View Mobile Site

(Re)fund the trip of a lifetime

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED April 13, 2011 1:12 a.m.
I read about Alaska a lot because as a fisherman, writer and subscriber of multiple fishing magazines, the state tends to gets at least a casual mentioning if not a full-grown piece of feature writing every month.

There are float planes, secluded lodges, huge fish but a lot that goes unsaid on those glossy pages. If we do a little research we discover the reality is that our trips will probably never be the same as what we read or see on TV because we don’t have the cash or sponsors to do it big.

There are places in Alaska I will never see, and never fish unless I catch the story of a lifetime make a ton of money, in which case I’d probably just buy mom’s house. Anyway, I have never wet a line in the Kenai or Copper rivers or never touched any body of water that drains into Bristol Bay.

Not because I have better places, but because Alaska is huge and pretty expensive to check out in detail. But I do know southeast Alaska.

So as a fellow fisherman, not just a writer with nothing else to talk about (I’ll tell the carp story next week), here’s what I would do this summer if I wasn’t already going home to mix in some fishing with the annual chores, had never been to Alaska and could scratch together the means to do what I’ve always drooled.

I’d call Chuck Haydu at Alaska Kingfisher Lodge in Craig, Alaska, and book a trip to catch king salmon, halibut, and ling cod off the legendary shores of Prince of Wales Island.

The Haydu’s are locals, and their spot is prime — of course this can be said of just about any business on the island.

A terminal run of king salmon fin right past the lodge and a 100-foot waterfall is reachable by kayak or trailblazing. I wouldn’t recommend the trailblazing, because Alaskan’s get upset when their tax dollars go to paying for search and rescues of non-residents that lose track of their limits.

The mountain that rises up behind the lodge is one of the most popular hikes on the island, though popular is relative on an island of 3,000 people. Crowded it is not and it should have considerably less snow than I trudged through a few weeks ago.

Most adventures cost $2,000 to $3,000 for half a week of fishing, lodge accommodations and airfare from the nearest major airport in Ketchikan which is about $600 round trip from Sacramento.

If that sounds like your tax return, in addition to the Haydu family-run lodge there are plenty of options such as the Fireweed Lodge and A Place to Stay in Klawock and all around the edges of Prince of Wales. The Chamber of Commerce has a list of events and accommodations at www.princeofwalescoc.org.

If I wanted a do-it-myself adventure on the nation’s third largest island, I might consider McFarland’s Floatel on the eastern shore near Thorne Bay. It’s one of a bunch of cabin rentals available for extended stays.

The 2011 summer special at McFarland’s is an 880 square foot fully-stocked cabin for two people in a protected inlet across from town for $195 per night.

It’s the “How to be an Alaskan” kit, as skiffs, fishing gear and crab pots are available for rent.

If you are going to brag to your friends about how you ‘did Alaska’, how much cooler will it sound if you guided yourself, and you stayed for an entire week and still spent less money.

No matter which route you choose, unlike the properties that put you northeast of nowhere, many of the town lodges in Southeast and Southwest Alaska offer culture. It’s not a place filled with tourists, it’s a collection of towns busy with visitors. You will be hosted by real people taking breaks from their winter jobs to run lodges, bed and breakfasts, cabins or charters during the summer.

As a result the trip takes on another dimension. You can decide for yourself if Papa’s or Zat’s makes the best pizza on the island, or find which places have things like, “free coffee Friday”.

You might meet the tax guy that is a commercial fisherman during the summer, and kayaked 800 miles from San Felipe to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico last winter.

So there you go. It’s what I know. It won’t guarantee you fish, it still costs money, but it’s Alaska on a budget that might work for normal people.

To contact Jeff Lund, email aklund21@gmail.com.
Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...