Sheefish-the most unique species

Probably one of the most unique species we fish for at the lodge would have to be the sheefish. The only native to five drainages in the north Alaskan Adventures sits on the banks of the Southern Most river, the Holitna River. It’s here that we stage our daily fishing adventures. With the main lodge, several cabins, and meals prepared by a great chef guests get to chase Sheefish, Pike, Char, Dolly’s, and all five species of salmon from comfort. 

            The Sheefish is one of the most miss-understood gamefish species there is. For example, out of the five drainages in the North, the Kuskaquim drainage is the only river that they come to not only to spawn but to feed as well. In all the rivers some Sheefish live in the salt and only return to spawn. Some just stay in brackish water and some live their entire life in the river system. One thing is for sure and that is no matter what when you do find them, they are usually big, and I mean on average we are talking 12-20lbs in the waters around the lodge. Every year we see fish in the 30lb range and hear about 40lbers caught. 

            During our fishing season of June till September where we find that sheefish change through the season as to where we might find them. The first part of the season we look at is late May Early June. This is high water runoff months. During this time, it seems to us that we find some of the larger fish and schools of fish in more classic moving water runs. In areas, you might look for trout on a classic trout stream. Our theory is that these are fish that are moving into the system and looking for that happy section of the river to call home for the summer season.

            Our tactics for finding and fishing for sheefish during this part of the season is the first challenge of the year. Historically we know where to start looking however that changes constantly with the water level. When searching a run to see if any players are home, we have two possible go-to tactics this time of the year. First, to cover lots of water when the water is high and really moving, we will troll a run with 20 jets and flutter spoons. If ANY fish are in the area, they typically can’t resist a spoon and we can cover lots of water to find fish. Once fish are located, we go back and drift the run and throw swimbaits. 4-6” paddle tail swim baits on jig heads are deadly once you find where fish are holding. Also, once we find Sheefish we also fly fish for them with weighted sink tips and 4” fry pattern streamers. By far this is our favorite style of fishing for sheefish. 

            As the season progresses more into summer and the water levels drop it seems that Sheefish on our river system seems to move into what we refer to as summer home. Summer homes for Sheefish seem to be more of larger deeper runs or pools where they can hold to some structure to the bottom and ambush schools of fry as they come over the top of them. Sheefish are not big fans of bright sunlight and really love the deep however constantly look to the top and use the light to see small fry against the backlight. Once spotted they attack from the bottom upward and continue their thrust upward until bursting through the surface. It’s not uncommon to see an entire run as if it looks like the water is boiling with large sheefish. 

            During summer months we typically fish Sheefish with either swimbaits or the fly. Mostly depending on clients and how they wish to catch fish determines how we target sheefish. For conventional tackle spinners, spoons and swimbaits all work great for sheefish. For fly gear as long as the fly has lots of movement and looks like a smolt or even baby lamprey they will attack it with gusto. We still will fish sink tips with our fly’s and sheefish will attack in an upward aggressive strike, so the grab is usually quite visual. 

            As summer progresses Sheefish start to move through the river system and into their spawning mode. Where we seem to find them is more of a hunt. They don’t typically “hold” in an area for a long period of time. It seems like once a nice school has gathered, they then stick together and shoot upriver with reproduction on their mind. The big difference of Sheefish from most spawning anadromes fish is that they still feed during there spawning period were as salmon don’t. We find them where we find them. What I mean is one day an area that looks prime will be completely void and then the next day that area will be full of fish. Sometimes areas we would never think would have sheefish in the fall end up having a few hawgs. It’s a very hit and miss game in the fall however we know where exactly to look. With a river like the Holitna being so large knowing where to look can be a daunting task. 

            Usually, in the fall we are more focused in on the Silver Salmon run than actually fishing for Sheefish. We usually catch Sheefish on pink spinners, spoons, and pink jigs as a bycatch. We can still target them with the traditional gear of spoons, spinners, and swimbaits. Fly Fishing for Sheefish we would still fish with the same flies as we do all summer. Four-inch smolt patterns and baby lamprey imitations all with LOTS of movement are absolutely deadly all year round. 

