Posts Tagged ‘Alaskan attractions’

Travel and Vacation in Alaska

Travel and Vacation in AlaskaLots of people travel to Alaska each year for a vacation, whether it be just a trip to see the sights and to experience some of those the great Alaskan attractions, or whether it be a specific get-away from everyday life such as an Alaskan cruise or to try the great Alaskan fishing.

For many people, Alaskan vacations have been a once-in-a-lifetime goal but it is becoming more common for people now to return over and over as they get a taste of the greatness of the attractions that Alaska has to offer. People sample the beauty of nature in Alaska, with its bountiful wildlife and beautiful views and they get a sense of freedom as they realize just how much empty space Alaska has to offer and how few people there are to take it in.

Let’s face it, Alaska has many views and many experiences that cannot be had anywhere else in the world. I refer to things like humpback killer whales that make a game of putting on displays for the visitors and hundreds of glaciers that seem to calve on demand just to show off their stuff to those who come to see. I refer to the thousands of bears who just want to eat salmon and don’t care who is watching and photographing them while they do it. Even the plentiful presence of the thousands bald eagles everywhere seems to further ingrain this beauty and sense of freedom into our subconscious minds.

Alaska is one of the last frontiers. The reality of things is that it likely will remain so. There aren’t all that many people who are willing to endure the harsh, dark winters there to make it a permanent home and so for the most part, Alaska becomes a summer playground for those who are attracted to its beauty, its grandeur, its freedom, and its bounty.

According to Alaska’s Resource Development Council statistics, 1 out of every 3 visitors to Alaska now is a repeat visitor. They say that almost all of these visitors came first on a cruise ship but are now coming on their own to see and do all of the things that they first saw from a distance on their cruise. They came once and got hooked by what they saw and now want and are taking the opportunity to explore and to experience more in-depth, the things that interest them.

So, whether your tastes are for wild and exciting, or even if they run to tame and quiet, Alaskan travel is definitely something that should be on your list of things to do. You too may be hooked by what you see.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - August 23, 2012 at 12:38 am

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Hunting the Alaskan Salmon Shark

Salmon shark

Salmon Shark photo from NOAA

Fishing… or rather hunting the Salmon Shark is one of the newest fads in sport fishing in Alaska. The Alaskan version of the salmon shark is a lean, mean, salmon eating machine. The salmon shark is the newest offering of several sport fishing charters along the coast of central Alaska.

Averaging from 7-8 feet in length and reaching up to 1000 lbs in weight, salmon sharks are notorious eaters of Alaskan Salmon. A study of salmon sharks in 1989 showed that the salmon shark ate between 12% and 25% of all of the salmon in Alaska’s entire Prince William Sound during that year. The salmon shark is a very close cousin to the famous “Jaws” or great white shark.

The salmon shark is migratory spending the summers in Alaskan waters at the same time as the salmon runs and then moving further south during the coldest months. Their diet is made up of mostly salmon, squid, and herring. They will attack and run down their prey with incredible speed. In fact, they are believed to be the fastest fish in the ocean world-wide. They can be found anywhere from the surface down to depths of 500 feet or more.

The salmon shark is gaining popularity as a sport fish due largely to their abundance and to their hard-fighting ability which can challenge even the most adept angler. Fishing methods include the use of heavy line and steel leaders due to the presence of the many sharp teeth. A salmon carcass of course would be the bait of choice.

There currently is no commercial fishing allowed for the salmon shark but sport fishing is permitted throughout Alaska’s waters. The salmon shark’s flesh is said to taste similar to swordfish. The meat needs to be bled and processed as soon as possible after the catch but the meat freezes and keeps well.

If you are looking for a thrill and you consider yourself up to the task, try out the newest “thing” in Alaskan fishing and give hunting the Alaskan Salmon Shark a try. Be careful though. It has been said that they are just as dangerous out of the water, on the boat deck, as they are in the water.

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2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - August 4, 2012 at 12:33 am

Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Shrimping in Alaska

Alaskan Spotted Shrimp

Spotted Shrimp
photograph from Alaska Dept Fish & Game Website

One of the newest fads in Alaskan fishing is shrimp catching. If you have ever eaten fresh shrimp in Alaska, you will understand why that is. Alaska’s shrimp have gotten themselves quite a reputation among the locals and the visitors.

