Flying from Anchorage is pure Alaskan concentrate. It’s that kind of aerial imagery that David Attenbourgh narrates. Blankets of mountains, countless ribbons of water, and the sparkling Pacific sprawling to the west. Tarns cling to alpine and ice chokes the high country. An hour in, the mountain loosens their grip and Bristol Bays’ sweeping lowlands are swallowed up by the salt. Here the Togiak spills its guts in froths and boils into the Bering Sea and the king of salmon school in anticipation.
Togiak Kings start rounding the corner en masse in mid June and are available to fly anglers within days. The river is a healthy representation of multiple age classes of the fish with massive numbers of jacks, very healthy populations of fish in the teens and low 20’s and fish to 30 caught regularly. Each year fish larger are hooked and landed with regularity.
These kings are in waves and chrome specimens flood in with every tide. These are fish in prime shape that respond well to the swung fly. The earliest fish travel hard and fast and provide exhilarating sport. These are your see through finned purple and blue speckled sea creatures. As the season progresses fish start to slow down and fill the runs with predictability. They start to run alongside runs of other salmonids into mid July.
The lower togiak is the area close to tide water and where the majority of the king effort is concentrated. From timing tides to fishing stacking holes, this region provides the opportunity for the ultimate king salmon experience. Winding gravel waterways with accessible bars for wading and angling, this is your stereotypical Alaska experience. Fish frequent funnels, shallow riffles and pinches and they appear in hordes like apparitions.
“The Braids” is the middle beat and it frequently pours out in multiple channels over the tundra. A twisted maze of water, this feature slows the fish and provides access to the first important tributaries. The runs here hold kings with increased regularity and provide excellent water for swinging with nearly no pressure.
The upper Togiak is the last section we fish and is butted up against the Togiak Wildlife Refuge. It’s characterized by major tributaries and extensive runs. Shallow from bank to bank, the rivers wide appearance is home to obvious traveling lanes and holding spots. The flywater here is exceptional and when the fish are present makes for the best sport on the river. Fish caught with sea lice here are not uncommon.
The best flies are those in pink, black and chartreuse. A personal favorite of mine is a 2/0 reverse marabou. It’s ability to sink and good size in the water make it a favorite. It also casts easily. It’s great in black and blue as well. If it’s three-four inches long, some flash, minimal materials and intruder shaped you’re in the game.
There are 3 important things to remember when choosing king flies at you local tackle shop 1) you will need to sink this fly at some point so avoid bulky bugs 2) you will need to cast this fly at some point so avoid bulky bugs 3) you will want to catch fish at some point so avoid bulky bugs. So I’d say avoid bulky bugs.
For tippet we use 20 lbs maxima.
Rods of around 13 6 to 14 and in 9 or 10 weight are ideal for the Togiak. While shorter stouter rods are great for pulling on kings, the extra length is ideal for lifting tips easily from the water during casting.
Both short floating and intermediate skagit lines can be used here and each has important applications. Even FIST lines have a place here in some cases. Sinking heads make a good back up to your standard skagit.
Sink tips are always an important consideration. A 10 foot t14 and a 10 foot t17 are ideal for most situations. Other important tips include 7.5 feet of t17 mow and 7.5 feet t14 mow.
Layered clothing with a good rain jacket and breathable waders are a must and rubber soled boots are necessary. Alaska does not allow felt.
In 2022 I will be returning to the Togiak for a few weeks for some hosted travel at Togiak River Lodge. From June 21-26 anglers can join me for peak dates. I will personally oversee the fishing with help from the Alaskan guides. 5 days fishing with double occupancy.
$5950 with airfare from Anchorage.
cell: (778) 220-7592