Wading the Copper River

Between the months of August and September, Alaska sees a spike in tourism for one single reason. Rainbow trout.  Last year, I was lucky enough to pack up my Expedition Duffel and set off on a 3 week excursion fishing the robust rivers of Alaska during rainbow trout season. Throughout the trip, one of the most memorable experiences was our time spent on the Copper River - unbelievable amounts of rainbow trout, waterfalls, bears, and rappelling down the side of a mountain. That was just the first day. 

Gear: Expedition Duffel | Blind Bag 2.0 | Danner Light Boots | Abel x Ball and Buck Super Series 4/5 Reel | Folding Hunter Knife, Heritage Walnut | Handmade Fishing Net, Maple |  Signature Canvas Hat | Premium Waxed Cotton Hat, Navy 

There are two Copper Rivers located in Alaska, the larger one, considered the 10th largest river in the world has an extensive delta ecosystem and is known for it’s abundance of wild sockeye salmon. We spent most of our time fishing on the smaller Copper River that is most famous for it’s rainbow trout which we were fortunate enough to get out hands on.

To start off the trip we flew into Lower Copper Lake in our Float Plane (to see more on the Alaskan Float Planes click here) which then requires a float to the waterfall. Fishing starts just after the bottom of falls, a roughly 15-20 miles for entire trip down to Lake Ilimna. The first thing we encountered was a coastal brown bear that had clearly gotten into someone’s boat earlier to snack on some fish. He was roughly two years old and curious to see what we were up to. After a good scare we were able to distract him and head down the river.

Most of the area we floated on is considered native land which oftentimes means more difficult to navigate, meaning we couldn’t go up on banks and forcing us to stay in the boat more often than other areas.  The Copper River is known for its Sockeye run and rainbows. All rainbow trout are catch and release. 

It was just before the waterfall that my drone got stuck high up in a tree causing a bit of chaos but nothing our experienced guides couldn’t handle. After climbing a nearby tree to retrieve the drone,  we arrived at the waterfall where we had to descend down the side while letting the rafts float over the side to retrieve them at the bottom. Once at the bottom, it’s a smooth ride to Lake Iliamna and away from the preferred fishing spots up stream. 

Stay tuned for more tales from Alaska. Want more adventure? Check out some of our favorites from the Over + Under Journal:

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