            September is the end of our season on the Holitna River and we look forward to next year’s fishing season. Sheefish however are in the river system year-round. We have heard rumors of fish being caught through the ice. For us, we decide to head south in search of warmer waters. To find out what they fight like, and even what they taste like drop us a line and we would gladly get you on fish. Who knows maybe you will set the next IGFA Record? 

Cast & Blast!

Our area of Alaska has an absolute ton of freshwater. We are situated on a big river and all around are oxbow lakes and small marshy potholes all over the tundra making for ideal breading and summer habitat for all kinds of waterfowl. All summer long as we are running the river, we see an exuberant number of waterfowl. Because we are on the river all summer, we have been able to pay attention to where ducks like to be.  

The last week of fishing we save for our cast and blast. Yes, catch fish and shoot ducks in the same week. Alaska is a wonderful place to duck hunt. As a matter of fact, the majority of the birds that end up in the Gulf area for the winter are birds that were born right here in our water system. We shoot a TON of Teal in the early season but also Mallards, Gadwall, Widgeon, Shovelers, Pintail, and Goldeneye. We have several locations that we hunt from. Some are on local lakes and some are on the river itself.  

During this past seasons cast & blast, we had a full camp but only four duck hunters. The first few days were spent fishing for Silver Salmon, Pike, and Sheefish. The silver salmon were still showing up in good numbers for sure and guests were easily landing limits and then some.  The best of all was the Sheefish. We have a very great run of Sheefish every year and this year guests were easily landing double digits of fish. The Pike fishing is always good and everyone at the lodge landed pike over 40”.  

 September 1st is when Duck season opens, and you can bet opening day guides and guests were in the duck blind waiting on the first flights of the season to come into the decoys. The first day was a little slow but the second really picked up. The limit in our area is 10 birds per hunter per day. Guys were easily pulling the trigger on limits.  

 Once ducks are harvested, they are cleaned, and some are frozen for guests to take home however some are also prepared by our chef. I’ve heard it said that a lot of folks won’t eat duck because of how it tastes. To that, I say you haven’t had it prepared right. In my opinion, duck is one of those things you can either make really great or you can really mess it up. Knowing the difference in how to prepare either takes a great chef or an experienced duck hunter. Luckily at the lodge, we have both and I can guarantee you that whatever came out of the kitchen never made it to the leftover plate. Yes, duck prepared that good can be great!  

 Guests that come all year can take home boxes of fish (25lbs). The cast and blast week is by far the best time of the year to take home a great variety of what Alaska has to offer. Salmon, Sheefish, and a mixed bag of ducks. This week is also one of the best ways to not only experience a great variety of Alaska, but our garden is in full harvest so whatever meals are prepared are 100% fresh Alaskan. The weather is perfect, and the bugs are for the most part gone. For those of us that live at the lodge, it’s our most favorite time of the year. 

For more information on Booking your Cast & Blast Alaskan Adventure, contact us here 

Fifteen New Pending IGFA Records

It’s no secret that in 2019 we set 12 new IGFA records with Vicki Martin as the angler. Vicki is a very talented angler that has made it her goal to travel the world and set world records mainly with conventional tackle. She and her husband are a team that is very organized and focused on success. Vicki and her husband were booked to come back this year (2020) to re-break and set some new records but unfortunately due to Covid-19 decided to take a break and play it safe at their home in Florida. 

Meredith McCord is another very accomplished world record chaser however her specialty is fly fishing. When Meredith McCord found out that Vicki’s spot at the lodge was open, she did not hesitate once to make arrangements to come to the lodge and set some records on the fly.  It’s the Sheefish that really peeked Meredith McCord’s attention. As an accomplished angler with records from around the world (200+), the Sheefish is one she’s never heard of until she met the owner of the lodge Dan Paull. 

