A float plane tilts a wing toward a peaceful river and you see within a seemingly endless forest a lodge and a handful of wooden cabins. That's often the first experience of fishing trip to an Alaskan wilderness lodge, and it gets better from there.
First, a warning for local this addresses Los Angeles residents. This is the type of angling (lawn chairs) anglers do here. anglers: Leave the water coolers, lawn chairs and lazy yawns. Alaskan fishing is an active, sometimes frenzied enterprise in which anglers often latch on to a sizeable fish after one or two casts. And it's not unheard of to hook a dozen fish on consecutive casts before throwing a spoon, a rooster tail or a fly and having it go ignored. Here are a few of many Alaskan wilderness lodge excursions that can make for an unforgettable fishing trip.
Anglers Lodge/Trophy Lodge
Mark Burner is the owner of Anglers Lodge and Trophy Lodge, both right on the Kenai River, which runs through the Kenai peninsula of South Central Alaska.
Burner's lodges offer fishing from the shore or boat, as well as fly-outs, in which you can pay extra to be flown to fish for specific species. But some of the best fishing is feet from the front door, where you can catch a variety of fish.
July brings anglers for the king salmon run. Kings are sought-after because of their large size and fighting ability. "This year it was phenomenal," Burner said. "They probably averaged 30-pounders, I bet." A few, he said, were over 60 pounds.
Katmailand, located in and around the Katmai National Park and Preserve in southern Alaska gives anglers a choice of three lodges, all on a river, so fly-out fishing isn't necessary. But it's available for an extra cost.
Kulik Lodge gives travelers an all-inclusive, higher-end experience. Brooks Lodge offers an a la carte experience in which travelers pay lodging and airfare and can add on just about anything they want. Grosvenor Lodge is more tailored for a group of friends or families with small guest cabins and a small staff. "It's really geared for a private old-time Alaska experience," said Jim Albert, the general manager.
Great Alaska Adventures
Char that average four to eight pounds, grayling up to two pounds, and king salmon averaging 20 pounds – with some up to 60 pounds.
That was the list rattled off by Kent L. John, co-founder of Great Alaska Adventures, in Sterling, Alaska, when asked to talk about the fishing experience his operation offers.
"Variety is the real calling card for us," John said.
Sockeye salmon, pink salmon, silver salmon, rainbow trout and halibut were other fish he added to the list. The operation offers fully guided trips for a day for specific fish, or one can book a week and aim to catch a handful of different species.