Fishing around for the Best

The World's Ultimate Fishing Destinations

You don't have to travel to the four corners of the globe to catch fish. However, if you're thinking of devoting your precious annual vacation to angling, you want a destination that delivers the fish reliaby, year in and year out. Here, then, are eight such truly superior fisheries—places where you're virtually guaranteed to hook up quality fish in big numbers, even if you're new to the sport.

Alaska: Where Salmon is King
When most city folks head to Alaska on a fishing vacation, they want to catch salmon, preferable very big salmon—the type known as Alaskan kings.

There are scores of great king-salmon fisheries in the state. Perhaps the most accessible—and still one of the most productive—is the Kenai River. Easily reachable by car or bus from Anchorage, the Kenai flows into the Cook Inlet at the down of Soldotna. Despite its notoriety, the Kenai remains Alaska's number one trophy river. Each year the world's largest kings (up to 90 pounds) and hosts of sockeyes return to the Kenai in May, June, and July.

Call Kenai Peninsula Fishing, (907) 283-2665 to book charter trips and local guides. This company also operates the comfortable Homesteady Trophy Lodge. Here, guests can stay either in the central lodge or, at a cost of $50 a night, in one of the smaller wooden cabins.

Another great destination for salmon fishing is Lake Iliamna, on the other side of the Cook Inlet. Kings up to 50 pounds run in great numbers in the lake from June through August. Although cheaper options are available, most visitors to Iliamna go the deluxe lodge route, which can set you back a whopping $3,650 to $4,650 per week. This does usually cover fly-out wilderness fishing and guides, all meals, and accommodations. From a fly-out base at Lake Iliamna you can also fish the Lake Clark Wilderness Preserve, as well as Katmai National Park, both superior destinations for salmon, as well as rainbow trout. The leading Iliamna area lodge is the Valhalla, (907) 243-6096, but there are many other fine, less costly lodges. Call Alaskan Experience at (800) 777-7055, or (907) 276-5425.

If you want trout and salmon, head farther north to Lake Creek, famed for its rainbows, as well as its runs of June kings and August silver salmon. Lake Creek is a beautiful, remote waterway running from the slopes of Mt. McKinley 65 miles to the confluence with the Yentna. Salmon often pause for days at the entrance to the creek before heading upstream, or continuing up the glacial Yentna.

Near Lake Creek, Ed and Judy Sharpe maintain a simple but lovely lodge, the Wilderness Place. Cost is $1,995 for a week, solid value by Alaska standards. A float trip is a great option here. You can float Lake Creek above the lodge, or run nearby rivers. Wilderness Place Lodge, P.O. Box 190711, Anchorage, AK 99519, (907) 301-5354, E-mail: Contact Alaska River Adventures, (800) 595-8687 (May-Oct), or (907) 595-1422.

If trophy silver salmon is your calling, the Karluk River on windswept Kodiak Island is the place to go. The Karluk has the biggest silver run in Alaska, and it has yielded virtually every world record silver salmon. The salmon run all summer long, but the biggest silvers often come late, in September, joining the steelhead when the seasons begin to change.

Alaska is far more than a salmon destination, however. For fans of big fish, really big fish, Alaska means halibut. In Alaska, a halibut doesn't get a second glance unless it tips the scales in the hundreds of pounds. How big are they? A 200-pounder can easily measure six feet from side to side. When you first see a large one, it looks as if you have hooked a small submarine. And seasoned halibut fishermen really do take firearms on board to deliver the coup de grace to the giant fish. While you can fish halibut from a number of ports, Homer is the prime fishery. Day-trips on larger vessels run about $150 per person, while private charters begin at about $150 per person with a minimum of four people, and can go much higher. If you're lucky, however, you can sell your prize to local canneries. To reserve a spot or arrange a charter, contact Central Charter bookings in Homer, (800) 478-7847, or (907) 235-7847.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 30 May 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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