Guest Post by Matt Giordano – Resident Fly Fishing Expert
For many people, Alaska is a great unknown, a distant land that stirs curiosity and appeals to ones sense of adventure. Known for its excellent fly-fishing opportunities, it is a true anglers paradise. One area of the state that offers the unique combination of accessibility and excellent fishing is Lake Creek. Located just 60 miles northwest of Anchorage, about an hour float plane ride from Lake Hood, Lake Creek offers fishing for all five species of salmon as well as rainbow trout, grayling, and pike. Lake Creek flows out of Chelatna Lake until it reaches the Yentna River; it is at the confluence of these two rivers that people begin their angling adventure.
I spent a season guiding on Lake Creek and I can say from experience that it is an amazing fishery that can fulfill any anglers fly-fishing dreams. Although it is called a creek, it is really just a smaller river that reminds me of western trout rivers such as the Madison River or the Gallatin. While planning your trip to Lake Creek, understand that there are 6 different lodges to choose from, each boasting attributes that appeal to different people. No matter your situation, Lake Creek offers fishing opportunities for you. Here is a list of the lodges on the creek:
McDougall Lodge: If you want to hardcore fish harvest and really care about limits then McDougall Lodge is the ideal place for you.
Fireweed Lodge and Kingpoint Lodge: If you are more of a DIY person you can stay at either one of these lodges and simply rent boats and explore the river on your own. The only issue with DIY is that they restrict how far up the creek you can go because the boat driving is very technical, this inhibits your ability to access some premier fishing spots.
Lake Creek Lodge: If you want more of a party location that mixes guided trips and DIY fishing then Lake Creek Lodge is the place for you, featuring its very own bar that is frequented by other guides and clients staying on Lake Creek.
Wilderness Place Lodge: This lodge is centered on fly-fishing and caters to people primarily wanting to throw the long rod. If you are a hardcore fly fisherman then this is the place for you.
Riversong Lodge: Offering flexible overnight stays as well as exciting day trips, this lodge can accommodate a diverse range of clientele. Riversong is outfitted to cater to both fly fishermen and spin fishermen, depending on your preference. A couple with two young children run the lodge, giving it a communal and family-friendly feel.
As for the fishing on Lake Creek, it is consistently good. From the end of May to the middle of July the area receives an excellent run of Chinook (King) Salmon. During this time you can find Kings up and down the creek offering opportunities to land fish upwards of 45 pounds. These fish hit like a freight train and are not afraid to go aerial so hang on for the ride. You can keep one King per day and only two Kings per season and be aware that once you kill a King you cannot even catch and release for Kings the rest of the day. My advice for Kings on Lake Creek would be to go in June. In July the run slows and some lodges shut down the second week of July because the river no longer receives fresh pushes of fish from the ocean, this allows guides to recharge their batteries for the onslaught of fish coming in the second half of the season.
After the second week of July the fishing once again roars back to life as the rest of the salmon begin to run up the creek. Solid numbers of Cohos (Silvers), Pinks (Humpies), Chums (Dogs), and Sockeyes (Reds) show up on Lake Creek willing to eat a fly. Bring a 9ft, 6-weight rod and prepare for 50+ fish days from late July through August. During this time the creek offers excellent sight fishing and enables you to cast at fish all over 5 pounds, with some upwards of 20 pounds.
If you really want to maximize the fun you have on Lake Creek the second half of the season, go after the biggest fish and not necessarily the tastiest fish. I understand the appeal of fresh Silvers for dinner but the overlooked fish that you should target are Chums. Commonly referred to as Dog salmon by the locals, because they say that the meat is best served to dogs, Chums can grow up to 20 pounds on Lake Creek and will put any angler to the test. These fish develop nasty teeth and colorful stripes down their sides along with a no quit attitude that commonly takes anglers into their backing.
Overall, Lake Creek is an excellent place for fishermen of all skill levels to cut their teeth on Alaskan Salmon. People can fish for the day or stay for the week, there’s opportunities for everyone to get out into the bush and enjoy Alaska. Only one hour from Anchorage but you will feel a million miles away, go enjoy Lake Creek and all it has to offer.