Although the majority of the waters we frequent are considered part of the Bristol Bay watershed, Kulik Lodge is also located within the boundaries of Katmai National Park. What’s so great about Katmai? Allow us to explain..
On June 6, 1912, the tremendous volcanic eruption of Novarupta created what became later known as the “Valley of 10,000 Smokes.” To protect this unique geologic wonder, Katmai National Monument was established in 1919. Over the years the boundaries expanded, and in 1980 the area was designated a national park and preserve.
In addition to its fascinating geology, Katmai has an abundance of spectacular scenery, unsurpassed sport fishing, and plentiful wildlife. It is the goal of the National Park Service to preserve this truly special place for future generations, and we believe all visitors to Katmai have an obligation to help the Park Service reach this goal.
During your stay at Kulik Lodge, you will be accompanied by trained guides and staff members who are well versed in the rules and regulations associated with operating in Katmai National Park and Preserve, many of which apply to our daily operations in the park. Additionally, we’ve adopted our own policies at Kulik Lodge to help preserve and maintain the same level of experience for generations to come.
Katmai is home to one of the greatest concentrations of protected brown bears in the world, and those staying at Kulik will have the opportunity to view and/or photograph these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
Contrary to popular belief, Alaska’s brown bears and grizzlies are now considered to be one species. In other parts of the world, grizzlies are often considered to be those that live 100 miles or more inland. Thus, the term brown bear is most commonly made in reference to ‘coastal’ bears (such as those seen in Katmai), which are generally larger than inland bears thanks to their rich diet of fish. Interestingly enough, Kodiak brown bears are actually considered to be an entirely different subspecies that is geographically isolated on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska.
Although home to all five species of Pacific salmon, many of the lakes, rivers, and streams throughout Katmai serve as the spawning and rearing areas for the largest run of sockeye (red) salmon in the world.
Each year, massive runs of adult sockeye return to their natal streams throughout Katmai to spawn from approximately late July through October. Their eggs then hatch the following winter and the newly born salmon remain in the gravel of the stream bottom until mid to late May. Once they emerge from the gravel, the young salmon (called ‘fry’) are carried downstream to the nearest lake where they spend 1-2 years before making their way towards the ocean. By this time, the ambitious juvenile salmon are approximately 3-4 inches in length and most commonly referred to as ‘smolt.’
Once in the rich saltwater environment, the sockeye grow quickly reaching an average size of 5-7 pounds. After 3-4 years at sea, the mature salmon make the arduous journey back to the very river in which they were conceived to spawn, before meeting their demise shortly thereafter.
This incredible cycle provides many tons of rich nutrients to the surrounding Katmai environment, and a large variety of living organisms depend on this food source including resident fish, mammals, birds, insects, and even plants.
The abundance of salmon fry, smolt, eggs, and flesh provides a tremendous food source for our resident freshwater fish earning Katmai its reputation for unparalleled fishing opportunities.
The cold clear water and plentiful food supply create the ideal habitat for numerous resident game fish such as rainbow trout, lake trout, arctic char, dolly varden, arctic grayling, and northern pike, and the waters of Katmai National Park and Preserve hold one of the largest concentrations of trophy native rainbow trout in the world.
The lakes and rivers of Katmai have never been stocked (something we’re super proud of), and although we allow our guests to keep a limited number of salmon to bring home, we practice catch-and-release for all resident freshwater species to ensure the health of our fisheries.