ABOUT LARSEN BAY (SUGPIAQ: UYAQSAQ)
Larsen Bay is named for Peter Larsen, an Unga Island furrier, hunter, and guide, and is accessible by a short air taxi flight from the city of Kodiak.
THINGS TO DO
Larsen Bay is surrounded by Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, the 2,812-square-mile preserve that covers two-thirds of Kodiak Island. The refuge's diverse habitat ranges from rugged mountains and alpine meadows to wetlands, spruce forest, and grassland. Wildlife viewing is excellent in the refuge, and its most famous resident is the giant Kodiak brown bear. The refuge is a prime spot for birding, home to more than 200 different species and 600 breeding pairs of bald eagles. Marine life is also plentiful, including seals, sea lions, porpoises, sea otters, whales, and puffins. No roads enter the refuge, and no maintained trails lie within it, so the best way to view wildlife within the refuge is by chartered boat or plane.
Wildlife viewing aside, fishing is the main interest of most visitors to Larsen Bay. Several excellent fishing lodges offer fly-in packages that include lodging, meals, freshwater and saltwater fishing, and activities such as hunting, sightseeing, and bear viewing.
Uyak Bay is the center for most anglers in Larsen Bay. The long fjord that almost bisects Kodiak Island is home to all five species of Pacific salmon as well as halibut and lingcod. The silver salmon run is one of the best in Alaska with the fish first appearing in August and peaking in September.
Stream anglers also gather at Larsen Bay for an opportunity to fish nearby Karluk River. The 22-mile river is famous for its salmon and steelhead runs, especially among fly anglers. The Karluk's shallow depths make it easy to sight-cast a fly to salmon and steelhead in knee-deep water.
The bear viewing is excellent in and around Larsen Bay. Although visitors frequently spot a brown bears strolling the beach in front of the small village in early summer, a more popular viewing site is Frazer Lake, reached by a 25-minute flight in a float plane. Once on the lake visitors are guided to Frazer River, where visitors can observe and photograph bears fishing for salmon from a bear viewing platform.
Uyak Bay's calm, sheltered waters offer pristine scenery in a protected environment, making it ideal for kayakers. Paddlers not only experience the shoreline scenery but often enjoy views of marine wildlife, ranging from whales and sea otters to puffins and other seabirds. Most lodges in Larsen Bay have kayaks for guests to use or available for rent.
The community is called Uyak by the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq people who have resided here for 2,000 years. The village drew national attention in 1991 when the Smithsonian Institution returned the remains of 756 Alutiiq / Sugpiaq people. Interred in a mass grave, the burial marked the largest repatriation of indigenous peoples remains ever conducted by the Smithsonian. Like many Kodiak Island communities, the Russian influence of fur traders in the late 1700s and early 1800s can also be seen throughout Larsen Bay at Russian Orthodox churches and cemeteries.
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