First, an abbreviated trip report:
A few of us went up to Ketchikan to fish and kill and eat and drink and camp. A grand time was had by all. We floated around between a buddy's basement, USFS cabins, and spike camps on remote islands. The views from camp did not suck.
The king fishing was spotty at best. Not sure what was up with that (other than poor runs coast-wide), but by the time we left, boats were loading up on pinks and some silvers in addition to a few kings per day, so the next several weeks will start looking very, very action-packed when it comes to salmon. We were there in large part for white fish, though, and we had a lot of fun killing halibut, lings, rockfish, and shellfish.
The weather cooperated for the most part, and let us do some deep water drifts for unusual (for sporties) slope rockfish.
The spot shrimp were tasty with wasabi and soy, still quivering from the cool fjord waters. As it turns out, arrowtooth flounder aren't worthless. You can turn them into shrimp!
Wildlife everywhere, per usual. Lots of sea otters, humpback whales, porpoises, and even a pod of killer whales murdering harbor seals (no photos of the killers....sorry).
We also had a chance to visit with charter captains that we've come to know over the past decade or so. One of them just built a new "lodge" last year for his guests. We had cocktail hour and dinner there one night. The view from his deck doesn't suck, either.
It's a sweet setup, complete with a nice fish processing room and lots of craftsman touches that really make the place shine.
Regardless of the length of the trip, I always feel like I could use a few more days. We always get a little weather (a mid-trip gale this time), and it seems like we've just scratched the surface of things to experience here. Next year, I'd like to figure out the tanner crab fishery in the fjords, and spend more time killing sablefish. Those slope rockfish eat really well, and they're in trouble next year.
Here's where I get into the advice portion. If you've thought about doing a trip to southeast to do some fishing, do it now. There are excellent guides/charters sitting on 70% cancellation rates right now. That means that you can pick your dates, pick your captains, probably work out a screaming deal, and fish without competition. No cruise charters, no crowds, just Alaska the way it was 40 years ago. Shoot me a PM and I'll give you contact info for the lodge or guides or whatever. I have *no* financial or other interest other than looking around at an empty cleaning table that has been full for the last 20 years when I've been there and wondering why people aren't there.
To sweeten the pot even more, since there is so little pressure, ADF&G has loosened the charter halibut slot limit and increased the annual king salmon limit for non-residents.
We flew out of SeaTac. I walked to the counter (mask required), dropped my bags, walked to the TSA check, showed my face and ID, walked through the scanner, went to the gate, bought coffee, and waited for the plane to board. There were NO LINES. Very few people. I felt safer at the airport than at WinCo by a long shot. The flight is less than two hours, and you're in Alaska.
Alaska will Covid-test you for free, but my strong advice is to get a test within 72 hours prior to boarding. We used Pixel by LabCorp and it couldn't have been simpler or easier. Go to their website, fill out the short questionnaire, and they send you a test kit ($119 or covered by insurance...they bill) via FedEx. The test is just a Q-tip to the front of the nostril, not the saber-length swab. Schedule a FedEx pickup or drop your test at a box, and you'll have your results before you board your plane. Show the folks at the KTN airport, and they give you a yellow slip of paper that shows you're Covid-free and ready to go fishing that day. Easy peasy.
Seriously, folks, I lived up there in the late 90's/early 00's, and travel hasn't been this easy since 9-11. Fishing pressure is light/non-existent, and you have your pick of places/guides/etc. Stay at the Brian's "lodge," or any of the nice rentals up there, do a guided trip, self-guided, or combo. There is no better time to do it. Take your kid/grandkid and catch 40 salmon in a day, followed up by some white fish and wildlife viewing. Why not?
Shoot me a PM--the guides up there aren't iFish sponsors, naturally, so I'm not going to spray their info and violate the AUP. I can vouch for their abilities to absolutely spoil you on fishing, though...that's the only downside to going up there. Fishing here will never feel the same.