On the Nushagak

On the Nushagak

  • By: E. Donnall Thomas

The Nush makes a poor do-it-yourself destination for outside visitors. Even if you choose to do most of your fishing from shore, a powerboat is invaluable when it comes to finding fish. Furthermore, the most productive sections run through Native Corporation land, and you can’t set foot on shore unless fishing with a camp that owns a lease.

Weather during the Bristol Bay king season is moderate by Alaska standards, but that’s an important qualification. Afternoon showers from cloud buildup over the bay are likely and weather can turn seriously wet and windy. Even though it’s summer, pack multiple layers of polypropylene garments and always carry high-quality raingear.

The lower Nush is bear country, although bears don’t concentrate along the river until red salmon enter the system. Nonetheless, remain alert and use good “bear sense” when fishing from the bank.

Even though I guide bear hunters in the area during the fall, I seldom carry a firearm when I’m fishing and never bother with handguns, which aren’t enough gun to stop a brown bear, anyway. Bear spray (go to www.mace.com) is a superior option. While encounters with bears are merely possible, mosquitoes are inevitable. I have yet to find a good substitute for high concentration DEET repellant, and it never hurts to pack a head net for protection against swarming bugs.

I fish the Nush from the Bell family’s High Adventure tent camp, located in the heart of prime water. Don’t expect the imported chocolates next to your bed at night. You will find reliable boats, knowledgeable guides and the ability to walk out of camp and fish all night. Contact High Adventure Air Charters at www.highadventureair.com.—Don Thomas