Ketchikan is the “Salmon Capitol of the World” and also a popular port on an Alaskan cruise. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced fisherman—or fisher-woman—you’ll love the adrenaline rush from reeling in the “big one.” It’s a little bit like the casino—you don’t know who’s going to “win” the biggest catch of the day.
If you love salmon—there are five kinds you can catch on a fishing excursion during your Alaskan cruise.
What kind of salmon can I catch in Ketchikan?
King Salmon—May-June—especially the 2nd and 3rd week of June–you’ll need to purchase a $10 King Salmon stamp from your chartered boat captain if you want to catch the Kings because there’s a limit. The average size is around 15-20 lbs, but it’s not uncommon to catch one between 40-50 lbs. Once you snag a King, patience is the key. You can’t just reel in a King Salmon. You have to wait until they’ve exhausted their energy trying to swim back down to the bottom. Just hold the reel and wait. Once they’re tired, you can reel them in.
Coho Salmon—Aug & Sept—these little delicious babies are about 5-8 lbs. They’re jumpers and fighters and fast, so expect a good show. During their peak season, expect to be busy catching fish often and quickly.
Pink Salmon—End of June-Aug—fishing for pink salmon in the ocean isn’t for the faint of heart. They are full of energy and will put up a good fight on the line. They are easier to catch once they swim upstream and run out of energy—you just have to share the stream with the bears.
Chum Salmon—Jul-Aug—A 7-12 lb average Chum is easy to catch, but be prepared for the “trophy” 20+ pounder. They are very “dramatic” while being pulled in and makes for a fun competition between man and fish.
Sockeye Salmon—If you’re lucky enough to catch a Sockeye, they are the best tasting of all the salmon. They only average 4-7 lbs and only a lucky few have caught one over the past couple of years. So, if you snag one, it’s like winning the Alaskan lottery.
Another popular fish in these waters is Halibut—mid-July through mid-Sept. A small Halibut is about 15-20 lbs. However, they can be much bigger. Two 130-pounders were caught on one excursion. So be prepared…just for the “Halibut!”
There are fish processors nearby that will fillet your fish, vacuum pack and flash freeze it. Then provide them with a U.S. address and let them know what day you want your fish delivered. They will ship your fish overnight. It costs approximately $2.20 per pound (min of 20 lbs) to prepare the fish and then add the cost of shipping.
What you need to know to plan your Ketchikan salmon fishing excursion
The chartered fishing boats are steps away from your cruise ship. Depending on how long your boat is in port, you can choose a 4-, 6- or 8-hour fishing excursion. Anyone 16+ years will need to purchase an Alaskan fishing license (approx. $20). And, if you plan to fish for King Salmon, you’ll need to purchase the stamp. You should be able to purchase both from your captain.
Charter boats typically hold six passengers. The price of the excursion includes the captain who guides you to the fish hangouts. All the necessary fishing equipment is on board, too. There is also a heated, enclosed cabin and a restroom on board for your comfort and convenience.
There’s plenty more to do in Ketchikan
It’s time to book your Alaskan cruise for 2014
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Linda Brandt joined the team at CruiseExperts.com in November 2011. She has been working with the marketing team in many capacities. Her new role is to pass on the expertise of the agency to help travelers understand the world of cruising through blogging. She studied journalism and writing in college and was a writer and member of the edit board for The Campus newspaper for two years at the College of the Sequoias.