Call toll free 877-386-0397

I hope you enjoy some of our old Highliner Lodge (parent company to the Emerald Island) Newsletters.


May 2014
Closest to the Fish!

In This Issue
King Salmon Bag Limits Double!
2014 Bag Limits for Halibut
What is: Guided Angler Fish?
New 50′ Delta
DUDE FISHING on the Rise!
Sablefish with Electric Reels!
Wrestling a Halibut!
Complaint Dept.
The Usual Bragging and Small Print

Dear Highliner,

• Striving to be recognized as the best fishing lodge in Alaska! 
• Bringing you interesting and honest fishing reports.
• Keeping you abreast of changes at the Highliner Lodge and in the Alaska charter fishing industry.



The nonresident bag and possession limit is one king salmon 28 inches or greater in length, except during May and June the bag and possession limit is two king salmon 28 inches or greater in length;

The nonresident annual limit is six king salmon 28 inches or greater in length.



Why are our catch rates, and average sizes, consistently better than anywhere else in Alaska? It is because we are located in an area without the extreme competition for fish that you find in Sitka, Ketchikan, Seward, Homer, etc.

As most of you probably know from reading my last newsletter, the charter halibut bag limits are more restrictive than last year.

In area 2C the one fish you will be allowed to keep has to be under 44″ or over 76″ (last year it was under 45″ and over 68″). This means that you must release any halibut between 40 and 230 pounds!

In area 3A you may still keep 2 halibut per day and one fish may be any size… but the other fish must be under 29″ (10 pounds)! Many lodges in area 3A are “forgetting” to tell their guests that 1 of the 2 halibut must be a “chicklet” (not even a chicken) that is under 10 pounds.

This is what your 4 day fishing catch could look like at the Highliner Lodge under the new bag limits…


… but wait… you can add 3 more king salmon!

This is still a lot of fish! We are in a location where we
will actually catch these fish… most lodges would be lucky to provide less than half of these fish to their guests!

We think the new bag limits are necessary to rebuild the halibut stocks.

If you want to keep more halibut, we have an option for you!


It won’t be much fun if you have to release the biggest halibut that you ever caught in your life. However, at the Highliner Lodge we can conserve the resource, take home plenty of fish… AND still keep 2 halibut of any size!

Because the Highliner Lodge has leased commercial halibut fishing quota to convert to charter fishing rights, we can now offer each of our guests the option to keep 2 halibut of any size… in any area… every day!

The new law, which allows us to convert commercial halibut quota to increase charter halibut fishing bag limits, result in a new classification of halibut… this is called the Guided Angler Fish, or GAF.

Many guests will be content with the bag limits as shown above… and you will still have plenty of fish. Others may choose to keep more than the current bag limit on halibut by exercising an option on a Guided Angler Fish.

Having this “option” doesn’t cost you anything. To recover our costs we will offer the GAF at $300-$400 per fish. A cost to you is incurred only if you decide to exercise an option to buy a GAF.




You might to decide to exercise the option if you are fishing in area 2C and you catch a halibut between 40 and 230 pounds that you would otherwise have to release.

You might to decide to exercise the option if you are fishing in area 3A and you have already retained a nice 50 pound halibut and subsequently catch another halibut over 100 pounds… or over 150 pounds… or over 200 pounds! Because you had already retained the 50 pound halibut, the only second halibut that you could keep would have to be under 10 pounds in this area (unless you use a GAF).

A 100 pound halibut will net 50 pounds of fillets. Those fillets sell for $20-25 per pound. The market value of that fish is $1000 to $1,250.

A 50 pound halibut is worth $500 to $625!

A trophy size halibut over 200 pounds… you can do the math on that one!


Although there is a cost to exercise the GAF option… it will allow you not only more halibut… but more time to catch salmon… especially if you are fishing in area 2C. Many times, to concentrate on salmon fishing, or because the weather keeps us from fishing in area 3A, we fish the whole day in area 2C, and up until this year, settled for 1 smaller halibut. Now, if you catch a big halibut in area 2C, you have the option to keep it and you have gained two hours of fishing time because we did not run out to area 3A.


You do not have to decide whether, or not, you will buy a GAF until the halibut is at the surface of the water. You can look at the fish and decide if that is something that you would like to do. You may choose to share the GAF (and the cost) with some, or all, of the guests in your group. You may choose to pay for and keep the GAF for yourself. If you pay for it yourself we will keep your GAF separate from the other guest’s halibut. You can pay for the GAF at the lodge at the end of the day by check or credit card.

We currently have about 250 Guided Angler Fish for area 2C and area 3A. We will have between 350 to 400 guests this season… and we do not enough GAF for even one per guest. Some of our guests have indicated that they will not be using any GAF and others have said that they would like to exercise the GAF option everyday. Because we would like a supply of GAF to be available to our last guests, who fish with us in early September, we may need to make an in-season adjustment on the price and/or limit how many GAF options a guest may take.

Having a choice at the Highliner vs. NOT having a choice at another lodge doesn’t cost you a thing… however, the value of that CHOICE is immense!


For the past 2 seasons over half of our guests caught halibut over 100 pounds!

Rational, Verifiable Reasons to Choose the Highliner Lodge!


We recently brought our new 50′ Delta charter boat, Burning Daylight, across the Gulf of Alaska from Seward to Sitka and are getting it ready for the upcoming season. It isn’t as fast as our other boats, but it is a great, stable fishing platform with tons of room both inside and out!



My son, Joe, has just concluded his most successful spring king salmon season ever. On April 30, Joe caught 100 king salmon in 10 hours commercial power trolling!

No limits on king salmon or coho (silver salmon) for our Highliner guests

On July 1st, the commercial salmon troll season starts and Steve has already booked a record number of Highliner guests to go Dude Fishing for a day or two, as part of their all-inclusive packages. All you have to do is buy a commercial crewman’s license for $25 and you can go Dude Fishing. Imagine trolling for salmon with 10 lures instead of one! Non-stop action and lots of salmon for your freezer! Because we are limited to the F/V Pelican for Dude Fishing you may want to reserve a place for your group today.
75 year-old english banker, Stew Forster, whacks 50 king salmon in one day, Dude Fishing on the F/V Pelican!

There are 3 times as many king salmon swimming around our back yard as last year… and last year we had great fishing! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that there is great king salmon fishing everywhere in Alaska… the fishing around Homer and Seward and Kenai is forecasted to be a disaster:


Clarion Peninsula News: “For the first time since 1965 the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced a preseason closure of fishing for Kenai River early run king salmon.” May, 11, 2014

“Ya wanna keeps 2 halibuts a day of any size, sez ya? And ya don’t wanna pay fur it! That’s alls I can stands, cuz I can’t stands n’more!”


Also known as blackcod, these fish have moist flakey white meat that is almost impossible to overcook. An extra minute, or two, of cooking can turn halibut to rubber and a king salmon to sawdust… but a sablefish stays flakey moist and succulent even if you don’t know how to cook a fish!


Why don’t you hear more about them if they are so good? Because they are sold mostly to a discriminating Asian market that highly values these fish and because they are usually out of a sportsmen’s depth…literally!

These great tasting fish inhabit waters between 900 and 3,600 feet!

Daiwa Seaborg Megatwin Power Assist Reels


We have bought 10 of these awesome new electric reels and are adapting two of our larger boats to fish sablefish. We use 2 baited hooks on a line and usually catch 2 sablefish on 1 drop! Bag limit is 4 per day. Average weight is 10 pounds.



The Highliner Lodge donates several trips a year to various wrestling programs for fundraising, helping young athletes develop a strong work ethic and attain their goals in wrestling. These programs either auction or raffle the donated trips. If you would like to know where to purchase raffle tickets, or participate in an online auction, please contact me and I will provide more details.


I am currently working with USA Wrestling to structure an online auction for a 3 day all-inclusive fishing trip for 4 guests at the Highliner Lodge for 2015. The highest bidder would be accompanied by a United States Olympic Wrestling Champion who also happens to be one of the top three NCAA Division 1 wrestling coaches in the nation! Watch future newsletters for more details.

Highliner Lodge: “Closest to the Fish!”

“You are only as good as… the last fish you caught!”
Another near famous witticism from Steve Daniels


pastedGraphic Perhaps our sportsman show display is a bit idealized… it’s not ALWAYS sunny at the Highliner Lodge!
For a nominal fee you can reserve sunny days at the Highliner Lodge. Don’t wait… sunny days are limited!

Please read the fine print for details!

Going somewhere you can actually catch fish is the bargain you should be looking for!

Compare Catch… Not Price!
There is a “hot bite” going on right now at the Highliner Lodge!

Our bookings are up well over 75% over last year! Most of our calendar is fully booked now.

Book now! Book early! Book often!

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.


April 6, 2013
“Closest to the Fish!”

Step Right Up!
Are we really that much better?

There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.  ~Steven Wright

Lately, I’ve had several people call me, after looking over the Highliner Lodge website, and ask me if I am “telling the truth”. I haven’t often had anyone so directly question my veracity. I thought this was odd, and started to wonder… why would people ask “Are you telling the truth?”… and what does that mean?
PT Barnum once said, “There is a sucker born every minute”.

Some people in business take advantage of the fact that they have more information than their customer. Some business models presume a never ending stream of “suckers”. Obviously, they do not count on return business.

I want my guests (customers) to make informed decisions. In fact, I am relying on it! It never occurred to me that the statistics, proving that our catch rates and average size fish are much greater than just about any other destination in Alaska, would be seen as just another fabrication to get them to buy my product…
2010 ADF&G data showing average charter boat caught halibut. With the new size restrictions in area 2C, Sitka and the rest of Southeast Alaska’s average halibut weight will be dramatically decreased.

Map of SE Alaska showing regulatory areas for halibut. You may keep 2 halibut per day of any size above the line in area 3A. You may keep only 1 halibut per day and must release any halibut between 45″-68″ (45-170 pounds) below the line in area 2C.
“Step right up… step right up!”

