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.
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan attractions, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan salmon, herring, Jim Kell, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing
How many of you out there can remember your first fishing trip? How old were you? Can you remember where it was? Did you catch any fish? Who else was there? Spend a minute and see if you can answer these questions.
I don’t know if I can remember exactly which was my first fishing trip. I DO have little bits and pieces of several trips when I was very young. I can remember exactly which fish were caught and while I don’t know the location, I can vividly remember some of the scenery and the details of the location. I also remember my Dad and uncles who also were there.
I know that those early fishing trips were very important in shaping my future as a fisherman but also as a person. Some of the lessons that I learned were very important to my future as I learned lessons about not always winning no matter how bad you want it (the fish didn’t always bite) or about being prepared both physically(gear and clothing) and mentally (learning how to do things the right way). As I grew older, the lessons were more advanced and more personal. I learned that if you were prepared, you were also more successful.
Fast forward a couple of decades… Now it is the memories of my own kids and their first fishing trips. What will they remember? What legacy have I built for them? Will they come to have the same love for fishing that I have? Will they learn and keep a respect and reverence for Nature and all of her accomplishments? Will they be willing to do their part in saving and preserving the birds and the animals and the fish for their kids? Will they learn to live in harmony with all that is out there in the world? Will they learn the same lessons that I have learned? Or, will theirs be different?
I believe that we have a duty to our kids and to all of the kids out there to give them the same opportunities that we were given and to plant in them the seeds that will allow them to develop a confidence in themselves. I believe that fishing should be required for all kids. I think that fishing can bridge a gap between where they are and where they need to be… in many different aspects of their lives.
I would encourage you to take a kid fishing. Teach them how it is done. Give them opportunities to experience nature. Help them learn that the fish aren’t biting every time but that they will bite next time or the time after that. Allow them to lose and to win at the game. Show them that fishing is just like life. Teach them to apply their fishing lessons to their lives.
I believe that fishing can make our kids into winners at the game of life.
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaskan fishing, Alaskan vacation, family fishing, fishing, halibut, Jim Kell, nature, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, trout
As far as I personally am concerned, crab is probably my favorite to eat of all of the sea creatures that are available in Alaska and as good as it tastes at home, it is even better freshly caught and cooked in Alaska.
Alaska is home to several varieties of crab. They are: Red King Crab, Blue King Crab, Golden King Crab, Tanners or Snow Crab, and Dungeness crab. All of these varieties are found in varying quantities and in varying locations within Alaska’s waters. Most commonly found through all of Alaska’s waters are the Dungeness crab.
Also varying are the regulations on crabs. Be sure to check the regulations for the exact waters that you will be on. Basically, crab can be caught and kept at any time if they are for personal use but there are regulations on size and sex that must be followed carefully. Other than following the rules, the only license or permit needed is a normal regular Alaskan fishing license.
Dungeness crab are distributed throughout the waters of southeast Alaska and can be harvested non-commercially year around. Only male Dungeness crab measuring 6.5 inches may be harvested. Anyone with a valid Alaska sport-fishing license can harvest Dungeness crab. However, you should always check the fishing regulations when planning your vacation, as regulations and harvest limits may change.
Crab are caught by dropping a crab pot to the ocean floor. A crab pot is a large trap. They are normally about 3 ½ feet in diameter and 1 ½ feet tall. They are built from a metal frame and then covered with a steel mesh. They have a container in the center to hold the bait (usually fish carcasses or remains). There is an opening where the crabs can enter but not exit.
When the pots are dropped in the ocean, a rope is left attached to the pot and then is attached to a large floating buoy. This buoy will mark the spot of the trap and then the pot can be retrieved by pulling in the rope. Crab pots are left to “soak” for 1 – 2 days before pulling them in to check them and to remove the catch and re-bait.
After the catch, be sure that you eat some of the crab fresh. You will miss a real treat if you don’t. After you eat a few fresh, the rest of them can be cleaned and flash frozen for you to transport back home with you in your fish boxes.
