4 - Whitey.... Do-It-Yourself Alaska

Well, here are some thoughts on heading to that magical place up North. $5,000 a week is a joke, I'm sure your trip would be awesome, but I honestly think that you can have the trip of a lifetime for much less. I spent a month in alaska, and another month travelling around the lower 48 and Canada...combined, my buddy and I spent about $3,000 or 1,500 each. This includes gas from Buffalo, NY and back. Believe me it was a bare minimum, dirty, cheap trip... but it was also the greatest time of my life, so far.

#1. Find someone you can get along with and have interesting conversation with, and drive. (probably best to leave the grilfriend or wife behind on this one)I know it seems like a long way, but remember, we drove from Buffalo. Take turns driving and sleeping, and gas up whenever you see an open gas station. this is probably the hardest part for people because it might be hard to get enough time off to allow driving. If you are die-hard like we were you can make it from B'ham in two days. (If you can't drive, skip this part, fly to Anchorage and rent a car)
#2. Plan ahead...make sure you buy all your food and gear before you leave, If you need anything while in Alaska, groceries etc. drive your a$$ to Anchorage and go to Wal-Mart, the only place that can be considered disount up there)
#3. Be one with the bears, and sleep outside. Bring good rain gear, a head net for bugs, a tent and enjoy nature. (We stayed in a hotel, one night in two months, It was an econoldge and it was still over $100.) If you have an R-V, or like to stay near other people, buy a state camping pass. The state has recreation sites...AKA parking lots all over and near most good fishing rivers. Its either $10 a night or buy a pass for $100 and stay at any of them, for as long as you want.(We actually met one guy that paid his $100 and fished all summer and slept in the back of his pickup) If, not there are plenty of places to pull off the road and hike in or just set up near your vehicle off a dirt road or something (free). Sleep in the car if it really starts raining.

Now some fishing ideas: We fished all over, but I think i can narrow it down to three highlights:
1. The smaller streams on the Kenai Peninsula. Park along the road where you see a bunch of cars. Look off the bridge, see all those gear slingers..., start walking and you wont see them anymore. I usually tried to walk at least a mile before starting to fish. Never shared a hole with anyone (except my friend, whom I was teaching to flyfish), and almost never even ran into anyone while fishing. You will see some very large bear tracks, bigger than a football, If you see the bear, give it lots of space stay calm and it will do its thing and not even care that you are there. We were there in early July for the end of the King run, sockeyes and lots and lots of dollies.
2. We took a water taxi out of Homer, to a small creek, (email me if you are actually going to do this and I might give you the name)across kachemek bay, which is inaccessible by road. A boat drops you off and comes to pick you up whenever you choose. Costs $60 wether you stay the afternoon, or 5 months. we stayed at the mouth of the creek on the beach, for 4 days, saw three other people, and fished to huge schools of chums, pinks, and big dollies that poured in on every tide. We are talking about a creek about 30 ft wide. We did this in mid to late July.
3. The tribs of the Susitna R., North of anchorage. Again, walk upstream and fish to lots of salmon(kings,silver, pink,chum , some dollies, and big rainbows. Silvers started in early august.

Thats about it,fish til midnight (it wont be dark) make a fire every night, have some cold beers, (if you dont have to pack them a long way), and rest your fighting arm til morning.
Sorry this got so long, I still get a bit too excited when thinking about fishing Alaska, Pete
Many big thanks for the fabulous information you have provided. I am mulling going up there because it has always been a dream of mine and since I'm 65, if I don't go soon, it will be an unreallized event about which I will always bemoan.
The problem is that I am no longer tough. The idea of sleeping in a car or even in the bush, gives me chills. The bears are OK; I have a .44 mag. that I can use, mainly on myself, if the going gets too wild.
I do have a trailer. This could help big time. I like your notion of finding a pile of cars since I believe that this is the number one rule in fishing: if you don't what to do, join the crowd, keeping eyes and hears open.
But the mile walks... Dunno..still thinking. Thanks again for your fine contribution. BOBLAWLESS :THUMBSUP

Old Man

Just an Old Man
What do I know---I'm just an old man

Bob'I always took you for a younger person. I guess us older person's don't like all that walking or disappearing up stream any more. Like all of my favorite places are places I can't get to any more. Popping brush is not my favorite way to go anymore. Oh,I'm 67 years young.



Active Member
Ya, right on dude! The water taxi thing is a great idea! I had a friend who guided up there and he was showing me some of his Alaska photo albums, so many pictures of guys fishing with big bears in the back ground! To cool, just stay calm like you said, the bears are fishing too! Thanks for the post! :THUMBSUP YT
The big leak!
It was my original intention to float/flyrod down a remote river in southwestern Ak that supported andromedus and resident fish which had little if any previous fishing pressure. The river I picked was narrowed after considerable research. The problem was, as could be suspected; time and $$.
The Kisaralik is about 100 mi. from lake outlet to mouth near Bethel.
The cost for floatplane dropoff and motorboat pickup about 800 pp.
The roundtrip airfare to bethel from Detriot would be insanely cheap for my cousin (he is a great oarsman and flyfisherman)and literally free for me. (Ya, 15 year airline tech).
Not to mention 10 days minimum to float.
Too much!!
Since then (1999) my cousin and I picked cheaper adventures in ak.