I think people are so accustomed to these tactics… that they mistake objective information as more of the same. It’s gotten to the point that we don’t recognize the truth when it is right before our eyes! I am big on promotion, after all, you can have the greatest product on earth and if no one knows you exist… it doesn’t matter…you will be out of business!

Yes, like PT Barnum, I am trying to sell something… and I am saying the Highliner Lodge is the “Greatest Show on Earth!” or something like that.

But unlike PT, I don’t try to appeal to the “sucker,” in fact, I want to appeal to an intelligent, rational (and even somewhat skeptical) person… because that is someone I can reason with. That is someone who will appreciate what I am saying.

I have one great advantage over, PT Barnum (and most other fishing lodges)… I actually believe in what I am selling.

Yes sir, step right up! With this “special” limited time offer, if you act now, you get not one, not two… but three fishing trips for the price of one! But wait! It gets even better… for the first dozen people who sign up… a free bottle of Super-Beta-Prostate with every fish! Gee, maybe PT Barnum & I do have something in common?

…Step right up, step right up,
Everyone’s a winner, bargains galore
That’s right, you too can be the proud owner
Of the quality goes in before the name goes on…
~Tom Waits
Did you know that 1 out of 2 guests at the Highliner Lodge caught a halibut over 100 pounds last season?
That’s why they call it a “FISHING” lodge and…
“THAT’S what we are here for, Baby!”

Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middleman
Don’t settle for less
How do we do it? How do we do it? Volume! Volume, turn up the volume!
Now you’ve heard it advertised, don’t hesitate.
Don’t be caught with your drawers down…
You can step right up, step right up.
~Tom Waits

Book early!
Book often!
~Steve Daniels

Step right up, step right up, step right up
You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away
~Tom Waits

Gary Schall & Highliner Captain Zach pose with Julie’s 270 pound halibut!


1 halibut a day under 44 inches vs. 2 halibut a day of any size… come on, that’s a no brainer! Average halibut 3 times bigger than Sitka, Seward and Homer! Seems like that would trump everything else! Highest king salmon catch rate in the state! It’s all about the fishing, Baby!

Yes, we
are that much better!

If you want an average fishing trip: save a little money, and go somewhere they don’t claim to be the best.


The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.  ~A.K. Best


This would be considered a successful trip at most fishing lodges in Alaska. This graphic represents the catch rate extrapolated over 4 days at lodges located far from the fish… and close to the cruise ships.

A successful 4 day fishing trip at the Highliner Lodge will cost you a little more than many other lodges. Considering the catch, the “Bargain” Lodge might not be a bargain at all!  This graphic represents our catch rate extrapolated to cover 4 days of fishing.

The Intelligent Fisherman:
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
~Abe Lincoln
No one wants to make a foolish decision about how to spend their hard earned cash. I’m no different.

Usually You Get What You Pay For

Most fishing destinations have two big advantages over me… they have name recognition and their location is famous… because once upon-a-time, a-long-long-time ago… they caught a lot of fish there. Fortunately, for those destinations, people continue to go there.

Their second advantage: they have relatively low operating costs because they are close to airports, roads, grocery & hardware stores, cheaper gas and electricity. They don’t go to the expense of putting you on a float plane to get you closest to the fish.

But I have a one great advantage over those fishing lodges… I actually believe in what I am selling!

Sermon on the Seamount
Is this a face that you can trust?

…of all the liars among mankind, the fisherman is the most trustworthy.  ~William Sherwood Fox

I started this newsletter talking about the truth. I try to make it as clear as possible that I am using the unbiased published catch rates posted online by the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game. There is a reason that you don’t see statistical information about the catch rates and average size fish on the websites of other “fishing” lodges in Alaska… it makes most of them look bad. It’s frustrating for me at times… sometimes, after being shown the facts (the catch rates)… someone says to me at a sportsman show, “So… what else ya got?” or “That guy over there has a “show special”… what’s your show special?”

Now, I understand… people have heard so much hype,  evasions, half-truths and untruths… that they just expect everyone is just doing the same.
Yes, I am selling something… the difference is… I believe in what I am selling. I don’t have to exaggerate, don’t have to be untruthful, don’t have to conceal any information…
I have made an effort to appeal to reason. If some people are short on reason, or so suspicious that they think I must be making the catch rates up… they can just keep walking.

I am appealing to the intelligent fisherman. I am appealing to you!

Step right up and book your trip today!



Some direct quotes I found on Trip Advisor’s website
“Beware of XX’s Alaskan Fishing Adventures
August 19,2010

An honest report of XX’s Alaskan Fishing Adventures

… great at hiding the facts she knows will keep you from signing on the dotted line. Once you sign and get to Alaska she won’t remember any of your conversations about the promises she made!

… had to leave at 4:30am in the morning and drive TWO HOURS to get to their Seward location. (What was convenient about their location?)
We boarded the 12 person, overcrowded (boat)… 12 guests fish shoulder to should on one side of the boat for salmon. What a mess. Every fish took out others lines on the way in. What was their solution? Once someone hooked a fish, all other eleven guests had to reel up their lines.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, the halibut we caught were ONLY 6-8 pounds. They tell you they are 15 – 20 lbs when you catch them (still terribly small compared to other outfitters) but they can’t explain why we only ended up with 3 pounds of fillets per fish – 6 halibut = 21.6 pounds in fillets (weighed at their processing plant). Done fishing – drive two hours back to their “conveniently located lodge”…was a walking zombie.
So a trip from XX’s to Seward is 9 hours of total windshield time – boat/car.
When you pay thousands of dollars for what is supposed to be a “top-notch” service you expect that service to get you on some fish.
His business had been favorably highlighted on one of the sportsman’s shows hosted by Larry Csonka.”

No wonder people ask if I am telling the truth!!




December 2013
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Boat Fire
New Boats
World Record Halibut?
Complaint Dept
Win a Free Trip!

A few weeks ago I was feeling pretty good about myself!

The Highliner Lodge had had a great 2013 season: great fishing, great weather, great guests (they’re pretty darn agreeable when they catch lots of fish) and it even looked like we were making money!

Then our charter boat, the Sunrise, caught fire!

Can you believe that 14 inches of snow, followed immediately by 3 inches of rain, started a fire? Seems I left the battery compartment door open and the rainwater ran down the snow, into the open door, and shorted out the fully charged batteries… which are next to the fuel filters. The 3 new Suzuki outboards were going off like Roman candles by the time the Sitka Fire Department got there… nothing five thousand gallons of foamy water couldn’t put out!

Insurance? I’m “self-insured”, which means: I am re-thinking my coverages.

I’m looking for a new boat, after all, bookings are up 50% over last year, and well, we just lost one.

Like I said, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

I’m an entrepreneur and I had a vision!

I flew up to Anchorage, so that I could drive down to Seward in a blizzard to look at a 50′ Delta charter boat. I had been thinking about expanding into some over-night charters and also thought this would be a good boat to fish halibut in 3A where we can keep 2 halibut of any size (because that area is more exposed to weather). The boat was built and licensed to carry up to 32 passengers, but I thought we’d use it for not more than 6. If we went out and spent the night (just one night) we could fish for halibut until midnight if we liked.  When we fish in area 3A from a “day boat” we have to head back to the lodge by 3pm. Staying overnight would give you more that twice as much fishing time as we’d normally get in one day! Usually the fishing just keeps getting better the longer we soak the bait and many times we must quit fishing and start back to the lodge when we have an absolutely crazy bite going on! So this would really extend your fishing time. If you are looking for a big fish, this is the way to get it!

The next morning you could (theoretically) start fishing again at 3am! Truth is you could fish all night ‘cuz halibut bite at night… I know, I’ve caught thousands of them long-lining. Even if you started fishing at 6am you’d get a 3 hour head start on a typical day-boat leaving from the lodge. Go back to the lodge at 3pm and you’ve gained 10 rod hours for those two days… think how that will increase your odds of catching the halibut that you want to catch!
As I left the Anchorage airport to rent a car, I ran into this


Remember the 466 pound halibut that Kent Carmichael caught in 2011 at the Highliner Lodge? That could have been the HIGHLINER LODGE WORLD RECORD HALIBUT up there for everyone to see!!


I was trying to take a “Selfie” (smart phone photo of one’s self taken; usually posted on Facebook) when this good-looking young woman offered to help me with the photo…
and I was feeling’ pretty good about myself…


Hey, the picture is blurry! Thanks for nuthin’ you frumpy old lady!

As I drove 3 hours at 65 miles per hour in a blizzard down to Seward, I kept thinking about the 35% recommended cut in the 3A halibut quota that I had read about at the airport on my iphone that morning. I know what the implications are for my commercial fishing, but what that means for the charter industry is not so clear… one thing seems certain; that boat I came to look at just went down in value. All those 2C and 3A licenses I bought so that I could bring you to an area to keep 2 halibut a day just dropped more in value (I lost about half of the $300,000 “invested” on those… so far).

You know, I WAS feeling pretty good about myself…

The boat seller was telling me that birders were a fast growing market and the boat would make a great bird-watching boat. He said he had a group out last summer and it was easier cleaning up crackers than fish blood. Were they feeding the birds crackers?

Well, you know birds are cool. You can’t kill ’em though… and no one brags about the biggest bird caught, or even the most birds… I guess it’s all about the rare birds, or maybe uh, their behavior… geez, I don’t know… running a birding boat? Really? Me?


Should I buy this big 50 foot boat? Should I get a new boat built?
Russ at Coldwater Boats was supposed to get back to me last week about building us a new 33′ aluminum walk-around charter boat. I know now exactly what works best for the fishing that we do. I think Coldwater makes the very best boat, and I had spent almost 2 years trying to get Russ to cut his price enough to make me jump… he still hasn’t called me back… he might think I’m wasting his time… just another tire-kicker.

I was feeling pretty good… I mean, I was considering a whole fleet of new Coldwater boats!

Did I say that we were are up 50% over last year?

