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Rapids Camp Lodge, Alaska

Fly Water Travel’s Jon Covich recently returned from Rapids Camp Lodge in Alaska, where his son Teddy is a guide. Jon shared with us a great trip report, including information about pre-travel COVID tests, plus some incredible imagery. We hope you enjoy!


For more information about Rapids Camp Lodge and any of our other Alaska destinations, please contact Destination Manager David Kalinowski at david@flywatertravel.com or (800) 552-2729.

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I started both of my sons fly fishing when they were seven or eight years old. They love it, but have always relied on me to get their tackle ready, and to make sure they had what they needed for any fishing trip we were on. I have been like their personal fishing caddy… “I need some new tippet and a fly that works Dad!”

My oldest, Teddy, is now in college and expressed interest in spending this last summer working at an Alaskan fishing lodge. I put him in touch with some different contacts I had, and sure enough the nice people at Rapids Camp Lodge in Bristol Bay hired him. I thought the job would be a camp grunt, but before I knew it, my son was sending me twenty texts a night: “Dad, which is the best loop knot to tie, a perfection loop or a uni knot?” “You said a shooting head was the floating section of a Spey system, but the guides here are calling the sink tips heads. Which is right?” “What line should I put on that T&T 1208 Spey you sent with me?”

I thought it was kind of strange, but soon I found out that the lodge wrangled Teddy into guiding. I was skeptical at best, even knowing that my son works hard, and learns fast. Guiding, as we all know, is a tough job requiring a lot of fishing knowledge, not to mention people skills. After about two weeks, my son’s questions stopped.

I visited Rapids Camp in mid-September as a guest of the owner Dan. I was there mainly to have some time with my son, but also to shoot photos and to learn about the fishing opportunities at Rapids Camp. Anyone traveling to Alaska must currently provide a negative COVID test prior to, or at arrival. But even with these COVID considerations, the travel to and from went smoothly, largely in part because Fly Water Travel, Deneki Outdoors and Rapids Camp Lodge are all very organized.

I had my test done via a drive-through site here in Seattle, and had my results the next morning. Once in Anchorage there were two lines for incoming travelers; I joined the line for people who had already downloaded their COVID test results to a web-site, and this made entrance a bit quicker. While I was at the airport, both lines were not overly long, and each seemed to be moving quickly. As far as timing goes, I took my test on September 1st, received results on the 2nd, and then traveled to Alaska on September 4th. After clearing the entry point, I was met at the airport by someone from the lodge, brought to a restaurant for lunch since there was time before our flight to Bristol Bay, and then picked up and shuttled to the lodge’s own private plane.

Rapids Camp is located just downstream from Naknek Lake, on a big bend in the Naknek River itself. The lodge is not overly fancy, but comfortable and homey with a staff that immediately seems to put guests at ease. All the workers were professional, but in a friendly and personal way. Guests are never without at Rapids Camp.

In my first few days, a few things really stood out to me. First and foremost, my son had turned in to a young man. He knew the program, teaming up with his fellow guides to load the planes in the morning with the necessary gear, chatting with guests about the day to come and helping them with all their equipment. And during each day I watched him tying knots and re-rigging leaders with indicators, and hooks secured with egg loops. And, he had learned his way around a two-handed rod in the few short months he had been there.

The other thing that quickly became apparent was the availability of so many different fishing opportunities near the lodge. The fact that Rapids Camp has two float planes of their own means that everything was in reach and, weather permitting, we flew to different remote destinations each day. Since salmon season was largely over, we were concentrating largely on rainbows feeding behind the masses of spawning sockeye. On one day we did the same, but this time for Arctic char. Not only were they plentiful, but they were large and hard-fighting. They renewed my faith in these fish!!! And on two of the days, when the weather kept us on the ground, we swung flies on the Naknek for their world famous lake-run rainbows. What a sacrifice it was, catching thirty inch trout on two-handed rods!

Alaska still has great allure, and Bristol Bay is the jewel in the state giving its massive biomass of fish, and its incredible ecosystem. Flying in the plane, looking down at the beaver ponds, small streams, massive lakes, and myriad rivers can make a person feel insignificant and small. I kind of like that feeling. I also like the feeling of watching my son turning in to a man.