Apr 8th, 2015
The Igiugig Lodge (Ig-ee-AH-gig) sits on the bank of Lake Iliamna near the mouth of the ruggedly beautiful Kvichak (Kwee-Jack) River. For fly anglers, the Kvichak’s most famous inhabitants are its supercharged steelhead-esque rainbow trout. These fish grow to epic proportions in Lake Iliamna and return to the river each summer to fatten up. Although these high flying rainbows are a huge draw, opportunities to target all five species of salmon, grayling, arctic char and even huge northern pike are also available at various times. Pilot and guide Brad Waitman has over 25 years of experience flying in the Alaskan bush and guiding the waters of Bristol Bay. Brad’s resume includes decades in the lodging business and over 5,000 hours of flight time. He’s a certified First Aid and CPR First Responder and fully licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. His wife Brenda is a third generation Alaskan native and will work to ensure that you’re comfortable and that every detail of your experience is looked after. With so many diverse fisheries available and species to target, the flexibility of this small Alaskan lodge makes it a Fly Water favorite for warm Alaskan hospitality, stellar fishing for super charged rainbows and a highly personalized experience.
Expert Interview with David Kalinowski
Where is the lodge?
Igiugig Lodge is located on the bank of Lake Iliamna at the lakes outflow. This is the where the Kvichak River originates. The village of Igiugig is right across the river from the lodge.
How do I get there?
Guests fly from Anchorage to the village of Igiugig on a charter flight. The flight is arranged by the lodge. Upon arrival in Igiugig, its a short boat ride across the Kvichak River to the lodge.
When should I go?
Igiugig has a diverse program, with the large lake run rainbows being a true highlight. June is an amazing time to catch these fish on swung “smolt” patterns. In August/September they can be caught on egg and flesh patterns. The home river (Kvichak) harbors to some of the biggest rainbows in the state and one of the best spots to catch these fish is right out the front door of the lodge. King salmon can be caught on a short fly out to the Nushagak in June/July and August offers great opportunities for silver salmon right in front of the lodge and on several fly out systems.
Where do they fish?
The Kvichak River is their home system and an awesome river. Katmai park river’s like the Big and Little Ku, Moraine and Battle are available on fly outs. The Nushagak is a short flight for salmon and other big rainbow rivers like Lower Talarik Creek are just a hop down the lake shore via the float plane. The location is fantastic and offers many options.
How do they fish?
Depending on the season the lodge has the ability to fish many types of techniques and for many species. Highlights are swinging flies for the big rainbows in June where anglers can wade and step down runs similar to traditional steelhead fishing. Two handed rods are great at this time and the rainbows are chrome bright and hot. Later in August and September egg patterns and flesh drifted under an indicator can take rainbows up to and exceeding 30″.
What fish will I catch?
Rainbow trout are available throughout the season, with June and August/September having some of the largest fish in the state available. King salmon, chum and sockeyes are available in June and July, silver salmon in August. Char, grayling and northern pike can also be targeted any month of the season.
How many fish will I catch?
I would expect a good angler to catch 20 or more rainbows a day early and late in the season. Kings, say 3 or 4 fish in a day would be excellent for a good spey angler able to turn over big stuff. I would expect to put a limit of sockeyes on the bank in late June to early July if you want to take home some fine eating fish and catching double digit numbers of silvers during August is possible.
Where do we stay?
Guests stay in double occupancy cabins with private bath/showers. The cabins have individual heaters and beds can be configured either two twin or a queen for couples. There is 24 hour power, a combination of generated and battery backed power. Rooms are serviced daily and they even offer laundry. Just bag your washables and the lodge will have them washed and folded, waiting for your return.
Is there wade fishing?
Indeed there is plenty of wadeable waters, but guests can also do some fishing out of the boat on the Kvichak if that is more to your liking.
Is there internet and cell service?
The lodge does have internet, but don’t expect high speed. Simple emailing and such is fine. Cell service will depend on the carrier. At the lodge it’s best not to expect the cell phone to work. There is a land line and guests are free to use it with calling cards.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Yes. The lodge can provide all the needed equipment. I do encourage guests to bring their own waders and boots and use the lodges only as backups if you spring a leak.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
Early season, switch and smaller spey rods are great for swinging to the rainbows. A 5 to 6 wt spey in the 12 to 12 1/2 foot range is great. For late season rainbows a stout 9ft. 6wt is fun, but a 7 is not too much.
Are there other activities?
I consider this an angler’s destination. While you could fly to do some bear viewing and such, their forte is catching big fish!
What is your favorite memory of this trip?
I have a few but my favorite might be heading out front of the lodge before breakfast. I set the alarm and got up super excited, almost like my childhood days on the opening of trout season. I am not much of a fish counter, but I know I landed over 15 rainbows exceeding 20″ in an hour and a half of casual fishing on my own that morning. I think I felt fish on almost all my swings. Some didn’t stick, but many did. I thought I found heaven as the fish were chrome bright, full of fight and much like the steelhead I work so hard for in OR. The lodge had to call me in for breakfast.
What are the physical demands?
Anglers who are fit can walk miles of certain rivers on fly out days, but on most cases it’s not needed. During many parts of the year, the best fishing is right out the front door with some of the easiest wading you can imagine.
Dangers and annoyances?
As with most AK destinations, anglers need to be aware bears can be present. On fly out days, weather may delay departures, but with such great water right near the lodge you may not want to fly anyhow.
If you have any questions or want to look into availability at Igiugig Lodge, please contact David at 800.552.2719 or Email