Alaska is home to thousands of salmon-fishing charter services, which you can find in most cities that are near rivers or the coast. These companies range from single-man operations to large commercial businesses. Salmon fishing season is mainly from May until September, but the best charters will book up sometimes years in advance, so attend to reservations accordingly.
Charter-boat services are split into offshore and river categories. Offshore charters navigate the North Pacific Ocean or the Bering Sea, while river charters travel some of the many great fishery tributaries in Alaska. The most popular of these is the Kenai RIver, which holds some of the largest salmon in the world.
Fishing charters offer two types of charters: half-day and whole-day, which run 4 and 8 hours of fishing time, respectively. Charter boats will leave the dock usually around 6 a.m.; afternoon charters leave around noon unless you book sunset fishing, which commences at around 6 p.m.
Cost depends on several variables, including the number of people, the length of travel and the length of time. Some charters require the boat to be reserved and will allow only a limited number of people for one price. Other charters will charge per person. Packages, in which a single rate covers accommodations, food and fishing, usually offer the best value; most Alaskan lodges will have several package options available.
Charters may include amenities, including fish cleaning, wrapping and packaging for shipping back to the “Lower 48.” Many charters provide lunch and snacks for their guests as well as beverages. Fishing gear is also provided, as the equipment is tailored to Alaskan conditions. Many charter boats have cabins that include full restroom and living space, allowing guests a chance to get out of the cold and rain, if necessary.
Research the charter boat before paying for it. Make sure the captain and boat have proper licensing, which ensures that the boat and captain are safety approved. The extreme weather and conditions make this a concern in Alaska, especially for offshore journeys.