Calling all Alaskans! - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 01:03 AM Thread Starter
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Calling all Alaskans!

Just hoping to pick the brains of you folks lucky enough to live in Alaska. It's not exactly spey related, but I'm planning a two-week, kid oriented trip to Alaska next summer for the last two weeks of July. My best friend will be bringing his 10-year old daughter (my goddaughter) and 7 year old son and I'll have my almost 5-year old son with me. My friend and his kids are coming over from Switzerland and I'd really love to show them bears, moose, cariboo, eagles, salmon and maybe wolves if we get really lucky.

I think we'll be flying into Anchorage and then it's all up in the air at this point. i'd love to fly out to Katmai, but I think that's pretty pricey. I forget what the other great bear viewing place is, but I thought you could drive to it and just had to reserve way ahead of time. I love camping, but am also interested in forest service cabins or maybe house rentals for a few days here and there. We'll most likely just rent some car big enough for all of us, but I might have to consider something like a small RV just to get us all around!

Anyway, i'd really appreciate any of your thoughts on great outdoors activities to do with kids in late July. I'd definitely like to find somewhere they could fish for pinks, silvers or trout and where they'd be pretty likely to hook something, but even more important than fishing (I know, I can't believe I just wrote that!) is showing them the beauty and amazing wildlife Alaska.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or recommendations.

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 01:59 AM
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Hi Mike.

Try Cooper's Landing on the Kenai Peninsula as a destination. No planes necessary. Rent a car, better yet a big honking RV.

My family and I usually go there in August and fish the Kenai and Russian rivers. My 7 year old loves fishing there. The Russian is a great place for kids to catch sockeye, bows and dollies. Brown bears are abundant and viewable! Should be lots of sockeye (reds) in the Russian in July.

Its about a couple of beautiful hours drive from Anchorage. The Russian River campground is great and full of fly fishers and bear photographers, and there are also lots of cabins available along the highway. The folks that live there are wonderful. Eat at Sackett's!

As a bonus there are lots of other places to go within an hour or so drive from Cooper's Landing. A day trip to Whitter or Seward are highly worthwhile, and would give you an opportunity to fish in the sea for halibut, if that was of interest. The marine life in Kenai Fjords (Seward) is spectacular. Homer and the Anchor River are a bit further, but definitely worth the drive. Hiking is great on the Kenai too.

Several forum members are more familiar with the area than I, maybe they will chime in.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the recommendation, Tom. I think I went through Cooper Landing years ago, but didn't have the chance to stop there. I'll have to check it out this time. I'll do some research and see if there are some easy places to fish with kids. I've fished the area around the Russian/Kenai confluence and that would be a bit too hectic for kids - especially totally beginning fly fishers. I appreciate the advice!

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 01:16 AM
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Visit to AK

Big RV rental. Nap, sleep, cook, dry out, warm up, whatever. Rent in Anchorage and head down toward the Kenai. Wonderful drive for sure. Maybe goats on the way. There will be bears, salmon and trout. The Russian is a sure bet. The mountains around you have small white dots way, way up the jump around. Either fleas or sheep. Never walked up to take a better look. I take my small kids on the Kenai and Russian a lot. They fish for trout amongst the salmon pullers. Flesh and egg patterns. My 7 yr old's biggest trout was 27" right there. He will be in his 3rd season with a two hand rod.

Seward has an aquarium and small day cruises to fjords. Kenai Fjords something or other. Can camp on the "beach" with RV and has a full size grocery store. Booze too. Halibut trips.

To see the real wildlife, Denali Park. Put in for a reservation for the bus to take you to Wonder Lake. You may see all of the species in one trip. You can't drive your own vehicle into the park.

Anchorage has a couple cool things. Good child/art museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Learn about the first people here.

RV would allow you to make ice, or freeze fillets. Plenty of salmon to eat at that time. I also recommend Sacketts. Yum. They smoke meats. I can almost taste the smoked chicken alfredo. Bad for the heart, good for the belly.

