Togiak River Kings

Everyone has different expectations when fly fishing for king salmon. For some folks, just catching some is enough. Whether stripping flies through sloughs, or swinging up older, colored fish, they are happy as long as there is a good chance they will hook at least one. Others prefer rivers a little closer to the ocean, where the kings have a better chance of being bright.   These are all just personal preferences, neither better than the other.

Some anglers think if they are hooking more than 5 kings in a day, it is simply too easy (think chum fishing). Others just can’t get enough. It is possible to catch a lot of kings in a day in Alaska. There are some small coastal rivers in Alaska that provide huge catch rates. These small systems have sizeable runs of fish holding in shallow water that can easily be swung up.  For our tastes we prefer to target kings as close to the tide as possible. Beyond that we love it all.

In British Columbia, the fisheries are a little different. Anglers typically work harder in BC than in Alaska for their catch. The rivers are much bigger, faster, and deeper than any other fly-specific king destinations. People who love fishing BC kings like to challenge themselves with more difficult conditions; the payoff is the potential for larger, harder-fighting fish. The river gradients are often steep in BC, and the kings have enough of an advantage from the fast-flowing water to ruin your day. If they aren’t steep like the Dean, they are very large like the Skeena. In both systems anglers will often be spooled before they can react in time to get the boat started to chase them.  Basically, the bigger or faster the river, the harder they are to catch, and the more backing you will see disappearing on your reel as you begin to pray for mercy from your chosen god.

Of course king salmon have been introduced into non-native environments such as the Great Lakes, New Zealand, and in South America, Patagonia; however, they have a long way to go to genetically catch up to the west coast of the USA and Canada. The earliest record in North America is the Saber-Tooth salmon in fossils dating up to 7 million years ago, and the salmon we know today have been around for at least 5000 years. Targeting fish with this type of life history is pretty amazing.

For us, it is all about diversity. This summer we will be fishing the lower Togiak River with guests. The Togiak River Lodge is the only permanent lodge on the river. It consists of a main building and six guest cabins, along with staff housing. It has been primarily a gear fishing operation for many years, but the spey fishing opportunities for experienced anglers is as good as it gets. Epic is developing this new program with the owners of Togiak River Lodge. This is a river where you can get an earthquake take in the middle of the flow after throwing an 80-foot cast. The fish are very large for Alaska and rarely have any color on them in the lower river.

Since the other lodge guests will be gear fishing out of a boat, Epic spey guests will soak up the prime gravel bars and back channel runs where swinging lines up perfectly. The lodge is very comfortable and located ideally just upriver of the estuary. It is close enough to the fishing areas that you can come back for midday breaks or lunch, and you can time your efforts around the tides or when the sun is off the water.

The Togiak has sustained a very large run of fish since 2011, and it has not seen any decline in numbers. For anglers that prefer to launch spey casts and get big grabs in heavy water, the Togiak will surpass your highest expectations. We quickly fell in love with the Togiak, as it reminds us so much of our BC rivers; the huge numbers of fish pushing, though, are uniquely Alaskan. The size of fish are more akin to BC kings.

For fly fisherman, the kings in the lower Togiak are pretty special. They typically hold court in the lower reaches of the mainstem (where we will be fishing) for two weeks or a bit longer before moving further upstream for spawning. For spey fisherman this couldn’t be better. The fresh chrome fish hold long enough to target them but not long enough to color up and go stale. Like a timed conveyor belt, once they colour up, they move on up river. With 6 solid weeks of fresh fish pushing through the system, you will see a very high percentage of colorless fish in the lower river.

We have 2 spots available July 11—16 and 4 spots available July 16—21.    The price is $4,750 per person, and the rooms are shared accommodation.

 

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