Mar 27th, 2019
Big Ku Lodge
Located in the heart of the greater Katmai/Iliamna region, the Branham’s Big Ku Lodge is arguably Alaska’s most unique and strategically located trophy rainbow camp. Perched on a bluff overlooking the outlet of Kukaklek Lake, Big Ku guests enjoy easy walking access to one of the best beats of trophy rainbow water in the world, as well as three additional systems that are accessed by jet boat. Limited to six anglers per week, Big Ku Lodge is an intimate, remote, no frills camp that offers small groups of serious anglers the ultimate hub from which to fish the Big and Little Ku, Battle and Moraine systems. Currently the only lodge in the greater Katmai region able to access these remarkable systems by jet boat, Big Ku guests will have the distinct advantage of reaching their elected water irrespective of weather restraints that hamper the region’s aircraft based operations. For those who never get enough time on the water, early morning and late night unguided fishing on the home water is both encouraged and expected.
For more information please contact David at 800.552.2729
Expert Q & A with David Kalinowski
Top reasons to go
1. Big Ku Lodge offers exclusive boat access to four of Katmai’s most famous trout systems irrespective of weather.
2. The quality home waters have great “after hours” fishing for those that just can’t get enough.
3. With only six anglers per week guests receive great service and attention while having miles of rivers to fish.
4. Big Ku Lodge is located on private land within Katmai National Park and has exclusive use of over 10,000 acres.
5. In addition to great fishing guests can enjoy hiking, bird watching, bear viewing, all with great photo opportunities.
Where is the lodge?
Big Ku Lodge is located about two hours by air from Anchorage in the greater Katmai/Iliamna region of Alaska. The lodge is immediately south of Lake Iliamna overlooking the outlet of Kukaklek Lake within Katmai National Park.
How do I get there?
Guests need to arrive in Anchorage and overnight at their elected accommodations the day prior to the trip start date. The lodge provides a round trip flight between Anchorage and the lodge on an Amphibious Cessna Caravan. Guests meet in the AM for this flight at the Branham hanger on Lake Hood near the international airport.
When should I go?
June through September is the season here. June and early July offer fantastic streamer fishing for rainbow trout. August is the start of the best indicator and egg fishing for the trout in the area streams and by mid September the streamer game comes back strong with some very large fish are taken in the home river at this time.
Where do they fish?
The home river is the Big Ku, headwaters of the famed Alagnak river. The lodge also can access the Little Ku, lower Moraine Creek and Battle Creek via jet boat. With a fly out, the lodge can reach dozens of other creeks and rivers in the greater Katmai region.
Where do we stay?
Guests stay in double occupancy rooms in duplex cabins. The cabins have flush toilets and showers.
Who is best suited to this destination?
This is essentially a rainbow trout focused lodge with northern pike and grayling available as well. Its best for those who appreciate a remote feel and interested in a lot of fishing time with simple yet comfortable accommodations.
What is a typical day like?
Each morning a breakfast is served family style in the main lodge. Soon after each two anglers depart with their guide in jet boats for the days fishing. Those that have included a fly out will start their day on the home river then be picked up between 9:30AM and 11AM for their day of fly out fishing. Lunch is served riverside unless you are staying close on the home river and want to return for a midday break. All anglers will return to the lodge between 5 and 6 pm. Appetizers are followed by a family style dinner in the main lodge.
What are the meals like?
Meals are served family style and all guests, guides and staff dining together. The meals are home cooked and hearty affairs that will have you full and satisfied.
How would you describe the general vibe and atmosphere?
The vibe is very fish focused with a relaxed atmosphere. The guides and staff work hard to provide a comfortable stay filled with many fishing hours.
Is there an on-site manager, owner or point person at the lodge?
Yes, Kevin and Deb Christoff will be camp hosts for the 2019 season.
Is there internet and cell service?
There is limited bandwidth on the satellite internet but good for simple emails and communication. There is no cell service here.
How do they fish?
The tactics will change with the season while targeting the rainbow trout here. Streamers and mice early, indicator/egg tactics during August and early September, then back to streamers for mid to late September.
How many fish will I catch?
The fishing here has been great over the last handful of years. Large sockeye returns have provided a great food source for the rainbows of this region. I would expect a good angler to have many trout to hand in any day. 20 to 40 fish in a day can and does happen here.
What are the guides like?
As with most places in Alaska there is typically a mix of experienced and new guides. The owners of Big Ku, Chris and Linda Branham have a long history in AK and continue to employ some of the most experienced guides in AK. They act a great mentors to the new hires. The consistent theme of their guide staff is great knowledge and a high level of service all while being safe and fun to be with.
Will we see other anglers?
Yes, I would expect to see some others at times. Most other anglers will not stay around long, as they are flown in each day and must return to their lodge each evening. You may also see some anglers getting dropped off in the lake for the start of their multi-day float trip down the Alagnak.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, on the smaller rivers such as Little Ku and Battle Creek all fishing is done while wading. Moraine Creek can also offer some wade fishing. The Big Ku is a larger system and I would expect some great fishing out of the boat but some wade fishing, especially around the lodge.
How far is it to the fishing grounds?
From right out the front door, to about an hour in the jet boat.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
The lodge can supply equipment with advanced notice. I do feel its best to show up with your own rods/reels/waders and rubber soled boots.
Does the lodge provide flies?
Yes. I also suggest bringing along a supplemental supply of flies in the early and late parts of the season.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
My favorites rods for this trip are a fast action 9ft 6wt and a 9ft 7wt. Having two rods offers the diversity to comfortably cover more bases in terms of fly size, river size or even average fish size. Additionally a 6wt spey rod can be handy in the early and late season on the home river if interested in wading while fishing.
What are the top flies?
Black and white Dali Llama, Morrish Mouse, Flesh and assorted beads in various shades of orange.
Are there other activities?
Bird watching, bear viewing, photography and hiking
What is the cost?
Full week jet boat based packages are $7050 per person and $7500 for a full week with 1 fly out.
Are there hidden expenses?
What is the Cancellation Policy?
Deposits are refundable (less a $250 processing fee) if the cancellation occurs before March 1st of the year you are traveling. After March 1st of the year you are traveling a refund (less $250 processing fee) can be offered if a suitable replacement is found.
Do I need trip insurance?
While not required we do feel trip insurance is a great idea for traveling anglers.
Does this trip combine well with other trips?
Yes, connecting to the Branham’s other lodge, Royal Wolf is a great option if interested in more quality trout fishing with fly outs each day.
Are there special skills required?
What are the physical demands?
There are situations where guests need to walk and wade some distances. It should be known that this is a remote place and best not to take any unnecessary risks.
Dangers and annoyances?
The lodge is located in an area with a high density of brown bears. The guides and staff are well versed in how to fish around these furry friends. Mosquitoes can be abundant in the early season. Additionally there are risks associated with flying in small air crafts and boats.
What am I forgetting?
Bug spray or head net if sensitive to insect bites.
Big Ku Lodge is located on private land within Katmai National Park and has exclusive use of over 10,000 acres.
The quality home waters have great “after hours” fishing for those that just can’t get enough
With only six anglers per week guests receive great service and attention while having miles of rivers to fish
In addition to great fishing guests can enjoy hiking, bird watching, bear viewing, all with great photo opportunities