Of course you’ve seen fishing photos from Alaska with its rugged landscapes, bears and oversized fish, but do you know the real deal about Alaska?
Here’s the straight truth: This is one place that almost always live up to its reputation as long as you understand the whole package, not just the moments of glory.
I spent years in Alaska as a commercial fisherman and also spent many happy days hiking streams and catching salmon, trout and char. If you're looking for the place that sets the standard for lots of big freakin' fish, this place is it.
Exaggerating is redundant
Texans love to brag about how big everything is in Texas, but Alaskans don’t have to. The country is crazy big, the animals are big, and the fish are big. So are the mosquitos, but we will get to that later. Let’s stick with the fish. Alaska has produced lots of world’s records and routinely produces world-class fish. If it's a small fish, it's bait.
It’s not technical fishing
Every fish species is a little different and every river system is a little different, but it’s a safe rule of thumb that when the fish are there, you can catch them on a fly, and lots of them. Bring lots of flies because salmon teeth will tear them to shreds.
You may see bears
Consider them value added. Alaska has lots of bears. I’ve spent a fair amount of time around bears in Alaska and never felt threatened. It’s exciting as hell to see them, and I always took them seriously, but don’t let bears freak you out. Mosquitos, on the other hand.
Bite, sting and suck
Alaska loves to test you, and insects are one of many ways it does it. They’re not everywhere at all times, but when they find you, they will test your will.
Don’t expect convenience
I’m talking about the bush, not the rivers near towns. You're isolated and things are far away, so be prepared and bring spares.
This is not the place to wrestle with your catch-and-release angst. Smack one of those beautiful fish on the head, fillet it and eat it. You’re being dumb if you don’t. Yeah, I said it.
It won’t be cheap, but it’s still affordable
The logistics of Alaska make things expensive. Most things have to be shipped in or flown in from long distances, which is not cheap or easy. But you can still afford to fish there, you just have to be realistic about your budget and the type of accommodations to expect for the money. Drop camps are a viable option for those looking to get the most value, and it’s a great way to experience Alaska. But when you boil down the cost of the trip and wealth of experience, Alaska is a bargain.
There’s no place else like it
Canada could make a strong argument, but I still contend there’s nothing like Alaska’s combination of big, plentiful fish and wide-open spaces. The rivers are spectacular and the fish will leave you rubber-armed and exhausted with a big-stupid grin on your face.
Nothing is stopping you, but you
Book now, because one of life’s great angling adventures is waiting for you.