Alaskan fishing lodges differ so dramatically that choosing one as a destination can be very difficult, especially for someone who has never experienced fishing in Alaska.
Fishing camp or fishing lodge?
Usually a lodge is a permanent structure, however, just having a few small cabins doesn’t rate to me as being a lodge. As there is no real definition of what you might call a lodge, I’ll come up with one! An Alaskan fishing lodge I would think is a full service establishment with most commonly modern conveniences such as three meals a day, indoor plumbing, fishing guides, and comfortable sleeping accommodations. Then there is the Hilton’s in the woods compared to Hotel 7. That’s the choice.
Fishing camps are usually not permanent buildings – often tents. Some of these tent camps are very comfortable and offer great amenities, but they are still fishing camps. Both camps and lodges may offer about the same fishing experience, but the price of traveling to a camp usually costs less.
What is an Alaskan fly-out lodge?
Alaska “fly-out lodge” verses on site fishing. Lots of Alaskan Lodges call their businesses “fly-out lodges”, but you need only to fly to get there as they are off the road system (like most of Alaska) but once you are there, you simply boat local waters everyday. I don’t term this kind of establishment as a “fly-out lodge”. “Alaskan fly out lodges” usually fly out to different waters each day and usually by float plane. Fishermen experience great variety in their fishing experience, however, if the weather is really bad for a long stretch, you might want to make sure your “fly out lodge” is located in an area where you can boat to good fishing….on site angling – if not, you might end up reading a book by the fireplace for several days.
Non “fly-out fishing lodges” or camps are normally located on good stretches of fishing water.
Just simply jump in a boat and you are on to good fishing within minutes, however, some lodges take their clients on 30 – 60 minutes by boat to get to the hot spots, a trip that may not be a pleasant experience if the weather is cold and wet. One disadvantage to a non fly out lodge is if their local waters get “blown out” due to lots of rain, you have no other options.
Alaska Fishing Lodge or Five Star Resorts?
Alaskan fishing lodges are many and over the past 30 years or so have added on so many frills to compete with other lodges and to attract the type of person that usually has a full billfold. I saw one lodge offering a shot of bourbon to their off loading anglers at the dock served by a pretty young staff employee. Then there is the on site masseuse that usually seconds as a house cleaner as she only has time for one or two massages during the evening. Bars are quite popular among the larger Alaskan fishing lodges, but watch your bill climb if you spend too much time around there.
Large or smaller establishments. Some Alaskan fishing lodges take 20-30 or more quests a week. The lodge might offer great fishing, but don’t expect too much personal attention or a wilderness environment around the lodge. You might ask if the lodge is located in the wilderness or are you smack dab in the middle of a town or village? Almost all new comers to the Alaskan fishing experience expect to be out in the “last frontier”. If you are along the road system your stay will be much less costly, but expect to see other anglers and often wall to wall anglers during peak salmon runs.
If you are traveling to a well known fishing area in the state, expect to see other anglers…even if you fly out by float plane. Float planes can only land longer deeper stretches of water, so if I can land there, so can Harry and George and so on… Even with “fly-out lodges” you can have lots of competition among other fly out lodges.
Authentic Alaskan Fishing Lodge
Family run verses cooperate run…. Most Alaska fishing lodges are owned by non Alaskans. If you wish to experience stories about living, flying, or building a lodge in the wilderness, you might want to choose a family run or Alaskan owned fishing lodge. There’s just a little more Alaskan flavor to your trip.
Something a little newer to Alaska fishing lodges is “heli-fishing”. Many federal and state parks do not allow helicopter access for fishing - why I don’t know as helicopters offer a much smaller environmental impact on the land than most larger float planes. Helicopters can land just about anywhere safely. They fly safely in a mile visibility, especially if you have rivers to follow. There is little to no competition as helicopters are expensive to operate and carry smaller loads. You can’t move 12 people very well unless you purchase a three-million-dollar craft.
Talaheim Fishing Lodge
I own Talaheim Fishing Lodge, a small family run business for the past 40 plus years. Our two small helicopters move our anglers safely to rivers and streams not accessible to fixed winged aircraft or boats. No long flights. Within 15 minutes flying time of Talaheim we can access over 100 miles of great fishing. Talaheim Lodge’s guests enjoy a stretch of water to themselves each day.