Alaska has four species of shrimp that are recognized by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. These four species are:

  • Coonstripe Shrimp. Coonstripe shrimp are medium to large in size. They are the second largest of the shrimp found in Alaska, usually averaging 4 to 7 inches in length. They are identified by a dark striped pattern on their abdomen.
  • Northern Shrimp.  Northern shrimp are a medium sized shrimp, slightly smaller than the coonstripe. They are a solid pinkish color with no other markings. They are also known as pink shrimp or spiny shrimp due to extra spines not found on other varieties of shrimp. They are a different species than the pink shrimp found in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Sidestriped Shrimp.  Sidestriped shrimp are slightly larger than the coonstriped shrimp. They are a pinkish-orange color. They have white stripes running the length of their bodies. They are slightly skinnier than the coonstripe variety. They have extremely long antennae on their heads.
  • Spotted Shrimp.  Spotted shrimp are by far the largest of the Alaskan shrimp, reaching up to 12 inches in length. They are identified by their dark red to tannish color and have a white spot at the beginning and at the end of their body section on each side.

 

Shrimp are caught in “shrimp pots”. A shrimp pot is basically a cage or trap. They come in various sizes and shapes. A rope is attached to the pot and the pot is filled with bait and then dropped out of the boat. It is weighted so that it will sink to the bottom. A buoy is left attached to the top of the rope so that the pot can be located later. After a few hours the pot is pulled up, hopefully full of tasty little shrimp.

The bait used can be anything from cat food to salmon carcasses to store-bought pelleted bait. Herring oil or other strong smelling fish oils can make your bait work better.

Shrimp pots are generally placed between 400 and 700 feet deep and near rocky  outcrops. underwater pinnacles and rock-slides. The experts suggest that an extra 15% to 25 % of length be left on your rope to be sure that your pot doesn’t get lost with the tides and the currents.

Catching shrimp in Alaska requires an Alaskan fishing license and a shrimp permit. The regulations and limits vary widely from area to area with some places being closed entirely so be sure to check the current regulations from the ADF&G before you go. The season on shrimp runs from April 15 thru Sept 15.

As with fish and crabs, shrimp can be flash frozen and transported home but be sure that you try some fresh cooked shrimp right out of the water. You will be glad that you did.

The magazine article  found here is an interesting read about catching shrimp in Alaska if you want more information. Also, the ADF&G information on shrimp can be found HERE.

As with crabs, Paralytic seafood poisoning could potentially be a problem with shrimp although it hasn’t been found so far. Shrimpers are encouraged to read the latest warnings about PSP from the ADF&G. That warning sheet can be found  at PSP Warning.

 

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - July 5, 2012 at 12:49 am

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Forest Service Cabins Available to Fishermen

forest service cabin in Alaska

Picture of the Alsek River Cabin from Forest Service Website at http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/cabins/yakutat/alsek_river.shtml

I have written a lot about the fishing lodges and fishing guide services in Alaska but there is a whole other side of this coin that hasn’t much been covered here at FishingTripToAlaska.

There are many, many people who come here and just fish on their own. They come to catch salmon, steelhead, trout, dolly varden, grayling, or any number of other species in the rivers, lakes, and streams in Alaska. Yes, many of them fish the ocean also, completely on their own. Not many people hear about these stalwart folks who just come, fish, and do their own thing.

If this sounds more like your kind of fishing or maybe your kind of budget, I have a great tip for you in today’s post.

The US Forest Service in Alaska has some cabins located within the boundaries of the two National Forests and scattered throughout the State of Alaska. These cabins are located in some of Alaska’s best fishing and hunting locations and are available for rent for up to a week at a time. These cabins will accommodate from 2 to 6 people and rent for $25 to $45 per night.

Some of these cabins are along the ocean while others are located inland on some of Alaska’s rivers and lakes. Most are accessible only by floatplane or by boat. There are approximately 40 of these cabins in the Chugach National Forest which encompasses the Eastern Kenai Peninsula, Prince William Sound and the Copper River areas around the town of Seward. There are another approximately 175 cabins within the Tongass National Forest which covers most of the Inside Passage from Ketchican to Yakutat.

These cabins are maintained and kept in good condition by the Forest Service however, don’t expect a luxury hotel. Most of the cabins have a stove (either wood or oil burning), a wooden table with benches, wooden sleeping platforms, good solid log walls and a waterproof roof.

You of course have to bring your own food, fuel, sleeping and cooking gear and equipment. There is no electricity, plumbing, telephone or drinking water. Even cell phone service may or not be available. Not luxurious but much better than a tent. Some of the cabins do have a rowboat with oars thrown in with the deal.