We built a new 6,500 square foot warehouse and shop to work in, and store our boats in the winter. It’s supposed to be finished by February… but I ran out of money in December. That’s ok! I have 50% more deposits than last season. Hmmm, still ran out of money in December. It’s December now!  Don’t worry, you deposit is safe, we aren’t going out of business. I borrowed from Jill’s retirement account!

We are planning an expansion of our operation in Pelican as well. I want to have a second blast freezer (failure is not an option) and need more room for guests and supplies. I will be asking, in a future newsletter, for folks in the building trade to step up and help make this happen.

Yes, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I still am.


The Highliner Lodge Celebrates 10 years!

We had zero charter business in 2004. In 2005 we had 12 guests. Last year we had 242. 2014 will be the Highliner Lodge’s tenth year of operation and we are on track to have over 300 guests!  No one had heard of Pelican, Alaska or the Highliner Lodge back in 2005. The 2007 Global Financial Crisis made investing in a charter fishing business a dubious enterprise. I’m certain that our accountant believed we would fail.

But I was feeling pretty good about myself back then…

I had made what seemed like great investments in my commercial fishing business and found that I didn’t even have to own, or operate, a commercial fishing boat. I could lease out my fishing rights and focus on this new Highliner Lodge business… never mind that other lodges were failing all around me.

2014 Bag Limits?

So you want to know what the regulations will be this year? You want to know if the halibut bag limits will be cut? You want to know what it costs to go on a bird watching expedition?

I don’t know the answers yet.

I do know this. I turned 60 this week. I figure I have 10 good years left to follow my passion. If I knew the outcome, I don’t think I’d have the same passion for the endeavor. Life is full of opportunities and full of risk. If you are feeling pretty good about yourself, you tend to be a bit more of a risktaker. You tend to be more focused on the experience than the outcome. You are able to live in the moment… and maybe that’s why you are feeling pretty good about yourself.
If you are waiting for the fishing regulations to allow you to keep enough fish to feed your family for a month and pay for your trip, if you are too concerned with the outcome and less appreciative of the experience… you may be missing something essential.

No matter what the bag limits and regulations are in 2014 and beyond… we will be here. Our guests will still experience the best fishing in all of Alaska!

I’m feeling pretty good about myself today… maybe it IS a good day to buy a new boat for the Highliner Lodge!



This is the only complaint I can (selectively) remember from last season.

One of our guests complained that he got a mosquito bite at the Highliner Lodge. It wasn’t so much the bite that he was complaining about… but the fact that I had just sent out a newsletter saying we didn’t have any stinking mosquitos at the Lodge. One mosquito bite… in 9 years!

He also said that after reading the Highliner Lodge “It’s All About Me” webpage that I was sure full of myself.

He is correct on both accounts. One is a technicality and the other is… well, spot on.

Arrogance: definition is exaggerated or excessive pride… I think mine is just about right.

He & his family went fishing with me 5 days in row. They had a great trip, they caught lots of fish and I think he decided I wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

pastedGraphic One day’s fishing!

Other days fishing in 2013!


Would you like to win a trip for two to the Highliner Lodge? We give away several trips every year to a few wrestling programs so that they can raise money. I may be full of myself, but I know that I am far from a self-made man. Many people have helped me and I am sure I haven’t shown adequate appreciation or repaid that help… but this is a small way for me to try to redress that problem… and make me fell like a good guy while I am at it.

The David Douglas High School Wrestling program will raffle a 3 day/4 night all-inclusive trip for 2 and the drawing will be February 9th at the Pacific Northwest Sportsman Show. The raffle tickets are $10 dollars and the odds of winning are pretty darn good. If you want to buy tickets go to the DDHSW Facebook page.

The Cal State Bakersfield Wrestling Fundraiser Dinner &  Auction will be at the Stockdale Country Club in Bakersfield, CA early May. Contact Head Wrestling Coach Mike Mendoza for details.

Wrestling may have contributed to my sense of self importance, but it gave me the confidence to overcome the fear of failure and some of my insecurites. You might say I have become a fairly productive citizen. My fourth Grade teacher Mr. Sturvanis would never have believed it!

I think society is much better off having my “It’s all about me” smirking face on a website than having me on the streets with a chip on my shoulder. I don’t have any stats to prove it, but wrestling provides a healthy outlet for young men to put their energy and angst to work. It proves America is a meritocracy. As all wrestlers know, the harder I work the “luckier” I get!

Still feeling pretty good about myself!

Thank you Wrestling!

Highliner Lodge: “Closest to the Fish!”
“You are only as good as… the last fish you caught!”
Another nearly famous Steve Daniels witticism.
Perhaps our sportsman show display is a bit idealized… it’s not ALWAYS sunny at the Highliner Lodge!


For a nominal fee, we can reserve sunny days (don’t wait… sunny days are limited) for you at the Highliner Lodge!! Please read the fine print for details!

Sportsman Show Specials?

We don’t inflate our prices to give you the illusion of a “discount” later. The only discount we have is for a group of 4 or more. Going somewhere you can actually catch fish is the bargain you should be looking for.

Compare catch not price!


Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports



January 4, 2013
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Bookings Doubled in 2012!
Let’s Talk About Money
Sermon on the Seamount

You may have noticed, dear reader, that the Highliner Newsletter was published a relatively few times in 2012. The year before, I had written 12 newsletters! What happened? Did I run out of things to say? Me, run out of things to say?!

Our business doubled again in 2012! Last year alone, we invested well over $600,000 in 2 new boats and enough charter halibut permits to take you to where the fish are (and where we could keep 2 halibut of any size per day)! We doubled our business back in 2010 as well, but that doubling was a much smaller increase! We had a lot to brag about in 201… but in 2012, the fishing was even better! We didn’t break our 2011 record for biggest halibut… No, we did not catch a halibut over 466 pounds this year. I think that record is not likely to be broken by anyone… ever. However, we did catch 3 halibut over 300 pounds, 20 halibut over 200 pounds and 100 halibut over 100 pounds! Those 123 halibut over 100 pounds were caught by our 242 guests. That means that over half of our guests caught a halibut over 100 pounds! We even caught two halibut, on one fishing rod, at one time… 6 times this past season! How can you downplay those statistics! Yes, we had plenty to brag about… I was just too busy to brag!

I’m not now! You will find me on my usual soapbox below.

We hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas and will have a very happy New Year as well!


Steve & Jill



Bookings are up Again from Last Year!

Would you buy a used car from this man?
Maybe its my networking, back-slapping, hobnobbing, laugh-at-all-of-your-jokes, penciled in mustache persona?


Or wait…. maybe it’s the fishing!! Did you read about the 466 pound halibut “we” caught in 2011? Did you know that 1 out of 2 guests at the Highliner Lodge caught a halibut over 100 pounds last season?

That’s why they call it a “FISHING” lodge and…

“THAT’S what we are here for, Baby!”
Whatever the reason… don’t procrastinate.

Book early!

Book often!


How’s that for inspiration?

Business Is Up And So Are Our Prices. Why?

It’s Christmas Eve and I know this holiday season I should be thankful, and humble, and charitable… well, one out of three isn’t so bad. I am thankful. I have a great life!

Since it is Christmas… I want to talk about money. Yes, I know that it may be considered crass by some to talk about money, especially at Christmas time, and I hope those folks forgive me; but I think money is a very important subject and one not to be shied away from.

Whether you are you part of the lazy  (get a job, sucker) 99% rabble, or the elite mover/shaker master-of-the-universe 1%… money is important. (BTW, that 99% might be coming to get you and your money, sucker!) Most of us have worked very hard for a very long time to support our families, provide for our retirements and sometimes treat ourselves (and sometimes, those we love) with something special… hmmm like… a fishing trip to the Highliner Lodge! That Alaska fishing lodge where they caught the biggest sport caught halibut of all time! Where that smirking braggart Steve Daniels is always in-your-face with Fish & Game Statistics PROVING that the Highliner Lodge is located where the fish are bigger and the catch rate is far, far better than almost anywhere else in Alaska! Didn’t I just hear somewhere that every other guest at the Highliner Lodge last season caught a halibut over 100 pounds!


Yes, you have worked hard and and you should treat yourself to a great Alaskan fishing trip!

Every year I council my fishing guides and staff, reminding them that some folks save for years to make a trip to the Highliner Lodge, some of our guests may charge the trip on their credit cards, and for some… it’s the last trip they will ever make with their Dad or Grandpa. Whether you are a Trust Fund Baby, a Self-Made-Millionaire or just a regular guy… you deserve our very best efforts… each and everyday… all season long!


Occasionally, I have a disgruntled guest at the lodge (yes, it happens) who starts a dialog with me by stating “I SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON THIS TRIP!” Usually this person wants to be treated like a VIP, but since everyone pays the same at the Highliner, you are all VIPs, so how does he rate such special treatment? Now obviously, I don’t shy away from a conversation about money (or religion, or politics), but when these are the first words out of the mouth of one of my guests… I gotta be honest with you, I get a big adrenalin rush and flash back to the kind of negotiations I used to have on a wrestling mat! Remember, my idea of persuasion is a head-lock!

Having, or spending, a lot of money does not automatically entitle you to respect! That has to be earned. Sometimes people think bringing up the “M” word will give them a powerful lever to wrest a concession from me. If there is a problem at the Highliner Lodge, we always try to find a way to say yes to everyone. But the customer isn’t necessarily always right. I know… I’m in the hospitality business. But damn, this is the Highliner Lodge. If you are going to meet me on the mat, brother, you had better bring more than your money! Don’t get me wrong… I like money, but I don’t respect IT… I respect what it takes to get it… and I don’t don’t want your money… if I haven’t earned it.

I expect you to be smart about spending your money… whether you sweated for every penny, or you found Hijacker DB Cooper’s $200,000 stash under Bigfoot’s mattress in Cascade Mountains!

But I digress.


We raised our price again this year. Why? There are 2 primary reasons: It costs us much more than the other guy and we are much, much better than the other guy.


