Fishing for King Salmon at Waterfall Resort in Alaska is a little like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Only this jackpot is found in the form of a sport fishing tournament at Waterfall Resort Alaska. It’s optional if you decide to enter the fishing tournament, but the odds are stacked in your favor for everyone on the boat to see bald eagles, humpback whales and multiple types of fish at this all-inclusive lodge located in southeast Alaska. Speaking of rainbows, did you know that the purity of the colors of the rainbow depends on the size of the raindrops? As Waterfall Resort is located on Prince of Wales Island, near Alaska’s Inside Passage, you’ll be sure to see great rainbows, as well as magnificent sunsets while you’re there.
My husband and I were fortunate to be salmon fishing in southeast Alaska mid-June during the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. I like nothing better than fishing for kings in Alaska, a close second is fishing for silvers in King Salmon, Alaska.
Our journey started in the San Francisco Bay Area with Alaska Airlines, but it was the 45 minute floatplane ride to Waterfall Resort that had me mesmerized. Departing from Ketchikan International Airport you’ll soar above the Tongass National Forest through places like Bear’s Passage and the Tongass Narrows. The Beaver floatplane will glide up to the historic resort, once home to a thriving salmon fishing cannery, and the ninety member staff (give or take a few employees) will greet guests like a mama bear who’s been reunited with her stray cubs. Okay, not everyone gets the bear hug welcome, but there are a lot of return spawners – pun intended!
One of the best things about Waterfall Resort is that you’ll be on the water and fishing soon after you land. You’ll walk down to the mud room and be suited up with shiny yellow Helly Hansen bib overalls and waterproof xtratuf deck boots; certainly you’ll look the part of an Alaskan fisherman even if you don’t know the different between a G. Loomis fishing rod with Shimano reel or how to fly fish with a fly rod. If you are a sport fisherman, you’ll know this fishing gear is top notch, as are the salmon fishing guides.
“One of our friends had been here before,” said Paulette Maslick of Scottsdale, Arizona. “We’d fly fished in Colorado and wanted to try the bigger fish. This place is an old fishing lodge; everything works like a Swiss clock. They have it dialed in. We stayed in the townhouses and had a great experience. When we were getting tired, our guide took us to different spots that allowed us to go for other fish like halibut. We never knew what was coming up. I will also add that as a woman, you need to be prepared to use your upper body strength.”
Waterfall Resort Alaska offers 26 oceanfront boardwalk cabins, 10 historic lodge rooms, 4 premium Egg House suites, and 4 family size townhouses. The resort can accommodate a maximum of 92 people on the property and offers a one-to-one staff to guest ratio. You may not see housekeeping staff, as they are hard at work while you’re out fishing, and you’ll probably not meet “the cutters” on the dock, but you’ll hear their music blaring from the huge warehouse while they cut and vacuum pack your freshly caught fish. I know the staff members work like dogs during this busy three month season (our son worked at a fishing lodge in Alaska.)
Outside the obvious fishing activities, Waterfall Resort has a mile long walk to their namesake waterfall, happy hour at the Lagoon Saloon, over water golf shot, on-site Alaska Airlines check in service, and a post-angling massage.
Meals at Waterfall Resort Alaska
You will not leave hungry from Waterfall Resort Alaska. The Alaskan fishing lodge takes full advantage of the bounty that surrounds it with fresh seafood featured daily, as well as meat and produce deliveries flown in. In addition to fresh spot prawns, crab cakes, clam fritters, salmon dip and halibut, guests will have their choice of elk fillet, grilled duck, beef lettuce wraps and perfectly prepared certified Angus beef ribeye, among other items. Of course there is the salad bar and the attentive staff serves complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks nightly.
All of your meals are included, partially buffet style and partially cooked to order (they have a fantastic omelet bar in the mornings!) While they don’t have a signature cocktail per se, Ron’s margaritas, served nightly in the Lagoon Saloon, are famous. There’s also a ping pong table, multiple card tables for poker players and a cozy fireplace to simply kickback and enjoy reading a book.
“This place is an old fishing lodge; everything works like a Swiss clock. They have it dialed in.” Paulette Maslick, Scottsdale, Arizona
Wildlife at Waterfall Resort
Waterfall Resort is located on 52 private acres in the middle of Tongass National Forest. Needless to say, this location produces a lot of liquid sunshine. On our trip we had sunny skies the entire fishing vacation. We were also rewarded with amazing Alaskan sunsets. If Mother Nature shines in your favor she’s sure to put on a spectacular show. For me, this happy hour didn’t have a last call.
Each 25 foot North River cabin cruiser holds four guests and includes a coast guard certified fishing guide. Our guide, Evan Rintacutan from Pacifica, California, was also a wealth of information when it came to the local wildlife. We had a bonus of having an avid birder in our fishing boat. She typically hooked into a King Salmon or halibut when she was bird watching and casually holding her fishing pole. Between the 5 of us, we spotted 237 bald eagles, numerous puffins, Orca and humpback whales, sea otters, sea lions and jellyfish. Once on land, on our walk back to the waterfall, we saw 4 black beers and several Sitka black-tailed deer and fawns. Bring your binoculars with you on this once-in-a-lifetime trip!
No fishing experience required
“Reel top to bottom,” says our guide Evan. “Drop ’em if you got ’em.” “Weight ahead of your bait.” These are frequent phrases that Evan will repeat as he patiently baits our hooks or untangles a crossed line during our time on the water. I learned to listen to our guide, because unlike salmon fishing in the river, here you don’t set the hook. I also learned that fishing with a party of four strangers quickly turned into a group effort. While one person might have landed the largest Ling cod, other fishermen might be the ones that reel in the King salmon. Here in Alaska, fishing is a collective effort and rising tides truly do float all boats.
Need to know:
2018 Waterfall Resort Alaska rates and fishing packages:
$1505/night (double occupancy – single supplement available)
2 night/3 day: $3010
3 night/4 day: $4515
4 night/5day: $6020
While the resort does not offer return guest discounts, the all-inclusive-fishing resort does have promotions. https://www.waterfallresort.com/rates/promotions
WiFi is free, although we are in the final frontier so it can be spotty at times.
Check in/check out time? Floatplane arrivals and departures are around noon.
Insider Tips: If you put on sunblock while out fishing, be sure to use hand sanitizer, otherwise the fish can smell the sunblock on your line. After getting back from fishing all day, a shower and a mile walk to the waterfall is a perfect way to wind down and see more of the gorgeous Alaska wilderness – you might see some deer, a bald eagle, or bear along the way! Pack light and utilize the carry on strategy. I recommend a soft-sided duffel bag and then your fish box will count as luggage on your Alaska Airlines flight home!
If You Go:
Waterfall Resort Alaska (800) 544-5125
320 Dock Street, Ste. 222
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901
Waterfall Resort Alaska review, video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Waterfall Resort Alaska. As always, all opinions are my own.