Best Fishing Lodge in Alaska: Rainbow King Lodge

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Check out Rainbow King Lodge in the Traveling Angler Magazine Volume 7 Issue 2. Rainbow King Lodge is the finest fishing lodge in Alaska. A true luxury lodge. The Experience of a Lifetime.

Transcript of Best Fishing Lodge in Alaska: Rainbow King Lodge

  • 1. WWW.TRAVELINGANGLERMAGAZINE.COMTHE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE FOR THE DISCERNING ANGLERALL ABOUT THE FLY-OUTAlaskas Best Rainbow FisheriesGEARKeep Your Fly Rods Safe, In-TactB.C.S WORLD-CLASS STEELHEAD FISHINGSkeena, Kispiox, Bulkley, Morice, Kalum, Exchamsiks, Babine, Sustut, Copper VOLUME 7, ISSUE 2, 2013WORLDS BIGGEST TROUTArgentinas Jurassic Lake

2. Gibraltar Riverpat hoglund photoALA SKA,Alaska A La CarteBased in Lake Iliamna, Rainbow King Lodge serves up a veritable smorgasbord of trophy trout water. by pat hoglund50www.travelinganglermagazine.compat hoglund photoYoud thought Gus had a bag full of candy and was handing it out during recess. While he sat at the table in the lodge rec room, a pencil in one hand and a sheet of paper in the other, he filled out the next days itinerary while guests hovered around him like bees to honey. Fishermen from various parts of the country waited for their turn to get their name on the list. All of them were guests at Rainbow King Lodge. There was the couple from Tennessee, a group of six fishermen from Anchorage, four friends from Salt Lake City, my son Peter and me, and John and Bill from Atlanta, Georgia. John had retired from his law practice while his son-in-law Bill was able to steel away from his job for a week of trout fishing. Wed like to fish Gibraltar tomorrow, Bill said. Bill is a polite southern gentleman from Atlanta who was on his 18th consecutive visit to Rainbow King Lodge. He and his father-inlaw, John, are regulars. They know the rivers in Bristol Bay intimately and he was calling upon a vault of personal history. Gus looked at his sheet, penciled in Bill and Johns names and turned to me.It was my turn to decide where me and my son were going to fish the next day. I was doing my best to get a feel for what other guests were thinking, and where they were scheduled to fish. The choices varied from a dozen premier trout rivers, to salmon on thecoast, or halibut fishing. I had been to Rainbow King Lodge one other time, so my bevvy of personal choices were limited. I looked at Bill and John and I figured their 18 summers had to account for something. If theres room on the Gibraltar, wed love 3. Gibraltar Riverpat hoglund photoALASKA,to fish it. Gus, whos real name is Craig Augustynovich but goes by Gus for obvious reasons, looked at me and smiled. Thats a good choice. Its been fishing really good lately. It was settled. After dinner, wed hit the rack, wake up for breakfast at 6 a.m. then jump in the van and drive three minutes to the lake where wed hop aboard the DeHavilland Beaver and our pilot would fly us to Gibraltar Lake. Our guide would be waiting there whenwe arrived. When the Beavers floats touched down on the lake the next morning our pilot, John Lucas, taxied the plane to the shoreline where two blue rubber rafts and two young bucks waited. Bill and John piled into Devans raft while Peter and I stowed our gear into Justins raft. Our guide for the day was Justin Schillaci, a 23-year-old trout bum from Pennsylvania. A high school history teacher during the school year, he guides fishermenin Alaska during the summer. Located on the south side of Lake Iliamna, the Gibraltar flows north into Lake Iliamna. The river is barely six miles long, but it is without a doubt one of the prettiest trout rivers in all of Alaska. From Gibraltar Lake the river tumbles through alder groves and stands of spruce trees. In several places granite walls dictate the rivers course before it reaches Lake Iliamna. The river is crystal clear and the cobblestone bottom makes for near-perfect traveling angler51 4. ALA SKA,Gibraltar Riverpat hoglund photoPeter gives chase to a nice rainbow on the Gibraltar River.52www.travelinganglermagazine.comthanks to Rainbow King Lodge owner Rodger Glaspey, Peter was fortunate to see a slice of Alaska that few people his age get to experience. Rainbow King Lodge has been in operation since the early 70s when Ray Loesche started it. Glaspey and his partners Ted Sheely and Jim Fletcher are the third owners. They bought RKL after Tom Robinson passed away in 2009. They have since trimmed back the number of guests that stay here each week, and spent a lot of money on improving the lodge itself. The rooms have new, private bathrooms, along with new mattresses and bedding that is fit for a 5-star hotel in New York City. There is high-speed Internet service, as well as a revamped menu. It makes for a great place to hang your hat after a long day on the water. Which is ultimately what you come for. Rainbow King Lodge has made a name for itself by whisking fishermen to some of the best trout and salmon rivers in Bristol Bay. It maintains upwards of a half-dozen privatepat hoglund photosalmon spawning habitat. The Gibraltar gets a sockeye