One caution that is given by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game and by public health officials is that paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) has been found in the internal organs of Dungeness crab. This is a toxin that is carried by the crabs inside of their organs. There is no problem as long as the organs are not eaten. Legs, claws, and body meat is OK.
The following links to crabs from the ADF&G will provide more information on catching crabs in Alaska. Look in the section called INVERTEBRATES. There is a section for each species of crab found in Alaska.
Consider giving crabbing a try on your next Fishing Trip To Alaska.
Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan Crab, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan fishing regulations, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, Alaskan vacation, family fishing, fishing, Jim Kell, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, trout
Yes, you read the title correctly. If a bear were to choose where to go to spend his afterlife, I am sure that he would choose to spend it in Alaska. After all, where else could he go to have the best fishing in the world? 😀
All joking aside, Alaska may be just as famous for its bears as it is for its salmon. Alaska has an extremely high number of bears per capita for its geographical area. In plain English that means that Alaska has more bears per square mile than just about anywhere else. In fact, in some parts of the state there is one bear per square mile.
If you are one of those folks who chooses to fish, hike, camp, walk, sight see, etc. anywhere in Alaska’s back-country, you will eventually have a bear experience to tell. In the news just this past week, there were a couple stories of of human-bear encounters in Alaska.
Bears are naturally shy animals. Most of the problems occur when people attract the bears with food or garbage, or when the bears are surprised by the human, usually in the bear’s territory. If you are headed into Alaska and plan to spend some of your time in the woods or fishing the rivers, there are some guidelines that you should follow. It is imperative that you take the necessary precautions or you will end up in a conflict sooner rather than later.
Human food and fish or fish remains are a great problem. When visiting or spending time in bear country it is vital that one develop good habits for storing food and garbage where the bears can’t get to them. Food should be stored in bear-proof containers. Keep garbage and food out of your tent and in places where bears can’t get to them.
When fishing, keep fish and waste where the scent won’t attract the bears. Remember that fish smell and blood smell are great bear attractors and handle your fish accordingly.
The Alaska Dept of Fish and Game has a couple of great articles on how to prevent problems with bears and how to deal with bears if they should show up at your fishing spot. Check out the links below for more information.
Be sure to know how to handle bear encounters before you go. It could save your life or the life of your partner. When the bear shows up, there is no time for Google.
This is part two of a two part post. To access part 1, CLICK HERE.
In the last post we discussed some of the pros and cons of the guided trip. This post will address some of the ins and outs of a self-guided trip.
A self-guided trip can be as simple as a boat rental or as complicated as a semi-supervised adventure. It all depends on the company that you choose to work with. Some supply the boat, rods and reels and that’s it while others offer training or coaching, room and board, and even chase boats to check on and assist you throughout the day.
Some of the pros of a self-guided trip are:
- You call the shots. You decide where, when, how long, and which species of fish you want to fish for. If you want to start early, stay late, take a nap in-between, whatever,… you are the boss.
- You decide how you like to fish. If you want to try something new or different, you have the option to do it. If you want to switch to another species in the middle of the day, you have the freedom to do that. Many times I have targeted salmon early, halibut through the middle of the day, and then finished up with salmon again in the evening. With a guide, that normally wouldn’t happen.
- I have found it to be very thrilling to go out and “do it “ by myself. I have taken a gps unit, driven to the chosen coordinates, dropped a line and caught halibut all on my own with no prior knowledge of the area. I have found this to be extremely fulfilling.
On the other side of the equation, the cons might be:
- No ready source of help or information. No one standing by with tips, suggestions, ideas, when what you are doing doesn’t work. Guides that do this every day do learn how to catch fish. They are good at troubleshooting your setup or presentation.
- Sometimes rented boats, rods, reels, etc. aren’t the best. Someone else used this equipment yesterday or last week and didn’t treat it that well or forgot to report a problem so that it could get fixed.
