Is there perfect Alaskan fishing lodge for you? If you’ve ever gone shopping for shoes you’ll quickly discover there is no size that fits all. This is also true when selecting a fishing lodge or charter.
Having specialised in Alaska sportfishing for over 20 years, I’ve been very fortunate to have fished with a great number of lodges in Alaska and British Columbia. One big takeaway is that each has its own unique personality and culture.
Depending on the type of fishing trip you’re planning, your list of priorities can change. Great fishing is almost always at or near the top of that list. As well all know or may soon realize is that fishing and catching are two very different concepts. How many times have we heard ” you should have been here last week” or “the salmon are late to arrive this season.” Great fishing can help us overlook many shortcomings we may experience with regards to service, food, or logistics, but when the fishing gets slow, it’s easy to find criticism and dissatisfaction with your overall guest experience.
Most lodge owners will tell you they can’t control the fishing or the weather, which is true, but what about rest of your trip? This is the area that really separates an average lodge from a premium lodge. Your guest experience begins long before you arrive at your destination. Much is revealed in your first communications with your prospective hosts. Was your call answered in a professional manner? How many calls were required to speak with a knowledgeable representative? Was the conversation friendly and informative?
The nature of your trip can play an important part in selecting an appropriate Alaska fishing lodge. For example, if you are entertaining business associates or planning a sales incentive trip for your top salesman, you will want to know that your hosts have the skills and resources required to keep the excitement going by setting up an in-house fishing derby or special dinner. Will your host go the extra mile to meet and greet each guest and assure that any special requests are handled appropriately.
If you’re planning a getaway with a few buddies, you may just want the basics, an experienced guide, descent gear, good food, and comfortable bed. If the ladies are joining you, the requirements may become a bit more stringent, like having a head on your vessel, and a few more amenities back at the lodge.
Another important consideration is the size of the lodge. If you are fortunate enough to have a group of eight or more, there is a good possibility you could have exclusive use of a small lodge. Your group will have the lodges available resources at your disposal. If you would prefer the company of other anglers, there are lodges that range from eight to eighty eight and everything inbetween.
At the end of the day, your guide has more influence over your overall experience that anyone. You’ll spend eight to ten hours a day with this individual. This match-up can really make or break your trip. An unseasoned guide with poor people skills can be challenging for the most forgiving guests. Things can get ugly when precious time is lost on the water due to lack of experience, or when gear is not up to the task. Hiring qualified guides who posses good communication skills is, or should be the top priority for any lodge owner. Guides are the face of your chosen establishment and should reflect the culture of the lodge.
Unlike shopping for shoes, trying on a new lodge before you purchase is not always an option. Fortunately, with today’s advances in social media you can read reviews and blogs on many Alaska lodges. Another option is to talk to anglers you know about their personal experience. Lastly, contact an Alaska vacation specialist who has on the ground experience with a wide selection of Alaska lodges for a candid conversation regarding finding the perfect Alaska lodge for you.