It’s not often that you get to experience a bucket-list adventure–sport fishing on a remote island in Alaska–once, let alone twice. Yet guests at both Waterfall Resort and Steamboat Bay Fishing Club return year after year, sometimes for decades, bringing generations of family to experience this exciting event.
In 2020 I took my first trip to Alaska and experienced fishing at Steamboat Bay Fishing Club, located on Noyes Island. Here’s an article I wrote about this first time fishing with a group of women. This year I’ll return to stay at their sister property, Waterfall Resort, located on Prince of Wales Island. There’s even a discounted rate on select dates for seniors.
I’ll fly from Kansas City to Seattle, take another two-hour flight to Ketchikan, then hop on a seaplane for a 40-minute flight above the Tongass National Forest. Here’s a short video of the flight from my previous visit.
Day 1 – Waterfall Resort
Arrive at Waterfall Resort, check in (I’ll be staying in one of the boardwalk cabins facing the lagoon), and get ready for a half-day of fishing. The resort provides all the gear you’ll need–waders, jacket, boots, and fishing equipment.
Out on the water, your guide will get you started fishing. Enjoy the afternoon catching fish as you watch for bald eagles, humpback whales, otter, and more. Once back at the dock, expert processors will filet, package, and flash freeze your day’s catch, ready to take home with you at the end of the trip. On our last trip, each of us took home 40 pounds of King and Coho salmon, lingcod, halibut, and rockfish. It was a treat to have a stocked freezer for nearly a year!
You’ll return to the dock by 5:30 p.m. to take photos with your catch. Freshen up, and enjoy a hearty buffet dinner with wine in the dining room. Afterward, spend time in the Lagoon Saloon, or take a hike to the resort’s namesake waterfall.
Days 2 and 3 – Waterfall Resort
Two full days of fishing will start each morning with breakfast at 5 a.m. followed by a full day of fishing. The chef will pack a sack lunch to enjoy on the boat. Return for another evening spent relaxing on the dock, sharing fishing stories with other guests, hiking, and enjoying the delicious menu on the buffet. The meals are a special treat (read more about the luscious seafood appetizer buffet and other meals here). This article looks at the boozy ice cream flights I enjoyed on my previous visit.
Day 4 – Waterfall Resort and Ketchikan
Spend the morning fishing before lunch in the dining room and the floatplane ride to Ketchikan.
Arrive in Ketchikan.
Ketchikan is known as “Alaska’s First City” due to its location at the southern tip of the Inside Passage – it is the first city you reach as you cruise north, and, for many visitors, their first introduction to the beauty and majesty of Alaska. If you spend enough time in Ketchikan chances are good it will rain at least once. The average annual rainfall is 162 inches, but it has been known to top 200 inches. Local residents call it ”liquid sunshine” and umbrellas are rarely used. Rain or shine, the beauty of Ketchikan’s setting is immediately apparent.
Check in at The Landing.
The Landing Hotel is a first-class, contemporary, full-service hotel in Alaska’s First City. The hotel is surrounded with the beauty and buzz of Ketchikan, from the deep green bluffs of Revillagigedo Island to the mountains of Gravina Island to the scenic channel bustling with fishing boats, ferries, and floatplanes. The Inter-Island Ferry, Alaska Marine Highway Ferry Terminal, and Ketchikan International Airport are located minutes from the hotel. The hotel offers premium amenities including two full-service restaurants, an exercise facility and courtesy shuttle service.
Head to Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary to embark on a private tour that includes a rainforest exploration plus a visit to a historic sawmill and the Alaska Raptor Center.
7 p.m. Dinner at Salmon Falls Resort & The Timbers Restaurant
The all-inclusive Salmon Falls Resort reinvents the Alaskan fishing getaway. The resort was built for passionate sport fishermen and first-time anglers who value first-class experiences paired with personalized services and amenities. Guests can embark on fully-guided and self-guided experiences or a customizable package. Tucked away from Ketchikan’s bustling cruise pier, guests at The Timbers Restaurant can savor the solitude and scenery of the resort’s beautiful setting. The menu highlights an array of Alaskan seafood and specialties paired with wines and microbrews.
Overnight in Ketchikan
Day 5 – Ketchikan
Morning Visit Saxman Native Village
Saxman Native Village is well-known for its collection of totem poles. The village houses 25 totem poles that are authentic replicas of those left in abandoned villages. Visitors can also peruse the village’s Clan House which features dance performances, a carving shed, a gift shop, and walking trails that meander through the Tongass National Forest.
Lunch at Dockside Galley, located in Saxman Village and operated by Cape Fox Corporation.
Located in Saxman Village, Dockside Galley serves American food like made-to-order, fresh burgers, baskets, cheese curds, sandwiches, and desserts like milkshakes and pies.
