Sockeye & Bows at Copper on the Fly in Bristol Bay

2017 Bristol Bay Copper on the Fly

This trip provides outstanding sockeye & rainbow fishing in this prolific tributary of Lake Iliamna with massive runs of sockeye to target, and loads of rainbows to enable us to fish with dry flies. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions this year.

Our flight from the town of Iliamna was right on time, and we all were dazzled by the scenery of the lake below (the largest lake in Alaska) as we headed for the lodge. Lunch took no time at all nor did the short trip from the lodge to the fishing location. Although we couldn’t find many salmon that afternoon, the rainbows made up for it. Dry flies, nymphs, and streamers all made an appearance.

We were ready for the great dinner that the lodge had ready for us, topped off by a great glass of wine as we gathered on the deck to watch for bears. They weren’t around until the middle of the night and we could see their huge prints in the sand and the mud the next day.

That was when we began to spot increasingly larger schools of fish in the water that were heading upriver to spawn. Everyone hurriedly changed from trout rods to heavier gear designed for salmon and went to town. They quickly learned the method that usually catches sockeye. Sockeye (or “reds” as they are called) do not bite or grab the flies. The technique is more a swing across the water at the fish’s level in the water column, where the fly becomes prey for the angler.

Everyone proudly took a fish or two back to the lodge and the they had a great time cleaning them on a bank down-river from the lodge. A sow brown bear and her two cubs arrived as they were leaving and some of them got a picture or two as well.

The fishing just got better and better during the time we were there, and we even managed to get more rainbows as well. Usually, as the salmon get more plentiful, the trout move back to the lake to await the eggs that appear as more and more fish begin to spawn. More and more foot-prints also appeared on the beaches along the river and the docked boats as well, and we were careful to be sure to take bear spray for protection.

Another trip to the cleaning beach was in order and lots of salmon fillets went into the freezer for us to share on the way home. We didn’t want to leave, of course, but we couldn’t have had a better trip. Until next year!!


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