During the summer, stays are limited to 7 days or ten days during the rest of the months. Reservations are taken up to 180 days before the desired stay. These cabins are popular and fill up fast during the fishing and hunting seasons so reserve early.

The following links will give you much more information on locations, facilities, rules, and availability of the cabins.

 

Tongass National Forest

Cabin General Information   (+/- 175 cabins) 

Cabin Listing by Name     (specific locations and details)

Cabin Listing by Map     (general location of cabins)

 

Chugach National Forest

Cabin Listing  (+/- 40 cabins)

Cabin General Area Map

 

All reservations are made through http://www.recreation.gov/ . Choose Alaska as the WHERE then CAMPING & LODGING then CABINS as the final choice box.

More information can also be obtained from the Juneau Forest Service Office (phone 907-586-8751)

 

I hope that you will find the information useful in planning your own Alaskan Fishing Adventure. 

 

UPDATE  7-24-12 I recently came across this link that is a very concise summary of what to expect at these cabins. Very good information.

 

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - June 28, 2012 at 6:10 am

Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Northern Lights in Alaska

Northern lights over Alaskan fishing tripOne of the extremely cool things that you could experience while fishing in Alaska is the aurae borealis or northern lights.

The northern lights are an extreme wonder to those of us that don’t live in a northern latitude and haven’t seen them before. Just imagine the entire sky full of  vertical streamers of bright greens, blues, and/or reds.

The northern lights are caused by the reaction of certain electrical charges that come from solar winds reacting with the Earth’s outermost atmosphere.  This energy combines with the presence of oxygen or nitrogen in the air to form the different colors.

The northern lights are invisible in the daytime. With Alaska’s constant daylight in the summertime, this treat is reserved for the early spring and fall time visitors. The best viewing months are from late August through early April and the best times of day are usually from 11 pm until 2 am.

There are ways of predicting the solar winds and thus, northern lights, but they aren’t extremely accurate. Mostly the northern lights come as a surprise treat for the avid fisherman who spends a little time…fishing in Alaska. 😀

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - June 15, 2012 at 7:58 am

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Fishing in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Midnight sun over the mountains in AlaskaI have written over and over about Alaska’s beauty and about her natural resources and about her bounteous fishing. Today I will mention another thing that could come as a surprise to some visitors. Alaska is sometimes called the “Land of the Midnight Sun.”

Due to Alaska’s far north location, the sun acts differently than it does for the rest of us in the US. Alaska is so far north that when the sun moves South during the winter time, it ceases to shine in Alaska for a few weeks. On the sun’s return trip north, it does the opposite. It shines all of the time. While the night time does darken some and the sun does disappear over the horizon, it never does completely get dark. As we all know, June 21 is the longest day of the year. So, for a few weeks on either side of this date, there is essentially no darkness.

This is just one more thing that could take the average newbie fisherman to Alaska by surprise but it could be a great advantage to the fisherman in Alaska on a limited time trip. It theoretically makes it possible to fish 24/7 for a few weeks during what is already some of the best fishing time of the year. 😀

I had heard the term but didn’t associate the meaning until I experienced it for the first time. When I spent my first night out in a boat in Alaska, I was pleasantly surprised that, while it got darker, it never got dark enough to hamper seeing my fishing lines or to interfere with driving the boat even at midnight and the wee hours of the morning.

To me, this is just another bonus that helps make Alaska the fishing capitol of the world.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - June 6, 2012 at 12:19 am

Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Freshwater Fishing, Halibut, Salmon   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tracy Arm Fjord, Before You Fish

Tracy Arm Fjord iceThe Tracy Arm Fjord is another of the very popular tourist sites in Alaska.

A fjord is a long narrow deep channel of water that has been cut out of the surrounding rock. Fjords usually have high rocks cliffs that tower over them. In the case of the Tracy Arm, there are granite walls about 3000 feet high that line the narrow passage. The Tracy Arm Fjord is located roughly 45 miles south of Juneau, Alaska.  It is approximately 35 miles long. It has become a very popular destination and is accessible by boat or by float plane.

Many of the cruise ships and lots of the smaller day-trip boat operators frequently pass through the fjord. Its shorelines are dotted with frequent waterfalls caused by melting snow high up in the hills. Trees grow from the rocky walls at odd angles. Wildlife is also plentiful along the passage.

At the end of the fjord are the twin Sawyer Glaciers. While they are not the most famous or the biggest of Alaska’s glaciers, many people say that they are the most dramatic. They are framed by large mountains on either side and are often covered in a mist that amplifies and accentuates the deep translucent blue color of the ice. They really are an impressive sight. These glaciers are famous for the enormous slabs that calve off from their faces. The fjord is literally full of the remains of this glacial calving, with icebergs the size of large apartment buildings being commonplace. The entire length of the Fjord will be full of small pieces of floating ice.

