Q: What is a “Highliner”?
A: Simply put, a “Highliner” is the very best fisherman. The term is used in the charter and commercial fishing industry widely, but is not so well know in the sports fishing industry. For example, Bill Poole, who pioneered long range fishing on vessels like the Excel out of of San Diego, California was a “highliner” in the southern California sports fishing industry.
Q: What is the catch limit for halibut this year 2015?
We are NOT limited to one halibut per day like almost all other lodges in SE Alaska. Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Petersburg & Craig lodges are located in area 2C where they are restricted to one halibut per day. In 2014 that one halibut must be under 42 inches (35 pounds) or over 80 inches (250 pounds). ALL OTHER HALIBUT MUST BE RELEASED!! We have licenses to fish in Area 3A, where you may keep TWO halibut per day… one halibut of any size AND a second halibut under 29 inches. We also have the option to fish in area 2C with its restrictions, if weather prevents us from fishing in area 3A.
Most guests catch and keep a halibut and a king salmon, some cohos and rock fish every day at the Highliner Lodge. At the end of a 4 or 5 day trip, most of our guests go home with 100-150 pounds of fillets. That is a lot of fish! While you may go to other destinations like Homer & Seward and keep 2 halibut per day… usually they are smaller and you will not be catching any salmon on the same day. I have ADF&G statistics to prove this. See below.
To clarify, we can fish in either area 2C or area 3A (but not both in the same day). If you want to keep halibut over 42 inches and under 80 inches and keep 2 halibut per day, you must fish in area 3A. This entails an additional 30-90 minutes of travel time per day. Some days the weather prevents us from fishing in this area. If the weather is unsettled, we will fish in the more protected waters of area 2C. You might say that we have the best of both worlds (areas)!
We have acquired commercial halibut quota to use in the charter halibut fishery. We have purchased the right to convert commercial allocated halibut to charter halibut so that our guests will have a choice of whether, or not, they would like to keep two halibut of any size every day in either area. This choice will come at a price… a choice that you make when that great big halibut is at the side of the boat… you will determine its value and make the choice of whether, or not, to take that fish… a halibut that at other lodges you would be forced to release.
Q: Why does your area have the highest average weight of landed halibut in Alaska?
We are located next to an area that is 400 miles long and 50 miles wide that has almost zero sport fishing effort. That is 20,000 square miles of halibut and salmon habitat! As the halibut and salmon migrate to the south east we are first in line to catch them. We are not overwhelmed by tens of thousands of fishermen. We are not located, like most lodges in southeast Alaska, a hundred miles away from the Gulf of Alaska… where the fish are! Other areas in Alaska are too far away from the ocean to have anything but little halibut (Haines/Skagway).
Q: How does ADF&G define the different areas when they present these statistics?
The map below shows the statistical areas that ADF&G use to track the catch per rod hour for salmon & halibut and the average weight of halibut. Elfin Cove, Gustavus, Glacier (and Pelican) are all in the same statistical area. Pelican has so few fishermen that it isn’t even shown on the map! Pelican, and the Highliner lodge are located about 20 miles south of Elfin Cove.
The table below (from Alaska Department of Fish & Game) shows that the “Glacier Bay” area has a mean weight of 45.3 pounds, in comparison Homer the so called “Halibut Capital of the World” has an average weight of 15.4. The reason our average halibut weight is three times the average in Homer is simply because we don’t have the intense fishing pressure that Homer, Seward, Sitka , etc., have. Homer had 58,222 angler days in 2006, Sitka had 42,681 angler days and if you combine Pelican-569 angler days, Elfin Cove-5471 angler days, and Gustavus-4420 angler days (the Glacier Bay area) we had only 10,460 angler days. When you have too many fishermen catching too many halibut the average size has to go down.
See our Catch Rates! Page for a complete discourse on this important subject!
Q: Why can’t I catch a halibut and king salmon on the same day if I go to Seward or Homer?
It’s legal, but not likely:
In 2006 there were 2,162 king salmon landed in Homer, but it took 58,222 “Angler days” to catch those fish. That works out to one king salmon for every 27 days of fishing effort. (58,222 / 2,162 = 26.9)
In 2006 there were 1,057 king salmon landed in Seward; it took 42,681 “Angler days” to catch those fish. That works out to one king salmon for every 40 days of fishing effort.
In 2006 there were 367 king salmon landed in Pelican; it took 569 “Angler days” to catch those fish. That works out to one king salmon for every 1.5 days of fishing effort.
Obviously, Seward and Homer are not on the migratory path of king salmon!
Q: Where do you get your information? How do I know that it is reliable?
This is where you can find current fishing reports and current Harvest/Effort Statistics (click on the links below to see the Harvest/Effort Stats for the individual areas) for the years 2007 – 2012
This is where you can find current fishing reports and current Harvest/Effort Statistics (click on the links below to see the Harvest/Effort Stats for the individual areas) for the years 2004 – 2009
These reports are for all of the locations in Alaska where charter fishing log books recorded landings:
Q: Will you guarantee me a one-hundred pound halibut if I book a trip?
A: No, but I can refer you to a someone at a competing lodge who will tell you anything you want to hear. His guarantee works like this:
1. He tells you anything to get you to book a trip.
2. You fall for his BS.
3. You don’t catch the one hundred pounder
4. Either you forget the guarantee, or he says “Sorry” if you remember…
5. You will probably be disappointed even if you do catch a one hundred pound halibut… I suspect that wasn’t the only “guarantee” he made, and that you will probably still be disappointed because he misrepresented many things to go to his lodge.
