Tips for your first fishing trip to Alaska: Mackenthun

My first fishing trip to Alaska was all I had hoped for and more. Our group of five caught sockeye, king and silver salmon, ate some fantastic salmon sashimi, grilled salmon and salmon burgers, and had a fun day catching halibut and rockfish in Prince William Sound.

Camping and traveling the road, handling the maritime climate and staying comfortable throughout the trip necessitates packing a lot of important gear. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get everything on the plane in a couple bags, but I learned a few things in this inaugural trip about packing, traveling and the dos and don’ts of Alaska fishing.

Thankfully, I traveled with some friends who had made the trip before and knew a ton about what to do and not do, and I had a few resident Alaskans pass on some information as well. Here are a few tips for those thinking of checking Alaska off their bucket list.

Plan your trip well in advance. The Kenai Peninsula where we spent our time is where most sporting visitors to Alaska head, so there is demand for rental cars, campground sites, recreational vehicles, fishing guides and rental boats and gear. Call ahead and make reservations so you have some guarantees on gear, places to stay and fishing plans.

For the Do-It-Yourselfer, there is not a substitute for Gunnar Pedersen’s book “Highway Angler, Fishing Alaska’s Road System.” This book lists all the rivers and lakes near the Alaskan highway system, what species are available and when they are running the best, and has lots of other useful information about the resource. It’s a great read and chance to plan stops along the way, including preloading accesses on a GPS or mapping app.

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