By Charlene Mixa
A “Reel” Fish Story: Salmon Fishing in Alaska
Ketchican, Alaska the “Salmon Capital of the World” is the perfect place to go sport fishing for salmon. Five varieties of North Pacific salmon abound in the frigid waters off Ketchikan. A friend had recently returned from Alaska, saying salmon fishing is a MUST for anyone going to the 49th state.
After careful research on our Alaska cruise we book the “Chartered Salmon Fishing” with Ketchikan Charter Boats. Our cruise ship, the Coral Princess docks in Ketchikan on a foggy, cloudy, damp morning. Attired in warm clothes, we are among the first passengers off the ship around 6:30 AM. We meet our contact and take a short walk to Ketchikan Charter Boats, Inc. The manager checks us and gives us our required Alaska Fishing license. It looks like we are the only two scheduled for the charter, when a young man signs up to join our group.
Skipper Robby drives us several miles to a dock to board the “Lady O”. By 7:00 AM the four of us are aboard the “Lady O” heading out into the cloud covered waters off of Ketchikan. The Skipper begins to set the poles with bait and weights from the outriggers. He explains that the weights will keep the bait at a certain level, 30 – 40 feet for trolling for Salmon. Then it is a wait and see if we get any bites. Looking out over the water, we are the only boat.
Wham! Within a few minutes there’s a hit, the Skipper signals Richard to take the rod and start reeling. Richard is reeling in and you can see the rod bending from the weight of the fish. He stays cool and slowly reels in our first fish of the day. An 11-12 pound Silver (Coho) Salmon. The Skipper brings the fish in with a net and drops it on the deck of the boat. It is flopping around and he knocks it on the head. Everyone is excited. Richard holds up the salmon for a great photo. From the smile on his face, I decide that if we don’t catch anything else all day, the excursion was worth it. Just as we start to relax there is another hit, the Skipper signals to Chris who starts reeling in his catch. It is a big one – over 15 pounds! Chris is 6 ‘8” tall and fittingly caught the biggest fish. Another bite! I get the nod and start reeling in my first fish “ever”. Richard tells me to brace the rod on my hip. The adrenaline is pumping but I stay reasonably calm as I bring in my fish! Wow! This is perfect we each have caught a fish. I am “HAPPY” and it would be okay if the excursion ended now.
The fun has only just begun. The activity continues for a total of 11 Silver Salmon for the morning, Richard with four fish, Chris with three catches (all big ones) and me with four (one was too small and tagged). The fish weigh from eight to fifteen pounds. Most of our fish are all caught before 9:30AM. Amazing, we didn’t see any other charter excursions until after 9:30AM. Skipper Robby sure knew his business to get us out early.
How much does it cost to have 36 pounds of salmon packed and shipped to Florida? The prep and filleting was only $60.00 but the air shipping/packing was $135.00. It was worth it! The experience was fantastic! Whenever anyone asks what we enjoyed most about our Alaska trip, we both chime in with the “Salmon Fishing”. To me the smile on Richard’s face as he reeled in his first fish, will always be a special memory. His total happiness shows in the picture. The extra benefit is each week as we enjoy our salmon filet we relive our exciting salmon fishing adventure.
To book directly go to Ketchikan Charter Boats, Inc, P.O. Box 9076, Ketchikan, AK 99901.