Located on the Naknek River, 15 miles from Bristol Bay, in Southwest Alaska, King Salmon Lodge is a fisherman’s paradise. I jump like a salmon headed up stream when I have the chance to visit Alaska, and this trip was no exception.
Tiny King Salmon Airport, serviced by Pen Air, is an hour flight from Anchorage, Alaska. While the airport is nothing to get excited about, King Salmon Lodge (KSL) is near Becharof National Wildlife Refuge as well as Katmai National Park. The lodge offers bear viewing excursions to Brooks Falls. Additionally, both fly out and guided fishing trips on the Naknek and other rivers may be arranged through the lodge.
With 18 rooms, KSL operates more like a hotel than a luxury fishing lodge, but it’s a great alternative for those looking to arrange an affordable Alaska vacation. General Manager Matt Norman and his staff are a friendly, hard-working crew. We were visiting Alaska with friends, as our son was working at the lodge for the summer.
Our hotel package included a queen bed with private bathroom, daily housekeeping and a hot breakfast buffet. My husband and I arranged for a private fishing guide and boat for three days, booked through the lodge. King salmon fishing is available from mid-June – July, with silver salmon season starting in August. I have personally fished for both king salmon and silver salmon species, and in this instance, I prefer fishing for silvers. During the later part of summer there are less people fishing the rivers and a more relaxed atmosphere may be found at the lodge.
As the fishing and bear viewing season is quite short in Alaska, you’ll want to fit in a lot of activities during your vacation. We had considered a day fly out to Brooks Falls for bear viewing (an additional charge), but the call of fishing won out for all three of us, in addition to our friends. Our son was able to experience Brooks Falls during his time in Southwest Alaska and thoroughly enjoyed his time seeing the bears.
A typical morning at KSL starts off with a hot buffet breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon and sausage, cold cereal, cinnamon rolls, bagels, English muffins or pastries, in addition to coffee, tea and juice. After dressing in our lodge-supplied Simms waders and waterproof boots, our fishing guide picked up up bright and early each day from the private dock on the Naknek River. Your float plane awaits for private bear viewing, fishing or photography trips.
It pays its weight in
gold silver salmon to fish with a coast guard licensed professional fishing guide. Seven to eight hours on the water (less if you limited out early) include the use of a fast boat, tasty lunch (ours included gourmet homemade soup, sandwiches, beef jerky, beer, water and candy) and the knowledge of a guide on the river (thank you Nate Peck) hooked us into almost 50 pounds of silver salmon, all filleted, vacuum packed and frozen.
We shipped our wild Alaskan salmon home with us on our Alaska Airlines flight. I had planned to fill my Yeti Hopper cooler with fish to ship home, but we had a hiccup with receiving our cooler in time. We’ll try again during our lodge to lodge fishing trip on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon.
The 18 room King Salmon Lodge has an on-site restaurant and bar that is open to hotel guests, as well as locals. There are two suites and seven guest cabins available on property. On our visit, Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet has just wrapped a television segment, wildlife photographer and filmmaker Mark Emery shared memories of a trip to Alaska’s Ring of Fire and photographer Charles Glatzer of Shootthelight.com scrolled through some of his gorgeous bear and wolf photos recently captured from the area.
If you are able to time your stay at KSL with Steak Night (served on Thursday during our visit) you won’t be disappointed. If you are a meat lover, this family-friendly dinner is not to be missed. Dinner starts off with Caesar salad, a grilled steak, the size of Alaska, fancy mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and finished with warm white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and coffee.
Need to know:
We flew Alaska Airlines from Oakland, California to Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, changing to Pen Air for the final leg of the flight to King Salmon, Alaska. Pack as light as possible and plan on shipping an insulated wax fish box or cooler home full of salmon if this is an Alaskan fishing vacation. Pen Air will ship your luggage and fish boxes through (for an additional fee) to your final destination.
Dress code is casual in Alaska. Dress in layers and pack insect & mosquito repellent clothing embedded with Insect Shield technology to keep the bugs away (although we didn’t have any problem with mosquitoes.) Use my discount code Nancy33 at White Sierra for outdoor apparel.
On our visit to KSL there were no young children present so I cannot speak specifically to the family-friendly topic, although I did see a mother/daughter fishing duo and a twenty-something kid fishing with his dad during our stay.
Lodge price includes airport shuttle. Rooms include shampoo, but pack your own hair dryer if you need one. WiFi is available at the lodge. ATT phone users will not have any cell service here, but Verizon users are in luck. Be prepared for high prices if you need to pick up something at the store – we are in Alaska – and most items are flown in to the area.
Insider Tips: Purchase your single or multi-day fish license before your arrive at the lodge. We purchased our three day fish pass at Chinook Gifts adjoining the airport.
King Salmon Lodge bar carries a selection of red and white wines, in addition to beer on tap and spirits. Order the Moscow Moose (Alaska’s answer to the Moscow Mule) and purchase the brass souvenir cup to bring home a memory of your King Salmon Alaska vacation.
If You Go:
King Salmon Lodge (907) 246-8643
King Salmon, Alaska
King Salmon Lodge review and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. As always, all opinions are my own.