Mar 3rd, 2020
Rapids Camp Lodge, Alaska
Rapids Camp Lodge is an easy to reach full service fly-out lodge with excellent home waters and one of the most diverse and exciting fly fishing programs in Alaska. Seasoned hardcore fly anglers appreciate the wide range of waters the lodge frequents. This includes staples like the Moraine, Battle Creek, Contact Creek, Headwaters Creek and the American River. Other prolific “under the radar” rainbow and char fisheries mandate the use of a wheel plane and sturdy walking legs. During the early and late season, the lodge concentrates on fly fishing for large rainbows in the “rapids” of the Naknek River near the lodge. Anglers typically employ spey rods and steelhead tactics to entice these supercharged rainbows that commonly run in the 5-10 pound range.
Expert Q&A with David Kalinowski
Top reasons to go.
1. Rapids Camp Lodge is an easy to reach location that offers anglers quick access to Alaska’s most productive trout and salmon fisheries.
2. Their all-inclusive package includes the charter flight from Anchorage and any needed tackle making this a really easy trip to prepare for.
3. The lodge is one of the most plane-rich operations in the state with three float planes, meaning guests are never waiting around for their turn to fly out.
4. The fishing program at Rapids Camp Lodge is truly diverse and well suited to anglers of all skill levels.
5. Rapids Camp Lodge is very comfortable with many amenities including fabulous dining, a hot tub, sauna, game room and exercise room.
6. The lodge has great home waters enabling all guests to enjoy trophy rainbow fishing irrespective of flying conditions.
Where is the lodge?
The lodge is located seven miles outside the community of King Salmon, along the shores of the mighty Naknek river, about a 1.5 hour flight from Anchorage.
How do I get there?
Upon arrival at the Anchorage airport a lodge expediter will meet you at the baggage claim and transfer you to the lodge plane for the flight to King Salmon. If you cannot arrive prior to 1 PM on Friday (the standard transfer day) anglers should plan on arriving on Thursday and overnight at one of the many hotels. The lodge expediter will pick you up Friday morning at your elected accommodations and transport you to the included charter flight to King Salmon. Upon arrival in King Salmon a representative will meet you and drive you 15 minutes to the lodge.
When should I go?
There is not a month that does not offer great opportunities. For the largest migratory rainbow trout June/July and September are great but August offers the best overall catch rates and more diversity of rainbow trout waters. King salmon fishing is best in June to mid-July and silver salmon fishing is best in August. With a long list of systems and species to target, opportunities are abundant.
Where do they fish?
The Naknek River is right out the front door and harbors some of the biggest rainbow trout in the state. Also on their menu are many of the renowned Katmai Park rivers like Moraine, Battle, Brooks and American Creek. They also fish several “unnamed” systems and even fly south to the base of the Alaskan Peninsula and up north to the Nushagak. Rapids Camp is willing to fly further than most outfitters to get their guests into the best fishing.
Where do we stay?
The lodge has eight single occupancy rooms with private bathrooms. Additionally, they offer a two bedroom house that will accommodate two additional guests or a family of up to four.
What are the meals like?
The lodge employs two professional chefs and the meals are well thought out and top notch. Breakfast is buffet style with all the usual fixings. Lunch is typically packed by your guide and includes a sandwich, chips, fruit and snacks. The dinners are truly a highlight, with a mix of local seafood and quality meats. From BBQ night to king crab night, guests certainly will not go hungry…did I mention the desserts? If you have certain dietary restrictions, the lodge can cater to these and are happy to do so.
How would you describe the general vibe and atmosphere?
The lodge is relaxed and the overall atmosphere is casual. They have a large bar with self service beer and wine, and guest and staff mill around this area chatting and or using the WiFi.
Is there an on-site manager, owner or point person at the lodge?
Owner Dan Herrig is on site to help coordinate your stay, describe your fishing options and share his knowledge as to what to expect each day. Along with Dan, the head guide will assist in choosing what each day will bring with a conversation each night. They will discuss the weather, what is happening in terms of fishing and activities and assist in helping each guest have a great week at the lodge.
Is there internet and cell service?
The lodge has good internet service, but it is not of the quality of the lower 48. Cell phones likely will not work, but that may change soon and will depend on your carrier.
How do they fish?
All tactics can be employed here and what you do specifically will depend on the timing and the target species. Tactics range from two handed spey fishing for large migratory rainbows to fishing conventional tackle for king salmon and everything in between. They have the gear and the knowledge to show you all that Alaska has to offer.
How many fish will I catch?
Rainbow trout catch rates are highest in August and around a dozen quality trout a day is great. Expect other species like Dolly Varden and Artic char and grayling to add to your totals.
What are the guides like?
The guides range from very experienced to new, as is typically the case in Alaska. In my experience all have been hard working and eager to please.
Will we see other anglers?
Typically you will see other anglers at a good number of venues. In the same breath, this will depend on what your preferences are in terms of target species and timing. If you are up for it, there are many small and remote trout and char streams where a long hike will give you solitude. There is a special king/chum system that offers much solitude, but some other streams offer great fishing even if there are others around.
Is there wade fishing?
Indeed much of the fishing can be done while wading. Conversely if you are not keen on wading, they have jetboats and rafts on various systems and can accommodate anglers wishing not to wade.
How far is it to the fishing grounds?
From right out the front door to about an hour’s flight. Rapids Camp has a large radius surrounding the lodge that they are willing to cover, from the Alaskan peninsula to the upper Nushagak, Rapids Camp has an incredible variety from its centrally-located home base.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
Yes, any and all fishing equipment can be provided including waders and boots.
What is your favorite rod(s) for the trip?
This will depend on the season, but for trout a sturdy 7wt is a great all around tool. There are also great opportunities for spey anglers, whether its for the super charged rainbows on the home river or for king salmon on the Nushagak or down the peninsula.
What are the top flies?
Much of this will depend on the target species and time of the year. The lodge provides all the needed flies and equipment so no need to pack along all of your fly boxes. I like to bring a few Morrish mouse patterns, smolt and fry imitations for the early season trout fishing. Egg imitations, mostly beads, will have you covered in August and for late in the season, sculpin and black leech patterns are great to have on hand for large trout.
Are there other activities?
Yes, flight seeing tours, beach combing and bear viewing. The lodge is great at coordinating each day to suit your desires.
What are the physical demands?
This is a trip for all. The lodge can accommodate folks with limited mobility and those who prefer to hike all day. There are great options to fish from the boat all week if you prefer, or if a long hike into a remote stream is more your fancy, Rapids Camp can make it happen.
Dangers and annoyances?
While in Alaska guests need to be aware that brown bears are likely around. 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.
Rapids Camp Lodge’s fleet of planes and jet boats is arguably the best in the state.
Along with the fly out opportunities, Rapids Camp sits within sight of some of the best trophy trout fishing in the state.
Rapids Camp Lodge is comfortable with many amenities and creature comforts.
Daily fly outs allow for a truly diverse angling experience.
The dining experience each evening is a highlight with fantastic dishes prepared by two professional chefs.