Please don’t choose a fishing destination based on empty promises. I don’t expect anyone to take my word for anything. I will back up my statements with evidence from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) and I can put you in touch with satisfied guests who will vouch for my veracity.
Please see charts and tables on our “Catch Rates” webpage.
Q: Where do we fly into from the “Lower 48”?
A: You will fly into Juneau on Alaska Airlines. They have a monopoly!
Q: Why are your prices so high?
- Our costs are much higher than a Lodge doing business out of Sitka, Homer, Seward , etc.
Electric rates are 3-4 times higher ($.60/kWh) in Pelican than Sitka… fuel costs $1.25 more per gallon. We must transport you and your fish to and from Juneau on a seaplane. All other things being equal… our location. “Closest to the Fish” means farthest from the customer, farthest from a Costco, a Home Depot and a reliable supply of labor. That means that we have to transport you and your fish (an additional expense of ~$500) and all of our food on a seaplane (add $1.00 for every pound).
- We have “invested” over $300,000 to purchase charter halibut permits that allow our guests to fish in an area where they can keep two halibut of any size!
- When comparing prices, please make sure you are comparing “apples to apples”…what is included and what is NOT included? Are you being transported by a float plane to your destination? Is the price included in the package?How many fishermen per boat? It would be a lot cheaper for us if we put 5, 6 or more fishermen on a boat. To give you the best opportunity to catch fish we limit our boats to 4. Compare boats too. Our boats are 30 plus feet in length and are relatively new costing ~ $250,000 each…compared to much smaller and older boats that cost less than $75,000.
- Some “Lodges” do not really own a lodge, but house you in a hotel, give you a voucher for a meal at a restaurant, and many times don’t even own the boat you are fishing on…they subcontract virtually every part of their ”service” to a third party. When you don’t have the cost of owning anything you can price your trips rather cheaply. More often than not, a “bargain” price means a vastly inferior experience all the way around.
Be very careful in trying to save $50-100 a day for your trip of a lifetime, or your annual Alaskan fishing trip, that you don’t end up very disappointed and actually wasting all of your money.
Q: Why are your prices so low? What aren’t your prices as high as the other “high-end” lodges?
A: Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that because our package price is sometimes hundreds of dollars less than certain other “High-end” lodges, that we are in any way inferior. (Well, we don’t have Calvin Klein bedroom furniture and we don’t have gourmet cooking lessons, or watercolor painting lessons by nearly famous chefs and artists). I suppose some lodges want to appeal to some clients who judge a service by its price and not its performance. If it costs more it MUST be better! Right? This may be a marketing strategy for them. Our business grew 80% in 2010, 22% in 2011, and 98% in 2012; this was during the “Great Recession” when most fishing lodges in Alaska were down 30-50% in each of those years (and they were discounting very heavily to fill their calendar).
Hmmmm… maybe I just don’t charge enough? I know my accountant is wondering what the heck I am doing (update: now my accountant says we “must be doing something right!” He has other clients in the Alaska Lodge business who have lost a lot of business these past few years).
I think we are simply the best service, at the best price. We are striving to be Highliners!
Q: Do you ever give discounts?
A: We very rarely give discounts beyond our group discount rates. If other companies deeply discount, it is because their price is too high in the first place, or they are desperate to fill in their schedule. Sometimes you do get what you pay for. Please see our Rates & Policies Page
Q: When is the best time to fish?
A: Unlike many other destinations, our “window of opportunity” to catch king salmon is 4 MONTHS long. Most other fishing lodges have a window of 2-3 weeks because they are fishing only on local stocks of fish returning to their native stream near that particular lodge, while we fish on mixed stocks returning to every stream from the Taku River in northern southeast Alaska and the Sacramento River in California.
Unlike many other destinations, our “window of opportunity” to catch halibut is 4 MONTHS long. Most other fishing lodges face diminishing returns as the season progresses, because there are too many fisherman taking fish out of their local waters. That is why the average weight of halibut is so low at some of those destinations. That is why you must endure a sometimes grueling boat ride far offshore to fish in 400 to 600 feet of water using up to 6-7 pounds of lead to reach the bottom. Please google: “Local Depletion Halibut”.
Also see: “What is the catch limit for halibut this year?” above.
Q: How many people on a boat?
A: We don’t put more than 4 guests on our boats that are 30 to 37 feet long, unless you have a group of 5 or 6 and you’d like to fish together. We do have a new 50 foot charter boat that we may put up to 6 guests on very comfortably.
Q: Do you troll or mooch for salmon?
A: Both, or whatever you like! We make recommendations so you have the most productive fishing, but we don’t dictate to you how you are going to fish.
Q: Do you drift or anchor for bottom fish?
A: We mostly anchor… but drift when the conditions are favorable.
Q: Do you jig or use bait for halibut?
A: Mostly we use bait but sometimes we jig. It is a matter of personal preference, and we like to let you do what you like to to do.
Q: What happens if I have to cancel my trip to the lodge?
A: Half of the deposit is refundable if we are able to re-book your time at the lodge. If for some reason you must cancel, we will credit the full amount less $500, towards a future trip.
Not finding what you want? Reach out directly through our Contact Us page.