Check in at The Ketch Inn.
Nestled along the Tongass Narrows, minutes from downtown, The Ketch Inn embodies the spirit of Ketchikan – where fishing is a way of life, the food is hearty, and new discoveries are daily. The inn offers direct access to the most jaw-droppingly beautiful wilderness in the world with fully guided and self-guided fishing and sightseeing excursions.
1 – 2:30 p.m. Ketchikan Pub Crawl
Here’s an article I wrote about the famed Arctic Bar in Ketchikan.
2:40 p.m. Interview with local artist Ray Troll at the Soho Coho Gallery.
Ray Troll is an award-winning artist that creates fishy images that swim into museums, books and magazines, and onto t-shirts worn around the world. He draws his inspiration from extensive field work and the latest scientific discoveries, bringing a street-smart sensibility to the worlds of ichthyology and paleontology. Ray and his wife Michelle run the Soho Coho gallery in Ketchikan. Ray believes that everyone should be in a band regardless of talent or ambition, and leads an ensemble of musical renegades called the Ratfish Wranglers who perform in festivals, saloons, and dance parties around Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
3:30 p.m. Interview with local artist Ken Decker at Crazy Wolf Studio.
Ken Decker is a Tsimshian artist born and raised in Ketchikan. He is a member of the Wolf clan, one of four clans of the Tsimshian People of Southeast Alaska. Ken has been creating Northwest Coast design art for more than 20 years, and has apprenticed and taken classes from some of the most famous Northwest Coast artists. He works with various genres of art including drums, prints, bentwood boxes, bowls, ceremonial hats, paddles, masks, regalia and more. In addition to creating art, Ken teaches classes to aspiring artists and carvers.
4:30 p.m. Explore Creek Street Street Historic District shops and galleries.
Bordered by quaint buildings, buzzing restaurants, unique curio shops and private residences is Ketchikan’s historic Creek Street. Built along the shores of Ketchikan Creek and visited by thousands every year, Creek Street is one of Ketchikan’s most popular downtown destinations. A boardwalk sitting on wood pilings, it is a great location for salmon viewing in the “Salmon Capital of the World.” Creek Street is full of history, surrounded by a lively atmosphere and boasts picturesque views in every direction.
Interview with Jaimie Palmer of The Captain’s Lady and Ketchikan Candle Co.
The Captain’s Lady is the littlest boutique on Ketchikan Creek featuring over 30 Alaskan Artists. Jaimie’s love of the ocean and its people is reflected through the boutique’s selection of gifts in the shop. From handmade jewelry and art created by local artists, to affordable and stylish women’s clothing, or silly keepsakes, there is a whole lot of love put into each item the boutique sells. Jaimie is also the owner of Ketchikan Candle Co., an Alaskan candle company with a donation built into every purchase. Their 100% soy candles have cotton wicks and phthalate free fragrances.
5 p.m. Interview with local artist Maida Kelley at Cape Fox Lodge.
Maida Kelley is a local Ketchikan artist that paints Alaska’s geography, wildlife and people. Her watercolor paintings share the beauty of Alaska and Maida’s hometown of Ketchikan. Maida began painting when she was young after taking a local class and has been hooked ever since, sharpening her skills. Her paintings are very popular among cruise ships and she can be found sharing her passion for painting in her booth on the Ketchikan dock.
6:00 p.m. Dinner at Cape Fox Lodge – Interview Naomi Michalsen
Local wild foods were used for centuries for medicinal purposes, ceremonial purposes and to create the basis for healthy families. Alaska Native peoples were among the healthiest people on earth before colonization. It is Naomi’s belief that the indigenous peoples of Alaska can once again be at the forefront of health and wellness. Kaasei Training and Consulting offers classes, lectures, and hands-on activities designed to help participants create healthy communities.
Day 6 – Ketchikan
Spend time enjoying Ketchikan’s Fourth of July Celebrations.
Enjoy watching the parade, which starts at the intersection of Jefferson and Tongass, just north of Ketchikan Plaza. While there, tour food booths for a chance to try traditional foods such as lumpia, fry bread, etc.
Duck race. Ducks flow into downtown and by the Creek Street boardwalk to the finish line on Creek Street.
While in the downtown/Creek Street area, visit Tongass Historical Museum.
The Ketchikan Museums Tongass Historical Museum and Totem Heritage Center collect, preserve, interpret and creatively share the history and culture of the region to serve, educate, engage and enrich the community and its visitors. Ketchikan Museums offer several events and educational programs such as classes, Native arts studies programs, open craft nights, and oral history discussions and workshops.
Day 7 – Depart for home
Pick up your frozen box of fish to check through at the airport. Start planning your next visit!