OUTPOST Camp Season Summary, 2019
Despite some very hot weather, 2019 was a solid season of Bristol Bay fly fishing at our Alaska Wilderness OUTPOST camp.
The highlight: the rainbow trout fishing. Historically, the trout fishing tapers across July as massive numbers of Dolly Varden and salmon overwhelm the watershed. But this year the Dolly numbers were thinner and trout fishing remained exceptionally good, even in the latter half of July.
The Dollies began showing in the creek as normal, but then fairly quickly bailed. We think due to low water and high water temps. They showed back up after a good rain in mid July. But overall the Dolly fishing was off par for a good portion of the 2019 season.
A reminder to everyone fly fishing in Alaska: it’s not always the same from week to week and year to year. Yes, there are trends, some even semi-predictable. And then there’s Mother Nature.
Huge numbers of king salmon entered our system this year. We landed decent numbers, including some real monsters, but overall the bite was lighter. No question, it was due to the bright sun and low water conditions. The chum salmon run was good but unremarkable – I’d call it an average year. Odd years are always light-run years for pink salmon – we caught some, but not like we would in even years. There were no sockeye salmon landed this season, but maybe a few spotted in the river.
Kind of like 2018, we didn’t target the grayling as much as we usually do. Why? We had a lot of fishermen focused on other species (mostly trout and king salmon); they just couldn’t give up throwing big streamers for large fish. When we did throw dry flies or small streamers, however, the grayling fishing was very good.
Bear activity was on the lighter end of normal most of the season – we saw a few here and there. And as usual, activity and sightings picked up throughout July. No moose or caribou were seen this year (that I can remember right now). But we did find parts of a moose skeleton – likely leftovers from a moose hunter. We stumbled across wolf and fox tracks here and there, but neither animal was seen.
Mid June offered really nice, sunny weather. But that changed in late June to HOT, then HOTTER. No rain. No clouds. It was pretty brutal for about 3 weeks. Heck, we had one week in early July when 2 guests wet-waded the entire week! That is absolutely unprecedented. We also heard stories of guides on the Naknek river (near the town of King Salmon) water skiing instead of fishing because water temps were so hot the fish weren’t biting. At least our bite was still decent. Clouds finally returned mid July and brought a good, hard rain. Water levels were replenished. Fish were happy again. And guides and fishermen, too.
Water levels were desperately low (until mid July) and river temperatures desperately high, especially in the afternoons.
Bugs were good and bad this year – few to no mosquitoes (due to dry tundra), but we saw higher numbers of white socks and the most biting deer/horse flies we’ve ever seen. The deer flies were non-existent at the OUTPOST camp 5+ years ago. And that change was pre-Trump, so we can’t blame him. Maybe Obama or Bush, though…
The 2019 Outpost camp photo gallery are [mostly] ready to view…