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We love it when a genuinely new fishing opportunity comes on line, which is what has happened up in Alaska, way out there in the boonies where the Alaska Peninsula begins to give way to the Aleutian Islands. The new fishing opportunity is on the Hoodoo River (technically, the Sapsuk River), and the principal species on offer are king salmon, steelhead, silver salmon, rainbows and sea-run Dolly Varden. The name of the new lodge is Hoodoo Lodge, and the exclusive agent for it is The Fly Shop in Redding, California.

Indeed, Hoodoo Lodge is exceptionally interesting for a number of reasons. First, there has never been a sportfishing operation on the Hoodoo (or Sapsuk) River, and the 35-mile stream is so remote that it has remained all but virgin, despite having exceptional runs of king and silver salmon, plus a steelhead run that may be simply over the top. Importantly, the lodge occupies the only plot of private land in the area, so the prospects of another lodge operator moving in are slight, though there is the possibility that some isolated fly-in camps will be developed in the area as early as next year.

The river is only 35 miles in length so it can be fished each day without a fly-out. It is an unusually shallow river for king salmon, which means one does not have to use heavily weighted lines and fish deep troughs or from boats to be successful. Those wishing to do so can arrange a float trip from Hoodoo Lake back to the lodge, stopping for an overnight along the river.

At this point, the only angler feedback on this fishery has come from a handful of anglers last year who went on exploratory trips during the king and silver salmon seasons (July and August/September respectively). To our knowledge, there is no angler feedback at all available on the prime October steelhead season, though a couple of anglers did fish a day and a half last year in mid-September. They reportedly hooked dozens of steelhead.

For sure, we are going to monitor the results from Hoodoo Lodge carefully in coming weeks. To that end, consider this a call for feedback if you are headed in that direction. A place on our Honor Roll is available for the first subscribers to report back on the silver salmon and steelhead seasons. As for the king season, subscriber P. M. Kaihlanen has already checked in on that, and his Honor Roll Fishing Hat will be in the mail shortly. Here is how he describes his visit this past July 7 to 15:

To get to Hoodoo Lodge in Alaska, you pretty much have to overnight in Anchorage, and then take a 3½-hour flight to Cold Bay the next morning. There, you stay in lodge owner Rod Schuh’s hunting lodge until he is able to take you on to Hoodoo in his float plane. The trip takes about 45 minutes.

Schuh’s float plane, a Cessna 180 on floats, has a capacity of only three anglers, which means it can take a while for everyone to get transferred. The lodge can hold up to 12 people, which means up to four flights can be necessary: 4 x 45 minutes each way = 360 minutes, or six hours.

As for Hoodoo Lodge, it was quite nice. It has good beds, three separate shower rooms and three bathrooms with toilets and sink. There was an open bar and laundry service. Staff was very helpful and friendly. The food was excellent.

Fishing started each day at 9 am, and the boat rides usually took only 20 to 45 minutes. There were a lot of kings and sockeyes in the river during my visit, but the beats directly below a fish-counting weir were the best. You alternated guides and beats every day. The best guides were those who were on loan from the Fly Shop.

The fishing is not what I would call easy. A spey rod was very helpful. Wading is generally easy, though the current is strong in spots. My son fished some runs with a life vest on. Our best day was 21 hookups between the two of us and the worst was the first day when we had only three.

Most of the kings my son and I caught were in the 15- to 20-pound range with a rare fish reaching 35 pounds. Hoodoo is classic long-cast water that requires a big mend then swing. Most hits were at the end of the swing. The fishing struck me as being very similar to steelhead fishing. The group after ours, I understand, did better than we did. All in all, I think this is a great place for king salmon.

(Postscript: You can get more details on Hoodoo Lodge directly from the lodge or from The Fly Shop. 2009 prices have been set at: $5,450 per person for the king salmon trips; $4,450 for the silver salmon trips; and $5,450 for the steelhead trips. The king and silver trips run six nights, five days fishing; the steelhead trips run seven nights, six days fishing. Here at The Angling Report, our only worry about these trips is the background of the operator, Rod Schuh. A consummate outdoors professional, most of his experience to date has been in the hunting area. How well he can manage fishing guides remains to be seen. It is also a bit worrisome that the Hoodoo Lodge web site makes no bones about catering to spin as well as fly anglers. Also, much is made there of processing one’s catch. A 50-pound box of fish will be processed free for each client, according to the web site, with additional 50-pound boxes available for $75 each. The worry with that is not depletion of the resource but the appeal that kind of offer has for anglers who may or may not be compatible with fly anglers. Returning subscribers are urged to address these concerns in their reports.)

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