Arolik Lake and River

(Click on the thumbnails below for larger images.)

Landing at a Lake.. Our Goose has 450HP.. A Goose landing.. Early Morning Fog.. Fresh Salmon Cooking..

Arolik Lake is a forty five minute flight from Dillingham and up until the fall of 1995, the best kept secret about the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Arolik lake is within the boundaries of the refuge, however, most of the river itself is not. Unlike similar rivers in the Refuge like the Goodnews and Kanektok, the River was believed to be non-navigable. In fact the Refuge Manager and staff passed information about the non-navigability of the Arolik River to Fresh Water Adventures and independent rafters that were researching the river as a possible fishing destination. Previous to 1995, Freshwater Adventures provided air transportation to the Arolik for independent's learning about the river from other sources. It was believed at the time that these individuals were trespassing on native land because if a river is non-navigable, the submerged portion of the river would also belong to the owner of the land on both sides; in this case, Quanirtuuq Inc. The use was so minor that floaters could arrange local residents in Quinhagak Village to use their small boats and on the high tide pick these groups of floaters up from Bessy Creek, a tributary of the Arolik about 5 miles or so from the mouth and transport them back to Quinhagak. 

After 1995, the floaters had increased to the point that Quanirtuuq Inc, by then, owners of their own outfitting company, Kanektok River Safaris, Inc., could no longer ignore the private use of what they believed to be their river and decided to sell permits to floaters for $25.00 per person per day and charge $300.00 for each boat used to pick up floaters. It took approximately one boat for 3 people. Fresh Water Adventures bragged for the first time that we believed the Arolik to have the best Rainbow fishing in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge and in 1996 took about 5 separate groups in to Arolik Lake with permits in hand.

Because the additional labor involved in dragging through the first part of the river system and the expense of the permit increasing each year, the river did not ever become populated. 

In 1999, Quanirtuuq Inc. announced that they had sold the exclusive rights to the Arolik and permits were no longer available. In the year 2000, no one floated the Arolik River. Fresh Water Adventures posted on our web sites communication board that we could no longer provide air transportation to the Arolik River for the purpose of floating. However, Fresh Water Adventures received an E-mail from Brad Palach, an employee of Alaska Department of Fish and Game on March 7, 2001; after Brad stumbled onto our statement on our web site. Fresh Water Adventures responded to his letter and he put Fresh Water Adventures in touch with Kamie Simmons, also an employee of Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Kamie sent an E-mail to us on April 4, 2001, basically stating that the State of Alaska's position on the Arolik is that it is in fact a navigable river and that everyone should be able to float the Arolik.


The first 10 miles of the Arolik River drops nearly 250 feet and consequently is very shallow. In the past, we have seen various configurations of rafts and inflatable kayaks that work well and minimize your dragging. The slickest set up we have seen is a one man raft with the rafter wearing fins. It also has oars for assisting his legs. It drew about 4 inches of water.  The 16' and 18' caterafts are also available and if kept light, pull over the smooth rocks easier than regular rafts.

The best time to go rainbow fishing is in late June through July. King salmon are available from about the 25th of June through the third week in July. The Red and Chum salmon start coming into the river about the last week of June and are available until about the first week in August. Silver salmon start showing up about the last week in July and are available into early September. Humpys run hot an heavy on even years.

Larry Strunk (907-556-8556) provides ground transportation from the river to the airport in Quinhagak.

The Arolik is not a river for everyone but it is the opinion of Fresh Water Adventures with a little extra effort you can enjoy some of the best fishing in Alaska plus seclusion unmatched anywhere else. Note: Chest waders are recommended for unloading at the lake.

Press here for estimated costs.

  For additional information on the Arolik River, press here.