Fish and Feast in Ketchikan, Alaska


Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

I have to say that I really knew nothing about fishing until my kids literally got hooked on this timeless pastime. Personally, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a fluke and a flounder, a jig and a rig, or a line and a leader. But, my kids have become avid fishermen, trolling the waters in and around Long Island for the past four years.  Like most things in life, it takes a child to open your mind to new experiences, and they have thus inspired my husband and I to include fishing excursions on several family vacations.

Our recent summer cruise to Alaska, on Regent Seven Seas Navigator, included a stop in Ketchikan, the state’s southeastern-most city. With my sons’ passion in mind, we signed up for the excursion “Guided Fishing in the Wilderness.”  I really didn’t know what to expect.  This wasn’t sunny Mexico or Miami – we were right in the heart of Alaska’s rainforest!  Before we left the safety of our cruise ship, I diligently dressed warmly and in layers, as instructed, and tried to visualize exactly what a “skiff” was and whether it would cause seasickness. But, from the moment we were introduced to Baranof Fishing Excursions, I was immediately put at ease.

We were escorted to their marina offices where the professional staff checked us in and helped us purchase our fishing licenses. Included in our charter were complete waterproof outfits designed to protect against wind and possible rain.  As we navigated our way into industrial strength rubber boots, pants, coats, and life vests, I couldn’t help but think of the “Gordon’s Fisherman.”

Our family of four was then introduced to our captain/guide who led us to our skiff – a small open boat, about 16 feet long. The trip out to the fishing spot took about 40 minutes, and on the way we marveled at the pristine Alaskan wilderness, spotting several bald eagles.  At the fishing site, our guide handed out the rods and tackle.  My kids immediately dropped their lines and began jigging, while my husband and I waited for instructions. Over the course of a few hours, at several different sites, the repeated shouts of “fish on!” had me scrambling for my camera to catch the joy on my kids’ faces.   They proudly hooked one dogfish, one halibut, and two rockfish.

With our fish in the hull, our captain brought us to Baranof’s wilderness camp for an outdoor culinary adventure.  Our catch of the day was expertly filleted and became the entrée in our gourmet campsite meal.  We sat on benches arranged around roaring fires surrounded by centuries-old cedars and spruce trees.  We chatted with other fishing families as we sipped hot coffee and hot chocolate, while an expert chef skillfully prepared our catch in his rustic, outdoor kitchen.  He transformed our fish into a mouth-watering, saffron-infused, bouillabaisse stew accompanied by fresh sourdough bread, garlic aioli, and for dessert, warm rhubarb blueberry bread pudding.  It was “Gourmet Magazine” meets “The Discovery Channel.”  There is nothing like the taste of fish freshly caught and prepared and served al fresco.

After lunch, the kids explored the shoreline and the tidal pools, and then we boarded our skiff and headed back to the marina with my son, Jack, happily at the tiller.  As we shed our fishing gear on the pier and sadly said our goodbyes to our guide, I thought back to that ancient fishing proverb, and realized that, although my fishing skills may not be sufficient to last me a lifetime, my memories certainly will.

Ketchikan Fishing

An expert fisherman, Jack boards the skiff and is ready to go

Fishing in Ketchikan

Harris’s first catch of the day, a fifteen-pound halibut

Fishing in Ketchikan

Jack follows-up with a Pacific Rockfish

Fishing in Ketchikan

Harris arrives at the campsite with his catch of the day

Fishing in Ketchikan

A successful day at sea

Fishing in Ketchikan

The chef prepares a gourmet meal in the wilderness campsite kitchen

Fishing in Ketchikan

A delicious halibut and rockfish Bouillabaisse

Fishing in Ketchikan

Exploring the tidal pools at the campsite

Fishing in Ketchikan

Jack at the tiller for the ride back to the marina

Check out my video below of our fishing and feasting adventure in action!

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11 thoughts on “Fish and Feast in Ketchikan, Alaska

  1. Oh my goodness…I can’t believe the boys caught those big fish!! What an amazing trip and great photos mom! I would love for my little guys to do something like that when they’re older. Btw, your boys are quite the young men!


  2. Pingback: Journey Through Alaska’s Inside Passage | unique family traveler

  3. Pingback: What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise – unique family traveler

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