I realize that that this is not an Alaskan fishing topic but for many people, their trip to Alaska may be a one-time thing. I always thought that my first trip would be that way. Little did I know just how captivating Alaska would be. I have been able to see and experience many beautiful and wonderful sights in Alaska and I wish to offer others the insight that I have gained in order to make their trip a little more pleasant and enjoyable.

If you have the time, there are many side trips that will fit well with a fishing trip to Alaska. They will give you a better view and a wider experience as you visit Alaska from faraway places. The Tracy Arm Fjord is one such place. It is well worth the time to work it into your fishing trip agenda.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - June 5, 2012 at 12:06 am

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Denali National Park Visit

Mt McKinley in Denali National ParkAnother of the exciting, interesting and educational activities to add to your list of possible side trips during your fishing trip to Alaska is a visit to  Denali National Park. Denali Park is located in central Alaska in between Anchorage and Fairbanks and gets about 400,000 visitors per year. Denali is accessible by car, plane, or by the Alaskan railroad system.

Denali Park has about 6 million acres of wild country full of the wild terrain, beautiful views, and wild animals that Alaska is famous for. Of course, Denali National Park is home to Mount McKinley which is the highest peak in the US and in North America. Mount McKinley stands at a little over 20,000 feet in height. In the native language Denali means “the High One”.

Some of the possibilities for things to do at Denali are backpacking, hiking, cycling, photography, camping, bus tours, plane tours or flightseeing, animal/bird viewing, and a myriad of other activities.

Denali is home to many if not most of Alaska’s large mammals including 39 species ranging from grizzlies and wolves to caribou, moose, and Dall’s sheep. Also to be found are more than 150 species of birds ranging from gulls and terns to ptarmigan. One species of critter that is scarce in Denali are fish as the rivers there are poor habitat for fish. The fish that are to be found within the park are more likely to be found along the far western border of the park where the rivers are deeper and slower. Probably not the place to wet a worm.

Fall View of Mt. McKinley in Denali National ParkDenali has several teams of sled dogs that work the park on a regular basis, hauling rangers, scientists, researchers, and others along with their gear and equipment to places within the park. The dogs play a very important part of the operations of the park.

One very dramatic way to experience Denali is from the air with a “flightseeing” trip either from a plane or from a helicopter. From the air, one can cover a huge amount of territory from the mountain ranges to the flat planes and grasslands to the glaciers. One may view the wildlife, plant life, and possible even you may see other hikers and mountain climbers doing their thing. These flights are available in either the plane or the helicopter version. These flights even can land on the glaciers for a “hands-on” experience.

Denali also has several roads and trails that are open to cyclists. If you are into cycling, this may be the perfect opportunity for you to sightsee from the seat of a bicycle.

There are also bus tours that will cover large areas of the park. These tours come complete with a guide who can explain the natural scenes, wildlife, and other sights that are found along the way.

If you enjoy nature and all of the things that come with it, a trip to Denali National Park before your fishing trip may be just the thing that you are looking for. Check it out and see if it may be a fit for you. Use the link below for more information.

 

Denali National Park Information Page

 

Denali Park Live Webcam

 

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - June 1, 2012 at 12:24 am

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Alaskan Glaciers

Chenega Glacier in AlaskaOne of Alaska’s great attractions are its glaciers. There are many of them and they draw thousands of visitors each year.

In fact, Alaska has over 100,000 glaciers. In spite of this large number, only 5% of the state’s landmass in covered in ice. Alaska has some very favorable conditions that lead to the formation and preservation of glacial ice. Yes, cold temperatures are a part of it but also needed are favorable wind currents, mountains, and the right amount of humidity. Alaska has just the right combination of these critical conditions.

Glaciers once covered a large part of the northern part of the Earth. Over thousands of years they have gradually retreated to a relatively small number and area. Glaciers are formed by an accumulation of snow that never melts. Over many years,, the snow gets deeper and finally, with the weight and pressure, it becomes a glacier.

Glaciers “flow” downhill, just like a river does. Where they reach the ocean, large chunks of ice breaks off of the bottom end of the glacier and fall into the sea. This is what is called “calving”. Sometimes these blocks of ice are the size of buildings.

