Saturday, December 29, 2012

Alaska Adventure Series - Juneau Salmon Fishing

Almost every angler has a bucket list that includes catching an Alaskan Salmon. Sometimes the distractions in life may get in the way, preventing us from crossing off “Fishing in Alaska”. However, if you are fortunate enough to make your way to the fertile waters of Alaska, you will be telling fishing stories for years to come!

When you arrive in Juneau, there will still be distractions. Along the route to your ultimate catch is Juneau’s most popular, and most easily accessible, Mendenhall Glacier. It is prominent in the landscape (it covers more than 1,500 square miles) and easily viewed as you make your way to the harbor. Seals bask in the sun dotting the waterfront and the vast number of bald eagles perched on the waterway markers will pose for photos. Whales gracefully surface along the route to the destination where your fishing for Salmon begins. All of these distractions are part of the Alaska Salmon fishing experience. Everyone that sets foot on a cruise or whale watching tour wants to see all of those amazing sites of nature. You are no different…with one exception. What you really want to see is your rod taking a bow toward the frigid water signaling the beginning of a battle.

There are five species of salmon native to Alaska. The five finger method, whereby each species represents one the fingers on your hand, is a common method to remember each species. This is how it works…

Thumb – Rhymes with Chum / Dog Salmon
These have an ocean coloration of silvery blue green. Spawning males typically grow an elongated snout and have enlarged teeth. They average 24-28 inches and 10-13lb with the males usually being larger than the females.

Pointer Finger – You can use it to “sock” someone in the eye…Sockeye / Red Salmon
These are a greenish-blue with fine black speckles on their back. Spawning males have pale green heads, dark jaws, pale undersides and bright red bodies. Spawning females look generally the same, except for more subdued coloration. They grow up to 33 inches in length and weigh up to 15 pounds.

Middle Finger – The most prominent (largest)…King / Chinook Salmon
These have blue-green, red or purple on their back and top of the head with silvery sides. Black spots run along the tail and the upper half of its body. Its mouth is often dark purple to black. Adult fish range in size from 24 to 36 in, but may be up to 58 inches in length; they average 10 to 50 pounds, but may reach 130 pounds.

Ring Finger - Your would place a band of silver on it…Coho / Silver Salmon
During their ocean phase, coho salmon display silver sides and dark-blue backs. When in their spawning phase, their jaws and teeth become hooked. After entering fresh water, they develop bright-red sides, bluish-green heads and backs, dark bellies and dark spots on their backs. Mature adults have a pronounced red skin color with darker backs and average 28 inches and 7 to 11 pounds, occasionally reaching up to 36 pounds.

Pinky Finger – Pink / Humpies Salmon
In the ocean, pink salmon are bright silver fish. After returning to their spawning streams, their colors change to pale grey on the back with yellowish-white belly. Some will turn an overall dull green color. During spawning, the males develop a pronounced humped back, hence their nickname "humpies". Pink salmon average 4.8 pounds. The maximum recorded size was 30 inches and 15 pounds.

Capt. Annette & Mate Merideth
In order to see one of these beauties on your line, you will need a boat, tackle and an experienced guide. A favorite local is Captain is Annette with Moore Charters. Her knowledge of the local waters and fishing techniques combined with her down to earth personality is a winning combination. You will feel like you are fishing with a buddy the second you step on board the Eclipse.

Various Hootchies
On this trip, King Salmon were targeted. As you make your way out of the harbor you will be completing and paying for your fishing license in route. In addition to your Alaskan fishing license (price varies from $20 to $80 depending on the number of days), if you land a King, there is an additional $10 stamp that you will need to purchase if you keep the fish. This is similar to the Florida Snook stamp. The Eclipse is equipped with downriggers donning 12 pound weights (cannon balls). This enables the lines to be relatively straight down to compensate for the currents and the trolling speed. Slip knots are used for #5 or #6 hooks along with 40 lb leaders and flashers that are connected to the line with 30lb test and swivels. When fishing for Kings, this is important to use a leader because they like to shake their heads and use their teeth to cut the line. Kings like it low and slow as opposed to Cohos which like it high and fast. You will be fishing deep...60 to 100 feet. The bait of choice is herring and a hootchie. Sometimes putting a strip of herring on the hootchie does the trick if the bite is slow.

Captain Annette and First Mate Merideth worked in tandem to have 4 rods out at different depths to find the bite. Every person (4 max on her boat) on the boat had an opportunity to hook a King. After the Kings were landed (and the photos were taken) the First Mate quickly gilled and gutted the catch with surgical precision. Both ladies were very knowledgeable about salmon and halibut fishing, local hangouts (Tracy’s Crab Shack), best brew (Alaskan Brewing Company) hiking glaciers and pretty much anything relating to the lifestyle in the region.