For a start, our fuel costs are 25% higher, our utilities are 100-200% higher and we spend an extra $600 per guest to get you and your fish to and from Pelican. Overall, we spend $800-1,000 more per guest than Sitka, Seward, Homer etc.


One halibut a day under 45 inches vs. 2 halibut a day of any size… come on, that’s a no brainer! Average halibut 3 times bigger than Sitka, Seward and Homer! Seems like that would trump everything else! Highest king salmon catch rate in the state! Every other guest caught a halibut over 100 pounds last year! It’s all about the fishing, Baby! Yes, we are that much better!

The Intelligent Fisherman
We all know that Abe Lincoln was a wrestler… and he was pretty smart too. Where do you think he would choose to fish?

Recently quoted in the movie Lincoln: “We hold these truths to be self evident…”. Of course, the self evident truth in that case was that all men are created equal.The self evident truth in this case is that all fishing lodges in Alaska are NOT created equal! We have proven year in, and year out, that our fishing is VASTLY superior to almost all other fishing destinations in Alaska! We have caught the biggest fish, the most fish, and the Highliner Lodge continues to grow dramatically… while the other “fishing” lodges are in retreat. These proofs, while perhaps not Euclidean, are so strong that it would take willful ignorance to NOT be persuaded that the Highliner Lodge IS much, much better than the other guy!


Sometimes the price might seem like a bargain, but for the self evident truth that all fishing lodges are not created equal. This is an “apples to apples” comparison of all-inclusive 4 day/ 5 night fishing packages at Alaskan lodges.


COST:   $2500 (+$1000 travel expense) = $3,500 or $875 per day
At a Budget Lodge you might be self-guided or they might pack 6 fisherman into a smaller cheaper boat. You might be making your own lunch, cleaning your own fish, it varies, but you know… it’s a budget lodge, and it’s ok for some folks… if you catch fish. (You know, in Mexico, the main attraction is the sun and the sun is mostly the same at all destinations, but if the toilet doesn’t work, or you get sick from the food or water… that might be a problem. It could ruin your whole vacation. Not catching any fish, or having broken down boat, can ruin your fishing vacation! In that case you didn’t save any money… you wasted your money! Some of the budget guys should never have been in business at all… they could be your worst vacation nightmare. Some are ok. Some are good Mom and Pop operations that do the best with what they have. It really varies. Many of these lodges have gone out of business these past few years.


COST:   $3500 (+$1000 travel expense) = $4,500 or $1,125 per day
Often located close to a cruise ship destination where the fishing is terrible. They are great for shopping for t-shirts and other trinkets, have good boats, ok fishing… sometimes, they can’t afford to do, or be, anything but average… most have been losing business for years and are praying that the economy turns around soon.


COST:    $4375 (+$1000 travel expense) = $5,375  or $1,344 per day
Highly motivated owner and captains, great boats, PROVEN great fishing, great dining, great accommodations, great scenery, great wildlife! The Highliner Lodge has grown it’s business every year since 2005,and we are willing to invest whatever it takes, to get you to the best fishing!


COST:   $6000 (+$1000 travel expense) = $7,000 or $1,750 per day

Great lodge for those that want to brag that they spent more money than the other guys (but they keep to themselves the fact that they caught less fish than the others guys).64

This guy spent a lotta money to go to the Highliner Lodge!!

All of the luxury lodges, that I know of, seem to be expert in public relations, interior decorating and search engine optimization. They have boutique shopping opportunities at the lodge and they may even have a on-site travel agent! You can get a facial, or a massage!  How would you like a culinary lesson from world acclaimed chef Boy-Ar-dee? Learn how to pair fine wine with your Michelin rated 7 star meals! The Luxury Lodge can get a Safari Club endorsement by giving the club thousands of dollars in free space at their lodge every year. They can pay off Larry Csonka and Orvis for their endorsements. (Yes, Pollyanna, these organizations, and that super-friendly guy at the sportsman show who organizes fishing trips to the “best” lodges in the world… they can all be bought. In fact, that is the only way that you can get their endorsement!) These lodges are NOT experts at fishing… or they would have built their lodges where the Highliner Lodge is today… where the fish are! They may have great food, great accommodations, great concierge service, great PR and great name recognition… but the fishing is average at best. They too have been losing business and cutting their price for years.

The difference in price between these trips will not make or break most people. There isn’t really that much of a difference, especially when you consider that it is a once a year, or a once in a lifetime experience… and after all, its only money. The difference between catching and not catching fish is everything!
We have never aspired to be average. We chose the name “Highliner” Lodge ten years ago with purpose. A Highliner is the fisherman who has attained the very apex of fishing, surpassing his peers in his relentless pursuit of excellence.

Usually, You Get What You Pay For

If you want an average fishing trip; save a little money, and go somewhere they don’t claim to be the best.

If you want to go to where the customer is always right… and the lodge owner will laugh at all your jokes… I suggest that you go somewhere where you can buy that.

If you want the greatest fishing without giving up any of the amenities… go to the lodge that works relentlessly to be the best fishing lodge in Alaska! Go to the lodge where they are not afraid to speak the self evident truth. There is only one… The Highliner Lodge.

Sermon on the Seamount

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”  Jesus (Luke 18:25)

What does this have to do with fishing, you ask?

If you think the key to finding the best fishing, and the best all-around, all-inclusive Alaska fishing trip, is to just go to the lodge that charges the most money… you will never get to fishing heaven! There are many lodges that charge hundreds of dollars more than we do… you won’t find any meaningful fishing stats on their website. There is a reason for that!


You must do the research!

It’s not that hard. It starts here:

Alaska Dept of Fish & Game Sport Fish Reports

2010 Sport Halibut Harvest Estimates

Participation, Effort, and Harvest in the Sport Fish Business/Guide Licensing and Logbook Programs, 2006-2008 see pages 56-67

Or, you could just take my word for it!

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


August 8, 2012
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Bookings Doubled in 2012
Fishing Report
Sermon on the Seamont
This years’ biggest halibut to date (324 pounds!) was caught by Bryce Brown. Leslie Brown caught a halibut a few pounds bigger than she herself weighed. Aaron “Turbo” Brown sprinted to third place for the day with a respectable 35 pound halibut… “Go Turbo Go”!

Pictured with the Brown’s are Captain Zach Hancock and Deckhand Skyler Brown… yes, future Highliner captain Skyler is the Brown’s elder son.

Dear Donald Trump,

You may wonder what has been happening at the Highliner Lodge this season… and why you haven’t received but one newsletter…

We have been very busy! We have doubled the number of guests fishing at the Highliner lodge this year. We have added two boats and two new captains to our operation. We have added two fish-cutter/deckhands to our staff as well. I haven’t had anytime to write newsletters… or play chess!

We are having the most successful year ever at the Highliner Lodge! We have sent home more fish per guest than ever before! The operation has run smoother than ever before… and although this is subjective… our guests seem to appreciate their experience at the Highliner Lodge more than ever before!

I know that this success is directly related to having some great fishing again this year. I don’t think my personal charm and wit is creating this sensation… we are a FISHING lodge, and as I say to my captains, we are only as good as the last fish that we catch. But it is not just the fish… it is the team effort of the whole staff working together to be “Highliners”!

For the first time ever, I believe that all of our staff will be returning next year. This has been my greatest challenge, to assemble a group of honest, dedicated, hardworking people who want to bring you the very best Alaskan fishing adventure possible. I think we now have the nucleus of a Highliner team that will provide continuity from year to year and develop the Highliner Lodge into the best possible fishing destination in Alaska!

I know you are anxious for a fishing report, but please take a minute to read about the great people who make all this great fishing possible. Each one plays a vital role to insure you have a Highliner quality fishing trip!

Jill & I welcome back Zach Hancock (aka Boy Wonder pictured above) who continues to impress booth Jill & I and all of our guests who fish with him! He holds the record for the top 5 halibut caught at the Highliner Lodge (466, 375, 326, 324, & 275 pounds). Zach guides in the off-season in Oregon for steelhead and salmon.

We also welcome Ephraim Lohrey, a first year captain at the Highliner Lodge. Ephraim left a very good paying position in Washington State to follow his dream to own and operate his own charter fishing business out of Hawaii someday. He is an excellent, experienced fisherman giving Zach a lot of competition! He has proved invaluable to me this season… he is always willing to take on any task, he handles pressure very well, he has caught literally a ton of fish this year and our guests love him!

Our newest captain is Joe Paul who formerly ran the Saltery Lodge near Ketchikan for many years. He is also a bush plane pilot and is adapting quickly to his new role at the Highliner Lodge. Although Joe is my own vintage, he is very fit and keeps up with the young bucks, Zach and Ephraim!

Third generation Chef Joe Green, from the Florida Keys, has kept the Highliner dining experience excellent and provides a touch of class and wit every evening. We look forward to every evening meal!

Our own daughter Ali, and Susan Estabrooks, make sure Joe’s meals come off flawlessly and on time! They both have developed an easy, but sincere, rapport with our guests while serving dinner and drinks.

And finally, Skyler Brown and Travis Richey round out our crew. Skyler is in charge of all fish processing at the lodge. The operation has run flawlessly all season. He keeps the facility spotlessly clean. Skyler hopes to gain the experience necessary to become a captain at the Highliner Lodge.

Travis is my right-hand man: he helps Skyler with the fish processing, he and Ali have been my deckhands when we take guests “Dude Fishing”, and he is my Mad Max Mobile Marine Mechanic’s Apprentice. Travis’ father and brothers helped build the Highliner Lodge when he was just a pup and he plans to move to Sitka and work with me year-around. Travis is going to be an Alaskan!

Thank you for your continued interest in the Highliner Lodge. I enjoy writing these newsletters for you. I don’t expect that everyone will appreciate my sense of humor, or point of view… for those people I say, “Make my day!” by unsubscribing to this newsletter, or writing back to show me the error of my ways.


Bookings have doubled since last year!
Marita Mike thought that I wore funny hats and penciled in mustaches every day just to entertain our guests… he didn’t realize that the guests are here to entertain me!

