I'd only been to Alaska once before and it was a cruise, which, for a fly fisherman, is like just walking through the midnight chocolate buffet on said cruise without eating anything. It's like all of Alaska is just being a big tease.
So this trip was about one thing and one thing only to me: Ripping copious amounts of salmonid lip.
Being a flyfishing guide, I'm probably too prideful (and too poor) to actually use a guide on the river, but the staff were extremely helpful in giving me the fishing info and were more than happy to drive me down to the river to get the party started. (They have gear for you to borrow BTW) After picking me up from the airstrip and letting me get my stuff together, they drove me and my brother to the Salmon River to get a few hours of fishing in before dinner. We caught a lot of pinks and a silver or two there. Just warming up our skills.
Speaking of dinner, the chef, Irish John, is the man. I'm the kind of guy who will gladly live on granola bars and water while I'm on a fishing trip with no regrets, but Irish put the love of food back into me every night and morning. From steak to stuffed peppers to some kind of awesome duck, he had me wondering nightly what the evening's repast would be. I work for a very high end lodge with a very talented chef as well, and while John's culinary skills are king sized, unlike other excellent chefs, his ego is not. He's just a fun guy to be around. But the fact that he'll make you hot home-made glazed donuts in the morning will make you want to take him home.
Back to the nitty gritty. We spent the next couple days on Glacier Bay National Park's Bartlett River. The hike in is ridiculously beautiful through what has to be considered some kind of rain forest as it was so moist that stuff grew on other stuff that grew on yet other things (eg. flowery green plants on a toadstool on a tree). My brother described it in fairytalesque terms, "the mushroom forest". Some people hike for fun. I'm not one of those people. I hike because there are beastly fish on the other end of the hike that need desperately to be tamed by me. But this hike I would walk to just to see what I saw. Many others do.
We were there right on time for the second run of silver/coho salmon. The first day on the Bartlett was great, but some time was spent finding where the best silver holes were. Caught most of my fish dead drifting purple and pink stuff. The second day we limited out very quickly. The fish were pounding big pink and purple streamers swung and stripped. The silvers were amazing and acrobatic, but the unsung chums/dogs were ridiculously powerful too! Awesome fishing. There is nothing like Alaska salmon fishing anywhere else on this spinning blue planet. Do it before you die.
We saw a black bear that tried to make a play for my bag of fish (see pictures) while I had a silver on the line. It took a lot of multi tasking but I took the bag of fish away, fought the silver, and took a picture of the bear for your viewing enjoyment all at the same time. Thank you, thank you.
If you're keeping fish, success is a two-edged sword. The hike through the mushroom forest was less pleasant carrying 70 pounds of salmon on my back. The Country Inn folks had just the answer though: The next day they found sea kayaks for us and we paddled upriver with the rising tide, totally killed it, and easily paddled back downriver and out to the dock of the bay with our catch. On the way we saw sea otters, seals way up into the river, starfish, eagles, bears, etc. Amazing way to get to a fishing spot.
The next day was halibut fishing. I didn't think I would like this. I'm a pretty active fisherman. But our captain, Forest, was amazing. He runs a clean boat and went WAY out of his way to make our trip amazing. I don't want to tell you everything because I don't want to hold him to that same ridiculous standard for others, and folks asked that I not post pictures of the huge limit of halibut that we caught, but I did include a pic of me holding just one of the beasts. My freezer is loaded. Forest is the man. He stayed up late with me after dinner at the lodge to talk fishing too. Good dude. Hugely recommended.
Like I said, for me it's all about the fishing and nothing about this lodge disappointed in that respect. But if you're the kind of person who needs more to do or ways to relax other than relentlessly tying new flies to try out the next day, you'll love some of the ammenities:
-Relaxing around the fire with your friends under the ramada
-Soaking in the spa while the jets work out that lower back issue you've got from packing monster salmon through the mushroom forest
-Watching movies on the reclining stadium seating theater
-Working the entire Montague family at pool (hope you guys come back to read this ;) )
-A round of golf at the worst, but maybe most fun, municipal course ever.
There were some negative comments about service. Don't know how this could be. They went the extra mile for me, including bending over backwards to make sure I got to see a football game that was played while I was on the river. One of them knew I wanted to see it so he called the satellite company to make sure they could get it and then recorded it for me.
Great trip. Great place. Novel over.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Glacier Bay Country Inn is a gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. Their world class service, location, and amazing cuisine from a professional staff will provide you with what guests have called "the best Alaskan Trip ever!!"€� It is why most of their guests return year after year. They offer some of Alaska's best fishing and outdoor adventures: Salt Water Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Kayaking, Whale Watching, Sight-seeing, Hiking, Photography, and Glacier Tours. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Country Inn Gustavus
- Gustavus Country Inn
- Glacier Bay Country Inn Gustavus, Alaska