Four hours goes by very quickly when the fishing is as good as it was. Another reason hiring an experienced Captain will only enhance your once in a lifetime experience. Catching all those fish will probably mean you want to take it home with you. If you arrived in Juneau via cruise ship, your only option is to have the salmon sent to the processor (your Captain will take care of that). There is a fee from the processor associated with having your salmon shipped back to your home or office. The fee will vary based on the number of pounds of fish you are processing and shipping and the destination to where the package is to be delivered. The processor will call you within a few days and provide the specific dollar amounts. If you are staying locally, check with one of the restaurants in town. Sometimes you will find a place that will prepare your catch (for a fee) so you will experience fresh salmon on the same day you pulled it from the water. Finally, there is a third option. Although on the water everyday making sure you catch fish, sometimes the Captains and Mates rarely get to go fishing for themselves. What a nice gesture to give your catch to the Captain and crew. Believe me, it is appreciated.

Whether you are fishing or sight seeing in Juneau, Moore Charters have the staff and the experience to make your visit memorable.

For more information on Moore Charters:
Phone: 907.723.8472 / Email:

Take a kid fishing. It could change their lives…and yours!

Julie McDaniel
Reel Women Stories

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Barbie Fishing Rods...not just for girls!

Barbie Fishing Rod Challenge

A tale of Men and Pink Rods
Nick Dyroff
Nick Dyroff, Creator and Barbie Rod Enthusiast

It is so easy to get caught up in the latest fishing technology. The most advanced rods, indestructible reels and artificial lures that have more science behind them than that used to send satellites  into orbit. Anglers with TV shows looking to hook up with the next sponsor of the latest and greatest fill in the blank.  Sponsors looking for the right publication to place their ads or brand there name. It can all be very frustrating to land in the middle of all of that chaos if all you want to do

The next time you are driving along a beach, on a backwater dirt road or running your boat on the flats, you will notice something different...LAUGHTER. The kind of laughter that comes from the pure enjoyment of casting that 2.6 foot rod and hooking a fish bigger than the rod you are using to catch them. That laughter is known by Dads everywhere when their kids declare, "I got one!!!". Only this time, its the guys that are belly laughing and landing slot reds and trout on their stylish pink rod.

There are more manly men pulling out Barbie Rods from the gun racks of the crew cabs all over Central Florida, leaving their expensive gear behind to gain bragging rights to possess the Barbie Rod Challenge Trophy for one short month. Anglers have had their destiny of fishing with a "buddy" altered to fishing with a "BFF" (Barbie Fishing Fanatic). Oh, it's not just one Barbie Rod...there are those who possess as many as 5 (Nick, you know it's true).

It's not just the guys that are getting in on the fun. More women are proudly casting a country mile with their Barbie Rods as well.  The challenge is bringing couples together on an even keel in the flats and on the banks. Putting the fun back into fishing is definitely an unintended consequence, however it has been a fantastic side effect of the Barbie Rod Challenge.

Well, here's to those who see beyond the glitz and glamor of owning a pink light up Barbie Rod. High fives to those in the angling  community that are taking up a cause that has the potential to become one of the premier charity fishing events in Florida. In the next year perhaps the sponsors that put so much time and expense into technology will get a glimpse of the pure fun it is to fish like a kid. Let's set the bar high and aim to get donations for next Christmas so that more kids can experience the thrill of fishing.

Grab a Barbie Rod and follow the fun on Facebook.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seattle Sights

Seattle's Pike Place Market

The distance from Orlando to Seattle is 3,131 miles. That is also the distance it will feel like you have walked as you traverse the streets (and hills) exploring Seattle.

If your time is limited in the city, one destination that can’t be missed is Pike Place Market. The sights and sounds of this micro eco(nomy) system will rival the first time you saw the Wizard of Oz at the movies. The part where the screen went from black and white to Technicolor and it prompted your to exclaim….WOW!!! This will evoke the same response. 

You will discover the best of Seattle’s artists, growers, harvesters, musicians and story tellers offering everything from freshly cut flowers to local honey.  Fish will fly through the air at the open seafood market and legends will be relived as you learn about those who first settled in Seattle and helped shape the waterfront to the popular destination it has become today. Musicians will entice you to stay a while to share their passion for both the music and the hope of one day being discovered.

One of the best ways to get an overview of all things important in Seattle is to take a tour provided by Seattle by Foot. Ed, our Tour Leader gently guided a group of about 10 ranging in age from early 20’s to near 70. An information packed walk took many pauses as he navigated us toward points of interest. You will learn that not only did Starbucks get its start there, but so did UPS in 1907. You will see the musical notes on the sidewalks that determine where performers will be assigned to perform for the day. Different day, different place.   You will learn that Washington State is the largest Hops grower and see the Pike Brewery Company where hops is put to good use. Many other insightful tidbits will be given to you as you make your way to more places like the Public Library and The Gum Wall.