Maybe it was the 466 pound halibut “we” caught last season and seen on the internet and newspapers around the world. Perhaps it is my relentless and shameless self-promotion? Maybe our bookings doubled because of my arduous study of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”…

Or wait…. Maybe its the fishing!!

That’s why they call it a “FISHING” lodge and…

“THAT’S what we are here for, Baby!”
Whatever the reason, don’t procrastinate.

Book early!

Book often!


How’s that for inspiration?

Fishing Report


The Halibut fishing is better at the Highliner Lodge than it has ever been!

Our investment in 3A Charter Halibut permits continues to pay off and we have had some ridiculously great fishing there. It’s not uncommon to get happy complaints about having to reel in too many fish at the end of the day. I’m not talking about “chicklets” here either! (Hey I just coined a new phrase for those little 4-9 pound halibut that those other designations catch … and brag about what good eating they are). Every once in a while, one particular fish will be challenging to reel in. A recent guest had to be told to “Man-up!”… when his 200 plus pound halibut was now only ten feet beneath the surface and he whined that he just couldn’t reel anymore (that’s what your captain is there for)!


One of our guests caught TWO twenty pound halibut on the same line at the same time this year!

While we do get “complaints” about having to release some very nice sized fish in area 2C, the fishing in area 3A (about every other day) has provided great catches for our guests. Our guests have brought home an average of 125 pounds of fillets. This is about 25% more than last season.


On average our guests caught a halibut every 1.3 rod hours this season. That compares to Sitka’s average of one halibut every 4.1 rod hours. That means we caught our halibut 2.7 hours quicker than Sitka’s anglers. That left us 2.7 more hours in the day to target bigger halibut (or more salmon, rockfish, etc)!

Oh, did I mention that Sitka anglers still have to release any halibut caught in the Sitka area between 45 and 170 pounds?

You can find the Sitka fishing stats here:

Sitka Catch Rates


Last time I checked Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game’s statistics for halibut size, our halibut were on average 3 times bigger than Sitka, Seward or Homer (Homer: the halibut capital of the world?). Our halibut averaged 45 pounds and their’s averaged about 15 pounds!

Seems like I’ve said this before… size matters. We haven’t broken any new records this year but after catching a 466 pound halibut last year… we may never break that record again. I don’t have any reliable stats from our own Highliner fishing this year to give you a pound average for the size of halibut that we have been catching, but I can tell you that we have had a lot of very happy fishers who would love to share their stories about catching big halibut. We still fish halibut in area 2C about half the time (where we can only keep one per day)… and it can be frustrating releasing halibut between 45-170 pounds… but our guests more than made up for those days when they fished in area 3A (no sizes restrictions and 2 halibut per day). They went home with more halibut than ever before!

“Gee Steve, don’t those big halibut taste bad anyway?” That’s what they tell you at lodges where they don’t catch any big halibut (or lodges where they are not allowed to keep big halibut). They are  just as tasty (if they are cared for properly) as any small halibut! Ask our Highliner guests!

CHALKY HALIBUT? Speaking of tasting bad…I have been asked about recent reports that halibut caught in and around Cook Inlet (Homer, Seward, Kenai, etc.) are mushy. This is called “chalky” halibut. Commercial fishermen who deliver chalky halibut are penalized almost a dollar per pound when they sell the fish. The fish are safe to eat… but aren’t good to eat… the texture and taste are so bad that most restaurants will reject the fish and ask for their money back from the fish monger who sold it to them! We don’t have that problem where we fish…The chalky halibut are geographically specific to the South Central Alaska region. No one knows why.


The  king salmon fishing has been strong this year… until about a week ago… and it dropped way off… everywhere in SE Alaska.

On average, our guests caught 1 king salmon for every 3.6 rod hours this season. That compares to Sitka’s average of one king salmon for every 4.9 rod hours. That means we caught our king salmon on average 1.5 hours quicker than Sitka’s anglers. That left us 1.5 more hours in the day to target halibut!


I have compiled the catch rates for the Highliner Lodge for the season up until July 14. I challenge anyone to provide any evidence to show that we don’t have the best catch rate for catching king salmon and halibut in the state and… that we don’t have the largest halibut in the state!

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


June 13, 2012
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Boy Wonder Zach Hancock Returns
Play Chess… or Cut Bait?
Fishing Report
Highliner Crew Goes Fishing
Featured Article

Zach with 55 pound king
We are pleased to announce that Capt. Zach Hancock returns to the Highliner Lodge for his second season. This king salmon was caught very close to town by a local commercial fisherman… the one record Zach hasn’t broken at the Highliner Lodge is my own record 52 pound king salmon!

Dear Bobby Fisher,

Thank you for your continued interest in the Highliner Lodge. We strive to bring you honest and interesting fishing reports and keep you updated on changes in the charter fishing industry and our own Highliner Lodge & Charters operation.

Steve & Jill

Play Chess… or cut bait?

Still smirking? You should have seen my face when I got beat by the 8th grader!

I’ve been studying & playing quite a bit of chess this past winter (guess I had to replace wrestling with something less vigorous at age 58). I have joined a chess club in Sitka and have been humbled by a certain middle school chess player a few times this past winter…

I’ve known how to move the pieces since I was a teenager but never learned how to play the game (the fundamentals) until recently. Some beginner chess players memorize a sequence of moves that could lead to a checkmate very quickly (this only works if you are playing with someone who also doesn’t know the fundamentals of the game).

That’s how it is for most of us… we flatter ourselves, satisfied to get an easy checkmate from someone who knows even less than we do… all the while, nursing the idea that we know something about the game.

That’s ok…

Unless you want to be a Highliner, or Grand Master!


There is a reason that many lodges in Alaska are called “FISHING” LODGES. PEOPLE EXPECT TO CATCH FISH! Not knowing the fundamentals of fishing they think that every lodge calling itself a fishing lodge in Alaska must have good fishing. It’s Alaska after all, the last frontier, and the fishing is equally great everywhere… right?


Like chess, many people know how the pieces move… but really don’t know how to play the game. I’m talking about both the lodge owners and the fishermen who fish at these lodges. They don’t really understand the fundamentals. If they did… the lodge owners wouldn’t have built their lodges so far away from the fish and their guests wouldn’t be going to a “fishing” lodge that offers massage therapy, lessons in the culinary arts or designer authentic log cabin bedroom furniture! If the fishing was good… they would be focused on the fishing!

Here’s what I know, after studying and playing chess for 2 years…

I will NEVER be a Grandmaster!

I am, and can be, a much better player if I understand the fundamentals.

Here’s what I know after fishing for 36 years…

I may never be a Highliner.

I am, and can be, a much better fisherman if I understand the fundamentals.

Having a “secret” lure, wearing your lucky fishing hat, buying the latest and most expensive fishing gear will not catch you more fish! These things are the equivalent of knowing the 5 move checkmate. It only works once in a while, and you are only better than someone who is not very good anyway.

If you want to be a Highliner, you need an understanding of the fundamentals.

Lesson #1

Highliner Lodge Philosophy of Fishing:

80% Location
10% Operation
10% Presentation

80% of everything you need to know about fishing has to do with location. When a Highliner comes back to the dock with an extraordinary catch, what is the first (and often) last thing that he is asked?

“Where did you catch all those fish?”

NOT: “Can I borrow your lucky fishing hat?”
NOT: “What kind of rod & reel were you using?”
NOT: “Were you using bait, or a lure?”


Some fishermen get hung up on the lure, and while that is important, it is is only weighted 10% in the Highliner Philosophy (the 10% presentation noted above).

A salty old commercial salmon troller was asked what he thought the best lure was to catch king salmon in Alaska… Sunrise Bob’s response was, “I always thought the lure closest to the fish’s nose had the advantage”.

Sage advice.

Location is weighted 80% in the Highliner Philosophy.

In the fishing report below you will see that we have had excellent fishing this season, perhaps better that last season, and last season was incredible!

Please note the data presented from other fishing areas around the state. If you do your homework, you can find this information online and you will find that it is indeed location that will dictate 80% of your fishing success. Find out where the catch rate is highest. Find out where the average size fish are the biggest. Find out where there is the least competition for the fish. Find out if one location is at the top of these three lists. You have already found that location! Go there and fish… even if it costs more money to fish there. You are now 80% of the way to being a Highliner!

Fishing Report

Our guests began fishing on May 20 this year and the Highliner Lodge has had excellent fishing right from the “get go”!

Boy Wonder Zach Hancock has returned to the Highliner to polish his illustrious reputation and… check out his catch record (below) so far this year.


Fishing regs change again in 2012

In Southeast Alaska (Area 2C) you are allowed to keep only 1 halibut per day and it must be under 45″ OR over 68″ This means any halibut caught between 45 and 170 pounds must be released.

In South Central Alaska (Area 3A) you are allowed to keep 2 halibut a day of any size. We are close enough and have licenses to fish in either area. Sitka, Ketchikan, Petersburg and the rest of SE Alaska is located too far from Area 3A and must limit their guests to 1 halibut per day and that halibut is restricted by size as mentioned above.


Bob Jensen & Kirk Kinsell and their respective families pose with their daily catch at the Highliner Lodge

Although we have not set any new records at the Highliner Lodge (Hey, how do you top a 466 pound halibut?) we can say that the fishing has been even better than last year  (if you followed our fishing reports from last year you know that we had incredibly good fishing). After 17 days of fishing the Highliner has caught 15 halibut over 100 pounds, that is almost one halibut over 100 pounds for each fisherman! Not only are we getting a lot of quality halibut, or guests have limited out on halibut (as well as king salmon) almost every day! We have released far more than three halibut for everyone that we have retained!

Our claim to be “Closest to the Fish!” is not without merit!


The Jensen Family show off their King Salmon at the Highliner Lodge

The salmon fishing has been much better than last year as well… the fish are much bigger and there has been more of them. Every guest that has stayed for 5 days has reached their annual bag limit at the Highliner Lodge this season! 90% of the fishermen are getting a king salmon every day usually before noon, leaving the rest of the day to focus on halibut fishing. We have been averaging one king salmon for every 3 rod hours of effort!

