Guest post by Alan Broderick, host of Wild Fish Wild Places.
Coming as I do from the rain-soaked, perpetually green Emerald Isle, an invitation to visit the remote Alaska Peninsula to film two episodes for Season Two of our series Wild Fish Wild Places was the fulfillment of a personal ambition – held since I was a young lad of about twelve!
The afternoon when Denis and I received an email inviting us to fish at Rapids Camp Lodge, we were in Vegas attending the ICAST Convention, catching up with friends at Sportsman Channel and meeting with our sponsors. As soon as I read the email I was so excited and mouthed ALASKA, ALASKA, ALASKA over and over again! It is a name that I absolutely love the sound of! Alaska or Aleyska as it is called in Aleutian, to me just sounds wild, wonderful and untamed!
Soon, phone calls back and forth between Rapids Camp and ourselves had us mark off the period from the very end of August into early September for our great Alaskan adventure.
To me, Alaska is synonymous with all five species of Pacific Salmon. It is also home to the greatly prized Arctic Char and famous the world over for its prolific Rainbow Trout fishing. Alaska also means bears and bush………………lots and lots of large, deceptively cuddly, Brown Bears lurking amidst dense, almost impenetrable bush! Yikes!
Here is an adventure that most only get to dream about. Here is a land of incomprehensible vastness and scale. Here is a land of exquisite landscapes. Mountains so picture postcard perfect in form and appearance and braided streams of tumbling torrents and gentler riffles. A wilderness of jade-coloured, glacier-born rivers and lakes so pure and brimful with fish that momentarily you forget where you are and almost believe you are on a gargantuan, fairy-tale movie set!
When the day finally came round I was so fired up with anticipation of what adventures lay ahead, that I kind of overlooked the fact I had arranged a somewhat circuitous route from my home in Ireland to King Salmon, Alaska. I boarded five flights, covering a guesstimated nine thousand miles or so to get to Rapids Camp Lodge, on the bank of the fabulous Naknek River. By the time I was reunited with the Wild Fish Crew in Anchorage, I was so thrilled to be there that I could hardly sleep a wink! I just wanted to savour every moment of this fantastic fishing adventure. Most fishermen experience the childlike wonder and sense of awe that suddenly takes hold of us when an opportunity to catch new species in a totally different place and setting comes our way. Rapids Camp Lodge brings out that sense of wonderment and awe in all who visit there.
To call the trip ‘a success’ would be a complete understatement! Denis and I caught
Char after Char – beautifully coloured fish and what fighters they are! My introduction to the art of ‘doggling’ for big ‘bows on the Naknek is one of the highlights of a trip that will remain on my cerebral hard-drive for many years to come. Denis caught a monster Rainbow – measuring a hand-trembling 31 1/2 inches on the Naknek and he also winkled out a 30 inch hog of a Char of about 12 lbs that inhaled his leech during what I now refer to as his Hall of Fame performances! This great double triumph was achieved by a really great fisherman.
We both consider Rapids Camp Lodge to be the best run and equipped camp we have visited in all our fishing travels, offering as it does so many diverse fishing adventures as well as daily fly-outs to over 50 different rivers, offering an Alaskan wilderness experience beyond compare.
Oh, and did I mention those big, brown cuddly looking bruins? Yes, we did have a very close encounter with those hairy, smelly brutes!