After the tour, your host may invite you for a coffee or beer to further discuss the history of this Emerald City (there are more trees here than in any other city). Take the opportunity to really explore the area guided by the knowledge of a local. 

A big thank you to Heather at Seattle by Foot for arranging such a unique experience in such a short amount of time before I headed toward Skagway, the fishing destination and purpose of the Alaska Adventure Series. Remember, the journey has many points on the map that lead to the destination. The opportunity to interact with such genuinely friendly people and share experiences makes Seattle by Foot a real “catch” along the way.

Get more info at

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Alaska Adventure Series - Skagway

Alaska is, and has been, all about adventure. On a recent fishing trip to Juneau, a stop in Skagway proved to be one of the best experiences on land. For added value when traveling, whenever possible, look to the locals for recommendations to add some “off the beaten path” suggestions. This hidden gem was discovered through some preliminary research talking to a local businesswoman, Jeanne Gonzales. Jeanne owns and operates Alaska Green Jeep Tours (

This is a self guided Jeep tour from Skagway to the Yukon Territory, Canada. If you have arrived in Skagway by Cruise Ship and booked a Jeep tour, you will be greeted at the port and taken to a downtown office to complete your registration. Downtown Skagway can easily be imagined to have been quite the hot spot back in the day. As you pass the Red Onion Saloon on your way to Green Jeep Headquarters, you will often see servers in period costumes outside the establishment and reminisce about the goings on in that piece of history located prominently on a downtown corner.

Once you have completed the typical excursion sign in (copy of driver’s license, insurance and payment) you are driven to the Jeep corral.  Here you will find a fleet of clean, well maintained 2 and 4 door hard top (for the bears) green Jeep Wranglers.  You will notice right away the attention to detail even before you get in your vehicle. A cooler is secured to the front bumper of each Jeep stocked with drinks and snacks for the trip into the Yukon. You will be grateful for these munchies because there are NO fast food places along the way.  In addition, there is also very little cell phone reception.  Don’t worry, they have thought that problem through as well. Each Jeep has a CB radio that can be used to communicate between vehicles (if you are traveling with others) or to be used in case of emergency. One more show and tell from a staff member about how to use everything the Jeep is equipped with and your adventure is about to take place. 

Let the journey begin. Push the CD into the stereo and refer to the laminated guide to be taken step by step into the Yukon. The CD, narrated by Jeanne, is filled with facts about the history of Skagway, legends from the gold rush and points of interest along the way. Keep cameras within easy reach as you put mileage on the odometer. The sights and sounds will have your senses on alert. Every vista is postcard perfect. Each curve has the possibility of sighting a bear emerging from the brush, being near the roads edge or standing in the road challenging you. Wild goats navigate the rocky ledges and Bald Eagles grace the skies throughout the region.
An unexpected topography find was Inukshuks. Thousands of the stacked rocks lined a portion of the road. There was a silent calling to those passing by to stop and make this an interactive journey by building a tower of rocks, leaving a changed landscape in the middle of wilderness. Your mark is left behind where few will have the opportunity to do the same.
Next stop, the Yukon Suspension Bridge. There is a charge for admission, however, it is well worth it to walk on the suspension bridge that traverses the white water rapids of the Tutshi River and Canyon. There is also museum quality exhibits outdoors, a gift shop and the Assayers Café. The drive from Skagway to the bridge is a must if all you do is have a bowl of the Iron Chef quality Bison Chili and gaze at the river from the scenic deck. If you are lucky, you may spot the bear that has a large den on the opposite side of the river that can be seen from the Café. 
Suspension Bridge
 On to Carcross, Yukon Canada. Carcross is short for Caribou Crossing, and yes, they are out there. This is usually a destination for all the tour buses to stop either as the destination, or a vista point along the way on White Pass Train excursions. There are gift stores and restaurants along the streets of this tiny town (population 200). This is usually the point where the Jeeps make a U-turn and begin the descent back to Skagway. If you choose to continue, the capital, White Horse, is about 50 miles north of Carcross.
The Jeep rental is for the day, and you can spend anywhere from a couple of hours up to 8 hours exploring the Yukon.  You will want to be mindful of time if you have a departure time set by the Cruise Ship. Allow enough time to fill the Jeep with gas and return it to the Jeep corral. There is nothing fancy about dropping off the Jeep. Simply put the keys in the glove box and you are done. A phone hanging on the shed will directly connect you to the shuttle service (included in the package) back to the port.
Interactive Excursion
Having the opportunity to explore at your own pace was one of the best aspects of this excursion. There is no way to possibly describe the vistas that were so breathtaking or the excitement of seeing a bear for the first time as they pause from eating berries roadside to look at you. 
Yukon Resident
Enjoy nature, celebrate life and respect each other. 

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