The color of glacial ice varies from white to a deep blue, depending on the thickness of the ice, the density, and the composition of the ice. Generally, they appear deep blue from a distance. My first ever sighting of a glacier was from the window of my Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Juneau. It was an impressive sight from the air.

The Hubbard Glacier near Yakut has the largest calving face of all of the glaciers in Alaska. Its calving face is 6 miles long. It is still growing, getting larger and longer every year. The Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau can be seen from town and gets lots of visitors each year. It is part of the Juneau Icefield that is about 1500 square miles in size and feeds 38 glaciers of which the Mendenhall is one. Glacier Bay Park is a very popular attraction along the Inside Passage for the cruise ships, kayakers, and for the flightseers (people who hire a plane to fly them over the glaciers for the purpose of seeing and photographing them from the air).

Flightseeing, helicopter tours, charter boats and kayaking  and on-glacier ground tours are among the many options available to visitors who want to see the icefields and glaciers. Most of the glaciers have been made into National parks and will have their own ranger station. These ranger stations will have lots of information on the best ways to visit and experience the glaciers within their jurisdiction. Contact them for ideas and information on how to have the best time at their glacier. The Alaskan part of the National Park system can be found HERE

Glaciers are a fascinaing part of nature. They are interesting to see and to study. They have played a large role in the history of the world, being involved in the evolution of many of the species of plant and animal life that are or have been found on the Earth.  They might be worth a little of your time during your next  fishing trip to Alaska.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - May 29, 2012 at 12:06 am

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Cruising Alaska

Cruise ship in Alaska - Tracy Arm Fjord

Click Picture for full-size

Today’s Alaskan fishing blog post is going to go in a little different direction. Let’s face it, fishing in Alaska isn’t for everyone. Maybe you or someone close to you would never take the plunge to go fishing. My wife is one of those. Bring the halibut home and she will be first in the serving line for the deep-fried halibut but ask her to go fish Alaska with me…. not a chance.

I would love to get my wife to Alaska. I know that she would love the scenery, the people, and the beauty and grandeur of it all.  I am a realist enough to know that she will never commit to accompany me unless I use subversion. The only way that I will ever get her there is to trick her into it. This is where the cruise lines come in.

You see, cruises are a totally different way to see and experience the Alaskan attractions. It brings all of the comforts of home along. In fact, it brings along more than just the comforts of home. It offers anyone the opportunity to view, touch, and EXPERIENCE Alaska without getting dirty, cold, uncomfortable, or even getting up out of their seat.

Many different cruise lines serve the Alaskan waters. Alaskan cruises can begin in far off places like Vancouver, British Columbia or Seattle, WA or they can begin in any of several different Alaskan ports. Cruises come in varying lengths from 3 days to 3 weeks. A cruise can cover all of Alaska or just a few small parts of it.

Trust me, the cruise lines know how to cater to the Alaskan newbie. They know all of the best and most popular places and will get you there in a hands-on type of way. Some of them will pull right up alongside of a glacier, guests lining the rails, and motor along close enough that the guests can almost reach out and touch the glacial ice without ever leaving the boat. They will spend a day covering a particularly scenic area at low speed for your viewing enjoyment and then at night while you sleep, they can make a high-speed dash for the next area. When you awake, you are ready for the next treat.

Most cruises offer side trips during the days. This is where I will get in my fishing fix while my wife sits poolside or checks out the ship’s massage parlor. In addition, one can go and see the glaciers from the air or even land on one and go for a hike. Other side trips options  could also include dog sledding, gold mining, hiking, wildlife viewing, whale watching, and any number of other things found in Alaska. Some cruise lines even offer extended overnight trips by train to inland places like Denali National Park.

And for dining, I have eaten well at the fishing lodges but it will never compare to the endless buffets and fine dining found on a cruise ship. Something about flying the food in to the fish camp just about guarantees that it will never quite compete. Cruise ships are legendary in their reputation for great food.

Cruise ships typically cruise Alaska from May through Mid-September. The most popular months are June, July, and August when the temps are the warmest. If you are looking for a cheaper cruise, try May or September as they are a little bit harder months to book and thus the cruise lines often offer a little bit better deals.

Current cruise prices can be as low as the $600 range for the cheaper rooms and off-peak times and can go as high as the $3000 range for the fancy suites in the peak of the season. Cruises can be a very interesting way to experience Alaska and for some people, it may be the only way that they will ever experience Alaska.

Click on the banner below to see current prices on the Alaskan cruise of your dreams. I, for one, will be trying them out real soon.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by AlaskaJim - May 28, 2012 at 12:10 am

Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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