Feel free to PM me with Q's.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for this info too! Sounds like I definitely have to go to Sackett's at least and anything after that is a bonus. I think I'll end up incorporating a lot of your thoughts too. I had already planned to get up to Denali, and now the Kenai recommendations should be able to fill in the rest of the trip nicely. Seward and Homer sound like they're worth seeing with lots of sidetrips available from either. I might PM you with a few more questions. Thanks a lot,
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 06:02 PM
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Get off the road system if you want to see Alaska. Fly or ferry somewhere not road accessible and go from there. There are enough smaller towns and villages that receive daily jet and/or ferry service, Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat, Nome, Bethel, Dillingham, King Salmon, etc, etc. all come to mind. These places are off of the road system. You'll be in a gateway to wilderness and see some of the oddities of rural Alaskan life in those towns that you'd not see on the road system out of Anchortown in a big fat RV.

Denali Park probably is a indeed a good place to see a large variety of wildlife, you'll also see loads of tourists in buses.

There are things to see in towns. The sea life center in Seward is nice in or go to Lake Hood in Anchorage to see how we get around.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-17-2012, 12:52 AM
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Our family has been doing a similar trip each summer for 7 years (girl 11, boy 8).
I agree with everything said about renting the big RV (sleeps 8 if you are friends) and heading to Cooper Landing. Camp at the Russian River CG or Quartz Creek. If RRCG you will want to advance book, I believe it is 6 months on Late July is the 2nd run of reds (AK fish and game has historical run charts/daily counts on their website) We take the kids up the Russian and avoid the lower river - 15 min of walking and it is nice fishing for kids. Great fun to go below the falls, ferry the kids across on your back and fish the opposite bank with no one else. There should be some good trout fishing starting on Quartz Creek and the Russian. Too early for the crazy trout fishing on the Kenai, but some good red fishing if you can get away from the crowds. Guided, Paul at Alaska Angling Addiction or Dusty at Trout fitters are my favorites, but everyone will have their own.

With a troop of kids and people who haven't been to Alaska before I highly recommend the trek to Homer and a full or 1/2 day halibut trip. Homer is stunningly beautiful and the kids have a great time catching halibut. We do the 1/2 day with Rainbow Tours every year, which is about half wildlife sightseeing (sea otters and whales generally) and half halibut fishing. Fish are not big but kids catching 10-15lb halibut one after another is great fun. Seldovia is a great day trip on the ferry if it is sunny. If you decide you want to see bears, Homer is a good departure point. It is expensive ($600+PP). They generally go across the Inlet to the coastal side of Katmai. You could split the group if some people really, really wanted bears and were willing to spend the dollars.

If you wanted to do Katmai/Brooks Camp that generally means a flight to King Salmon ($350), $200 float plane to Brooks, and camping (if you booked a site) The lodge is supposed to be $$$. It is really incredible but I get my fill of bears in about 1/2 day. At that point unless you have a guide you are limited to fishing the Brooks river. Great place to fish - completely amazing really - but a short river full of bears and almost as many park rangers.

Seward is a good day trip from Cooper Landing. Well worth it. If it is first timers, I'd highly recommend the glacier tour boat. I don't think the rest of the world has anything quite like it.

For us 10 days with Denali looks something like this:
1. Arrive ANC, get RV, Get Groceries, Drive 5 hrs to Denali
2. Take Bus through Denali, leave as early as you can manage...
3. Get up late at Denali and drive 5 hrs back to Anchorage (we have friends, so "camp" at their house, catch up, let the kids get reacquainted and play, and arrange for cataraft we share to be delivered to Kenai later in the week)
4) Drive to Homer (5+ hrs). We leave late... Could fish along the way and still get to Homer by 10PM. Camp on Spit at Municipal CG.
5) Homer - 1/2 day Halibut & Pratt Museum
6) Homer - Seldovia trip (could be bear trip)
7) Drive up to Kenai - maybe combat fish in or around Soldotna... Stay night at Quartz Creek.
8) Kenai/Russian/Creeks
9) Seward (could split group, some do more fishing, some do Seward Tour and Sealife Center) 60ish minutes from Cooper Landing to Seward.
10) Back to ANC, Drop RV, Go to Airport
Obviously you can compress several parts of this plan and make trade-offs. Our primary "drop" is Denali. Picks up 3 days on the Kenai/Russian. We've done it, rode the bus, saw the mountain, bears, moose, etc... If people haven't they will want to. It costs days of fishing.

