Our Fly Fishing Program

Guide service

We are a professional guide service and believe that we have a very important role to play in preserving this fishery for fishermen of the future. During your week, you will fish with different guides. If you have any questions about fishing techniques or fishing etiquette, please do not hesitate to ask.We are happy to help.

Our guides have fished around the world and make this their career. We have 2/1 guest to guide ratio. They can help the beginner learn how to cast, or show the experienced fly fishermen how to reach a tricky undercut bank. They will give you as much or as little assistance as you desire.

The Fishing schedule

The Copper River Lodge has the distinct advantage of being a small operation located right on the river.This allows us to cater to both the serious and the more laid back fisherman.

Our daily fishing schedule runs from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  If you get tired or cold, we can take you in early. With this many hours to fish every day, even the most energetic fishermen will find time to relax.  In Alaska, this can be the best fishing of the day and a spectacular time for viewing wildlife.

Each day begins at 7:00 a.m. with a hearty breakfast (if you are an early riser coffee is set out beforehand). At 8:00 the fishing day begins. The guides will pack a picnic lunch, which usually is eaten on the river. We use 16’ tunnel boats with 40 hp jet units to run the river. We rarely, if ever, fish from the boat. The Copper River is perfect for wade fishing. We use the boat only as a means to get to the next fishing hole. You can stay out and fish until 6:00 p.m., at which point the boats have to be back at the lodge.  At 8:00 p.m. we have a generous dinner served family style, followed by a gourmet dessert.

We also have a sauna that our guests enjoy after a hard day of fishing. On the transfer days, Sunday and Saturday you still get plenty of fishing. On Sunday you will arrive at the lodge for dinner.  On Saturday, your last day, you can fish till about 2:00 p.m. Of course this is just a general schedule, with just six guests we can be very flexible.

The Fishing Program

Caring for the fish you catch during your week is a critical component of our fishing program. All fishing for rainbow trout on the Copper is catch and release. Anglers are allowed to keep 5 sockeye salmon during the month of July.

To increase the success of our catch and release program we follow the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Catch and Release objectives. Like you, we are always very excited to see a great fish landed by one of our fishermen. We also always want to make sure that we can help you in getting the sort of photographic memories which allow you to relive the experience for a long time to come.

When landing fish, anglers should always strive to land the fish as quickly as possible.  When landing your fish, do not drag it up on the shore or lift it into the boat.  Your guide is normally there to help you land your fish. If he’s busy helping another angler and you are alone, try to avoid letting the fish flop about in shallow water or on the ground. All of our guides use soft mesh nets for landing the fish to minimize the impact of our fishing.

All fishing is with single, barbless hooks.  We do this for your safety and the fish’s safety.  Our guides have pliers for crimping your barbs, and your hemostats work well for barb pinching. Barbless hooks allow you to release the fish with minimal harm. If you see that the fish is deeply hooked, please cut the leader – do not try to remove the hook.You will only hurt the fish.

Once you have landed the fish, we hope you will want to take a picture. Please make sure that you wet your hands before touching the fish. Do not remove the fish from the water until you are ready to take a picture. When holding the fish, cradle the fish gently with both hands: one under its belly, one at the tail.  Avoid placing your fingers in the fish’s gills and eyes. Do not squeeze the fish, and make sure you support the fish in the water while your partner takes your picture.  Fish cannot remain out of the water very long (less than 15 seconds).

After you have taken the picture, please carefully release the fish back to the river. You should remove the hook prior to taking the photos of the fish. When removing the hook, you should us your hemostat or long nose pliers to work the hook out. Please remove the hook quickly, keeping the fish underwater. Remember, if the fish is hooked deeply, please cut the leader.

We do not allow stainless steel hooks for fishing. These will not rust out of fish and pose a long-term mortality threat to the fish. When releasing the fish, point your catch into a slow current, or gently move it back and forth until its gills are working properly and it maintains its balance. When the fish recovers and attempts to swim away, let it swim from your hands. If your fish is slow to revive, continue to assist the fish. You will have plenty of time left for fishing.

We also have a lake boat to access the tributaries of Lake Iliamna. We use this boat especially to fish the Gibraltar River, which can be an exceptional fishery.

Please note:
We can only do this trip on days that are not very windy as the lake can get very big swells. Another fishing option is to fish the Upper Copper River. We can reach this remote water with a short 5 minute flight.  We pay quite a bit of money for this lease and it is a day that we highly recommend. 

Fly outs are an option in 2023.  We will have a general fishing schedule of flying 4 of the 6 guests out everyday.  On a typical day this means we drop 2 guests and a guide on a nearby fishery, and then the plane will go a little farther and usually stay with the other 2 guests. 

Equipment & Clothing

Fishing equipment and clothing vary greatly from week to week. In June, July, and early August you will use a 5 or 6 weight fly rod for the trout. Sometimes in June and July a light rod (2, 3, or 4 weight) can be a lot of fun if the wind is light and the dry flies are coming off.  Always bring a back up rod; broken rods are much more common than you would think. The lodge also has backup fly rods available for guest use.

In July the salmon start to show up and will fight well all the way into early August.  An 8 weight is the ideal set up for these strong fighting fish.  In August, September, and early October we suggest a 6 or 7 weight rod. We generally use floating lines, but occasionally in the fall a streamer down deep can be effective. We suggest that anglers coming in the fall bring a sinking tip line. If you enjoy fishing with sink tip lines you can catch fish on streamers all season.

The Copper is an incredible river to nymph in June and July. We use pheasant tails, prince nymphs, caddis pupae, maggots, and stone fly nymphs - sizes 6-18. Bead head varieties seem to work best.

Rod / Wader rental:

With luggage restrictions becoming more of an issue with the airlines, we now offer rentals for our clients. A week’s wader rental is $125. Rod rental is $75 for the week with a $50 breakage fee if you happen to break our rod during your stay. Please call us to reserve the rentals at least 90 days before your arrival.

Fishing licenses can be purchased online at Alaska Department of Fish and Game -- be sure to purchase the one week license for the dates of your trip. If you forget to do this we do have some licenses available at the lodge. In regards to packing flies, they are included in the package. Please feel free to bring some of your own patterns. We have a lodge policy of using barbless hooks to help protect the fish.

In general, June and July average temperatures are in the 60’s to mid 70’s. Temperatures in the fall are quite a bit cooler and average in the 50’s. Later in September and October the temperatures can drop into the 30’s and 40’s. Keep in mind that Alaska has unpredictable weather...it is good to always come prepared.