Truly trophy-size pike and rare sheefish on Innoko River, a tributary of the Yukon in Alaska. Comfortable houseboat as lodge with outboard skiffs for fishing. Only four guests per week. Mid-June to mid-September. Superb top-water and streamer action with 9-wt rods and floating lines, relatively easy fishing for good casters. Opportunity for fly-out and wilderness float trips on nearby rivers for salmon and trout. Frequent weather changes, bugs are manageable.
The Innoko River is a trophy pike and sheefish haven. Click to enlarge.
The Innoko is a tributary of the mighty Yukon, passing through a large area of designated wilderness before entering the big river at Holy Cross. It is arguably the best pike fishery in the world. Endless sloughs, interconnected lakes, and large sections of river provide exceptional habitat for the "water wolf." Virtually every body of water in the area that is not so shallow that it freezes to the bottom during the winter will hold pike. Extremely light fishing pressure insures a large, healthy population, most of which has never encountered an artificial fly. Wilderness designation provides protection and time to grow, and rich stocks of salmon fry and whitefish provide an endless food source - and so the Innoko River fishery consistently produces the largest northern pike caught each year in Alaska - Midnight Sun's record to date on the fly is 40lbs (see video above!).
The Innoko also supports a very healthy population of rare iconnu (sheefish) - the "Tarpon of the North" - which migrate up the river in June and back down in September. These fish also grow large in this rich environment and although the river produces many fish in the 10- to 15-pond range, trophies nearing 50-lbs have been landed.
Anglers fly to Anchorage and overnight. The next morning they take a 1hr 15m flight via twin engine plane to Aniak, leaving Anchorage at 10:30am on Era Aviation
(800) 866-8394 / (907) 266-8394 (average $314 round trip). They are picked up at the Aniak airport by the lodge's floatplane for the short flight (20-minutes) to the Midnight Sun Houseboat. Return to Anchorage is a 12:30pm flight arriving 1:45pm in time for most flights back to the lower 48.
Gen X Bunny
Midnight Sun was established in 1996 and offers a truly unique fly fishing adventure for both humongous pike and rare sheefish or "Tarpon of the North."
Lodging is aboard a 67-foot custom-built houseboat located on the back sloughs of the Innoko River, roughly 310 miles due West of Anchorage. Although the boat can sleep eight, plus guides and crew, guest capacity is limited to just four anglers a week to provide for a superb, uncrowded experience. This means private bedrooms, total access to guides, and your own untouched water everyday guaranteed to have not been fished for over a week.
This two-hundred mile long Yukon River tributary provides the perfect environment for growing huge Alaskan pike ... cool, slow-moving water; a food source of unlimited quantity; and the time for pike to grow old and fat (like 20 years old!) - ranging anywhere from 10 pounds to 25 pounds and even the occasional 40 pound monster! With little competition from other anglers, these big pike are readily attainable. Sheefish can be caught throughout the season but are specifically targeted twice a season as they migrate up the river in June and back down in September.
What makes all of this even better is that big pike take awhile to get their metabolisms going each day, a function related to temperature. So it's gentleman's fishing hours at the Midnight Sun. A hearty breakfast is served at 9:00am and fishing begins at 10:00am. A normal day is nine hours of fishing. If we're not too far from the Midnight Sun at noon we'll head back to the houseboat for lunch, otherwise it's a sandwich in one hand rod in the other! For most of the day we're exploring endless backwater sloughs looking for big pike. Most of the fishing is topwater poppers or large streamers on floating lines. It just doesn't get any better than when a toilet-bowl size flush engulfs your popper or three huge wakes come at your fly from three different directions! Our day ends about 7:00pm at which time most guests are suffering from a happy case of tired arm syndrome and the cocktail hour on the upper deck is sounding wonderful. At around 8:00pm it's time for one of our rib-stickin' delicious dinners before bedtime beckons. Then we get up and do it again!
And if you still haven't got enough of Alaska after all of this, Midnight Sun also offers add-on float trips and Jet boat fishing adventures on the Aniak and Kuskokwim drainages for salmon and trout. The Aniak River is one of Alaska's best kept secrets and hosts one of the top multi-species fisheries in the state. Spectacular king and silver salmon, rainbows and char headline this rarely traveled drainage. Flowing through 80 miles of untouched wilderness and wildlife habitat, the Aniak River is the essence of remote Alaskan fishing. Our experienced and professional guides will flawlessly row your raft through narrow log jams, land fish, pitch tents and regale you with their favorite fish tales while ribeye steaks sizzle on the fire. Your only priority is to stop fishing long enough to catch a few hours of sleep up here in the land of the Midnight Sun.
The Midnight Sun features a spacious lounge. Click to enlarge.