- Sometimes we just need the boost in confidence that comes with having someone experienced along for the ride. Sometimes we don’t trust ourselves enough to try it on our own.
These are just a few of the questions that one must answer for him/herself when deciding on a trip. Sometime a person just isn’t comfortable going out by themselves for the first time or even ever. There isn’t anything wrong with that. It is all a matter of personal preference.
Personally, I have always fished Alaska on my own (self-guided). I will admit that I was a little nervous about it the first time. One of the guys in my group had done it before and he encouraged me to try it. I DO have a couple of good lodges that I like that offer the self-guided trips. They offer all that they can in the way of support. They are located in the Inside Passage and so one is never out of sight of land. I believe that anyone who can take their own boat out for a trip to the local lake or reservoir for the day can do the same in Alaska with one of these great lodge services AND BE SUCCESSFUL at it.
I have fished other places with guides. Guides also have an important place and also offer a great fishing experience. You must weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself what works for you and what will provide your ultimate experience.
Whether you choose guided or self-guided, ask lots of questions when booking. Know exactly what you will be getting when you arrive and throughout your stay. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from past customers. Don’t hesitate to have them explain everything before you pay out any of your money on a booking.
For part 1 of this post, CLICK HERE
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, family fishing, fishing, halibut, Jim Kell, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing
This is part one of a two part post. To access part 2, CLICK HERE.
One of the most important decisions that must be made when planning a fishing trip to Alaska is the choice of guided trip versus self-guided trip.
With a self-guided trip, basically you will get a boat, fishing gear, and hopefully some good advice to get you started. On the other side, the guided trip will have a guide there to advise and assist throughout the day. Both options have pros and cons.
First, let’s talk guided trip. Some of the pros are:
- The guide drives the boat and chooses the spot. This may be good because a good guide is out regularly and knows where to find the fish.
- He/she will know the location, the bait, the depths, etc. that have been working well recently. The guide will handle the fishing equipment and sometimes even bait your hooks for you.
- A good guide will know his equipment and will have it in good operating condition and will be able to handle any malfunctions/breakdowns that may come up either with the poles, reels, etc. or with the boat.
- A guide will assist in landing and taking care of the fish. Some experience and expertise can be helpful in this area.
On the other side of the equation some of the cons are:
- Most guides work on a preset schedule. You will fish for a certain time frame and then the trip is over. For most guides, this will be a 4-6-8 hour day. If you limit on halibut in an hour, in some cases, you may head back to dock and be done for the day. You definitely won’t have the option to start early or stay later to get “just one more” or the “last one” or whatever the case may be.
- The guide is the boss. What he says goes as far as location, presentation, fishing tactics, bait, etc.
- You don’t have the freedom to do as you please. Maybe the halibut just aren’t biting today. A guided trip may not give you the option to switch to salmon or another species of fish to try to salvage the day.
Guides are definitely a good option. They are in the fishing business and they want you to return. They will do all that they can to keep you happy in most cases. At times their experience can be invaluable, especially if the weather or the fish aren’t being cooperative. While most of my Alaskan experience is with self-guided trips, I can see times where I would have found a guide a handy guy to have around. However, I once went salmon fishing (in Oregon) with a guide where we limited on salmon in an about hour and he was finished for the day. I ended up spending a lot of money for a couple of hours on the water.
to be continued
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, family fishing, fishing, halibut, Jim Kell, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing
Today’s post comes from some information that just recently passed across my desk. It has to do with an undesirable species of fish that is currently running rampant in Alaskan waters. The species of which I speak is the northern pike. Pike are top-level predators in aquatic food chains and are highly piscivorous (fish eating).
Northern pike are a native species in a big part of Alaska but they never existed in South Central and South Eastern Alaska until they were illegally introduced into these waters around 50 years ago. They have adapted very well and by 2010, they have been found in almost 100 different lakes and in over 30 different rivers and streams. They are decimating the native trout and salmon populations in these areas.
