In the midst of so much change, one thing I still retain is the ability to dream, to envision future plans. My future plans include a women’s fishing expedition to the Steamboat Bay Fishing Club in the remote area of Ketchikan, Alaska. Located on Noyes Island, our group will take a short float plane ride from Ketchikan to get there.
When I was invited on this trip a couple months ago, I had no idea the changes in store for travel. Since then, all of my trips but this one have been canceled, and I’m holding tightly onto plans to visit this luxury resort, considered to be the most remote fishing lodge in the world, located in the wilds of Alaska. The remote locale and limited number of attendees make this feel like the perfect place to practice social distancing.
No crowds there. The small, private lodge only accommodates up to 16 guests and has a private chef, hot tub, sauna, open bar, game room, and very personalized service, including massage. I’m looking forward to traveling with three other women to enjoy fresh air with plenty of space to roam outdoors. I had already considered it a bucket-list trip, but with the current situation of staying home, holding onto the vision of hiking and boating in a remote location, far from crowds, but with a select group of friends, sounds even more ideal.
The resort is only open during the peak fishing months of June through August; our group is booked for July 2 to 6. We’ll fly into Ketchikan from Seattle, a 90 minute flight, and spend the night at Cape Fox Lodge. The next morning, we’ll take an early floatplane and a boat to arrive at Steamboat Bay.
Steamboat Bay Fishing Club
The only resort located on Noyes Island, Steamboat Bay is just minutes from the best fishing in Southeast Alaska -- waters famous for king and silver salmon, halibut, lingcod, and more than 20 species of rockfish. Located on 31 square miles in the Tongass National Forest, the area is uninhabited save for the club’s members, guests, and crew.
We’ll be staying in The Lodge guesthouse. Also on property is The Residence, which can accommodate eight guests. Both lodges are decorated with Alaska Native art, cedar paneling and cabinetry, and fixtures reclaimed from a 1920s-era cannery that once flourished on the site.
After a long period at home, I’m anticipating relaxing in the lodge’s Great Room with its vaulted ceilings and second-story views of the bay. It will be such a change of pace from the current situation to sit in front of the stone fireplace relaxing after a day of fishing. I’m also looking forward to pulling up an Adirondack chair on the club’s wraparound deck overlooking the bay.
Our days will be spent on the water. The club hosts anglers of all ages and skill levels, which is encouraging since I’ve only been on one other guided fishing expedition.
The area is known for premium fishing, the result of a combination of spring runoff, the craggy coastline, and a confluence of ocean currents lending to an ideal habitat for millions of baitfish. The baitfish draw the schools of salmon and other species.
Fishing expeditions are limited to four guests to a boat. Our group will fish for three days with a choice for lunch: We can have a chef-prepared meal on the boat, or we can return to the lodge for lunch and rest time, maybe in front of the massive stone fireplace.
All of the gear is provided, including fishing pants, jacket, and boots. We can sit back and enjoy the sights -- humpback whales that sometimes breach nearby, sea otters, puffins, sea lions, bald eagles, and more -- or get involved with fishing and perhaps landing a big king salmon, halibut, lingcod, or rockfish.
Last year when I visited La Paz, Mexico, we dined on our fresh catch each evening. So when I learned that guests typically take home 25 pounds or more of fish that they caught, I was excited by the thought of having my fresh catch to eat when I return home. The resort cleans and cuts the fillets, then flash freezes them and packs them into custom wet-lock fish boxes for the return flight.
I’m looking forward to the 27-foot cruisers with all the niceties: heated cabins, charging stations for personal electronics, state of the art marine technology, and private heads (privies). Although my fishing trip in La Paz was unforgettable, our boat lacked toilets and had little shade (we spent the day chasing the shade around the boat in the near 100 degree heat) -- two comforts that are helpful for long days on the water.
When not fishing, I plan to step into nature and enjoy hiking, wildlife watching, visiting the waterfall observation deck, and kayaking in the bay. Indoors, there will be plenty of opportunity for rest and relaxation with a massage, sitting in the hot tub or Slavic banya-style sauna, or just relaxing by the fire.
A private chef creates menus that change daily and emphasize fresh, regional ingredients. A hot, made-to-order breakfast is served each day. Lunches will include either a picnic aboard our boat or at the club. Each night, we’ll enjoy drinks at the open bar. The cocktail hour includes a chef’s presentation of hors d'oeuvres followed by dinner, which I’m really looking forward to.
Dinners will include menus and Pacific Coast wine pairings utilizing fresh regional fare such as wild game, local seafood, and even organic greens grown in the club’s greenhouse garden. I’m looking forward to tasting such specialties as Smoked Tomato Boar Lasagna, Reindeer Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, and Wild Game Chili. After dinner, we can relax in the Club Room, a loft overlooking the Great Room, with a nightcap.
I’m looking forward to this opportunity to visit the wilderness area of Alaska. It’s a rare opportunity to visit such a remote area yet have the luxuries of fine dining and a luxury resort in an intimate setting.
While the future coronavirus climate is unknown, my hope is that by summer travel will reawaken. What a fantastic opportunity to visit such a pristine area as my first trip after the travel bans are lifted.
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