Deneki family member, Adam Jackson, is back with a great write up about a special, rugged, but all the more rewarding Alaskan fishery.
Adam is a long time guide of the Bristol Bay area at Rapids Camp Lodge, our fly-out operation on the Naknek River in Alaska. He’s seen plenty of unique fisheries and today he shares some of the details about one of his favorites for trout and Arctic char, the American River.
Take it away Adam!
American the Beautiful
It’s held by many anglers as the jewel of the Katmai National Park’s trout inhabited watersheds. Twenty eight river miles of prime, blue ribbon, gold medal, what ever you want to call it, bad ass fly fishing water.
Through alpine tundra, shear faced river canyons, and stunning boreal forests, the American River flows from Hammersly Lake to Coville Lake, loosing over 1800 feet of elevation along its path (a drop of roughly 4 feet every 100 yards). Much of it is inaccessible, receiving little pressure from anglers, with the exception of a dozen or so raft trips each summer.
A bush plane is required for reaching the few access points on the American and our Rapids Camp operation is one of only a handful of operators that has their finger on the pulse of this incredible fishery.
Fishing the American is not for the faint of heart however. The hiking and wading can be difficult. On the other hand, we’ve found this can be a good thing by keeping the crowds at bay and a vast majority of the fish virgin lipped. A solid day trip to the American River can entail anywhere from a two to seven mile hike depending on the targeted water and of course, the angler’s ambition.
Running gin clear the upper stretches of the American consist of endless pocket water and spawning flats, dappled with the occasional bucket or run.
The middle portion on the other hand has a steeper gradient and many boulders that are slicked with a thin green algae washed by swift knee to waist deep water. So the odds of taking a dip are pretty good if you’re truly getting after it.
The lower section is permitted water, regulated by the park service with characteristics of deep runs, switch back gravel bars, sweepers, and log jams.
As a tailwater, the American River fishes well through the entire season. Extremely diverse and bountiful, with Smolt, sculpin, prolific bug hatches, and salmon bio mass filling the trout’s dinner platter. It’s always good practice to pack your bug boxes and plenty of gink, even through the month of September. Otherwise, a good mouse or fry pattern will produce regularly. Flesh of course is a great late season go to as well, not to mention just about any black or white sleechy critter.
When the salmon are in, covering water is typically the name of the game. Particular flats and runs where salmon are spawning are sure to hold a majority of the fish. However, that area can span several miles. Therefore, it is important to locate these areas in order to increase your chances of getting into ’em. A competent, well seasoned eye that knows the water and how to read it from the air is the key to great success on the American River.
Sound like your cup of tea? Drop us a line for more information!