If you can go back country, off the road system, absolutely do so. Nothing more fun for experienced outdoors people than a float trip on a river full of salmon, but it means committing to one type of "experience." We generally have to budget $2Kpp for gear, food and airplanes to pull off a good 7 day float (have done it for 800pp, but that took a lot of insider effort and fuel was cheaper then).

We may see you there. Haven't decided whether we will go first or 2nd run this year.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-18-2012, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Pescaphile - thanks for the info. I'd love to go to ALL of those towns and just might someday if I'm lucky. I've been to Dillingham many times (guided for Tikchik Lodge for 3 summers) and have been dreaming about a Kodiak Island trip for years. I think when my kids are older and have more fishing experience I'll try that.

Wes, awesome kid-related tips. I might just copy your whole itinerary if your friends don't mind us camping on their lawn. I think the 1/2 day halibut trips sounds like the best thing around. No better way to introduce kids to fishing than by catching lots of fish, and I'd love it even if the kids didn't. Suddenly, my two weeks is looking like nowhere near enough time to do all the things I want to. I love the idea of flying to Katmai for a couple of days, but not sure if it's in the budget. Maybe splitting the group at that point would be a good idea.

Thanks again everyone for the great tips. I really appreciate the local knowledge and insight. It makes it a bit less of a total tourist trip when you can escape the big crowds and find some nice places a bit off the beaten path.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-18-2012, 12:46 AM
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Pick up a copy of Gunnar Pedersen's, Highway Angler. He's got lots of good info for road-access fishing all over AK. Many are places you wont hardly see people like at the Kenai or Russian, and kids can fish from the shore for rainbows and grayling till their arms fall off. Though, the Kenai/Russian/Quartz rivers are definitely worth the time to check out...

The RV is the way to go with your buddy and your kids... lots of flexibility and options. Alaska is an experience altogether and should be a relaxing vacation; no need to hustle everywhere to make the itinerary connections!

A wildlife tour out of Seward is highly recommended. The glaciers and wildlife viewing are unsurpassed in Kenai Fjords Nat'l Park.

Feel free to PM with any questions.
Good luck and book your reservations early; late July is prime time!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-18-2012, 09:40 AM
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If you do the cooper landing route, make sure to take a float down the Kenai with alaska wildland adventures. I'm biased because I worked for them, but I love that trip. Sent my family down the river, too. Go through the canyon and across skilak lake. Really wonderful.

Homer is great. If you go, consider taking the boat across to the park (Katmai?) and staying a night or two in a rented yurt. That is pretty fun, too.

Have a great trip!

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-18-2012, 12:41 PM
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I've only been up to a couple different places in AK to fish, and am by no means a native, but my girlfriend (not yet a fly fisherman) and I had an absolute blast fishing the Anchor River near Homer in late July this year. Homer is a unique place worth the visit with the kids... plenty of whale watching, moose wandering through town, boat rides to glaciers you can walk around on, etc. And the Anchor is about a 20 min drive from there, with an easy walk in from a $5 pay parking lot. We were hauling in dolly after dolly drifting egg patterns (her) or swinging ESL (me). Not the gigantic ones I've seen in magazines, but plenty in the 15-18" range, with an occasional 20+ incher. Some pinks to be had as well, though I think next year there won't be a run of them.

One guy fishing below us was extremely proficient with a 3-wt. rod drifting really small beads and catching tons of tiny trout and dollies. The best part was when an early running steelhead inhaled his bead and went zinging upriver past us, leaping like crazy, and broke off right in front of us. Would have loved to see if he could have done anything to steer the steelie with the 3-wt if it hadn't broken off
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-20-2012, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks guys for the great thoughts. I'll definitely pick up a copy of the Highway Angler for the trip and probably memorize it by next summer. It'll be fun to find some lesser known rivers to fish along the way, although the Anchor and 15"-20" dollies sounds great to me too! Seward and Homer are pretty high on the list of places to go now too. With boat trips, wildlife tours, camping in yurts (that sounds super fun) and moose walking through town, I'm sure we'll find enough to keep kids and adults occupied.

One other thing that I thought could be fun is touring one of the dog kennels and taking a dogsled ride (I know it's summer, but should be fun all the same). Does anyone have suggestions or recommendations? Certain ones better than others? I figure with kids you have to have puppies and a fun sled ride - they won't care about how many Iditarods the dogs have won.

Thanks again,

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