(below in blue are unedited news releases copied from Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s website… followed in black by my snarky remarks)

May 31, 2012

(Where they used to claim that you can keep FOUR kings a day (before they rescinded the liberalized regulation… if only you had a chance to catch them!)

“Last week’s angling for king salmon as gaged by the creel program indicated anglers fished 17 hours per harvested king salmon in Wrangell, which is equivalent to the recent five-year averages there (17 hrs), and showed improvement from the last estimate of 55 hrs per king for the May 21-27 period.  In Petersburg, anglers last week ( May 28- June 3) fished 20 hours per harvested king salmon, which is better than the recent five-year average of 29 hours for the same week in other years.  This showed a slight increase in time fished per king salmon from last week.”
The full report is online at:

Rod hours per fish reported by ADF&G  for the 2 weeks May21 – June 3
In the Juneau Area it took 49 hours to catch 1 king salmon
In the Ketchikan Area it took 37 hours to catch 1 king salmon
In the Prince of Wales Island Area it took 23 hours to catch 1 king salmon
In the Wrangel Area it took 37 hours to catch 1 king salmon
In the Petersburg Area it took 17 hours to catch 1 king salmon
In the Sitka Area it took 4 hours to catch 1 king salmon
(At the Highliner Lodge it took just 3 hours to catch a king salmon!)


* Early-season halibut fishing is fair to good and most fish are small. Sampled halibut harvested out of the Homer port during the past week averaged nearly 13 pounds.
* The department has already received reports of “mushy” halibut this season. High prevalence’s of mushy halibut syndrome were seen in 1998, 2005, and 2011, and all were diagnosed as a nutritional myopathy. The flesh of these fish is very soft or flabby, sometimes with pockets of jelly-like tissue, and fish are reportedly mushy after being cooked as well. Mushy halibut may exhibit some of the following traits: wrinkled skin near the base of the dorsal and ventral fins, lethargy or decreased fighting ability, and more translucent skin on the white side making muscle bands visible through the flesh.

(Gee, do ya think that they are are they embarrassed to publish their catch rates?)


* Halibut fishing reportedly continues to be very slow, with few reports of anglers catching fish within Chiniak Bay. Fishing near Cape Gravelle reportedly produced a few small halibut over the last weekend. Fishing normally improves throughout the month June.
* Trolling for Chinook (king) salmon in Kodiak’s marine waters has become very popular in recent years. Kings can be fished successfully year-round, though fishing tends to be spotty and difficult to predict.
(Gee, are they also too embarrassed to publish their catch rates?)


* Halibut fishing in the gulf is good to very good right now. Use a big white-tailed lead-head jig baited with a nice small piece of herring, cod, or octopus. A big silver jig baited the same way also works well. Try experimenting a bit: first, keep your bait on the bottom, if that doesn’t work, try jigging it a couple of feet off the bottom.

(Uh, thanks for the advice on technique… but what is the actual catch rate and average size?)

* The king salmon limit in Resurrection Bay is two per day, any size.
* Feeder kings are being caught every day in Resurrection Bay, but you will have to work for them.
* Try trolling with a small- to medium-sized herring and an oversized flasher.

(More advice… but no catch rates. What is a “Feeder” king? You “have to work for them”… what does that mean? Little fish that you can’t find…? Who wants to “work” for kings anyway… Maybe they could just hold up a sign on their boat that says. “Hungary, tired, wet and cold… need salmon…please help”?)


Damn, I love this game!

Highliner Crew Gets a Day Off to Go Fishing!

Jill & I are also proud to announce that Ali Daniels has returned to the Highliner Lodge this year after graduating from Sitka High School in June! She will will be attending Southern Oregon College this fall. Here she shows off the 50 pound lingcod she caught on her day off!

I took the crew out fishing today (minus Zach, who had a charter). We started at 10:30… Boy Wonder had already caught and released a few kings and kept 4 nice big ones for the ice chest and was on his way to fish halibut.

We caught 5 kings and 2 cohos by noon!

We had to get back to town to meet the ferry to unload our supplies for the next two weeks… and I am waiting for Zach and his fishermen to get back to town and tell me once again how they “slayed” them!

For now, like many of you, I must experience the thrill of catching a big halibut vicariously… next week I plan on going fishing with friends, maybe I will hook up a big halibut… the odds are very good…after all… I am in the right location (The 80%)…

Come on now, say it out loud with me:

The Highliner Lodge is CLOSEST TO THE FISH!

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


April 3, 2012
“Closest to the Fish!”
In This Issue
Where The Fish Are (Location,Location,Location)
Calm Waters
Bookings Double!


(or What Would Jesus Do?)

Dear Pastor Fisher-of men,

The Bible says, according the Gospel of John (John 21):

Jesus’ disciples decided to go fishing. After fishing unsuccessfully all night long… Jesus appeared and advised Peter to “Cast thy net on the right side of the boat and ye shall find some fish”. The disciples were probably thinking “Yeah, right!”. They had their share of problems keeping their faith, as every sunday-schooler knows.

After doing so, “they were unable to haul the net in… because of the large number of fish!”

You don’t have to be omniscient…

om nis cient
adjective: knowing everything

(Please don’t tell me fishermen, and wrestlers, don’t know how to use big words!)

…to know that fish aren’t evenly distributed in the water. The disciples knew it! Most fishermen have been skunked before. What separates ordinary fishermen from Highliners?

Highliners go to where the fish are!

What would Jesus do?


I meet people at the sportsman shows who look at my handouts showing the vastly superior catch rates at the Highliner Lodge (Alaska Fish & Game statistics) and many of them ask, “So… what else ya got?”

What else matters? It’s all about the fish, Baby!

You didn’t think that the Highliner Lodge business grew every year of the “Great Recession”, and doubled this year, because of my good-looks and sparkling personality, did you?

Some of the folks I meet at the sportsman show ask me right off, “What does it cost?” That frustrates me… because I am not selling a barrel of oil, or an automobile! A barrel of oil is a barrel of oil… is a barrel of oil… it is a commodity and all of them have the same BTU value and price. An automobile, on the other hand, may cost over $100,000 or under $20,000, but either one will get you to where you are going!

We are not selling a commodity like oil, or even a product like an automobile!

Our value is mostly in our location… where the  fish are!  Otherwise, we are not much different from many other well run lodges. You can have a great operation, have a wonderful personality, have great meals, boats, captains, and service… but if the fishing is only half as good as another location (or much worse)… ??  The most important part of the product is the fishing! That’s why they are called fishing lodges and Alaskan fishing trips!

Some fishing trips are… well… CHEAP, and some are EXPENSIVE, but the question should be… do they get you to where you want to go? Meaning: will you catch fish there? Obviously, some fishing lodges have a relatively terrible catch rate (proven by fish & game statistics) but they have a Mercedes-like reputation for price, prestige, designer furnishings, cooking lessons with world famous Chef Boyardee and a massage to go along with your martini and cigar. Don’t you think they are trying to compensate for something? You may end up feeling like you’ve thrown a lot of hard earned money away!

Or you can “save” hundreds of dollars going to fishing lodge with a Tata Motors-like reputation for economy… but where’s the FISH? You may end up feeling like you’ve thrown a lot of hard earned money away too, because, although it was relatively inexpensive, you didn’t go to where the fish are!

I can’t promise that we will have great fishing every day of the season at the Highliner Lodge… there are no guarantees in fishing, as you know. But I can promise that the statistics I have shown you represent a reality that our fishing… week in and week out… year in and year out… is far better that any other location in Alaska. I can promise you that I will provide great service and equipment, fine dining, the best possible care for your fish and that you have cast your net on the correct side of the boat!

Speaking of Value…

The other thing I hear all the time is, “What’s your show special?”

My answer, every year since I started doing Sportsman shows is, “We don’t have any “Show Specials”.

I know, as a marketing ploy, that I should probably raise my price, so that I can discount it later, and help people feel like they are getting a “good deal”… ‘cuz I lowered the price for them and gave them a special deal (and that would put pressure on them to book at the show). But I don’t, and I don’t plan on doing so in the future.


Let’s be honest. If you have something for sale, the ONLY reason to lower the price is if you can’t sell it at the higher price. If you think it is fairly valued you would be foolish to lower the price. If you CAREFULLY compare what we offer, you will find that the Highliner lodge is a great value!

I actually believe in what I am selling… I couldn’t do this… if I knew that the fishing was inferior in our location.

Highliner Lodge & Charters… Closest to the Fish!

Jesus Calms the Waters

No, I can’t calm the waters… but we can fish in either the ocean or inside waters. We don’t put more than four fisherman on a boat (looks like this boat is a little over loaded)!

Our Bookings have doubled over last year!

Would you buy a used car from this guy? How about an Alaskan Fishing Trip? Be sure to ask for the “Show Special” (see how far that gets you)!

Maybe it was the 466 pound halibut “we” caught last season and seen on the internet and newspapers  around the world. Perhaps it is my relentless, and shameless, self-promotion? Maybe it is the messianic cult of personality I have developed over the years; my arduous study of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (recommended by my ex-mother-in-law when I was still a teenager) is finally starting to pay off.

Or wait…. Maybe its the fishing!!

“THAT’S what we are here for, Baby!”

Whatever the reason, don’t procrastinate. Your New Year’s resolution could be to make a decision now to make that once-in-a-lifetime trip. Perhaps its better to spend some of that hard earned savings on a fishing trip with your kids, rather than they going fishin’ without you when your gone (I can’t believe I just said that)!

What will 2012 bring?

A new boat and two new captains (more on that in the next newsletter)!

Book early!

Book often!


How’s that for inspiration?

Getting excited about starting another great season!

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


January 1, 2012
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
2012 Calendar Filling Up Fast
Fishing Report
I hope the above graphic captures the essence of our experience together at the Highliner Lodge. It will become our new sportsman show display.

