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AlwaysWading

Best Alaskan Fishing Lodge ??

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The wife and I went to Soldotna a couple of years ago and stayed at a fishing cabin.The owner was a total DH.Wont go back.Any suggestions for the Kenai/Soldotna area ? I searched old threads but was looking for some other suggestions.Thanks.


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About ten years ago I took my dad to a place afognak wilderness lodge, it is on a very remote island called afognak island. The accommodations were very nice the scenery was even better and the fishing was excellent. I am not sure if it is close to where you are thinking of going ( afognak is a small island off of Kodak) but I would recomend looking into it.

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Tim Berg in Soldotna. He's got a website that showcases his operation.

 

My wife and two of our friends went there about the third week in July a few years ago as part of a broader Alaskan vacation. Everything was top-notch.

 

We spent two days salmon fishing on the Kenai, one day halibut fishing in Cook Inlet (the fish are smaller there than the ones that you can catch in other places, such as Homer or out of Seward, but we still managed a 130 and a 110, along with others, that was plenty of meat) and one day of general bottom fishing out of Seward.

 

The first day salmon fishing, we had about 10 fish to 43 pounds; the second day we only had 6, but the big one was 51. (That led to a somewhat humbling incident. I caught the 51, and was pretty proud of it. A little girl--maybe 10 years old, certainly no more than 11--comes up to my guide and asks what the fish weighed. He tells her "51" at which point she says "Oh, that's nothing. I caught a 72 this morning...") Note that the king salmon runs have been fairly poor in the past couple of years.

 

As mentioned, we didn't run for the really big halibut, but merely fished Cook Inlet out of Lighthouse Point; however, we caught a lot of fish between maybe 50 and 130 pounds. the three largest were 130, 110 and 90.

 

The general bottom fishing day involved a long run to Montague Island (this is also where you go if you want big halibut; they have a spot there that regularly yields fish in the 200-300 pound class). We jigged fish in 180-240 feet of water. Lingcod to 59 1/2, yelloweye rockfish to 17, halibut to 86, and some of the smaller black rockfish. Silver (coho) salmon that hit like bluefish, grabbing small squid lures a few feet below the bottom.

 

Back at the lodge, you can walk back to the river and catch sockeye salmon off the dock.

 

All boats and crews were everything that you could ask for. The lodge was great. Continental breakfast put out at 4:00 or so for the early departures, a full breakfast a few hours later for everyone else. More lunch than we needed packed in an Igloo for the trip. When you got back, there was an hour or so of beer, wine and appetizers, then dinner cooked by a legitimate professional chef, not a camp cook (cedar-plank salmon, king crab legs, prime beef, etc.) accompanied by decent wine. The rooms themselves were more than you could ask for; my wife and I had one of the best in the place (by accident, we didn't ask for it) along with the usual bathroom, shower, etc. it came with a separate sauna and hot tub. Berg has an interest in a fish-packing plant, and your first two boxes of fish are packed free; anything beyond two boxes you pay for. You do have to pay for shipping (FedEx overnight), although I suppose that you could also take it back on the plane. Fish can be smoked at your request, with samples of the various smokes/seasonings available for you to try.

 

It was one of those vacations that I'd almost be afraid to repeat, because it would be tough to beat--or even match--the first time. But if you're looking for a place in the Soldotna area, Tim Berg would be my choice.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by CWitek View Post

Tim Berg in Soldotna. He's got a website that showcases his operation.

My wife and two of our friends went there about the third week in July a few years ago as part of a broader Alaskan vacation. Everything was top-notch.

We spent two days salmon fishing on the Kenai, one day halibut fishing in Cook Inlet (the fish are smaller there than the ones that you can catch in other places, such as Homer or out of Seward, but we still managed a 130 and a 110, along with others, that was plenty of meat) and one day of general bottom fishing out of Seward.

The first day salmon fishing, we had about 10 fish to 43 pounds; the second day we only had 6, but the big one was 51. (That led to a somewhat humbling incident. I caught the 51, and was pretty proud of it. A little girl--maybe 10 years old, certainly no more than 11--comes up to my guide and asks what the fish weighed. He tells her "51" at which point she says "Oh, that's nothing. I caught a 72 this morning...") Note that the king salmon runs have been fairly poor in the past couple of years.

As mentioned, we didn't run for the really big halibut, but merely fished Cook Inlet out of Lighthouse Point; however, we caught a lot of fish between maybe 50 and 130 pounds. the three largest were 130, 110 and 90.

The general bottom fishing day involved a long run to Montague Island (this is also where you go if you want big halibut; they have a spot there that regularly yields fish in the 200-300 pound class). We jigged fish in 180-240 feet of water. Lingcod to 59 1/2, yelloweye rockfish to 17, halibut to 86, and some of the smaller black rockfish. Silver (coho) salmon that hit like bluefish, grabbing small squid lures a few feet below the bottom.

Back at the lodge, you can walk back to the river and catch sockeye salmon off the dock.

All boats and crews were everything that you could ask for. The lodge was great. Continental breakfast put out at 4:00 or so for the early departures, a full breakfast a few hours later for everyone else. More lunch than we needed packed in an Igloo for the trip. When you got back, there was an hour or so of beer, wine and appetizers, then dinner cooked by a legitimate professional chef, not a camp cook (cedar-plank salmon, king crab legs, prime beef, etc.) accompanied by decent wine. The rooms themselves were more than you could ask for; my wife and I had one of the best in the place (by accident, we didn't ask for it) along with the usual bathroom, shower, etc. it came with a separate sauna and hot tub. Berg has an interest in a fish-packing plant, and your first two boxes of fish are packed free; anything beyond two boxes you pay for. You do have to pay for shipping (FedEx overnight), although I suppose that you could also take it back on the plane. Fish can be smoked at your request, with samples of the various smokes/seasonings available for you to try.

