Once in a great while, you walk into a lodge and feel as though you have mysteriously arrived home. Copper River Lodge is one of those places. The staff is all smiles, the couches are cozy and there’s a cabin-in-the-woods feeling that you hope will never fade. To cap it all off, this Alaskan fly fishing lodge sits beside a river of such beauty and intrigue that you will never tire of its shifting moods and hidden rewards. The Copper, hallowed as Alaska’s most beautiful fly fishing river, is a friendly forest stream with rugged rock outcroppings, countless classic riffles, large wild rainbow trout and deep aqua pools stacked with scarlet salmon.
Fly-outs are not required at Copper River Lodge, so every day is a fishing day, regardless of the weather. June and July are known for producing some of Alaska’s finest dry fly fishing. August yields high catch-rates for rainbows gorging on eggs. In September, large and bright rainbows move up into the system from Lake Iliamna to provide one of the ultimate Alaskan fly fishing challenges.
Each day three anglers set out with an experienced guide via jet boat for the day’s fly fishing. The lodge uses 16’ tunnel boats with 40 HP jet units to run the river. They rarely, if ever, fish from the boat. The Copper River is perfect for wade fishing. Boats are for the most part only used as a means to get to the next fishing hole. In addition to fly fishing the home water of the Copper, guests can also set out on a large jet boat to explore the nearby Gibraltar River. And while other lodges fly far and wide to reach the fabled Copper, their guests return early and leave the entire river to Copper River Lodge anglers for the evening hours.
Copper River Lodge is located on the banks of the Copper River very near Lake Iliamna in southeast Alaska.
The Copper River Lodge has the distinct advantage of being a small Alaskan fly fishing operation located right on the river. This allows them to cater to both the serious and the more laid back fisherman. Their daily fly fishing schedule runs from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. If you get tired or cold they can take you in early. With so many hours to fly fish every day, even the most energetic fishermen will find time to relax. By setting their schedule back, Copper River Lodge enjoys the entire river in the early evening. In Alaska, this can be the best fly fishing of the day and a spectacular time for viewing wildlife.
The Copper River is a classic trout stream packed with long dry fly glides, deep winding pools studded with boulders, faster riffles and deep undercut banks just begging for a mouse fly. Unlike other tundra rivers in Alaska that offer large trout, the Copper runs through a scenic river valley lined with groves of cottonwood, spruce and birch. Aside from helping make it one of the most gorgeous rivers in the state, these trees offer the fly fishermen refuge from the relentless northern winds. Probably one of the nicest surprises for anglers visiting the Copper is the river's size and wade-ability. Fishermen of any age or skill that desire the solitude of the river rather than the tutelage of the guide can comfortably and successfully fish on their own. The Copper River rainbows are some of the largest in Alaska, and are the reason the Copper was the first river in the state designated a "fly fishing, catch and release only, trophy rainbow river." It is this designation that has kept the fishing so spectacular.
Bear viewing, hiking, kayaking, float plane sight-seeing and other opportunities are also possibilities. This is a great family trip.
Accommodations and Meals:
The Copper River Lodge is a cozy, homey lodge that takes only six anglers per week. They have four rooms total, all with private baths. Meals are served family style. Fresh baked bread, pastries and rolls complement meals created by a professional kitchen staff.
Day 1: Arrive Anchorage and overnight at your elected accommodations (independently arranged and not included).
Day 2: Travel to Iliamna by air taxi (approximately one hour, not included in package). Once in Iliamna you will transfer to a float plane for the 20-minute flight across lake Iliamna to the mouth of the Copper River (included in package). There you will be met by the staff from Copper River Lodge and taken by boat to the lodge. After getting settled and having lunch, head out for six hours of fishing.
Days 3-7: Five full days of guided fishing the Copper and possibly the Gibraltar via jet boat.
Day 8: Fish for half a day. After lunch, take the float plane to Iliamna. Take the afternoon taxi from Iliamna to Anchorage, arriving approximately 4:00 PM. Upon arrival in Anchorage, overnight at your elected accommodation (independently arranged, not included), or take a flight home or points beyond.
Note: Please allow at least three hours to make the transfer to the international airport if leaving same day.
Typical Daily Schedule:
8:00 AM- Enjoy a hearty breakfast (if you are an early riser, coffee is set out beforehand).
9:00 AM- Guided fishing.
12:00 PM- Guides will pack a picnic lunch, which usually is eaten on the river (if it is an extremely cold day sometimes clients will come back to the lodge to warm up).
7:00 PM- Last call for anglers as boats need to return to the lodge.
8:00 PM- A generous dinner is served family style and is followed by a gourmet dessert. There a toasty sauna for guests to enjoy after a hard day of fishing.
2020 Rates: $6,100 for a 6 night/7 day package
Included: Float plane transfers between Iliamna and the lodge, accommodations and meals at the lodge, terminal tackle and guide services.
Not Included: Round trip airfare to Anchorage and Iliamna, accommodations in Anchorage, liquor, fly outs, rods/reels, waders/boots (some equipment is available at the lodge upon request), gratuities.
Species: Rainbow trout, sockeye salmon
Season: June - September
Capacity: 6 anglers
Map: Iliamna, AK