Dear fishing buddy ,

Jill & I want to say thank you and Happy New Year to our Highliner Lodge guests and friends! We realize that without your goodwill the Highliner Lodge would not be possible. As we approach our 10 year anniversary this spring, it is only proper and fitting that we express our gratitude and best wishes to all of you.


July 1, 2002: Jill & I purchase and open oldest building in Pelican, Pelican Wetgoods (Liquor) & Steam Bath. We didn’t really have a plan to turn this building into the Highliner Lodge, one thing just led to…


Those of you who received last year’s season’s greeting email will recognize this section that depicts the lodge. Drilling deep into the details you will find family, friends, guests and flights of fancy that resonate with me personally (I will email you the full resolution version to get those details if you like).

Alexco Girls with Halibut!

We have worked hard, and are proud of what we have accomplished… but more importantly, we want you to know that we appreciate your trust in us, your understanding that we are trying to do our best, your enthusiasm and camaraderie while you are here, and you spreading our message and making us a viable business!

The lodge, the business, the location, the fishing, the timing, the crew, my family, and all of you… from our very first self-guided guests at the original Boardwalk Bed & Boat (our original tongue twisting incarnation) in 2002; to Vic, Dave & the Professor, who talked me into getting my guide’s license in 2005; Clynt & Jan from Alexco Corporation, who entrusted us with what has turned into his company’s annual retreat when we were still wet behind the ears in 2006; and Jimbo, the Carmichaels, Armand & Robert (Click & Clack the “Tappet Brothers”) who have supported us year after year, after year, and so many of you… from California to Florida, from Australia and England and even Brazil…

… with your support, your company and friendship, all of these elements have come together over these past ten years to create the Highliner Lodge and enrich our lives!

Thank you!

To those of you who have encouraged me in my writing the Highliner Newsletters, who have argued with me about fisheries politics, and who perennially “kick my tires” at the sportsman shows… I thank you too. We know we will continue to develop new relationships and hope to welcome you at the Highliner Lodge someday!

Bookings are up over 116% over last year!


Maybe it was the 466 pound halibut “we” caught last season and seen on the internet and newspapers  around the world. Perhaps it is my relentless and shameless self-promotion? Maybe it is the messianic cult of personality I have developed over the years, in spite of my arduous study of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

Or wait…. Maybe its the fishing!!

“THAT’S what we are here for, Baby!”

Whatever the reason, don’t procrastinate. Your New Year’s resolution could be to make a decision now to make that once-in-a-lifetime trip. Perhaps its better to spend some of that hard earned savings on a fishing trip with your kids, rather than they going fishin’ without you when your gone (I can’t believe I just said that)!

What will 2012 bring?

The Mayan calendar predicts the world will end in 2012 (at least one of our former guests IS Mayan… so this should be good for at least one additional booking). The 99% is after your hard earned savings! Iranian Armageddon is just around the corner! Ocean acidification (only jellyfish and skates left to catch)!

Every evening we are on the edge of our beds, clicking between Fox and CNN trying to know what the next impending disaster is that we will be dreaming about tonight!

I guess if we live long enough, every generation thinks the end of civilization, as we know it, is at hand. The Mayan’s may have taken the long view… but, hey they are ALREADY gone (Sorry, Jorge)!

So don’t procrastinate! The end may be closer than we think!

Book early!

Book often!


How’s that for inspiration?


Fishing Report

Disclaimer: This is a “bait and switch” tactic. There is no fishing report this newsletter.

We are in the process of purchasing a new boat and another 3A charter halibut permit (CHP) for the 2012 season. We had to add a new boat because most of August already has 12 to 14 guests booked (there is a little room in the first and last weeks).

I know I can’t fool all the people, all of the time… and you get a free cold beer at the Highliner Lodge if you recognized this as a cheap subliminal marketing tactic to get you off the fence and… dare I say it again? If I do… it won’t be subliminal!  (hint: see above)


Must have been the “How to Swim with the Sharks” (Mackay) book that I read 20 years ago (I know, I should have listened to my ex-mother-in law about the Dale Carnegie book).

I’m currently reading “The Prince” by Machiavelli .

Happy New Year and good fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


November 8, 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
New Facebook Page
2011 Catch Rate Comparisons
Fishing Report
Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful!
Quick Links
Lonely Facebook page needs some TLC… please send photos and testimonials!

Dear Fisher-person,

Stop! Don’t delete this newsletter! Please unsubscribe by clicking the button at the bottom of the page. It won’t hurt my feelings if you think I’m boring… Or a braggart. It’s probably better if I face the cold hard facts… maybe I’m not as charming and witty as I think I am.

Better for me to get over my delusion, don’t you think?

So “Go ahead, make my day”, click that unsubscribe link…

For the rest of you… Thank you for your continued interest in the Highliner Lodge. We strive to bring you honest and interesting fishing reports and keep you updated on changes in the charter fishing industry and our own Highliner Lodge & Charters operation.

Steve & Jill

2011 Catch Rate Comparisons

As promised, I am presenting our Highliner Lodge catch rates for  the 2011 season and comparing them to the rest of southeast Alaska. (South Central Alaska: Homer, Kodiak, Seward, et all, don’t have any 2011 published catch rates, hmmm wonder why?)

Who the hell said it? Mark Twain? No one really knows, but…”There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Some folks are rightly suspicious of statistics, especially during this highly contentious election season… most people are smart enough to know that many times “statistics” are cherry picked and massaged to serve the purpose of the presenter. To a certain extent, you must rely on the integrity of the presenter. And it seems like, for every political issue there are enough numbers to satisfy (or falsify) any just about any claim!
Speaking of politics, I challenge any and all competing fishing lodge owners to a debate. Subject: Best Fishing in Alaska.

Most of us have been around long enough to know that we end up believing what we hear the most…that is why big business pays a lot of money to get ads on the super bowl and why unscrupulous political candidates often use negative advertising. Advertising and propaganda work!

As an owner of a fishing lodge; I am aware that hyperbole works. The lodge owner who has the biggest internet presence (think: search engines), the biggest and fanciest display at the sportsman show, the most money to spend on marketing, inevitably gain the best name recognition. Couple that with the willingness to say (or imply) that he has the best fishing in Alaska… has a great advantage over those who may in fact have a far superior product (fishing and otherwise)!

The Highliner lodge may, or may not, have the best website, or the most pictures of big dead fish, or the biggest and fanciest display at the sportsman show… but, don’t hold that against us! What we do have, that nobody else has, is hard cold facts (yes, statistics… but hey, you trust me, right?).

I am not trying to yell louder, use more gimmicks, pay experts for search engine optimization, buy bigger displays using bigger pictures of dead fish, and simply saying anything to book a trip. (Well ok, I am doing some of this too) The point is: I am supplying verifiable information (yes, statistics… don’t fall asleep on me here, I haven’t even presented any numbers yet!) that YOU can use to make an informed decision.

Words like “BEST FISHING!!!!!!!!!, GIANT BARN-DOOR HALIBUT!!!!!!!!, FANTASTIC FOOD!!!!!!, GORGEOUS SCENERY!!!!!!, BEST THIS!!!, GREATEST THAT!, BLA, bla bla… ad infinitum… are totally meaningless after a while.

We can’t all be the best, can we? Ever notice how some lodge owners try to give the impression that all of Alaska has great fishing and beautiful scenery? NOT TRUE! Run away from that guy… fast!

(Notice that some lodges that can’t even keep a fish over 37” are still implying that you can… “oops, forgot to change the photos and details on the website”?!)

Ok, here it is, short and sweet:
Catch Per Rod Hours

Data from: Alaska Department of Fish & Game  and our 2011 Highliner ADF&G official log books (that’s where all this information originates).

Halibut: How many rod hours it takes to catch a single fish (Rod hours per fish)

Highliner Lodge: 1.9 hours                            average weight 47.4
Sitka Area: 3.6                                    average weight 25.3
Ketchikan Area: 5.4                             average weight 22.1
Juneau Area: 5.3                                 average weight 16.2
Petersburg Area: 4.1                           average weight 34.6
Yakutat Area: 5.1                               average weight 29.7
Prince of Wales Island Area: 2.0          average weight 14.8

These average weights are from National Marine Fisheries Service  2010 data (scroll down and click on ADF&G Charter Halibut Harvest Data: 2010) This is the latest information I could find published on the internet. All of these areas (Sitka, Ketchikan, etc), with the exception of the Yakutat area, are restricted to one halibut under 37 inches per day (about 24 pounds). We are fishing in both areas as we are located on the liner between area 2C and 3A. That allows us to fish either side of the line, as long as we have the proper license and don’t fish on both sides in the same day.

(See previous Highliner Lodge Newsletters explaining the regulatory difference between areas 2C and 3A)

Although, I don’t have stats for 2011 to prove it, I think it is reasonable, and logical, to conclude that the average halibut retained in these areas has declined significantly (with the exception of Prince of Wales Island, where the halibut are so small that even the 37 inch restriction probably couldn’t bring the average down!)

Believe it, or not, these fishermen let most of their fish go on this particular day. The photo illustrates the difference in size between a 323 pound, a 75 pound and 25 pound halibut (the salmon weigh about 10 pounds each). You do not have to keep a big halibut. You may release it if you like… one, or two, small halibut a day add up to a box of fish after 4 or 5 days.

I honestly cannot tell you what our 2011 average weight was (I will have to start keeping records of the halibut size too, I suppose), but I can honestly say that we had many more, and much larger fish, than we have ever had before (see previous 2011 Highliner Fishing Reports).

Note on average halibut sizes: Over the past 15 years in area 3A (South Central Alaska which includes Yakutat, Seward, Homer & Kodiak) the average weight of a charter caught halibut has dropped 5 pounds to 15.2 pounds in 2010.

Size matters?

Ahem, well fellas, as much as I hate to say it (after all…I was once told  “you’re just a little guy!”… I keep trying to convince Jill that I am average….I’m talkin’  HEIGHT!… geez…) sometimes size does matter.

In fishing, SIZE ALWAYS matters!