Lake Creek is about 74 air miles north of lake hood in anchorage, 54 miles long, gin clear glacier fed, lake filtered, class I-III,all 5 species of salmon, giant bow's 22" grayling, 5-7 days to float, floatplane $500 pp r/t.
We used to sleep on the ground, but now pack nice aluminum cots. Easy on the bones.
We camp,cook sleep,fish,laugh,eat,drink,sleep,fish,eat,float,and doit again and again.
Today the trip would be around 1000 byob.
I bought a 78 jeep cherokee in anchorage for 200 still runs today after about 600 more though. (its at a buddy's cabin in funny river right now), perfect ak fish-mobile 4x4.
We rent 16' aire cats from Alaska Raft and Kayak, about 90 per day now, and they deliver/pickup at the docks. tooo much!
Thats why my next retro check will be a new breakdown cat frame from Down River Equipment.
We have stayed at a few anchorage motels too. The long-house on wisconsin st is our current favorite (cheaper than most).
Stay out of los anchorage if at all possible though. Unless you like fishing less and fussing more.
Last summer we just stayed down on the kenai drove all over and floated the kenai r. 3 times.
Stayed at the grayling area on the russian r. campground. Pitched our tents right on the driveways.
that was a cheap trip.
We have always been self-guided with lots of prior research and experiences
Someday the kisaralik will be attainable though.
E-me for details on Ak. do-it yourself, or any sponsor/participants out there?

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
This sucks!!!!!!!!!!!

You had to bring up AK. Man. I have it made if I can ever get up there. I've had countless invites to go, but can't get summer vacation off. Basically, where I work, you bid vacation by seniority. With 14+ years in, May-Sept is booked. So I get Oct/Nov, and Jan-very early May.

But, here's my deal, My Dad is lifelong friends/coworkers with the Trout Brothers (Troutfitters lodge aka the Andreas family) and have been offered free trips when I can get up there. Then, my best friend for life is a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines. And she lives up north of Anchorage. What's the bennie of that besides a buddy pass? Her hubby is a bush pilot with float plane and piper cub. Plus, he likes me and has offered to fly me to some remote streams he's never seen guys fishing while he's stopped there. In fact, he has to fly in to pick her up when she's done with a flight. No road service to her town (can't remember name off hand).

BUT I CAN'T GET THE TIME OFF TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know there's other fishing during off season, but I want to fish for all the main species at once. There are a few guys ready to retire, maybe in the next 5 years I'll get summer vacation. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. :THUMBSUP
This sucks!!!!!!!!!!!

The big leak!
Wow 14 years and no summers??
Your employer needs to insource or upsize, I'm guessing.
Is that normal?
Wish I could help.
You have all the right resources exept that.
I too dig cats. 4 times in the bush on rivers, summer only.
Well even long weekends could be the trick in july?!
I've done it!
Takes careful planning and a guy with your connections could do it.
How long is the longest piece of your biggest cat frame?
How much does the whole package weigh soaking wet?
Do your AK pilot freinds tell you about any nice open rivers after Sept.
With the warmer weather patterns like this year, rivers might be runnable late fall there?
I like sotar tubes whats your opinion?

Another cheap way to enjoy alaska is to rent the forest service cabins. They run about $35 a night. I went to double bay this summer. I don't recommend this cabin, you have limited fishing time due to tides and have to have a small boat. But, there are many that are good for fishing. We flew into Cordova, and then had a skipper take us to the island for a week (if anyone has seen the movie "Capt Ron" you know our captain, bad boat trip). You pack in everything you will need. Most of the cabins have oil or wood burning stoves, and that is about it. Between the five of us we landed about 50 coho and lost about 50 more.


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
This sucks!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey leak, I work for UPS. All goes by seniority with the big brown. With seniority comes bennies. That includes first dibs on vacation. Most guys I work with have 25+ years, so all will be gone in next 5 years or so. So I'll have summer vacations hopefully soon.

Sotar makes damned good tubes. I have Aire, only because I bought it back in 89' and weren't many tube makers then. My frame is 10' long and 4' wide inside tube diameters. Can run 3-4 guys. Whole thing soaking wet is about 200#'s +(frame/tubes, etc). Frame is about 100#'s.

My friend's hubby says there is some good fishing in Sept, but the really nice fish are in july/aug. WHen he suggests I come, plus flying is easier to dictate. I guess where they are at gets a bit hairy starting in Sept. Unreliable. He doesn't mind flying in it, but doesn't like passengers (since he's usually more cargo then passengers).


Idaho Resident Craftsman/Artisan

Dude sweet report. Now that does sound like a dream trip. I think you've got the right idea as far as going "cheap". Keep the posts coming!

My suggestion is go soon, cause you will definetly want to go back...
Your trailer sounds like you have a great advantage, most people with campers, trailers, or RV's just stay at those State Recreation Area's I talked about. If you have something to sleep in, then you are good to go. Walking def. helps out a lot with the crowd thing, but that is not to say, you won't find lesser known, uncrowded areas. get yourself the Alaska Gazeteer and look for stream crossings away from the major highways, you will find some solitude. We even found a pull-off along the Kenai River, that we were able to fish completely alone, to piles of fresh fish. Just up the road, there were 20 cars. Also, you can do fly-out or water taxi trips, pretty damn cheap if you just go to an air or water taxi service. You can just go out for a day if you don't want to camp. It just takes a little time and research, the good thing is that in the mid to late summer, there are fish everywhere.

Here are some pics I wanted to add to my post....
1. Mr. Brown Bear makes an appearance on the river.
2. Try not to get this close...ha