In the parts of Alaska that historically had the native northern pike, there are many species of fish and these species are more adapted to living with and being preyed on by the northern pike while in the new areas, trout and salmon are the main species found and they are being wiped out by the pike. The Alaska Fish and Game website goes so far as to say that the pike have totally wiped out the trout and salmon in some of these waters.
In 2010, Alaska declared war on these out of area pike by removing bag limits on them, adding new catch methods including spearing and bowfishing, and by creating public awareness about them. They have created brochures such as the one linked below and even have created a 34 minute video outlining catch methods and locations where pike may be found in abundance in South Central Alaska. They sell this video for $10 at Fish and Game offices in Anchorage, Palmer, Soldotna, and Homer.
Currently there are few options for getting rid of pike once they have invaded an area. The methods available are public fishing and netting. Netting is not an extremely effective method of control because the areas that pike prefer are the shallow weedy type areas that are hard to net. These two methods combined help to keep the numbers of pike low enough that the trout and salmon have a chance to compete.
The only other methods of control are to completely drain a lake which is almost never a possibility, or to use a chemical called rotenone which kills ALL fish in the water treated with it. This also is not a preferable option although it is used at times as a last resort.
All transport of live fish from one area to another has been outlawed in Alaska, including the use and possession of live minnows in all fresh water fishing. Herring and other non-sport fish may still be used as bait in salt-water fishing in the same water in which it was caught.
Use the links below for more information on these topics.
How this happens varies GREATLY from lodge to lodge. Be sure that when you book a fishing trip, that you know, understand, and agree with the procedure to be followed on your trip. Ask if you don’t know their standard procedure. If you fish with a guide, they may gut each fish as it is caught, or they may go into the fish bin as is to wait for the return to dock. At the dock, you may be handed your fish with a “see ya later,” or the guide may unload them and go to work on them, or there may be arrangements made with a 3rd party service to take care of them for you. All of this could be included in the price that you paid for the trip, or it may all be additional cost that you will have to pay.
Also to be decided is how and what you want to have done with your fish… fillets, steaks, or maybe even smoked. Do you want them fresh, frozen, or possibly canned? I have fished in a couple of places where your fresh fish could be traded for an “equal” amount of already canned fish. How do you prefer to cook and eat your fish? What is the easiest and most convenient way for you to handle the end product? Most of your preferences can be accommodated with some planning and arranging.
Also, you need to know if your guide service or even your motel has a cooler or freezer for your fish until it is time to go home. Many do but you need to know ahead of time what the plans and expectations are.
I wish that I could just say “Do this” or “Do that,” but there are just too many different circumstances and conditions in Alaska. Some places are close to town and services and some guides are in their own world, far from anything. The best policy is just to ask. Don’t just sign up and assume that things will all be OK. They may be OK in the end but you will have greater peace of mind if you know ahead of time just what is expected. The guides forget that you are new to this and that you don’t already know all of the answers.
When it comes time to travel home, will you take the fish along as checked baggage, or will you have them shipped? Again, these may both be options depending on your preferences.
Personally, in Alaska, I have always fished with a lodge that handles the fish for me. They unload the fish from the boat, fillet them while I watch (if I choose to), then they package them in vacuum bags and freeze them. My fish will go into a basket in their freezer with my name on it where they will stay until I am ready to go home. The lodge will then pack them in a travel box up to the 50 lb. airline limit. When I leave, the boxes accompany me to the airport where I will check them as checked baggage. All of this is done at no extra charge to me above the original cost of my lodge booking. The only extra charge that I pay is to Alaska Airlines for the additional baggage (currently $2 per pound but may change anytime).
There are many options and possibilities. My purpose in this article is to make you aware of what is possible and which questions you will need to ask when booking your trip.
I wish the best of luck to you and I hope that you need your own plane to haul all of your catch.
