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I have visited many Alaska lodges, but this past summer I stayed at one of the most remote lodges I have ever found – Anvik River Lodge (*). It is located about 450 miles northwest of Anchorage and is not far from the Bering Sea. The lodge’s nearest neighbor is 80 river miles away, and during my week’s stay I saw absolutely no other anglers besides those from Anvik River Lodge. And other than the lodge’s floatplane, I saw only one floatplane pass overhead while I was there. The river has so little activity on it that the wildlife sightings are amazing. I saw moose, bear and wolves on more than one occasion. For instance, while returning to the lodge one afternoon by boat, my guide spotted a lone black wolf. My guide immediately cut the engine and, through cupped hands, howled at the wolf. It was so unaccustomed to humans that rather than run away, the wolf approached us and followed our boat down the river while we drifted not more than 50 feet offshore. That would be a rare sight indeed along the more heavily fished rivers that most lodges fish.

As regards the quality of the fishing at Anvik River Lodge, the usual list of fish species is on the menu here except for rainbow trout. Although it’s true that legendary Alaska rainbow trout are a huge draw for most lodges, the excellent salmon fishing here more than makes up for the lack of rainbows. All you need to do to get into fish is walk out the front door in the morning and hop into a boat. The guides skillfully use their boats to place you in areas where you can wade and cast to chums, kings, pinks and silver salmon.

Late June through July is the time for kings and chums. Figure on chum salmon averaging 10 pounds and kings about 25, although you may see some that top the 40-pound mark. July is the month for pink salmon, averaging about four pounds each, while silvers weighing up to 16 pounds really get rolling in mid-August and last through September. Arctic grayling, Arctic char and northern pike are available nearly all season long and the fishing for them really is outstanding. Grayling and char are nearly everywhere and some of the pike may scare you as they lunge for topwater flies.

Any type of angler is welcome at the lodge, and while I was there, one couple used fly rods for the first time and landed grayling, char and silver salmon. The staff is very willing to rig up a fly rod if you want to give one a try. If you are already a fly fisherman, pack a three or four-weight outfit and an assortment of dry flies and small nymphs for the grayling, while a six-weight will do it for the char and the pink salmon. For the chums, slivers, kings and even the northern pike, you’re best off with an eight or nine-weight outfit with both floating and sinking-tip lines. As usual, go crazy with the salmon patterns – everything from egg sucking leeches to flash flies – while the pike can be taken on all manner of streamers and the biggest floating bugs – including poppers – that you can throw with a fly rod. Don’t forget some wire leader for the pike, too.

I found all the guides, including lodge manager Cliff Hickson, to be personable, outgoing and hard workers, but guide Ellia Abruska is truly noteworthy. Abruska is a 42-year-old Yupik native who lives in the village of Lower Kalskag about 100 miles to the south. He has a wealth of knowledge about the flora and fauna, as well as the people and traditions of his native Alaska. At the risk of besmirching the reputations of most guides I run into at other lodges, let me say that it was very refreshing to be guided by someone who has spent more than just a few months in Alaska before he jumps into the boat with you.

A minimum three-night stay at Anvik River Lodge cost $1,100 per person and a six-night stay costs $2,200. The price includes guided fishing, meals, lodging and transportation from the village of Anvik. A summertime roundtrip flight from Anchorage to Anvik on Yute Air (*) is $436 right now, but that price is subject to change, of course, before next season. If you want to fly out from the lodge and fish water other than the Anvik River, that will cost you an extra $100 per day. The lodge also has attractive group rates, incorporating the charter flight from Anchorage and varying numbers of fly-outs.

The lodge itself is hand hewn from local timber, and guest rooms are located adjacent to main Great Room, which has cathedral ceilings and is adorned with all manner of fish and wildlife mounts. The four guest rooms each have two double beds with private bathroom and shower. The one I stayed in had a wonderful view of the river. To say that the family-style meals are hearty is an understatement, as Cheryl Hickson does an impressive job in the kitchen with wild game, traditional fare, unbelievable freshly baked breads and vegetables fresh from the garden adjacent to the lodge. Understand, this is not a place where they cram guests in by the planeload. The maximum number of guests at any time is eight, and believe me, you’ll feel like a big family. This place has the look, feel and sincere atmosphere of a traditional fishing outpost. Book now for the upcoming season and don’t be surprised if you see me there. I’m planning on returning this season. – Anthony J. Route.

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