By Holly Endersby
The escaping whales, sea lions roaring and the bald eagles circling are part of the daily fishing in the salty waters of southeastern Alaska. Further north, above the Arctic Circle, the gray current in rivers without ice, the wolves howl and the Caribou travel hundreds of miles during migration.
Visiting Alaska is on the list of many diehard fishermen and for good reason: with the numbers of salmon in the toilet in the lower 48, Alaska remains the last and the best place to fight the five species of salmon, as well as transport halibut, timalo, trout and various species of rockfish.
But a successful fishing trip in Alaska involves a lot of research and planning online well in advance of any trip you want to make. The best accommodations are almost always booked a year or more in advance, so start planning now for 2021 or 2020 if you are lucky and find an accommodation or guide with cancellations. Here are some tips to consider.
Water, water everywhere, but what type do you prefer?
Do you want to fish salt water, fresh or both? Many shelters focus on salt or freshwater fishing, while some may offer both, but generally at a higher price. For example, a hostel that we like offers protected saltwater fishing hidden in the islands, as well as options for fishing days on the river with a native guide.
River fishing offers fly fishing opportunities that are generally not available to saltwater fishermen, but it also means that the amount of fish they catch will generally be less than that of saltwater fish. But I have had amazing days of fly fishing on the banks of Alaska's rivers and lakes, catching several species of salmon, huge trout and many tiger whales.
On land, there is also the possibility of meeting brown bears, caribou, wolves and musk oxen up close, so if encounters with these creatures are not on your list of fun things to experience, stay aboard a ship!
Many cabins use boats on rivers and lakes, so land fishing is not always required.
Saltwater fishing should be reduced to protected waters or the open sea. If you are plagued with dizziness, stay in protected waters, which are generally quieter than the open ocean or look for freshwater fishing opportunities.
Once you decide which water you want to fish, reduce your selection of accommodation to a more manageable number.
The recommendations are helpful.
All Lodge websites extol the phenomenal fishing that is in place and boast their guides. Therefore, separating the hyperbole from the truth is fundamental.
It's good to talk to people who have been to different Alaska shelters or read reviews online and from various sources. Accommodations vary greatly in their accommodations, services and guides, so this part of your search takes some time.
The cabins of the lodges in the outdoor shows can give you initial ideas about where you might want to go, but remember that these people want to sell you a trip, so be careful with the buyer. You will not get a cheap fishing trip to Alaska, so if a hostel offers a price that is too good to be true, check it carefully.
Remember, most of the accommodations that have to be advertised by attending several outdoor shows mean that they are often not at the top level: those accommodations are already booked well in advance. Their reputation is firmly established, so they have no need to attend shows.
The time of the year matters
If you are only interested in fishing for real salmon (Chinook), it is best to start the season. Lately, Chinook seasons have been truncated and even closed at times, so keep that uncertainty in mind. Personally, I like to fish for silver, because they are more abundant, and I can also try rockfish and sometimes halibut on the same day.
Despite its bad press, I find that the delicate flesh of roses taken directly from salt water is excellent. In addition, the fishing season of these species is much longer than that of the powerful king. But salmon species are quite site specific, so check with the fish and game to find out when the fish you want appears in the waters you are considering.
Stay away from the crowds
If you want to catch a large number of fish without spending hours in a boat arriving at good fishing spots, opt for a shelter outside the tourist circuit. That means that staying in a motel in a city like Juneau or Ketchikan and hiring a daily guide will usually require a significant trip to get away from popular and heavily fished areas.
You can still have excellent fishing, but I am not interested in being in a boat for two hours to and from a good fishing. I want to be fighting a salmon within an hour of getting on board. I made remote and self-guided trips in Alaska through rivers and lakes with friends and had a great time, but if you want to go home with many fish, it is best to choose a remote shelter and hire a guide. .
Most accommodations include the cost of the daily guide service in their price, but some also offer self-guided options, so shop carefully. For my money, a good guide in remote waters is worth its weight in gold.
You know what you're buying
Be sure to consider all your costs when deciding which lodge to go to. An accommodation that I especially like includes a floating plane flight from Juneau, a daily guide service, nice cabins, excellent food, fabulous fishing, as well as cleaning, packing and frozen fillets for transportation on the airlines and transportation back to Juneau
When looking at other accommodations, I have noticed that some do not specifically include transportation from a city to your accommodation, so be sure to call local flight services to calculate the cost of getting to and from the accommodation. Also, ask how much weight each passenger is allowed and how much additional fish boxes will cost.
Speaking of costs, know how much your commercial airline will charge for additional boxes of fish. Prices can be outrageously expensive once a limit of two suitcases or boxes of fish passes. To save on shipping costs, I only carry a backpack of clothes with me to Alaska, so I still get two 50-pound boxes of fish on a flight for a reasonable amount of money.
In the "know what you are buying" category, be careful when booking a flight back home the day you return to the city from your remote accommodation.
Time dictates flight schedules in Alaska, and I have seen fishermen desperately trying to book flights when floating planes are on the ground. One year, even the large private catamaran I was in was unable to operate due to the weather, but the full-service hotel got all of its customers on an Alaska state ferry that took us on a beautiful 8-hour trip. , until we return to Juneau, for those fishermen who booked a commercial flight the same day.
You will be charged an arm and a leg to book again on short notice, so don't do it. Instead, book a motel near the airport that has a freezer to store your fish boxes overnight. Yes, it will cost you, but not as much as rebooking a lost flight.
While doing so, do not book connecting flights too close together. Alaska offers many delayed flights due to the weather, so keep that in mind. I never book a connection less than two hours on my return flight.
Keep these tips in mind and you'll be on your way to booking the Alaskan fishing trip of your life! ISI