Author: Paul Mrocza
Have you ever traveled to Alaska to do some sport fishing for the serious angler? For the person who loves fishing it can be the experience of a lifetime. There are two primary choices fishermen have when considering a fishing journey to Alaska, doing everything yourself in terms of fishing gear, lures, discovering when and where they're biting, etc. or hiring a charter service. In doing it yourself, you bear the vast majority of responsibility in ensuring you have a great time. When hiring a guide, you're entrusting someone else with the success of your trip.
We're going to assume that if you do hire a guide, you're going to get a good one. You'll conduct your research and find someone who provides the service you desire at a good price.
When thinking about which way to go, do-it-yourself or charter, you'll want to evaluate a few areas; your time restraints, the amount of knowledge you have about the area to which you're going, your fishing expertise, and how much gear you own.
If you're a first-timer traveling to Alaska's salmon-rich Kenai River, it would take a lot of prep and money to get you up-to-speed and outfitted for the trip. If you've already stalked salmon in other parts of the country or world and have a good sense of what you'll need and how to go about finding great fishing, then it starts to make sense to take charge and go for it yourself.
However, it doesn't have to be an either-or decision. The fact is there are over 400 registered guides on the Kenai River alone, and they offer a variety of services. Some charter services provide everything, from lodging, to gear, to drinks and food when out on the river, to fishing instruction, etc. They're ideal for a first-time and/or only time salmon angler. They're also a good way to go if you know little about the sport but would like to become more proficient and garner the knowledge necessary to eventually going out on your own.
If you've done this thing before but not in Alaska, then you may want to hire a guide who can take you to some prime fishing spots on the river. Armed with knowledge of lures, tackle, and technique, you'll be able to enjoy the experience and be with other anglers who are at your level. Unless you don't want to be with other fishermen.
If you'd rather go out on the river with a small number of folks or alone, then you'll want to hire someone who is more exclusive and probably more expensive. They may or may not provide equipment and other supplies. You're basically paying for exclusivity.
Always inquire about exactly what a provider means when they say they 'supply equipment,' 'everything you need is included,' or 'all the gear you'll need to have a great time is right here.' Often tackle and other articles are considered add-ons and will increase your bill. There's nothing wrong with this; simply make sure you understand what's included and what costs more.
Finally, in considering time restraints, you may make better use of your precious time finding a good guide rather than doing everything yourself. Especially if you've never been to the area. A good guide, no matter what they include or offer in add-ons, is the key to being successful and having a great time.
No matter what you choose to do, you want to keep in mind that the optimum use of your limited time in the pursuit of salmon on the river of your choice is most important. Once at the location, don't fritter your time away doing things you could have done before you arrived. In other words, make every moment count.