40 Years In Alaska

I’ll get to my Alaska fishing trip in a moment, but 2018 is going down as a big year by a few different measures. First, in June I left my company after 17+ years of service to take a break from the rat race and spend more quality time with my family. Second, I crossed over the top of the hill this summer turning 40 years old. Between kid sports, traveling, fishing, camping, cooking & kid sports (did I say that already), I didn’t prioritize writing. I’ve got some catching up to do.

Plan A, Freshwater

For some reason, it’s “a thing” to plan a big trip, party, etc. for a milestone birthday. It might be the introvert in me and the desire for minimal attention, but I’ve always thought that was a bit silly. On the contrary, as I approached the big four 0 I found myself wanting to do an Alaskan fishing trip to mark the milestone. Not the attention grabber of a party but a larger scale moment of celebration nonetheless. I suppose my version of a party or celebration involves time on the water away from the masses.

The problem in making this happen is everything Alaskan is magnificent and overwhelming. Each February as I’ve walked through the Northwest Sportsmen’s show, I’ve been mesmerized by the number of Alaskan lodge and outfitter options. Most of which come with a price that bring the cliche “once in a lifetime” to a whole new level. As luck would have it, my friend Ryan came to the bank account rescue. His father Dave’s best friend (also named Dave) moved from Minnesota to Anchorage several years back. It turned out Alaska Dave has a big camper trailer and a prime spot where he’s been camping and catching Copper River Salmon for 17 years and wanted some additional company. After several emails and phone calls this spring, I was booked on my first Alaskan fishing trip.

Plan B, Saltwater

Ryan and I landed in Anchorage expecting to make the 4+ hour trip northwest to the fresh water Klutina and Copper rivers for bank and raft fishing. When we met up with the two Daves, we were faced with a decision to make. We could either head on as planned, or do a complete 180 and head south 2.5 hours to the saltwater of Seward. The dilemma came from the low salmon counts on the Copper River.  There was a high probably the Alaska Department of Fish and Game would shut down fishing just as we arrived. Standing in the driveway with Dave’s camper loaded for the Klutina, we played the odds and chose Seward. It was the right choice as within in a few hours, the Copper and tributaries were temporarily closed.

Plan B was towing the camper and Dave’s 26’ ocean boat to Seward for salmon, halibut, and rock-fish. Not bad for a plan B. Our week in Seward wasn’t lights out by Alaskan standards but pretty good for Oregon expectations. Fishing from the boat, I was able to catch my first Alaskan halibut. From the bank, I hooked into my first Red salmon using a technique I’ll write about in the future. I couldn’t leave Alaska without some King Salmon. On the morning of our red-eye flight home, we decided to give it one last shot. While fishing the Eklutna Tailrace bank north of Anchorage, I caught the Alaskan King I came for.