King Salmon Virus

Lake Creek, Alaska | Stati Uniti

Through the

Infected with the King Salmon virus, my son Andreas and I planned a two-week trip to Alaska. The first week was all about pure nature, meaning floating down a river in a raft, and the second week was about relaxing in a lodge.

For the first week, we chose Lake Creek, which we intended to follow for 100 kilometers from its source at Chelatna Lake to its confluence with the Yentna River. Frontier River Guides took care of the guiding and equipment. For the second week, we selected the Talaheim Lodge on the Talachulitna River.

Lake Creek, Alaska | Stati Uniti
11. - 25. June 2012

Let's start

Lake Creek

The flight from Frankfurt to Anchorage goes over the North Pole and takes only 9 hours. Departure and arrival times are almost the same, which results in a significant jetlag.

Upon arriving in Anchorage, we are picked up and taken to Regal Air, where we meet our guides, Ben and Martin. An hour later, we are already flying towards Chelatna Lake. The lake is located right at the foot of Mount McKinley, and the views from the air are breathtaking.

The guides prepare the boats, stow everything away, and the fishing begins. In the summer, it never gets completely dark in Alaska, so we fish extensively until two in the morning on the first day. The outflow from Chelatna Lake flows rather slowly for the first few kilometers, but the water is crystal clear. We catch one Arctic Char after another.

Days 1-3

We are lucky with the weather: it rains briefly, then the sun comes out, and it's not cold – perfect fishing weather. We enjoy the first three days in the upper and middle reaches of the river, fishing from the boat. We specifically look for beautiful places to set up our evening camp. There, we mostly fish for trout and Arctic Char using dry flies and streamers from the shore.

After passing two Class 3 rapids, we see the first salmon in the lower middle section of the river. King Salmon fishing has been banned by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game just before our trip.

The reason for this is that the salmon run this year is lower than it has been in a long time. However, there are also Red Salmon in the river, so we fish for them. We do hook some Kings, but we immediately release them all.

Days 3-5

The river gets wider as we go. About 20 kilometers before it meets the Yentna River, we encounter the large pools where the salmon gather.

These pools quickly transition into fast-flowing water. After several minutes of intense fighting with the 10-weight fly rod, the fish head toward the pool's exit and then into the current. I lose two large Kings after long battles. With one of them, I have a real chance, and it's almost landed when, in one final effort, it breaks the leader. This fish was easily 25 kilograms. Besides the mosquitoes that tormented me during the fight, I had no luck with the big Kings. Nevertheless, the float trip was an incredible experience.

Day 6

Now it's time for the lower reaches of the river. It's impressive to witness how the river and the surroundings change from its source to its mouth. The last part of the river has a special charm. Many fallen trees lie in the water, and the river slowly meanders through the landscape teeming with countless birds and animals.

Finally, we reach the river's mouth. We disembark from the boat and head to the Cotton Lodge, where we enjoy a cold beer and await pickup by a Regal Air seaplane.

We both agree that life by the water, day and night, is an extraordinary experience. Moreover, for true aficionados, there's fishing around the clock!

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    Have a Break
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    On the Boat
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    In Detail
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After the seaplane brought us back to Anchorage, and we spent a night at the Millennium Hotel, the lodge's pilot picks us up the next morning. Four other anglers are on board as well. The flight lasts only about 40 minutes, during which we catch several glimpses of the Talchulitna River, our fishing destination.

The lodge is nestled in an idyllic forest clearing, very close to the river. Small log cabins are scattered around the main house where meals are prepared and where guests gather to dine. The cabins have individual bedrooms, a shared bathroom, and a living room with a fireplace. It's incredibly cozy.

The lodge has two helicopters and a Piper on-site, allowing us to cover distances quickly. We are flown out every day: to the Talachulitna River by helicopter and to more distant rivers by plane.

Day 1

On the first day, we fly to a prime pool on the Talachulitna River. After only about ten casts with the two-handed rod, I already have the first strike and land a 16-kilogram King – an excellent fish! Once again, it heads from the pool into the fast water, but I pursue it and manage to land it. Finally, a big King! Unfortunately, Andy has no success and no bites.

Day 2

The salmon run is late and lower in numbers this year. For this reason, the guides, in coordination with us, decide that we should fly further with the Piper and fish for Red Salmon. We end up at a small tributary of the Susitna, where we truly catch several Red Salmon. One of them, the guides grill for us. Fresh Red Salmon is truly excellent!

Day 3

Andy has long wished to catch a lot of Northern Pike. So, on the third day, we fly to Lake Alexander. We are surprised to see a Tyrolean flag there. As we find out later, the lodge at Lake Alexander is owned by the Swarovski family.

We catch a tremendous number of Northern Pike there, although none of them are particularly large. Many years ago, Pike were introduced into Lake Alexander, and since then, no other fish species exist there. The Pike have wiped out the Salmon, and now they've turned cannibalistic, leaving no other fish population.

Day 4-5

We take a helicopter to the vicinity of the river's mouth and then float from pool to pool to the mouth. There, we catch three Kings and some large Rainbow Trout. Andy finally catches his first Salmon – one of them is truly impressive.


Day 6

Today, the target is Dolly Varden. The lodge owner, Mark Miller, tells us about a crystal-clear, elevated stream. It's said to have many Dolly Varden, provided they're there already – a little risky. The variety appeals to us, and we decide to fly there.

The river is exceptionally beautiful. In the first pool alone, we catch many Dollies, some up to 65 cm, using nymphs in dead drift and small Crystal Buggers. In many places, we can spot the larger specimens in advance and then target them specifically. Excellent conditions!


Our Lodge


Mark Miller and Talaheim Lodge come highly recommended. The accommodations and food are excellent, and the value for money is great. With helicopters, you have flexibility and can reach various locations easily. The lodge is conveniently accessible from Anchorage, and there are many excursion opportunities.

A somewhat minor drawback is the limited fishing time. Meal times are fixed, and fishing follows a schedule. You won't have more than eight hours of fishing per day, which might be insufficient for some. However, if that's adequate for you, then you'll be exceptionally well taken care of at Talaheim Lodge.

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    Helicopter Arrival
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    Great Nature
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    So Cozy
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    Our Plane
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    Top View
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    What a View

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