Now I have met some dedicated anglers and most of them are men. In my time guiding it’s rare that anyone is ever willing to REALLY get after the game. What I mean is Sheefish like the late evening and early morning hours best. Not to say that they can’t be caught mid-day because they can however to really get the good bite you have to be EARLY or Late in the evening. Once I told Meredith McCord this, I was amazed to get a response of “ok great I guess we leave the dock at 6 am”. Did I mention she was dedicated? Most days she wouldn’t even want to leave the water. Some days it wasn’t until 6 pm that we arrived back at the dock. She is a true die-hard!  

Sheefish are a unique fish and catching them on the fly can be a BLAST as long as you know where to look and how to put it in front of their face. For most of our runs, we fly fish for sheefish in that we are stripping small baitfish streamers with ten feet of T-11 to get the fly down in the water column. Sheefish, do not like the bright light so they will hide on the bottom looking up and attack by chasing to the surface usually erupting at the surface with the fly in the mouth. Fishing the fly like this, Meredith McCord was able to land many sheefish records on the Holitna River. 

Most days were spent fishing for Sheefish however Pike also was on the menu and Meredith McCord already had a few records with Pike however breaking those records and setting a few new ones was her goal. Pike on the fly is a BLAST especially on topwater. During Meredith McCord’s time at the lodge fishing for Pike, she was setting a record here and there until the last day fishing for Pike. It’s almost as if the river decided to hold the best for last. I think it was this day that she landed roughly five new pike records and her best and the one I’m most impressed with a 15lb 10oz Pike on 2lb test. First, let me tell you it’s not easy hooking a big scrappy fish on a 2lb test let alone fighting it to the net. Especially a 15lb fish but Meredith McCord made it look easy. 

Yes, Meredith McCord is a well-accomplished angler that makes it look easy on the fly. We are truly honored to be able to assist in her goal of setting world records.

To learn more about Meredith, visit

To learn more about IGFA visit

To book your own Alaskan Adventure contact us!

Luscious Lodge Grub

Homemade biscuits and gravy anyone? or say….fresh garlic bread off the smoker, with some lodge famous meatloaf, taters from the garden and home whisked gravy??

The Holitna River is over 200 miles west of Anchorage in the bush of Alaska. Here at this remote lodge, we offer trophy sportfishing trips as well as moose and bear hunts. When most people plan a trip of a lifetime or return to a place of rest, it’s usually because they had a fabulous experience or heard that the amenities were worth the investment. A lot of us also judge a place by its ratings or stars that they earn.  What does this mean to us at Alaskan Adventures? In regards to amenities, we pride ourselves in bringing you classic lodge grub, to accompany the rustic feel of the lodge and cabins, along with the fresh veggies from the garden and wild berries from the patch outback. ALL HOMEMADE. Sauces, dressings, bread, desserts and more!

After a long, fun and action-packed day on the water, battling the fish of the Holitna River, we know you have worked up quite the appetite, and we want to bring you some good ‘ol homemade wilderness gourmet food. Not “fancy” by any means, but when you look at the logistics of getting anything, let alone food, to this lodge, you’ll understand what goes into a single meal.

Because we are so far out, and air transportation is expensive, we have to strategically plan every meal. Now, if you’ve never been to the lodge, we should let you know that we have ONE regular-sized refrigerator, along with three small drink (dorm) mini-fridges, and two chest freezers. Why is this important information? Well, the closest store is a 2-hour boat ride north and west to the nearest village of Sleetmute, and that trip we only make once a week to get the mail at the small post office. To be practical, and save resources, a lot of our food comes in frozen. We will order in bulk and the food for the first half of the season comes in on one plane about a week before guests arrive. Space is limited and we must get creative while packing the freezers and fridges! Imagine fitting 50 dozen eggs in the fridges, along with all the other perishables and dairy products like butter, cheese, and cream. Just getting them in there is great, but placement is key. We don’t want any of those precious eggs freezing! Remember too that once meats are thawed and bottles are opened, those foods then need a place to stay in the fridge!

