This tartar sauce is another favorite at our house. We have been making it for many years. It is great with any kind of fish including our Battered Alaskan Halibut fish and chips and grilled Alaskan salmon or trout.
Homemade Tartar Sauce
1/2 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
3 Tablespoons chopped pickle relish
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated onion
Put all ingredients except mayo in blender and blend. Stir into mayo. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
* Serve with halibut, salmon, trout, cod, etc that has been fried, baked, grilled, or whatever!
The Arctic Grayling is actually a member of the same family as salmon and trout although it is a freshwater only fish meaning that it never migrates to the ocean as the rest of the salmon and some of the trout families do. Arctic Grayling populations are quite widespread throughout Alaska, Canada, and Siberia. They are also found in some of the headwaters of the Missouri River in south-western Montana.
The Arctic Grayling is identified by its grey to silver to greenish-blue coloring and its huge sail-like dorsal fin. The body and fins may have spots ranging from black or red to blue or purple. Their fins are tipped in bright, iridescent pink or orangish colors giving them a unique set of markings unlike any other fish. It has been said that the clearer the water where the grayling is found, the brighter the coloring will be. The Arctic Grayling in Alaska will reach up to 23 inches in length and may reach over 5 lbs. in weight although the majority of those caught range from 12 to 18 inches in length and are under 3 lbs. They have been known to live as long as 30+ years of age.
The Arctic Grayling prefers to live in mid-sized rivers and lakes but will return to the small creeks and streams in the spring to spawn, although not necessarily the same places where they were born. Almost all freshwater in Alaska will have grayling present except in the Aleutian Islands on the western end of Alaska and on Kodiak Island in south-central Alaska.
Grayling will eat other fish and aquatic life if necessary but by far their preferred diet is bugs and insects. This makes them a fly-fisherman’s dream. It has been said that they will investigate anything and everything that floats on the water’s surface. They are especially fond of mayflies, caddis flies, and stone flies. They will also eat salmon eggs found floating in the water and many grayling have been found with birds and mice in their stomachs.
Normally, grayling are fished with light tackle. They commonly are caught on flies but traditional spoons, spinners and bait are all successful as well. If using lures or bait, a cast and retrieve method will work better than letting the bait or lure sit and settle. They can be very picky at times, wanting only a certain type or color of fly and so it may pay off to try a variety of flies or lures until the “perfect” presentation is found. When you find a lure or bait that works, stick with it.
According to research done by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, the larger grayling are more commonly found at the headwaters of the drainage where the waters are cooler, the middle-sized fish that are in the late juvenile to the early adult stage will commonly be found in the middle stretches of the drainage or river, and the younger and smaller fish will more commonly be found in the lower parts of the river system where the warmer water temperatures will help them to grow faster. Of course, that being said, any size or age of grayling can be found anywhere that the grayling is present.
The season on Arctic Grayling generally runs year-around and they are quite often caught through the ice in winter. Bag limits vary from 2 to 10, depending on the area fished so be sure to check the latest regulations before heading out.
The ADF&G’s information page on the Arctic Grayling can be found HERE.
Categories: Fishing, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan fishing regulations, Alaskan salmon, Alaskan Steelhead, Arctic Grayling, bait, family fishing, fishing, fresh water fishing, grayling, Jim Kell, Salmon Fishing, trout
Alaska has a reputation for its salmon and halibut fishing but less well-known is the excellent trout and steelhead fishing that is to be found in Alaska. In fact, Alaska is a very popular destination for trout and steelhead fishermen who come from all over the world seeking the thrill of the fast-moving, hard-fighting trout and steelhead that are found in Alaska’s waters.
Rainbow and Steelhead trout are considered to be the same species. In fact it appears that the only difference between the two is where they choose to make their home. The rainbows choose to be home-bodies and laze around in the freshwater lakes and streams of their birth while the steelhead are the more adventuresome and choose to go out and see the world by traveling out to the ocean for a part of their lives.
There are a few physical characteristics that seem to be different between the two varieties of trout. The steelhead develop a slightly different coloration and pattern that seems to become stronger the longer that they spend in the saltwater. In fact, it appears to be a result of environment more than genetics. Some of their spots, bars and background coloring changes, perhaps to better camouflage them in their chosen oceanic environment. Steelhead will grow to be much larger than their rainbow counterparts almost entirely due to the better diet that they will find in the ocean.
