striking distance of Katmai National Preserve and Park, Lake Clark National Park and the Cook Inlet and Pacific, no matter what species you are interested in pursuing, the lodge can get you on great fishing in a matter of minutes. And if the weather dumps on you, you have one of the best char, salmon and trout fisheries right out the front door. Easy and efficient travel means less time traveling and more time fishing.
• The diversity of the fishing program at Iliamna River Lodge is tremendous. No matter what species of fish you want to pursue, lakes, rivers, streams or ocean, the lodge can accommodate your preferences. Having a diverse fishing program makes for a stimulating and enjoyable trip.
• Iliamna River Lodge has a legitimate ecotourism program. There are a ton of non-angling activities to do besides fishing, including fat tire mountain biking, ocean tours, sea kayaking, beachcombing, flightseeing, nature viewing, and photography, birding, rafting and more. Bring the entire family, everyone will have a memorable Alaskan adventure.
• The lodge is fairly new and very well-appointed, built overlooking the Iliamna River. Comfortable double occupancy cabins with spectacular views and ensuite bathrooms/showers ensure your time off the river is also memorable. Between the hard-working staff and the beautiful facilities, your stay at Iliamna River Lodge will leave you relaxed and refreshed, heading home in better shape than when you arrived!