For many of us, visiting Alaska for some world-class salmon and halibut fishing is a once in a lifetime experience. There are so many things you have to do – book plane travel, decide if you’ll be camping or staying in a lodge and packing things like the proper clothing for the time of year you’ll be visiting.
Finding a good salmon fishing charter is, without a doubt, the most important preparation you can make before setting out for the alluring wilderness of Alaska.
It’s vitally important because the charter will be how you get to the right spots and have plenty of catch to bring home and share with family and friends. If the charter is bad, you will come away angry that you went to all this effort to come up empty handed. Considering the expense of simply getting to Alaska, this is unacceptable.
To avoid the stress of a bad fishing trip, it’s important you consider the following factors when researching salmon fishing charters in Ketchikan, Alaska. Taking precautionary steps ahead of time can help ensure you have pleasant memories of your trip and good stories to tell once you’re back home.
1. Avoid the cheapest option – It’s totally understandable you want to reduce cost where you can, but this isn’t one place you want to go cheap on. If the price of a charter seems to be low in comparison to other outfits, there’s probably a reason why. Perhaps the boat is very old and unreliable, or the crew is underpaid and therefore not too engaged. You would be wise to remember the old saying “…you get what you pay for.” Realize that running a salmon fishing charter operation isn’t cheap, so the captain’s prices will need to reflect the costs he must bear for gas, his boat, bait/tackle, insurance, deck hands and more.
2. Don’t go for the nicest boat either – It also may be tempting to jump on that fancy boat with a fully enclosed, climate-controlled cabin and all the fancy bells and whistles. However, this isn’t always the best option for finding the right fishing spots and hauling in a sizable catch. While you may be riding in luxury, you’re not exactly getting what you traveled all this way for. This is why you should focus on the captain’s experience and safety of their vessel first, and worry about luxury last.
3. Consider not just the captain’s experience, but his personality – Of course, you will want to find a charter captain who is well experienced fishing the waters around Ketchikan, Alaska. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to find a captain with a minimum of 5 years’ experience on the water. More is better though. Besides their expertise, you’ll want to try and determine how personable they are. Now you shouldn’t be looking for someone to provide non-stop entertainment, but you do want a captain who can patiently explain the right bait and technique for the situation. In short, it needs to be obvious they have a passion for what they’re doing. (Pro tip: TripAdvisor is a great place to do some research.)
4. Beware of charters available on short notice during busy times – If it’s summer time in Alaska, you’ll want to make your reservations well in advance. Many visitors to Ketchikan simply wait until they get here. However, finding a charter on such a short notice is very risky since experienced charter captains book up fast. If a particular salmon fishing charter isn’t already booked, it may be a red flag that they are not the best outfit to team up with.
5. Is their fishing gear in good working condition? – Salmon fishing charters in Alaska typically provide everything you will need to fish, including rods, reels and bait. Some anglers do bring their own gear, but if you’re new to salmon fishing, you probably don’t have all of the required equipment. However, if the captain’s equipment is old, rusty and unreliable, you won’t have a pleasant experience to talk about when you get back.
6. Safety equipment and licensing – Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure the salmon fishing charter has everything it needs to keep you safe. While you likely won’t encounter a dangerous situation, accidents do happen. You want to make sure this person you’re trusting to take you and your family out on the water can handle a situation if it comes up. Some items to consider in this vein include:
- Do they have enough life jackets on board? Are these life jackets newer, or are they well worn?
- Do the captain and/or his deckhands know CPR?
- Is there a first-aid kit on-board?
- Do they have a working marine radio?
- Do they have adequate liability insurance in the event of injury?
- Are they a licensed Coast Guard captain?
- Does the vessel have other safety equipment like a functioning fire extinguisher, running lights and horns?
If you’re totally new to salmon fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska, you may want to consider a half-day charter so you’re not wasting a whole day if it doesn’t turn out well. If you’re traveling by cruise ship, you may only have a few hours anyway.
Researching this ahead of time can be challenging, but you can learn a lot about salmon fishing charters in Ketchikan online or through any friends, family or acquaintances who have visited Alaska.
Visit a discussion board like the Alaska Fishing Forum or Alaska Outdoors, and check out any reviews the charter captain may have on Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor or Yahoo. In most cases, these reviews provide the most honest assessment of the captain, his boat, equipment and the patron’s experience.
Again, finding the right fishing charter is the most important part of ensuring you have a good time fishing for salmon in the wilds of Alaska.
Oasis Alaska Charters in Ketchikan provide half- and full-day salmon fishing excursions in a state-of-the-art craft under the guidance of Capt. Mark Andrew, a native of this beautiful area. He also has a excellent resource here discussing Salmon fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska to anglers. We invite you to visit our site to learn more, or contact us with any questions or to schedule your trip today!