Why fish the Nushagak?

Don't miss out on the next Alaskan Salmon fishing season!

Why fish the Nushagak?

Alaska is home to some of the greatest king salmon streams on the planet and the queen of them all is the Nushagak River near Dillingham. The ‘Nush the annually gets runs of 100,000+ kings, and with all those fish stuffed into the river in June and July, it's not surprising that the fishing is often spectacular. In fact, it’s a rare day when you can't get 20 fish to the boat. The average Nushagak River king goes about 25 pounds, but there are plenty of fish in the 30- to 40-pound range as well. The largest king taken at KSO in recent years was a 64 pounder, though fish in the 60's have been boated in the past.

The Kings are unusual in the fact that they are very aggressive. Their propensity to bite is legendary. The Kings typically show up in the Nushagak somewhere between June 5-10, and once they're in, the action rolls on through the end of July. Roe, spinners and plugs are the main menu items for the river's salmon. We do a lot of dragging bait, backtrolling with plugs like K15 KwikFish also run bait behind divers and bobberdog. The beach steps from your canvas cabin offers great shore fishing for Kings and the other species of salmon.

Chinook salmon that enter the Nushagak swim as far as 200 miles to reach their spawning zones and anglers fish for them throughout the river’s length. However, they’re best intercepted in the lower end of the river where they are generally chrome bright and full of fight. Our location just below Portage creek, in the main river before it splits is ideally located and has one of the best shore fishing spots in the river.The Portage Creek area is a hotbed of king fishing activity. There are scores of good spots down low, including Blood Beach, the 206 Hole, the Airplane Hole, the Helicopter Hole, Black Point, Toman’s, The Tool Shed, Lower Funnel, Avenue of the Giants and the Bird’s Nest (AKA The Swallow’s Nest).

Though it’s best known for kings, the Nushagak is by no means a one-dimensional fishery. There are several other species of gamefish that call the river home and most of them are completely ignored by anglers. The river gets packed with red (sockeye) salmon in early July and the fish often come in huge waves through the middle of the month. You can catch these chrome battlers on steelhead gear by drifting small Slinkies with Corkies and yarn along the river’s edges. Unlike the kings, which don’t seem to mind swimming in the main current, sockeyes hug the margins and are always within range of shore casters. Their unwillingness to bite can drive you crazy at times, but you can hook your share of reds if you stick with it and are patient. Mint-bright chum salmon invade the lower river from mid June through the middle of July and provide some wild action for anglers looking for something different. Like red salmon, chums seem to prefer the softer water along the banks of the river and it’s often easy to spot them cruising the shallows near shore.

While they’re not highly regarded as a food fish after being frozen, chums are fantastic sportfish and have a real reputation as tackle-busters. The chums of the Nushagak usually run 8 to 12 pounds and are extremely willing biters. Boaters backtrolling pink Wiggle Warts and Kwikfish can hook fish all day long, while shore fishers can get them on a wide variety of offerings. Pink or chartreuse No. 3 and 4 Blue Fox spinners have always been a favorite, while Pixee and Little Cleo spoons will also draw their share of strikes. Plunking in front of camp we can have non stop action on Chum, leading to a truly unlimited fishing day. Fly anglers do well swinging black, purple and pink egg-sucking leeches on sinking lines. If that weren't enough, the many sloughs in the area are home to lots of northern pike. The northerns will go anywhere from 20-40 inches and will hit just about anything that moves. we targets them with spinnerbaits, but the pike will also smack plugs, spoons and topwater baits as well. Rainbow trout, dolly varden and grayling are also available all summer and can provide some excellent light tackle sport.

What to Expect:

  • Small camp size ensures a great experience focused on fun and catching fish
  • Hot showers, flushing toilets, comfortable tents and excellent meals within feet of one of the best beaches on the river
  • 50 plus fish days are common place on Nushagak during our season
  • 80% of our guests return year after year and become part of the KSO family

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