It can be said that seasons in Alaska are often determined by the species of salmon returning to the rivers and the quantity of which they arrive. If that is true, then this Sockeye season has been one to remember at RML. With an early appearance and huge numbers of “Reds” showing up daily, the fishing season started ominously. Eleven-year-old Eddy and his dad picked up fly rods for the first time and took home their limits every day. Mixing in a 20lb. Mackinaw on light spinning tackle rounded out their stay along with a few comedic gems by the bonfire at night. Trips like theirs were book ended by the same with heavy pushes of fish throughout the month. In fact, an incredible three-day surge of nearly 37,000 Sockeye passed through the radar at the mouth of the Crescent River in mid July. We are all waiting anxiously to see if the Coho will follow suit and match the precedent set by their tasty counterparts. The guides are still talking about this year’s run and making people envious they missed out on such an epic fishing experience.
Our guests have plenty of time to hear all of our ramblings during one or all of the many hikes we have pioneered at the lodge. So far this year, two groups have seen the summit of every hike we have to offer. The Vauthey family pushed their limits and were happily rewarded with views of Mt. Iliamna on a crisp, clear afternoon on the very difficult “Pyramid” hike. Tuxedni Bay & Glacier and the extent of the valley leading to RML were all visible from the top of another one of our inspiring peaks that surround us. Treks like these are not the norm of course. We have our more subdued trails like the new “Moose Meadow” hike that is quickly becoming a favorite with a reward of wild blueberries at the end of the trail and the occasional bear and moose sighting along the way.
Bear sightings have not been a problem with the infamous “Chuck” returning from a long hibernation. Once again, she has posted up in a bay only a short boat drive from the lodge. Her daily show of diving for fish and belly scratching begins and ends sporadically but is always a treat if you catch her between naps. The lake’s edge has seen some fresh faces with a few new sets of cubs following close behind their proud mommas. The once mighty Sockeye have begun to hit old age and are easy targets for the ravenous brown bears they teased only weeks ago. Bring your fast glass to take insane pictures of these 600lb behemoths chasing protective Sockeye out of their shallow spawning grounds. Truly an amazing sight to see. Bring your cameras, but remember this is one thing that can only be translated with your eyes.
Cooperating weather and fish have made all of us wonder where the time has gone. The season is nearly half over and we have had barely anytime for reflection. The guests that have been here so far have been exceptional and have engaged us with every activity we have to offer at RML. With a hot tub waiting after a long day its hard not to walk away from here inspired by Alaska’s beauty. We all look forward to making your trip a memorable one!