It was one of those vacations that I'd almost be afraid to repeat, because it would be tough to beat--or even match--the first time. But if you're looking for a place in the Soldotna area, Tim Berg would be my choice.



CW it sounds like you guys did really well.I was there (Soldotna) two years ago and the fishing was mediocre at best.The first two days of Salmon fishing (on Kenai river) the wife and I got skunked.On the third day I only landed 1 King,about 30 pounds.Most of our Halibut were in the 20-40 pound range,my wife caught the largest on the boat with a 70 pounder.We did catch 20 -30 red Salmon on our last day there (all were released except 6) .I was reluctant to book with Tim Berg because he got some bad reviews on Trip Advisor,but now I'll reconsider seeing how you liked his lodge.Thanks.


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check out Aniak River Lodge I have been there three times. The same group of guys that I went before is heading back next year. the owner has the only lodge on the river usally we don't see anybody except the group you are fishing with. There are some guides that float the upper part of the river systems you might see them waiting for the bush plane to pick them up.

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CW it sounds like you guys did really well.I was there (Soldotna) two years ago and the fishing was mediocre at best.The first two days of Salmon fishing (on Kenai river) the wife and I got skunked.On the third day I only landed 1 King,about 30 pounds.Most of our Halibut were in the 20-40 pound range,my wife caught the largest on the boat with a 70 pounder.We did catch 20 -30 red Salmon on our last day there (all were released except 6) .I was reluctant to book with Tim Berg because he got some bad reviews on Trip Advisor,but now I'll reconsider seeing how you liked his lodge.Thanks.

 

I took a look at the comments on Trip Advisor, and it all boils down to taste.

 

Yes, you have to drive a lot. But that means that you get to fish in a lot of different places, and can go to where the fishing for each target species is best. And it is possible that you'll get back late one night, and have to get up early for a long drive the next morning--depending on how you time your trips, that can happen. We did a full-day trip for halibut in Cook Inlet, out of Lighthouse Point, that didn't get us home until about 11:00 pm (remember that this is the Land of the Midnight Sun, so at 11:00 pm, it's still daylight), and then had to get up early for the drive to Seward the next morning. But the roads are good, and it's just not an ordeal. And I'm not sure that going to bed late and getting up early is that unusual when you fish or hunt. If you don't want to do it, talk the the lodge ahead of time.

 

Some of the complaints were that folks didn't catch king salmon. As I mentioned in my first post, runs in the Kenai have been poor in the last couple of years; NMFS has declared a "fisheries emergency" and Alaskan Congressmen are trying to get money to help the fishing industry get through it. That's going to be an issue at whatever lodge you fish.

 

And there are complaints that it's expensive to ship the fish home. It is. We paid about $4/pound, but that is the going rate. As I mentioned, you could declare it as extra baggage and pay the $50 or whatever the extra bag charge is, and maybe include some overweight baggage fees along the way. It will still be less than FedEx charges. But it also won't be shipped to your front door, you'll have to hump it around the airports and you really don't want to think about that sort of lost luggage being delivered a couple of days late... (FedEx has a cold storage area at its hub, where the fish is kept between flights). The four of us shipped 526 lbs of fillets home, and it cost over $2,000--which, if you think about it, isn't bad for more than 500 pounds of filleted fish, all prepacked and vacuum-sealed in 1-meal serving packages, and flash-frozen in an industrial freezing facility. We were eating fish at least 3 times a week for a year, and it held its quality very well.

 

I can't speak for the other lodges, but the one on the Kenai in Soldotna, where we stayed, was great. It's centrally located between the southern Kenai Peninsula halibut ports and Seward, with the Kenai itself close at hand. You should check into your specific room, because they are very different, even within the lodge. We probably had the best in the place; our friends got what I suspect was the "kids' room" next door; nothing but a couple of beds, a closet and a bathroom in the hall (which they didn't have to share with anyone else). But nobody complained, because while my wife and I might enjoy sharing things like a hot tub and sauna, a couple of guys were better off shooting pool or hanging out by the bar. You don't spend much time in the room, anyway. You're either eating, sleeping or fishing.

 

I also note that a lot of the complainers went in June. I suspect that may be a little early. We picked the second half of July because that appeared to be the best overall time for both saltwater fishing and kings in the Kenai.

 

Bottom line is that if you take the time to figure out what you want to do, then call and have a good conversation about the room you want, what you want to fish for and how you want things scheduled, you should have a great time.

 

I use Trip Advisor all the time, but sometimes reading the bad reviews closely makes a place look even more attractive. Last December, my wife and a couple of our friends (one of whom was also at Tim Berg's with us) decided to go down to Andros Island in the Bahamas. We found a place called Small Hope Bay Lodge, which had great reviews, but also some bad ones. But when I see "bad" reviews such as "There's nothing to do down there but fish and dive;" "All people want to talk about is fishing and diving," "There's no night life," "It's not close to any shopping or casinos," etc. I realized that what are classed as "bad" reviews were actually very good ones. We went and had a great time. I suspect that you'll feel the same way about Tim Berg's operation.

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