We went to Saltery Lake Lodge from July 19 – 25, 2012. This was my dad's third year going to this lodge. He invited me and my oldest son to go this year. So, we had three generation on the trip.
This was the most enjoyable vacation I've ever been on. Really! I mean it. The staff was there for us and put our needs first. All of the staff was great to talk to and they were the key to the successful vacation. We were like one big happy family.
The Salmon fishing was excellent! We had no problem meeting our goal of bringing home 50 pounds each. The salmon ranged from 6 to 10 pounds and they put up a great fight. They would tail walk, run up and down the river and some are so excited they will swim in one direction as fast as they can even if that means they go flying right up on the bank!
The lodge flies you from Kodiak city to the lodge in a float plane. I think it took about 15 minutes, but I was so busy taking pictures I didn’t keep track. Very nice views and quite an experience taking off and landing on lakes. Most people stay at the lodge for a week, but they can do multi-day trips also. When we were there, it was us three plus two others for the week. Then a married couple came in for a few days. (They came out for one night and then stayed longer.) Oh, and there was one other guy from Switzerland who had been there around 23 years in a row. (He obviously didn’t need a guide.)
They have two guides. We had Tom all week and he was excellent! He would show us technique for each type of “hole”. (There are miles and miles of good spots to fish. We would just fish one are for a while and then move to a new location.) He certainly could tie on the flies 50 times faster than I could!
There is the main lodge and several cabins around the property. Our cabin had a nice hot shower and four twin size beds in it (two were bunk beds) with a big window that looked out on the lake and mountains. It was a dream to look out each morning with the fog. I took about 2600 pictures during the week we were there. I even offered to make “highlight” photo album on their Facebook page. It is called “Three Generations Trip”.
Each day, we would:
- Get up and have a big breakfast. They also have a commercial espresso machine. (It’s tough “roughing it”. ;-)
- Fish for Sockeye salmon until lunch
- Lunch was served from 11 to 1 (or was it 11 to 2?) so if you were doing great fishing you didn’t have to drop everything for lunch.
- Fish for more Salmon until dinner
- Dinner (If you want beer or wine, then bring some in with you or ask Dave to get some on one of the many runs he does between the lodge and Kodiak city.)
- Fish for Dolly Varden trout and Char in the lake after dinner.
It’s only dark from about midnight to 4:30 AM, so it is kind of weird. We would be up late, but yet we would not be tired. One night, my 17-year old son went on a bear sighting walk with the workers and he took some really cool night photos. (Ironically didn’t see many bears. They are there when you are not even looking for them. Gone when you want to purposefully find them.)
There are about three miles of river between Saltery Lake and the beach. Each outing, our guide would take us in an SUV to a different part of the river to fish. We went all the way to the beach a couple times. Bears and bald eagles are EVERYWHERE! Very cool to see them. By the end of the week, you still notice them, but you start getting used to having a big bear downstream from you. Probably one of the coolest sights was watching two bald eagles chasing each other over our heads. The leading eagle had a fish in its claws and the other eagle wanted it. They were like jet fighters zooming down the canyon. It turned out that the eagle dropped the fish in the forest and neither ended up with it.
I would definitely take a camera with a big zoom to get the eagles and bears up close. A smaller zoom is fine for all other photos. The bears would occasionally be on the opposite bank of the river from us, which was about 25 feet away, but most of the time they were up or downstream from us and you need a 10x to 20x zoom to get a good shot when they are farther than 25 feet away.
We wore sweat pants and one to two pairs of thick hiking socks inside to keep our legs and feet warm in the water. My son jumped in the lake. He took the “Saltery Salmon Swim Club” challenge. This was a challenge made up by one of the staff, Brant, when we were there. Brant was the inaugural member and my son was the second member. I choose to pass. ;-)
It was cloudy 80% of the time, which was actually nice because even though it was 52 degrees, when the sun came out, it would get a little warm. We would have a shirt and sweatshirt on and then take the sweatshirt off when the sun came out. It only rained once at night and on one day it kind of misted on us in the morning. You couldn’t even tell it was misting except when you looked up. So, we didn’t need to get the rain coat out, but always good to have with you just in case. Bonus: pictures come out nicer looking when there are clouds in the sky.
We stayed in Kodiak City a couple nights before we went to the lodge in order to explore the city (I recommend you eat at Henry's and the Old Power House cafe. They were very tasty and had local Kodiak brewing company beers on tap. We stayed at the Best Western and Henry’s is very close. The Old Power House café was probably…a mile away from the hotel? There is plenty to see while walking there, such as the old Russian church and many flowers blooming all over.)
We brought home 150 pounds of Sockeye Salmon (50 pound boxes each. The airlines charge $20 for each checked bag 50 pounds or lighter.) The lodge workers fileted the fish each day and froze them. If you stay in a hotel in Kodiak, the hotel will put your boxes of fish in a freezer for you. It took about 7 hours to fly back home and they were still frozen.
I can’t think of anything that went wrong on the trip… We plan on going back next year!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Just being here is an adventure! We offer a variety of exciting activities to make sure your stay with us will be a vacation of a lifetime.We are the only lodge, or structure for that matter, on Saltery Lake, which is located on Kodiak Island about 2 miles from Ugak Bay and Saltery Cove, a true wilderness setting. We have four salmon rivers which are accessible from the lodge by foot or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Getting here is only a 15 minute flight from the City of Kodiak in our floatplane which provides transportation to and from the lodge as part of your week long package. No extra charter fees apply!Naturally, fly fishing is our most popular activity, but these fish can be caught on conventional spinning gear any time. Our guides are happy to assist you with instruction, flies, lures, licenses and camaraderie as desired, and will fillet, freeze, and pack any fish you wish to take home. We enjoy huge runs of Silver (Coho), Red (Sockeye), Pink (Humpy) and Chum (Keta) Salmon in Saltery River, Ugak Bay and Saltery Lake. Dolly Varden and Rainbow Trout are always in abundance. For lucky anglers, Steelhead Trout will be found early and late in the season, and Starry Flounder can be caught from the beach!Other popular activities include hiking, viewing or photographing abundant wildlife. Bald eagles, waterfowl, Sitka Blacktail Deer, red and silver fox, and Kodiak Brown Bear are prevalent. Unique to Saltery Cove, wild horses and bison are now common visitors!Saltery Lake Lodge is simply the best location and salmon fishing in Alaska! ... more less