Big Ku Alaska

When head guide Justin Schillaci made the rounds after dinner, asking each guest where or what they would like to do tomorrow, I was stressed to actually make a decision. Everywhere was great. In fact, just in front of the lodge on the famous Big Ku River were huge rainbows in crystal clear water. To make a long story short, you could do no wrong. There are at least four trophy trout rivers nearby, plus pike hot spots and a fly out, just to complicate your decision. Big Ku Lodge uses prop and jet boats to access the local streams. So if the weather gets nasty, no big deal. You still load up and go, while people at other lodges are waiting for the fog to lift.

Big Ku Lodge doesn’t have a grand piano or yoga classes; it is an angler’s lodge. The guides are great, the food is great, and you will flop into bed with sore muscles from casting, fighting fish and being in the wildest of the wilds of Alaska. Big Ku Lodge could be booked full all fall with bear photographers, but you get that experience for free. There are times when you notice that a bear is not in sight. Even though there are thousands of salmon in every watershed, Big Ku Lodge is a trophy trout destination. Bring your six and seven weight rods, your streamers, mice, egg patterns and flesh flies.

-Brian O’Keefe

The two hour flight from Anchorage to Big Ku Lodge is one of the most scenic in Alaska.
Colors, spots, red striped and big. But, what is big? The guides get excitedwhen you land a rainbow of 25 inches or longer. 30 inch rainbows are landed every season.

“Just in front of the lodge on the famous Big Ku River were huge rainbows in crystal clear water. To make a long story short, you could do no wrong.”

Top: Big Ku Lodge is located in the trophy trout/Katmai/Iliamna region of Alaska.
Bottom: Big Ku Lodge and the outlet of Kukaklek Lake at sunrise.
Nothing better than some honest to goodness comfort food after a long day of boating and fishing.
Walking up a small stream that was loaded with spawning salmon and rainbows pigging out on drifting salmon eggs.
Wendy Crouch, one of the guides at Big Ku Lodge, takes good care of fish so they can be released as healthy as possible.
Lucas VanTassel drifts an egg pattern while the sandhill cranes pass over.
Sandhill cranes migrating south.
Lucas VanTassle hooks an acrobat.
A very nice rainbow, between average and big. Six and seven weight rods, with a floating line are standard. Sight fishing is the name of the game.
Bears are everywhere in the fall. Common sense and listening to your guide will make encounters safe, while the photo opportunities are endless.
This is brown bear country.
This bear has cornered some sockeye salmon.
Ptarmigan, the camouflaged grouse of the north country.
Many mornings are a little foggy in September, but who cares when you are using prop and jet boats to move around in.
Guides and guests fish after dinner, sleep when you get home.
Justin Schillaci, head guide at Big Ku Lodge, helping the photographer!
(left) Guide Hunter Heefer and angler Howard McMurrian and (right) Lucas VanTassle share the love.
Hundreds of dead, spawned out sockeye and pink salmon litter the gravel bars and cover the bottom of the river. Rainbows, bears, eagles and anglers are there because of these amazing salmon runs. A perfect example why we have all fought the Pebble Mine.
This rainbow will add another pound or two this season from eating eggs.
Even muscular rainbows need to rest once in a while. This fish is in the crystal clear waters of the Big Ku River, 200 yards from the lodge.
Grayling offer some really fun dry fly action. I usually look for grayling around the lunch spot. There are also pike and char to be had.

Contributed By

Brian O’Keefe

Have you ever flown in a Cessna Caravan? Personally, I love them. That is what Big Ku Lodge uses to fly anglers from Anchorage, Alaska to the lodge, and, not just any Cessna Caravan, but a rather new, turbo Caravan on floats. So, you travel to Anchorage, overnight, and in the morning, fly for two hours, with amazing scenery, to Lake Kukaklek and Big Ku Lodge. BKL is smack dab in the middle of the best trophy rainbow trout water in Alaska, and maybe the world. Big Ku Lodge is intimate, taking only 6 guests, so it’s great for family and friends. The easiest way to get information or to make a booking is to contact The Fly Shop by phone and ask for Mike Mercer – 800-669-3473, or by email – There’s a lot of info at www.theflyshop/travel/alaska and you are always welcome to contact me


Big Ku Alaska

Brian O'Keefe


Rafael Costa

Into the Wild

Adrienne Comeau

Indiana Bones

Todd Moen

From The Archives

Stay up to date with Catch Magazine

Sign up to be notified any time a new issue comes out!

No spam, ever.

Join our free newsletter to get instant access to this video