I’m a big fan of Ketchikan, Alaska. There are many faces to Alaska’s “First City”, called that because it’s the first stop coming from the “Lower 48” on the southern end of the Inside Passage.
Ketchikan is a regional commercial and health care center for the southern panhandle, from Wrangell to Metlakatla, Prince of Wales Island and many places in-between.
Millions of visitors recognize Ketchikan as a wonderful stop on their Alaska cruise. Cruisers love to check out the local history, go flightseeing, see bears, whizz down exciting ziplines and generally have a good time.
Ketchikan was built on logging and fishing. You can’t log here anymore—but boy can you fish!
Fifteen miles north of Ketchikan at the end of the Tongass Highway is the beautiful Salmon Falls Resort.
Set up from the water near Clover Pass, Salmon Falls Resort is an oasis for the serious angler.
After checking in, you can decide if you want to fish on a fully-guided charter, go “self-guided” on a rental boat—or even a small skiff.
Truthfully, I made those tough decisions over dinner at the “Timbers” restaurant. The food is great—i had the “Double Pork Chop”. But the view is incredible. You’re high enough to get a great view of the water and the islands below. But you’re close enough to hear the sea lions poking around on the dock for fish scraps!
We hit the weather just right—so it was easy to relax on the deck well in to the evening with a tall, cold beer from the bar (Moose’s Tooth “Fairweather IPA” btw).
After dinner we hit the sack, preparing for an early wake-up. The rooms are big—with plenty of space outside to hang up your dirty fishing gear. The wi-fi is fast and free, with plenty of plugs to charge up your phone for pictures on the water.
The following morning at 6 AM, I wandered down for some breakfast (mostly coffee). Then it was time to walk down the stairs to the water and get outfitted for fishing. That means rain boots, bib overalls and a rain jacket. We got outfitted from head-to-toe. Even if it’s sunny, the wind can pick up and you can still get wet!
Our skipper, Nolan Lancaster, pretty much did all the work for our group of anglers. We took off from the dock at Salmon Falls and only motored for about 15 minutes before he had the lines out. And we started catching fish right away.
In fact, Capt. Nolan landed us smack in the middle of a big school of fish. We limited-out at six salmon apiece really quick.
Depending on what anglers want, your skipper can re-rig for halibut—or fish for cod. There also are some shrimp pots…but it’s best to leave them for two or three days.
Back at the dock, the crew hands off the fish to the Salmon Falls staff, which cleans, fillets and packs your catch for shipping. By the time you’re ready to leave, they have everything boxed up and frozen solid for your trip to the airport!
It took us a little time to get out of our gear and head to the bar to tell some stories. It’s a powerful “aprés-fish” scene!!
If you’re fishing for a few days, just hang your gear on the hooks outside your room and strap in on the following morning. On the last day, you can strip off your gear and the crew will hose it down!
“Many of our guests return year after year,” said Kandice Whitaker, the resort’s marketing director. “But we still have some space available in late August and September,” she said.
Since Salmon Falls is literally at the end of the road—the lodge is very secluded. Just you, the fish, the whales, the sea lions and the fabulous scenery of the Inside Passage!
CLICK HERE for rates and availability.
By the way, Ketchikan is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. Take a hike and enjoy the forest!
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