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Alaska’s Kodiak Island is well known for its rugged habitat and for the size of the nearly 3,000 brown bears that live there. Truly savvy anglers also know there is some wonderful fishing to be had on this second largest island in the United States (it’s surpassed in size only by Hawaii). What almost no one knows except locals, however, is some of Kodiak’s best fishing is road accessible. Moreover, you can reach a lot of it quickly and without spending a lot of money.

Your first step is to get to the town of Kodiak, rent a car and check into the lodging of your choice (see below for details on how to do all that). Since the island has only about 85 miles of road once you get out of town, it’s not hard to find your way around. It’s also not a great inconvenience to have to return to town each night, though there are ways to avoid having to do that (see below).

The most accessible water from Kodiak is the Buskin River south of town on Rezanof Drive. It’s the first river you come to, so you can’t miss it. Fishing here for dolly varden and pink and silver salmon is good, but since the Buskin is the closest river to town and accessible at various points along the road, it is the most heavily fished. You can stop here, but the fishing is just as good and there is very little competition farther down the road. The rivers I suggest you head for are the American, Olds and Pasagshak.

Rezanof Drive crosses the American River 20 miles south of town. The silver salmon, pink salmon and sea run dolly varden here are excellent. Nearly all the fishing pressure takes place right at the road bridge and downstream a short distance where the river spills into Middle Bay. The locals who fish here have no trouble getting their limit of salmon along this stretch, which leaves the visiting angler with nearly everything upstream. I last fished the American River during a busy September weekend and had miles of upstream water to myself; I had no trouble catching as many sea run dollies and pink and silver salmon as I wanted.

Saltery Cove Road branches off to the south from Rezanof Drive at the bridge, and then parallels the river for five miles. However, this back road is not maintained and it is not passable with a rental car. In fact, even if you have your own four wheel drive vehicle it is a tough go, especially if it has rained a lot, as it often does in Kodiak. However, it is nice to hike along Saltery Cove Road to upstream reaches and then fish your way back to your car.

The Olds River meets Rezanof Drive at mile 28. You find pinks, silvers and sea run dollies here, and as on the American River, most of the fishing takes place from the bridge downstream to where the river dumps into Kalsin Bay. The Olds River is my favorite place to poke around with a five weight rod for sea run dollies that quite often exceed 20 inches in length.

Rezanof Drive splits into two new roads just beyond the Olds River. At the split, you can turn north onto Cape Chiniak Road, or south onto Pasagshak Bay Road. Go south on Pasagshak Bay Road for 17 miles and you come to the Pasagshak River. The Pasagshak really isn’t much of a river at all. It is less than a mile long from lake mouth to the ocean, and it actually changes its direction of flow with the tides. The river receives a very strong run of silver salmon, however, and it’s not uncommon to run into 20 pounders here.

Locals have found that the best way to approach these silvers is with float tubes. So if you’re bound for the Pasagshak take your float tube and find out what it’s like to be towed around by a dime bright silver salmon. An eight or nine weight rod is a good choice for silvers and chum salmon. Pink salmon are best played with a lighter outfit, but since all these salmon mingle together it isn’t practical to use a lighter outfit. You don’t want to get caught trying to land a big silver on a six weight. Take a floating line as well as a variety of sinking tips. The dollies can be best had with a five weight outfit. I fish them almost exclusively with a floating line and a small, weighted fly on a 10 foot leader.

Single egg patterns like Iliamna Pinkies and Glo Bugs are your best bets for the dollies, while all the standard, outlandish Pacific salmon patterns will work at one time or another for the silvers, pinks and chum salmon. I also make sure I have Flash Flies, Polar Shrimp and Egg Sucking Leeches on hand.

While the above mentioned rivers are excellent fisheries, you don’t want to overlook the saltwater. Kodiak Island has miles and miles of protected bays that are easily accessible by car. Rezanof Drive snakes along the edges of Womens Bay, Middle Bay and Kalsin Bay as you drive south out of Kodiak. Simply pull the car over, wade in and start casting. If your trip takes place during August or September which is the best overall time you will see salmon splashing on the surface and will be able to sight cast to them. I’ve had afternoons in these bays where I had either a chum, pink or silver salmon on nearly every cast.

I haven’t used the services of a guide on my trips to Kodiak, but there is one team of them worth mentioning Daniel and Randy Busch (*). They operate Kodiak Island River Camps (*) and cater exclusively to fly fishers. I’ve heard good things about them, and if you’re looking for some guided fishing in the area for a week, I’d give them a call.

As for the town of Kodiak itself, it is a town of 7,500 people and it offers all the amenities that a visitor might need, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, grocery stores and sport shops. When I visit Kodiak, I stay at the Buskin River state campground (*) four miles south of town for $10 a night. Another place you can stay outside of town and be right on top of the fishing, is Kalsin Bay Inn (*), located 24 miles south of town.

The best general source of information on other lodging is a publication called "Directory of Businesses and Services" available through The Kodiak Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (*). It lists all the accommodations, air and boat charters, banks, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. available on the island. You may also want to ask them for their brochure on Kodiak Island’s Public Use Cabins. It tells all about the different cabins and when and where to apply for them.

The easiest way to get to Kodiak is by plane. Alaska Airlines (*) has regularly scheduled jet service from Anchorage to Kodiak several times a day. Once in Kodiak, you can rent a mini van from Budget Rent A Car (*) for $475 per week with unlimited mileage. On my last trip I opted for a four door, full size car from Rent A Heap (*) for $33 per day, plus 33 cents per mile. If you want to take your own vehicle, you can get it to Kodiak on an Alaska Highway state ferry (*) from either Homer or Seward. The 10 hour voyage from Homer costs $106 one way for a 15 foot vehicle; the 13 hour trip from Seward costs $126 one way. Tony Route.

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