North, to Alaska?

By: J.D. Richey
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Judging by the number of emails I've been receiving lately, there are a lot of folks out there looking to do some fishing in Alaska this summer. No big surprise, considering how it looks like we may have some pretty severe angling restrictions both inland and offshore this summer due to our salmon collapse. Most of the people who've been checking in have been asking me for suggestions on where to go and what lodges I recommend, but that's kind of a tough thing to answer. Before you can get too far along in this process, you first have to ask yourself a few questions. I guess the most important thing to consider is what exactly are you looking for? I know it's a bit of an open-ended query, but you really have to have a picture in your mind of what your ideal trip looks like and then start taking the steps to make it happen. There are lots of different types of trips you can take in Alaska ” for example, are you a dyed-in-the wool dry fly enthusiast who would be happy catching rainbows and grayling in small streams all week? Perhaps you're looking to catch a giant king salmon on the Kenai or maybe you just want the thrill of hooking 50 humpies in a day on light spinning tackle. Do you want to land a halibut the size of a garage door or would you like to mooch for high-flying silvers? Maybe a combo trip is what you're looking for ” a nice mix of saltwater fishing along with a few days on a salmon-stuffed creek. Once you get a basic idea in mind, you can greatly narrow down the search. Also, think about the type of lodging you want. In Alaska, you can go as simple as renting a car and staying in cabins, motels or B&B's or you can go the 5-star full service luxury fly-in lodge route ” or anything in-between. Keep in mind that nothing's cheap in Alaska and there are not a lot of screaming deals because they have such a short tourism season up there. Figure an average of $150-$200/night for hotels in most areas and daily guided fishing typically runs $200-$300/per person. Lodges can easily run $2,000 to $7,000 per week, which isn't all that bad, really, when you consider I paid $940 to rent a car in Cordova for five days last summer. After you've identified what it is you want to do in Alaska, it's time to get online and start kicking tires. Once you've found a few lodges that look interesting, pick up the phone and make a call. There's no substitute for talking in person with somebody ” if somebody's grumpy or rude, keep going and find somebody with whom you feel comfortable. Be sure to ask a lot of questions because it's really hard to get a true sense of a place on the Internet. A dumpy little lodge may have an awesome Web page and vise-versa. Before you bust out the Visa card and make a deposit, it's also a good idea to check if there are any other costs besides the price you're being quoted. Most fly-in operations include your floatplane ride from the nearest town in the package price, but it doesn't hurt to check. Also inquire about gratuities, fishing license fees and shipping costs for your fish boxes. Do the research now and you should have a great trip this summer!