Region 4 West: Bristol Bay, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands
Region 4 (west) begins in the Iliamna / Lake Clark area and extends west to the Bristol Bay area and down the Aleutian Range to the end of the Alaska Peninsula, including the Aleutian Islands. It ends at the westernmost point of Alaska, Peaked Island, off the western shores of Attu Island in the Aleutian islands. The area offers excellent hunting and fishing opportunities and includes one of the crown jewels of Alaska, the blue-ribbon trout streams of the Bristol Bay area.
The Road System
The road system in Region 4 (west) is limited to small roads in and through local villages. There is a short road from Iliamna Bay over to the Pile Bay area, on Lake Iliamna. The Williamsport-Pile Bay Road Portage is maintained by the state of Alaska and was built to move commercial fishing boats from Cook Inlet to Lake Iliamna. Once in the lake, boats make their way to the Kvichak River and downstream to the salmon-rich waters of Bristol Bay.
Region 4 (west) contains several cabins that are available for use by the general public. Most require advance reservations and user fees are usually charged by the night. Amenities are spartan; expect to find an outhouse, bunks with no bedding or mattresses, no food, no dishes or cookstove, and no power or running water. Most have wood-fired or oil-fired stoves for heat. See our Public-Use Cabins page for locations, recommended gear, reservation and contact information.
Boating in Region 4
Region 4 offers whitewater rafting, lake boating, float hunting and float fishing. Saltwater boating opportunities can be had farther out on the peninsula near Dutch Harbor and other villages, however transporting a boat out to these locations is usually cost-prohibitive. Options include the Alaska Marine Highway system (the ferry), barges, and in some cases, air transport. All of these are expensive. On the other hand, inflatable sportboats may be flown out to these locations via regularly scheduled airline service.
Several ports in Region 4 offer permanent and transient slips, boat launch facilities and a host of other amenities of interest to saltwater boaters.
Naknek / King Salmon | Egegik | Port Heiden | Chignik | Port Moller | Sand Point | King Cove | Cold Bay | False Pass
American Creek | Andreafsky River | Aniakchak River | Alagnak River | Chilikadrotna River | Kakhonak River | Kanektok River | Kasegaluk Lagoon| King Salmon River | Mulchatna River | Nuyakuk River | Tilkakila River | Togiak River
Fishing in Region 4
Region 4 contains the crown jewels of Alaska's trophy rainbow trout fisheries. The Bristol Bay area offers many fly-out float, drop camp, or lodge-based excursions that can be done on a day-trip or a multi-day basis. The area is dotted with lodges nestled among rugged mountains, mirrored in clear, blue lakes, and offer a stunning setting in which to wade or float the rivers for rainbows up to 30 inches and more. The area also has a generous population of lake trout, Dolly Varden, grayling, northern pike, and all five species of Pacific salmon. Farther out on the Alaska Peninsula are opportunities to fish the saltwater for large halibut, rockfish, salmon and other species. It's a fisherman's paradise.
The Goodnews River offers amazing opportunities for a wide variety of sportfish. Silvers are the big draw, and that kicks off about mid-summer. But the river has plenty to offer earlier in the year, with runs of all five species of salmon, beautiful leopard rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and grayling. Lake trout can be caught in the stretches immediately below Goodnews Lake. Access to the Goodness is via floatplane out of Dillingham to Goodnews Lake, and you can be picked up in the lower river either by floatplane or you can arrange for someone in the village of Goodnews Bay to pick you up in a powerboat. They can take you to the beach near the airport and shuttle your gear up to the airstrip with an ATV. Navigating Goodnews Bay on your own is not recommended; the bay is very shallow and the water is murky. The locals know where the channel is.
According to some sources, the Nushagak contains the largest run of king salmon in the world. A true salmon-fisherman's mecca, the river draws sportsmen from around the world to fish its deep holes and eddies for Alaska's largest salmon. The fish are abundant and bag limits are generous. The river offers some bank fishing opportunities, but success is all but guaranteed if you access the river via power boat. There are a number of commercial operators on the river. Some offer very comfortable camps, with restaurant-quality meals, heated accommodations and accomplished guides to accompany you each day on the river. For the do-it-yourselfer, there are outfits that rent boats for fishing the Nushagak. If you know how to find river kings, and can get yourself outfitted, this could be a relatively inexpensive trip.