The next plane of food……
doesn’t come again for another 5 weeks! Pounds, ounces, teaspoons and pinches matter!

We eat as fresh as we can, which means the garden is our most prized asset for meals. The growing season, sunlight, as well as the soil and weather conditions, can be a challenge so some vegetables are started in a greenhouse.   We eat fresh lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and potatoes, carrots, strawberries and raspberries, beets, tomatoes, cabbage, and rhubarb! Along both sides of the garden, there are two impressive fresh herb gardens that we use to season all the savory food including thyme, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, chives, onions, sage, parsley and more.

So let’s talk about the grub. When the menu is planned out, we have to take into account the number of eggs to begin. What desserts and breakfast can we serve with the allotted eggs? Which days do we serve what foods? A lot of thinking, planning, and ingenuity go into feeding the guests and the staff at the lodge; and no sneaking for late-night snacks!

Meats get attention the day before, with thawing, brining and seasoning. Breads are made fresh every day. Alaskan Adventures did not buy a single loaf of bread from a supermarket in 2019!! Fish is freshly caught the day of the meal. Desserts are also made the same day and we use fresh berries from the strawberry and raspberry patch in the garden, as well as the rhubarb and wild blueberries for pies. Spice cake with cream cheese frosting, cake roll with berries, warm out of the oven cookies, sweet fry bread, brownies with homemade caramel sauce, berry and rhubarb crisp and many more. Breakfast consists of scones, burritos, quiche and French toast, pancakes, egg sandwiches and bacon of course. Dinner has us always excited for pork ribs and tenderloin, meatloaf, fresh cedar plank salmon and fried sheefish, Ribeye steak and baked chicken thighs, all complemented by vegetables picked fresh, like coleslaw and various potatoes dishes.

In 2019, the lodge favorites were the meatloaf with mashed taters and French bread, as well as the cookies and cake roll with raspberries and cream cheese filling, and don’t forget the famous corn casserole, creamy with a slight bite of spice!

We love having guests at our lodge. We love to take care of them and bring them the best experience possible and do it in a way that makes them feel at home away from home.  Stories told on the porch and flies tied on the bench with a cozy cabin to rest, all add to the rustic wilderness experience. The time is now to book with us. You will have a once in a lifetime experience. We are a unique and special place, out in the wild space of Alaska. Our river is full of life and the sites are unforgettable. The food is only a small piece of the puzzle that we want to put together for you and your loved ones!  We look forward to meeting you or seeing you again!

Sheefish – What is it?

Sheefish, What is it? Also known as “the tarpon of the north”. Sheefish are in the Whitefish family however instead of eating plankton Sheefish aggressively take baitfish. Sheefish spend a good portion of there life in the ocean just like Salmon. Also just like salmon they return to freshwater rivers to spawn. Alaskan Adventures is situated on the banks of the Holitna River and they see great returning runs of Sheefish. Only a few rivers in the north hold these fish and the Holitna is a great place to target then either with a fly or gear.

 The average Sheefish caught at the lodge is around 30-35inches. Last years big fish came in at 33lbs. These fish are hard fighting with some displaying aerial acrobatics just like tarpon. Some run deep and bulldog it out but either way, they pull hard and the guides at Alaskan Adventures know exactly where to find em.
Adding to the variety of what not only you can catch at the lodge but also what you can eat. Sheefish are a great eating fish. If you live in the lower 48 probably the closest comparison in taste would be the Walleye. If you like eating Walleye you’re going to love eating Sheefish.
So for a hard fishing fish, you didn’t know existed you need to take a trip to Alaska and visit us at Alaskan Adventures Lodge. We will not only get you on Salmon but you will experience Sheefish as well not only on your line but on your plate at the lodge or on the shores of the Holitna River.

For more information, contact


8355 Poudre Canyon Road
Bellvue, Colorado, USA – 80512

(765) 398-0439