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, fishing, Jim Kell, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, trout
The policies (and politics) that affect fishing regulations in Alaska can be complicated and difficult to understand. This is mostly due to the fact that the regulations are made by different entities. The State of Alaska is responsible for some of the species while NOAA is responsible for other species. Some of the species are regulated by agreements with other countries while other species are covered by US federal regulations. Still other species have only state regulations. Then there are different groups who all want the fish. The Native Alaskans, the commercial fishermen who fish for an income, and the sport fishermen who fish for fun, all want to have a share in the catch. It can make for a complicated mix of who has the say and who gets the fish.
I won’t get in to right and wrong or opinions of how it should be. My only goal with this post is to try to explain why the regulations are the done the way that they are.
Alaska has five species of salmon, five species of crab, Pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut, lingcod, pollock, herring, several species of shrimp, several varieties of rockfish and flatfish,… all oceangoing species. In addition there are many species of trout, steelhead, dolly varden char, and others that are regulated in the rivers, lakes, and streams of Alaska. Just listing all of the species and who has a regulatory interest in them could make for a long list.
Basically, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is over all of the Pacific Halibut regulations while the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is over the most of the other fishing regulations within the state of Alaska and its offshore waters. That being said, the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game does have to listen to other groups who help in the decision making and have a vote on the regulations for many of the federally regulated species and species that are of interest to other countries.
Then, one has to consider what is best for the fish. They must be managed in such a way as to keep the species strong and their numbers growing. Their habitat must be protected and their food sources considered.
After all of this, there is the problem of who gets to have the fish that are harvested. The US government has made treaties with the Native Alaskans giving them rights to continue fishing as they have done for years. The commercial fishermen depend on catching and then selling their catch in order to make a living. The sport fishermen like you and I enjoy the chance to go and catch our own dinner. Each group has a legitimate argument and some claim on the available catch.
In all, it makes for a complicated set of regulations in order to give each group AND the fish a fair shake. The end goal is to give Alaskan fishing the best possible future.
Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan Crab, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan fishing regulations, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, fishing, fishing policy, halibut, Jim Kell, Lingcod, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, trout
I once had that dream. As a teenager, I watched one of those travel channel sportsman’s shows one day and the host and his guest were fishing the inside passage of Alaska. They caught fish and talked about the fish and their habitat and how to catch them. I sat and watched, enthralled with what I saw. I decided on that afternoon that someday I too, would go and give that a try some day.
Well, the years pass as they do and many years went by before the perfect opportunity came along. Then one day I got a phone call from a friend with whom I had discussed going fishing to Alaska. He invited me along on his next trip. I jumped at the chance.
We had a wonderful time. We caught fish every day until we were tired out from it. I remember sitting in the boat one day and we all reeled in our lines and sat for a while to eat our lunches because we were tired of reeling in halibut. We hadn’t been able to leave our lines in the water for more than a couple of minutes without having to reel in a halibut and we just wanted a break. We lunched and rested and talked for 45 minutes or so to take a break before we went back to work reeling in fish. An hour or so later, I latched in to a monster halibut that totally wore me out with an hour’s long fight. It weighed in at 168 lbs.
We spent our mornings on halibut but then the afternoons were spent trolling for salmon. The salmon fishing was also superb. We hooked up time after time with jumping, running, fighting salmon. Many times we had two or three on at a time. I even remember netting one guy’s fish and then dipping the net a second time to get the other guys fish in the same net. What a hoot!
How about taking along your kids or your spouse? There is no better way to spend quality time with family members than fishing. There always seems to be time to talk and get to know each other in new ways. The conversation tends to be different (and usually better) when we are out of our everyday setting. I have had some wonderful opportunities to connect or reconnect with family members or close friends while fishing.
Does this kind of fishing trip sound like something you would want to try? I think that every fisherman owes it to himself to go and have the experience of fishing Alaska.
Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan Crab, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, Alaskan vacation, family fishing, fishing, halibut, Jim Kell, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing