There’s a fishing lodge in Southeast Alaska called Waterfall Resort that is hosting the kind of all-inclusive salmon fishing trips we all dream about. Think arriving by seaplane and battling massive King Salmon in the open water… As you may know, we are currently giving away a trip to this resort (details at the bottom of the article) so we decided to sit down with them to hear a bit about their history and the fishing conditions that they offer at this beautiful and remote lodge.
Where is Waterfall Resort and why is it called that?
Waterfall Resort is located in the remote wilderness of Southeast Alaska near Ketchikan, which is only a 90-minute flight from Seattle. The resort was originally built in 1912 as a seafood cannery that broke world production records because it was so close to one of the best fisheries on the planet. Back then it was called Waterfall Cannery because of the natural waterfall that provided the water source for the facility. When commercial fishing regulations changed, the cannery was renovated and converted into a sport-fishing lodge, and it became Waterfall Resort.
What makes Alaska so unique as a fishery?
Alaska is a big state, often called “the Last Frontier.” It has a rich tradition of local history and abundant natural resources, including the Tongass National Forest which is the largest forest in the U.S. at 17 million acres. When Alaska became a state of the union, it built into its constitution the mandate to protect those resources for future generations. That’s why today, Alaska is one of the best managed fisheries on the planet and we are seeing local fish populations surge. Southeast Alaska in particular benefits from a warm upwelling current and a craggy underwater topography that makes the perfect habitat for sardines, candlefish and other bait fish. This in turn attracts the incredible wildlife in the area – humpback whales, bald eagles, sea otters, orcas – and of special interest to anglers it attracts more than 20 varieties of sport fish so even when you quickly limit out on one you still have plenty of other options to continue fishing.
Do you generally prefer conventional gear or fly fishing gear?
Guests at Waterfall Resort typically prefer fishing for the king salmon (chinook) or silver salmon (coho) that feed and bulk up in the local channels, inlets and bays before making their journey upstream to spawn. Once a salmon enters fresh water, they stop eating and spend their energy fighting the current, so we fish for them in saltwater to enjoy them at their peak. This means we use conventional reels, and we provide guests with premium fishing gear like G. Loomis rods and Shimano reels.
There are a multiple species to target at your lodge, including king and silver salmon, halibut, and lingcod. Do you have a favorite species to target or one that you are most known for?
The favorite species of all is king salmon (chinook). Kings are not only the biggest of the salmon species, they’re a wily and strategic competitor so you really have to be on your game to bring one in. King salmon filets are also preferred by chefs for their flavor over other species of salmon. Chinooks begin running in May and are in full swing by the time the resort opens in June. A little known fact is that a small percentage of king salmon have white meat like a halibut, and these are called “Ivory Kings.”
You guys have a lot of guides. How do you choose them?
With 27 custom-built fishing boats, Waterfall Resort has the largest private fleet of cabin cruisers in Alaska. Each boat fishes four guests with a full time guide, so it’s important to us that our guides are the best in the business. Each guide must be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to pilot their boat, and have previous guiding experience. Many of our guides have worked with Waterfall Resort for decades and know the local waters like the back of their hand. Even the new guides we add every year get the benefit of being part of a seasoned team, with special training and more eyes on the water to help ensure every guest gets the best possible experience.
In some parts of Alaska, salmon populations struggle from environmental pressures. Have you noticed a change in the fishery near you over the past few decades?
Waterfall Resort is a remote wilderness lodge, so our waters are not close to any civilized or industrial areas that might put pressure on the environment. As a result of this helpful local situation combined with the state’s careful management of the fishery year over year, we have seen salmon populations grow promisingly in the last several years. Waterfall Resort has hosted three generations of anglers now – our first guests brought their kids, and now those kids have grown up and they’re bringing their kids. We look forward to hosting more generations to come.
What advice would you offer fishermen who want to come to Alaska?
Do your research. Much of Alaska is still untamed, and the infrastructure people may be familiar with in the lower 48 doesn’t always exist in Alaska. Amenities like hot running water, electricity, fishing gear, dining service, full-time guides, boat fuel, housekeeping and even professional fish processing are often not included in other packages, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into. If this is a bucket list trip, you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised and stuck when you get there.
A lot of people would love to come to Alaska but don’t fish. Are there other things to do at Waterfall Lodge Resort?
Definitely the main reason to visit Waterfall Resort is to fish, and our guides are well skilled at training novice anglers on how to enjoy the sport. They’ll bait your hook, teach you how to fish, and net your catch for you. Back at the dock, our professional seafood processing crew will take care of cleaning your fish, trimming it to custom cuts, vacuum packing it and freezing it in preparation to take home with you. So even people who don’t like to fish will have a great time at Waterfall Resort. In addition to the fishing, guests enjoy exploring the historic cannery buildings, taking photos of black bears and other wildlife roaming our 52-acre coastal property, and hiking our boardwalk nature trail up the creek to see the namesake waterfall itself.
In partnership with Waterfall Lodge, InsideHook, Lonely Planet, and Huckberry we are currently giving away an all expenses paid fishing trip to Waterfall Resort, including fishing with expert guides, fishing licenses and stamps, use of the best fishing gear out there, daily meals of top notch Alaskan fare, your catch flash frozen and shipped home, $1250 towards airfare and travel expenses, as well as $500 in credit to Huckberry to get yourself outfitted for the trip. Enter now!