run, a small coho run, and most importantly it supports a healthy population of rainbow trout. The trout here are not overly large, however it does have its share of trophy fish. Which was evident at the first hole we stopped to fish. Located about a mile from where the plane dropped us off, the holding water was on the inside bend of a long sweeping run that was backed up by a logjam. Justin pulled the raft up on a gravel bar and directed Peter to the top end of a deep run. With a red bead below a strike indicator I watched him make his first official cast into Alaska waters. I know it was something he wanted to do for a long time. I also knew that he had visions of gracefully casting his 6-weight long distances to rising trout. Im suspecting he was a little disappointed when he learned most of his casts would be 15 feet or less. He casually flipped his bead into the river, gave the line its customary mend, and was welcomed to Alaska with a massive strike from a rainbow that exploded out of the water. It threw the hook and was gone in a split second. Peter was dumbfounded. Did you see that? he asked. I was equally shocked. It was a beautiful fish that mightve gone 30 inches. It was a classic Alaska rainbow. Big, beautiful and strong like an ox. But Peters inattentiveness on his first cast proved to be his undoing. I couldnt help but think it wouldnt have been right had he stuck a 30-incher on his first cast anyway. He was already getting spoiled enough just being there because there arent too many 14-year-olds who get to experience a week at a flyout lodge in Alaska. ButShore lunch included fresh salmon cooked over an open fire.leases on rivers that are a plane ride away. They own and operate three airplanes, two Beavers and an Otter. The Beaver normally sits six people while the Otter seats 10. Because of its location on Lake Iliamna, Rainbow King is able to pick and choose the best places to fish within close range of the lodge. It can also fly guests to places that are not so close. During the week Peter and I fished here, we fished the Gibraltar River, September Creek, the Kamishak River, Brooks River, the Newhalen, and one far away salmon-infested river on the coast where it was an every-cast affair for silvers. The only time we didnt fly in a plane was on the Newhalen. The operation is first class and the available waters the lodge has to fish is extensive. After Peter lost his first trout he was a little more focused. He spent the rest of the morning pining away for a crack at another big one. I cant believe I lost that fish, hed say. Each time Justin responded by telling him hed get another chance. Sometimes I chalk that up to guide speak, but on the Gibraltar I felt like it was true. I personally was waiting for my chance, which never did come. I caught plenty of rainbows in the 18- to 22-inch range, but never got beyond the 24-inch mark. Which in my world, thats a really big trout. A trout that big has shoulders, its incredibly strong and will put up a memorable fight. After a shore lunch that included fresh salmon cooked over an open fire, we jumped back in the raft and made our way downriver. I was positioned on the bow, while Peter was on the stern. Justin was between us rowing the raft. We slipped below an island and Peter placed his fly in a pocket that looked trouty. His strike indicator disappeared and he lifted his rod to set the hook. Out of the water bolted a thick rainbow. This time he was prepared. The fish raced down river and Peter and Justin jumped out of the raft and gave chase. I stayed back with the raft and watched the scene unfold before me. Using the fast water to its advantage, the rainbow ripped downstream taking with it all of Peters fly line and 20 or 30 feet of his backing. Had it continued farther downriver I am convinced Peter wouldve lost it, but the trout tired and as luck would have it, Peter managed to get it within arms length. Justin slipped the net under the trout to help Peter claim his prize. 5. Gibraltar RiverIt wasnt the 30-incher that he hoped for, but it was a damn nice trout (it taped out at 27 inches) and he was proud of it. I was equally happy for him. I snapped a dozen photos and he released it. Justin was genuinely happy for Peter and he reminded him that I still hadnt hooked a fish that big. That made Peter feel that much better. Trout fishing in Alaska is like a lot of things in this state: straightforward and pragmatic. Its no different on the Gibraltar in August. The sockeye run arrives in June and once they begin spawning in August the trout key in on salmon eggs. For the better part of the two months, 90 percent of the trout in Bristol Bay are caught on beads. Some people refer to them as flies but theyre nothing more than small, plastic beads that slide onto the leader. Of course we use fly rods and reelsloaded with floating line, which is where the lines get blurred. The beads are either tied or pegged to stay in place, usually about 3 or 4 inches above size 4 or 6 hook. The beads come in different color and the guides at Rainbow King Lodge pride themselves on their own shades, which they dictate by painting the beads w