The Alaskan steelhead is born in the clear freshwater streams and lakes. They will typically spend three years living and growing in those streams and lakes before traveling to the ocean. Once in the ocean they will live there another 2+ years before returning home to spawn. Steelhead aren’t like Alaska’s salmon that spawn and then die. Steelhead will spawn and then return to the ocean repeatedly, sometimes many, many times over the next few years of their lives.
Steelhead are grouped according to the time of year when they migrate back upstream to spawn. The groups are spring-run (March-June), summer-run (July), and fall-run (August-October). The majority of the steelhead are fall-run. Regardless of when they choose to return, they will all spawn the following spring.
Steelhead will live up to 10 or 11 years of age. They can grow up to 45 inches in length and 55 lbs in size. They are a prized catch for their fight and for the meat.
When fishing for steelhead fishing in rivers and streams, concentrate on deep holes surrounded by fast-moving currents as well as the swift whitewater areas. If using flies, steelhead prefer bright colorful flies. Also popular and effective are the spoons, spinners, and egg-like imitations.
Alaska, unlike other places, has a very sustainable steelhead fishery. Fish numbers seem to stay within normal patterns and cycles. As with other species in Alaska, regulations vary as to bag limits and size specifications. Be sure to check the current regulations for he particular region and water body that you plan to fish.
Current Alaskan fishing regulations can be found HERE.
For more information on Alaskan steelhead, check out this pdf from the Alaska Dept of Fish and Game.
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
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
Chugach National Forest
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.
Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan attractions, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan salmon, Alaskan travel, Alaskan vacation, bears, family fishing, fishing, green, Jim Kell, nature, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, tourism, trout, whale watching
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.
Modern technology has definitely affected all of us in many ways in our lives. The use of technology in fishing is no different. Sonar and fish finders have been around for a while and were amazing inventions in their time, but now we have added gps (global positioning satellites) and the development of systems in which all of these technologies work together.
One of the great modern “marvels” in the deep-sea fishing industry has to be the use of gps. This one invention has made fishing into a whole different game.
The first time that I ever used a gps unit for fishing was in Alaska. I had owned a handheld gps unit for a couple of years and had used it in hunting for elk and had experimented a little bit with geo-caching. I knew how to operate my gps unit and was comfortable in using it but I really had not ever considered using it for fishing.
When I was preparing for my first trip to Alaska, the lodge where I was going emailed me a packing list of what I needed to bring with me. On the bottom of the list was a gps unit. It was optional. They stated that we could bring our own or rent one from them for the week for a few dollars. If we were bringing our own, we could request a list of their way-points by email so that we could pre-load them on to our gps unit. If you are not familiar with gps terminology, a way-point is a bookmark or a pinpoint on a map that has been saved. I requested the list which they promptly sent as an Excel file by email. I plugged my gps into my computer and within a couple of minutes I had 45 or so halibut humps showing up on my gps screen as little fish icons, spread across a little section of the Inside Passage of Alaska.
These little points all had fancy names given them by the lodge. When someone caught a big halibut at the “Water Fall Hump” or “5 Mile Hole”, we all then knew exactly where that was. Also included were the depths of the water at those locations, and by the workings of the gps unit, distances to and from the lodge and to and from other hump locations.
On arrival in Alaska we were given a short orientation after which I was handed the keys to boat #17, a box of frozen herring, a couple of poles, and a lunch box. We motored away from the dock, turned on the gps unit and headed for our chosen hump where we were told that the several nice halibut had been caught the previous week. Literally within minutes, after coming from thousands of miles away and having no knowledge of Alaskan waters, we dropped our lines and started catching fish. To me, that was simply amazing.
Gps is just one of the reasons that I have come to prefer self-guided trips over guided trips. It makes fishing more of a science and less of a guess. I have started to use gps extensively in all of my fishing. I now have several “secret” locations marked among the lakes and rivers that I regularly fish here at home.
Click on the link below for more info on the different types of handheld gps units available along with current pricing for these little “marvels.”
If you are planning a trip to Alaska or even if you just fish for crappie, perch, trout, walleye, or whatever at your local lake, I would encourage you to get familiar with gps and learn to use it where you fish. I know that it puts more fish in my cooler.
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, family fishing, fishing, halibut, Jim Kell, rock cod, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, trout
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.