The Fishing


The Unalakleet River consistently produces one of the last great remaining Pacific Salmon runs on the planet. There are extraordinary runs of King Salmon, Chum Salmon, Silver or Coho Salmon, Pink Salmon, Dolly Varden, and a prolific native population of Arctic Grayling. The main artery of the Unalakleet provides gentle banks with large gravel bars so that wade fishing is easy and allows total concentration on the groups of running Salmon. The North River flows gin clear and cuts tightly through the Nulato hills making it perfect for anglers who want a more technical fishing experience. Sloughs and oxbows, found throughout the Unalakleet and its tributaries, are used as gentle resting grounds for the running Salmon and add to the possibilities for targeting fish. The Unalakleet River Lodge’s close proximity to Norton Sound and the Bering Sea provides our angling guests with fish that are described by the words hot, fresh, bright, and chrome.

A fishing day starts dockside in the morning where guests are picked up by their guide in a G3 aluminum Jet Boat and go on to target the desired species of fish with either conventional or fly tackle. Anglers fish two to a boat with guide and are outfitted daily with the best in tackle and gear to deliver the utmost in safety and comfort. Our guides are instructors of the highest ability and ensure that our guests not only have a productive fishing day but also leave the water with a greater understanding for the bounty that is the Unalakleet River.

Species available at the Unalakleet River Lodge

King Salmon – Called Kings for a reason, The Unalakleet hosts a healthy run of these powerful Salmon. The fish may get as large as 50 pounds in the Unalakleet drainage but average 18 to 25 pounds. Preferred methods of fishing for these powerful fighters include back trolling with plugs and drifting streamers while Spey fishing. The King Salmon fishing season commonly runs middle June to early July.


Chum or Keta Salmon – Without a doubt the most overlooked species of all the salmonids. These fish dig deeper and pull harder than any other pacific salmon, pound for pound. The Unalakleet’s Chum Salmon max out around 20 pounds with 10 to 14 pound examples common. Streamers on a 7 to 9 weight rod is a productive fly set up while spinners on medium heavy 6-7 foot spinning rods are effective as well. These fish begin running the Unalakleet drainage in late June and continue all the way into late August.


Pink Salmon – The Humpy and The Hen! An incredibly prolific Salmon that when targeted can easily yield an angler the coveted “100 Fish Day.” Five to Eight weight Fly rods, medium action spinning outfits, or a commemorative Barbie Issue Zebco in the hands of a young angler are suggested outfits for these small but vitally important Salmon. The Pink run starts in early July and continues into August.


Silver or Coho Salmon – The Unalakleet River’s unmatched Salmon run. Truly, Unmatched. These acrobatic fish average 8 to 12 pounds and top the scales every season at 15 pounds and higher. Seven to Nine weight fly rods throwing streamers and wogs are successful, as well as medium to heavy action spinning outfits. Silver Salmon begin their run in late July and continue on into September.


Dolly Varden and Arctic Char – Unalakleet River Lodges’ sea run trout. These beautiful examples of the Char family are aggressive and punchy fighters that test the skill of anglers looking for a one of a kind trout fishing experience. Dolly Varden can reach ten pounds in the river system but are more common weighing three to five pounds. Suggested Fly outfits are 5 to 7 weight with beads, streamers, flesh flies, and sculpin patterns while light to medium spinning outfits throwing Mepps, Pixie, or Vibrax spinners are also successful. Dolly Varden run all summer in the Unalakleet River drainage.


Arctic Grayling – Grayling are a classic fly fishing target. A beautiful long dorsal fin with turquoise to jet black coloration makes the Arctic Grayling a visually stunning fish and their voracious appetite for everything from dry flys to mouse patterns matches their beauty with fishing excitement. These abundant non-running native fish are caught up to and over 20 inches in the Unalakleet all summer long. The Unalakleet River Lodge practices a catch and release only program for the noble Arctic Grayling.