The state of Alaska is divided into 26 Game Management Units (GMU), some of which are divided further into sub-units. Each of these units or sub-units may contain different species, different seasons, and different legal requirements for hunting. GMUs are aggregated into regional groupings, and each of these regions operate under the oversight of a team of ADFG employees, including area biologists who are responsible for game management in their assigned portions of the region. There are five regions in the state of Alaska. Outdoors Directory uses these regions to divide the state into smaller pieces, for the sake of organization. When you plan your Alaska hunt, you need to know both the GMU in which you will be hunting, and the region. In this way you can ensure you are following the correct regulations for the area, and you know which regional biologist to contact for details about that area.
Region 4 (west) contains GMUs 9, 10, & 17.
This area offers fly-out hunting opportunities for moose, caribou, Dall sheep, brown/grizzly bear, black bear, and wolf. Excellent waterfowl hunting can be had in the Cold Bay area, with opportunities to hunt many species not found in other areas. Upland game bird hunting for grouse and ptarmigan is also on tap here, but expensive to reach. It is usually conducted as an incidental event on a big-game hunt.
Perhaps the most well-known hunting opportunity in this area during the 1990's was the Mulchatna Caribou Herd. The causes of the dramatic rise and fall of this herd remains something of a mystery, but today scattered small bands of caribou can be found here and there. Certainly nothing like it was in the heyday of the Mulchatna Herd, and you cannot expect anything in this area other than an incidental take while hunting for moose or bear.
Adak Caribou Hunting
Do you have a special interest in hunting Adak for caribou? Check out our Adak Caribou Hunting page for details on how to get there, where to stay, logistics, getting around on Adak, and how and where to hunt.
Want to learn how to hunt the species that inhabit Region 4 (west)? Visit our species pages, which provide information on species biology, distribution, and how to hunt the various species available in this region. A complete resource list on each species is also provided.
You'll find detailed information on 126 common species of big-game, small game, furbearers, marine mammals, birds, fish and shellfish in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Notebook Series, which is available in our bookstore AT THIS LINK.
Other areas to hunt in Region 4 West:
ADF&G Region 4 Information
ADF&G Management and Harvest Reports, a vital hunt-planning tool, can be found AT THIS LINK. Reports are listed in sequential order by species. For detailed research into population trends, review several reports. For more recent data contact the area biologist.
The biologists for Region 4 are located in the office in Palmer. The phone number there is 1 (907) 746-6300.
Waterfowl Hunting in Region 4
The heart of waterfowl hunting in Alaska is, without question, Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, near Cold Bay. Izembek is the smallest of Alaska's National Wildlife Refuges, at 320,000 acres. The focal point of most waterfowl hunting here is Izembek Lagoon, a 150,000 square miles of brackish shallows, carpeted with eelgrass flats that provide forage for a variety of waterfowl species. Most notable among these are Pacific black brant (Izembek contains the entire population in the Pacific Flyway), Taverner's canada geese, and Steller's eiders (Steller's and Spectacled eiders are protected statewide) and Emperor geese (also protected). The federal refuge is adjoined by Izembek State Game Refuge.
It's doubtful that you will find a place with more variety of waterfowl than Izembek; the refuge is home to hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl, some of which over-winter in the ice-free lagoon. Some species encountered by fall waterfowl hunters include pintails, mallards, oldsquaw, harlequin, Eurasian widgeon, white-winged scoters, common goldeneye, bufflehead, and many others are found here.
Izembek is accessed via a road from Cold Bay to the refuge. Commercial air service is available to Cold Bay, and lodging is available in town. While resident hunters commonly hunt the area by hauling out their own gear, guests may find it much easier to simply hire the services of a guide. A number of guides hunt this area, and can set you up with lodging, meals, transportation along with a guide, decoys and dogs to make the entire experience much easier and more enjoyable.
McNeil River Bear Viewing
The McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and Refuge is one of the best places in Alaska to view large numbers of brown bears in the wild. Bears congregate at the McNeil River falls every summer to feast on salmon that congregate in the pool below the falls. View large brown bears at close range as they stake their claim to their stretch of riverbank and wade the river to catch fish. The sanctuary is only available to holders of special permits that are issued on a drawing basis. The best time to go is from July through mid-August, when the peak of the chum salmon run occurs. Camping sites are available two miles from the viewing area, and there are no lodge facilities, so camping out is the only option. The entire experience is closely managed to prevent negative encounters between people and bears. Permits are handled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game; applications can be found AT THIS LINK.