The Little Ku
On the Southern Shore of Kukaklek Lake, moments from Rapids Camp Lodge, in the Northeastern section of the Katmai National Park, lies a creek legendary to backcountry Alaskan trout fishermen. Loaded with big Kukaklek leopard rainbows, this piece of water can wreck a trout fisherman for life. Totaling about 10 miles of fish-able water and nestled in a tight valley, it’s one of the most enchanting pieces of freestone water you’ll find on the peninsula. Unless fishing from the outlet at the lake, access is limited to those who are willing to hike a minimum of 2 miles. For this reason it remains less traveled and the ideal setting for someone who really wants solitude.
Fishing well throughout most of the season, there is literally no end to the methods or techniques that can be deployed in search of these tight water giants. Having a guide that knows where, when, and how is the only key to a successful day on the Little Ku, other than blind luck. The trout move around a lot throughout the season in this creek and have plenty of hiding spots – so a stretch that fished well 2 days ago can be vacant of photo worthy fish today. Only years of experience, good note taking, and lady luck keep the hook ups coming.
As baby sockeye salmon or smolt begin their spring journey toward the lake from the spawning grounds, high in the drainage, trout, char, and grayling migrate back into the creek from wintering out in the lake to greet them. Ambushing from below, they lend themselves to the angler that sneaks in undetected and presents that appropriate fly. Mice, eels, and leeches are on the menu year round and on a sunny day hatches can occur in the lower 3 miles.
Spawn-ready sockeye begin staging at the outlet and entering the drainage in mid July. This marks the beginning of the time of plenty for these trout. Hundreds of them follow the masses of sockeye that pass through the Alagnak River, Big Ku, and lake headed to the spawning tributaries. Some of the best fishing this time of year can be right at the outlet in Kukaklek Lake.
August is prime time at ‘Lima Kilo’ and it’s always on fire if you know where to be. The sockeye are spawning, bears are everywhere, the fireweed is topped out, and there is no more spectacular place on the peninsula. As the fall back starts, spawned out or dying salmon float down stream depositing flesh and biomass throughout the drainage. This causes a large number of the trout to follow and head back into the lake or possibly another tributary. Then one day long about September it’s pretty much all over but the crying. An angler and his guide can walk 5 miles of stream hunting for takes, but maybe only land a couple of note worthy fish, instead of the 30 he landed that one fine day just weeks prior.
It’s a short hop over the ridge from Rapids Camp Lodge, a beautiful 20 minute flight in any of the lodge’s 4 DeHaviland Beavers or 14 minutes in the turbine Otter. RCL is one of the only lodges that access the Little Ku with both wheels and floats for an unbelievable back-country trouting experience. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.