The Midnight Sun houseboat is designed with all of the creature comforts and modern amenities for up to four guests per week. At 67-feet long by 16-feet abeam, the boat has four staterooms, each sleeping one guest. Each room is set up with two twin beds, reading lamp for each bed and storage for clothing and personal items. There are two bathrooms providing full shower, sink and commode facilities which are shared by all guests.
The lounge and dining areas encompass the forward half of the boat and provide ample room to stretch out, relax and exchange the day's fish stories. The lounge area is equipped with CD stereo and DVD player. The fore and aft decks are both covered and set up to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. The upper deck has a fully covered and screened in 45 x 16' area creating a lot of space for those wanting to enjoy a bug free quiet drink and watch Alaska's midnight sun skirt the horizon.
Meals are hot, hardy and homemade. After a long day of fishing, guests are met with appetizers and refreshments. Pork loin, roasted chicken, pasta, salmon (when available) and steaks are cooked to your liking. Breakfast is made to order and consist of traditional American offerings. Lunches are large deli style sandwiches.
The boat provides limited beer and wine for purchase but does not stock a bar so guests are encourage to purchase their favorite libation in Anchorage before flying to Aniak.
Not a particularly good family destination unless all family members are serious anglers. Excellent father/son experience. Minimum age suggestion 12.
Innoko National Wildlife Refuge. Click to enlarge.
Ranging along the eastern bank of the Yukon River, bordered on the north by the Khotol Hills and the south and east by the Kuskokwim Mountains, the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge is split into two huge halves that together contain 3.85 million acres. The southeastern portion of the refuge, roughly one-third of the total area, was designated Wilderness by the United States Congress in 1980 and is 1,240,000 acres in size, half of which is muskeg wetlands, marshes, lakes, meandering rivers, and streams dotted with islands of black spruce.
More than 20,000 beavers live in these wetlands, the densest population in Alaska, along with moose and caribou, black and brown bears, red foxes, coyotes, lynx, otters, wolves, and wolverines. An estimated 65,000 white-fronted and lesser Canada geese spend their summers here with more than 380,000 other waterfowl and shorebirds.
Although the weather is often fabulous, rain is synonymous with Alaska so be prepared. A good rain Jacket over a light fleece and a pair of waders and you're good to go.
It can also be buggy on the Innoko, and although it is generally manageable with just a good repellent, be sure and bring a light bug net for your head just in case. Use a repellant like Off Deep Woods Sportsman with 30% Deet. Higher concentrations of Deet will damage your fly lines and other gear. And be sure it's a pump-spray, airlines won't allow aerosols on board. Avoid wearing a dark color fleece or shirt as that can attract mosquitos when the sun's out.
Although entirely up to you based on your satisfaction, a 10% of total trip cost ($390) is suggested as a base to be split amongst guides and crew. If someone went that extra mile to make this the trip of a lifetime for you, don't be afraid to show them so love! Envelopes for tips are provided on the final night. Please bring cash for gratuities as checks and credit cards cannot be processed aboard the boat.
Alaska's beautiful Chugach Mountains. Click to enlarge
Consider arriving a day or two early to explore Anchorage, or even extending your trip another week to visit Katmai or Denali National Parks. Alaska is so rich in natural wonders it's a shame to come all this way just for the fishing (no matter how good it is!), particularly if it's your first trip to the Far North. A terrific resource for planning additional excursions is Travel Alaska
Your hosts, Greg Beefus (left) and Scott Rowekamp.
Co-Owner Greg Befus, a resident of both Alaska and Colorado, has been an avid pike angler for more than 18 years. He's a licensed guide, who has enjoyed fishing and hunting all of his life. Directing arrival/departure logistics and outfitting operations in Aniak, Greg fully understands and seamlessly facilitates everything needed to provide you with the trip of a lifetime in Alaska's vast wilderness.
Co-Owner Scott Rowekamp's true passion is to fish in remote areas. He is a licensed guide and holds various high-level white water rescue and EMT certifications. Scott oversees all operations aboard the Midnight Sun with great humor and effectiveness. Professionalism is his number one priority and his non-stop, manic energy ensures your Alaskan experience will be remembered forever.
To book a reservation, or for more information contact Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures directly at 800-440-7453 (or locally at 907-717-3722 or 907-455-0265, or 907-675-4745 in Aniak from May 16 to September 20), by email at email@example.com
, or by visiting their web site at www.mstpa.com
FREE GIFT: And if you book a trip direct with Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures be sure and call or email us, we want to know how useful this page was for you in planning your adventure and anything we can do to improve. In return we'll send you a complimentary sample of flies you'll need, including the "Critical Fly" Gen X Bunny!