Family Fishing Vacation-Let’s Go To Alaska!
“You have to hit the fish on the head with a stick,” Lisa exclaimed with her last ditch effort to avoid our first family fishing vacation to Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge. “I want to go fishing with Dad in Alaska,” Alex said and slowly the look of resignation crept over Lisa’s face. Lisa quickly became a convert because of the fashion looks.
I had always wanted to go on a family fishing vacation in Alaska so I jumped at the chance when some friends from work said they were going. Lisa was less than enthusiastic. We were not what you would call adventurous. Sure, we had camped in some beautiful places in the Utah mountains. Ok—we had a self-contained, heated and comfortable tent trailer. Towing a bathroom got us over the hump on camping. We skied, snowmobiled into Yellowstone, white water rafted the Snake River one afternoon—all from the comfort of a nice lodge or hotel. We had never fished. We had never been on a boat let alone a boat on the ocean in the wilderness. Lisa lobbied hard behind the scenes with the girls but to no avail. We were going to Alaska.
Anticipation is one of the best parts of any family fishing vacation. We were clueless so imagination ran wild. Maybe we looked at a brochure. We had winter gear so all we needed were hats with “Fish Fear Me” or some saying on them.
The day finally came and we flew to Kodiak City and immediately got on a small plane and headed to Old Harbor. The girls had never been on a small plane.
Family Fishing Vacation on the Emerald Isle
The views were fantastic but not what I expected. We were not in the frozen Arctic. I did not know that Kodiak’s nickname is the Emerald Isle. Large mountains loomed right outside the plane window. High meadows and crevasses were covered in tall green grass. Bears would be invisible I thought. Spots of snow dotted the mountain tops and in the distance, you could see larger snow fields and maybe glaciers. The plane flew close to the ground and small ponds and lakes with streams that flowed into them seemed everywhere.
I looked around for potential landing spots if the engine were to quit. Too many lost in the wilderness movies I guess. Suddenly, we emerged from the mountains and could see the ocean. Below us were vast marshes that were green, wet and lush.
I tried hard but did not see any bears or other wildlife. A quick bank and drop in altitude and we were landing on a little plateau between the mountains and ocean. Funny, all of the places we go seem to have runways that appear just before you get to the ground.
Our Ride Into Town
We went to the terminal and picked up our bags. Not really–there is no terminal and you just get your bags from the cargo hold of the plane.
I remember riding in the van that first time up the road to Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge and saying, “We are going to catch a lot of fish here.” Old Harbor is a little village and you can see the harbor on your left from the road. The dock is a working place—no luxury yachts or sail boats.
Eagles are perched on poles waiting for boats to come in. Every boat is weathered and looks like it works for a living in a place that can be harsh and severe. On the right, the mountains are green and the grass is thick and tall. The glacier for the village’s water is in the distance. Strewn along the road are buoys, nets, old boats, and fishing gear either used up or waiting for the next trip out.
On The Water
It was late August-perfect time for a family fishing vacation- and I will never forget that first morning. The wooden dock gently moved and we walked to the boat. The weather was beautiful and Conrad was our guide. We started out making small talk for the first few minutes. We were nervous with anticipation and Conrad had a “this should be interesting” look. We started trolling and within minutes all four rods went off and everyone had their first silver salmon. The quiet gave way to excitement with everyone laughing, shouting and Lisa exclaiming “Holy S***.” Conrad said later he was a little worried about us until that very moment.
We fished for five days and then the last morning, Conrad went out into the straights and we turned off the engines and just floated there. We were all very sad to be leaving. Three humpback whales went under the boat and came up on the other side. All three tails went up into the air as they dove together. It seemed like a wave good bye. I have seen many whales since but nothing like that last morning.
We Are A Fishing Family!
What began as a once in a lifetime family fishing vacation has turned into many trips to Alaska, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Our memories are countless and our joy of being together in all these places cannot be described. Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge will always be our favorite place. Our daughters grew up there and you can see all of us in the pictorial Kodiak Fishing Seasons and Our Family Memories. Lisa has come full circle as many of you know. As I tell people, I like to fish but Lisa LOVES to fish. I asked Lisa once if she wanted to go to New York for a vacation and she responded, “I wonder what they catch up there.” So much for Broadway.