For an avid fisherman from the Lower 48, fishing Alaska is a bucket list trip. For someone like me who lives in South Florida and is used to balmy 80 degree water targeting my local favorites bonefish, tarpon and snook, Alaska is a challenge. One that I accepted and planned for more than a year.
A big part of the planning and research for my first ever trip to Alaska was reading as much as I could as well as speaking to an old Navy buddy who lives in Wasilla.
Having fly fished in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Maine for trout I kind of knew what I wanted in Alaska. Big Trout. Also some halibut because, why not!I started reaching out to various guides and lodges and was able to narrow down a short list of places to fish based on personal preference and the time of year I was traveling (June 2022) as I wanted to experience the midnight sun and summer solstice. Also I like to be back in Florida during peak hurricane season in case I need to secure the house and evacuate the family.
Itinerary and gear
My itinerary was mostly set by the time of my 60th birthday, this past January I had most of the gear needed and what I didn’t have I would buy local in Alaska, mostly flies and the like as well as bear spray.
With a rented a 4×4 truck, I traveled and fished a stretch of Alaskan waters (salt and fresh) starting in Homer then on to Cooper Landing (Kenai River), Talkeetna (Montana Creek and float plane ride to Coffee Creek), the Chena River outside Fairbanks and several rivers / creeks north of the arctic circle including Jim River and Toolik Lake north of Atigun Pass off the Dalton Highway.
All in all I put 3,000+ miles on the truck and returned it with a cracked windshield and some minor road damage from the Dalton! Nothing that a spot welder can’t fix and hid.
While this was a DIY trip, I did fish with professional guides on all outings except those in the Arctic. There I was lucky to find excellent online resources from the ADF&G as well as other DIY anglers and the lodge owners in Wiseman who freely shared information.
The fishing far exceeded my expectations and a year of day dreaming. I caught halibut, king salmon, rockfish, rainbows, dolly vardens and arctic graylings. Shipped nearly 30 pounds of fillets home. All trout were catch and release. All but the rainbow were new species to my catch list, bringing that to over 70 species. I also caught my personal best rainbow on the Kenai River at 25 inches on opening day!
When not fishing, I hiked the tundra plains and boreal forests of the north, mountainous and glacial areas (Denali and Kenai Fjords National park) and the coastal areas of the Kenai Peninsula. Saw old Navy buddies for the first time in 40 years and caught up on old times and life.
While off grid, whether fishing, driving or in various cabins, I was able to keep in communications with family and friends with both a Garmin inReach Explorer + and Zoleo. I believe in redundancy and being prepared. My wife and emergency contacts had my day by day itinerary as well as my friends contact info back in Wasilla.
I enjoyed every moment of every day (it was mostly day without the sun setting), enjoyed local Alaskan and first peoples culture and hospitality throughout the trip.
All of the preplanning, budgeting as well as post trip stories, photos, videos and GPS coordinates are on this blog. While this started as an Alaska-centric project, this year I’m headed to the Amazon for some jungle fishing adventure.
Alec J. Rosen
Adventurer & Raconteur