The rivers and streams in the Bristol Bay watershed of Southwest Alaska read like a dream destination wish list for fly anglers around the globe. Nushagak. Mulchatna. Koktuli. Kvichak. Upper and Lower Talarik Creeks. The list goes on and on. For those who have been fortunate enough to wet a line in these waters, it’s an experience likely to never be forgotten. For all who have yet to do so, the dream endures as we keep waiting and saving for that “once-in-a-lifetime” trip.
While wild salmon stocks in many parts of the world are in peril, Alaska represents a place where these magnificent fish still return in such abundance that the numbers are staggering and nearly impossible to comprehend. And no where in Alaska, do so many salmon return as to the Bristol Bay watershed.
Just a few of the superlatives in this region include:
- The Kvichak River is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run and is also within Alaska’s designated trophy wild rainbow trout area. Other species found in the Kvichak include Chinook (king), Coho (silver), pink and chum salmon, Arctic Char, Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden, northern pike, and whitefish.
- The Nushagak and Mulchatna Rivers support the largest Chinook (king) salmon runs in Alaska, and perhaps the world. Other species found in these drainages include Sockeye, Coho (silver), pink and chum salmon, Arctic Char, Arctic Grayling, Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Dolly Varden, northern pike, and whitefish.
- Lake Iliamna is Alaska’s largest lake and America’s last undeveloped “great lake” as it is the same size as Lake Erie. It is home to one of only two freshwater seal populations in the world, as well as all five species of Pacific salmon, Arctic Char, Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden, Rainbow Trout, northern pike, and whitefish.
Now some people want to create some of the largest Strip Mines in the world. They would be over 2.5 miles wide and over 1500 feet deep. There will be a toxic lagoon that will be 20 miles wide. Conservationists do not want this to happen. It is one of those ballot issues that is “If you are for this bill vote no and conversely vote yes if you want this not to happen.” I hate it when they label issues this way. So far, it has been stopped but the threat is still there.