I will go out on a limb (again, I have no stats!) and say that our average halibut is well over the 2010 Glacier Bay area average of 47.4 pounds. While most lodges are suffering a tremendous reduction in both catch rates and average sizes (caused by over fishing, and in southeast Alaska, imposed by regulation) we have continued to both improve our catch rates and increase our average size of halibut!

What does this mean?

It means that on an average day at the Highliner Lodge you will catch a halibut every 1.9 hours and in less than 4 hours of fishing you will have two halibut that average 45 pounds (90 pounds total). You will still have 5-6 hours to fish for salmon on the same day (Sorry, you will have to wait for the next Highliner Newsletter for those catch rates).

Compare that to Sitka: on an average day you will catch a halibut every 3.6 hours and after over 7 hours of fishing you will have two halibut that average 16 pounds (32 pounds total). You have only 2-3 hours to fish for salmon on the same day. Ooops, I forgot to say that you can only keep one halibut per day and it has to be under 37″ so you probably will end up with less than 16 pounds of halibut. The good news is: now you have some time to fish for salmon!

Speaking of salmon, I know, I said you’d have to wait for the next newsletter, but I will say (I suppose you have guessed it) that we have the best 2011 king salmon and coho/silver salmon catch rate too!

These are the cold hard facts.

Fishing Report

The last fishing report was on long-lining with my son, Joe, for blackcod. Many of you expressed your continued interest in my reports. Thank you!

Some of you probably don’t want to encourage me!

Since I type with only two, or three, fingers (about as fast as I think), I have run out of time for this report, but will continue the blackcod story in the next Highliner Newsletter.

Next week: “DAD, LOOKOUT!!” or “Do you think a peg-leg would be a good marketing tool?”


Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

Is that a smirk on my face?

Every once in awhile, I meet a potential guest at a sportsman show who has been going to the “World’s Greatest Fishing Lodge” (WGFL) for many years and is convinced that he has had great fishing. You know how the size and number of fish seems to grow and grow (like Pinocchio’s nose) over the years? Well, I bring out my book of statistics and humbly (you know, I’m not very good at humble) show him that the Highliner Lodge king salmon catch rates are 10 or 20 times better than what he has been experiencing at WGFL…

You’d think he’d be grateful to be informed of such great fishing! Ironically, sometimes the response is almost hostile (as if I’d questioned his veracity) …

“Well, I don’t care about king salmon fishing!” He snaps.

You know I’m thinking: “That’s a stunning remark!”

Incredulously, “You don’t care about king salmon?!

“We’re up here to catch silvers (cohos) because we can keep six a day!” He’s a real Smarty Pants now. He thinks he’s trumped me.

And apparently he had given up long ago on kings.

I flip my stat book to the “Silver Page” and show him that the Highliner Lodge has a two or three times better catch rate for silvers than WGFL!

We didn’t even get to halibut page, before he stormed off.

I realize I’m not the slickest salesman barking from my sportsman show booth. I have a lot to learn! But I have a trump card to play: I built my lodge… “Closest to the Fish!”

Thanks again for considering the Highliner Lodge!

I’m off to fish blackcod again tomorrow. The forecast is for ten foot seas, and that’s about as good as we get this time of year. When I return, I will start to revamp the website and order a new display for the sportsman show. You’d think being “Closest to the Fish!” would be enough, but I have to get the word out!

Good fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


October 14, 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
2012 Bookings up 63%
2011 Catch Rates
Fishing Report: “Deadliest Catch”?
2012 Rates2012

Bookings Up 63%
Book early, Book often!

Our confirmed booking are up 63% to date. I suppose it didn’t hurt to catch so many big halibut last season. The 466 pound (woulda coulda shouda been) record breaking halibut has focused a lot of attention on the Highliner Lodge! I know it’s hard to make a commitment a year ahead of time, given the economy and sometimes health issues, but please recognize that we have a very limited capacity and that making an early commitment insures you get the dates that work best for you.

Dear fishing Fanatic,

Thank you for your continued interest in the Highliner Lodge. We strive to bring you honest and interesting fishing reports and keep you updated on changes in the charter fishing industry and our own Highliner Lodge & Charters operation.

Today’s report is about my recent experience blackcod fishing… this is not a sport fishing report, but rather a glimpse into the world of commercial fishing. Is it a “Deadliest Catch” experience? Well, frankly, yes, it can be. Once you make a set of longline gear, you must wait 6-8 hours to let it “soak” and then it takes 3-4 hours to haul it aboard. The weather forecast may call for 20 knots winds and 9 foot seas… but in late September and October the actual weather can quickly change to a 30-40 knot gale with 12-16 foot seas! Once you set the gear you are committed. You are also 20 miles off shore in a boat that travels at 7 knots!


If you ever get an opportunity to eat blackcod (aka Sablefish) don’t pass it up. It is the best tasting fish in the ocean! It is expensive, but it won’t disappoint you. Warning: Halibut will never taste the same.


Highliner Lodge Catch Rates


As promised, next week I will provide our Highliner week by week catch rates for 2011. The catch rates are affected by several factors. The day by day, or weekly, fluctuations should not be interpreted to accurately pick one week over another to fish at the Highliner Lodge. Sometimes the weather prevents us from fishing where we can obtain the best catch rate. Sometimes, the individuals at the lodge are more interested in sightseeing than fishing (I know… that’s hard to believe). However, the data does help establish our claim to be “Closest to the Fish!”

Fishing Report

The blackcod fishing was amazing… we started hauling the deep end first. It was set in 550 fathoms of water. (That is 3,300 feet or over a half-mile deep!) We hauled the deep end first because we couldn’t find the shallow end…

Did we set the shallow end into too deep of water? Did we sink the buoy? We looked for an hour for it (it was kind of lumpy out on the ocean) but couldn’t find it! The wind and seas started to pick up, and after looking for the deep end for another hour, wondered, where the hell was IT?… Finally, I spotted the orange buoy! It had drifted in the current almost a mile from where we had set it, before settling in this location!
I don’t like hauling the deep end first because it is too “heavy”. It has over 600 fathoms of line with about 500 hooks on it and sometimes it has a fish on every hook… that is a lot to drag up from the bottom! Every fathom of line, every hook, and every fish creates drag as it is pulled though the water. The line pull is close to a thousand pounds!

Well, we got the buoyline and the anchor up and started pulling in the ground line with the hooks. We didn’t catch a single blackcod on the first 500 hooks. The line was starting to get tighter… and tighter… finally, I couldn’t pull it up at all, without parting the line. It was starting to get rough too. Around and around we went in a circle, trying to loosen the line from whatever was holding it back. This might be the only chance I had of retrieving this gear… if it breaks, we may never find the other end! After an hour of going in circles, pulling as hard as possible without breaking the line… the line broke. We had one blackcod. We would’ve had two, but I missed one of them at the roller!

Nothing to do now but go back and look for the “shallow” end (250 fathoms), it was SOMEWHERE about two miles from the deep end.

My son, Joe and I had baited and set 12 tubs of longline gear about midnight last night. It was calm when we set the gear, but the wind came up after, and the seas started to build in the dark. We planned on drifting all night and hauling the gear at first light. As the boat rolled and pitched, the swim plate on the stern started to slap hard against the swells. Kabooom! A big shudder came from the stern every few minutes. I wondered how good that was for a wooden boat? I ended up putting the boat in gear and slowing trolling around in the dark. I was thinking, (without really thinking, cuz I had done this a many times before) “I hope I don’t run into a log, or a big kelp patch”. We were about 20 miles from shore, fishing off Cape Edgecombe. There weren’t any boats around. I couldn’t see a thing. It was pitch black. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night.
Each of our tubs has 900 feet of ground line (150 fathoms) with baited hooks attached with 12 inch leaders spaced 6 feet apart. This adds up to about two miles of ground line with about 2,000 hand-baited hooks. We had baited for two days.

The weather was getting worse all the time. Getting up at daylight and not being able to find the shallow end, then breaking off the deep end… and all for one fish?! Had we lost all of the gear now? This wasn’t an auspicious start!

After searching for the shallow end for nearly 2 hours… Joe spotted it, “Eleven o’clock!!”


“It was at eleven o’clock”.

I turned the bow 20 degrees to port and looked for the buoy. I looked hard for the buoy. (It was kinda rough… about 10 foot seas and blowing a steady 25 knots). We couldn’t see it! Was it a mirage? Wishful thinking?

5 minutes later… “There it is! Dead ahead!”

The orange buoy was half sunk, because the current had been dragging at the line, pulling the buoy underwater. The anchor and buoy line had drifted over half a mile into water that should have been too deep for the buoyline to reach the surface! We could only see the buoy for a fraction of a second before it was “covered” by the 10 foot seas for about 10 seconds, then it would appear again for a fraction of a second…

We pulled along side of the partially sunken buoy and got a grapple on the line and started to haul it aboard. We were back in business!

After getting the buoyline and anchor up, the shallow end was coming up relatively easy… although the boat was pitching and rolling a lot more than we liked.

FISH! Well, actually they were all red fish, also known as shortrakers and rougheyes. They are worth about fifty cents ($0.50) a pound. Buy hey, they were on every single hook! Hook, after hook… after hook… The blackcod that are worth about nine dollars ($9.00) a pound! Red fish are “by-catch” and we are limited to a 7% by-catch. Without catching any blackcod, we were not entitled to sell ANY redfish. They were worthless to us!

We pulled the next four tubs of gear without landing a single blackcod! I wondered what was my son thinking? “Gee, thanks for this great opportunity Dad,” Joe can be sarcastic. I don’t know what he was thinking, but he said, “Hey, that’s fishing”. He seemed sincere. He seemed happy. I had hoped this would be a good father/son experience.

Although we still had a good chance to get our gear back now (I had been worried about loosing most of it) I felt like shit. The weather this time of year can be crappy, even for a “bullet proof” boat, like my old steel longliner the Indigo. But the Pelican, is a “Dude Fishing” boat; seaworthy itself, but not set up to fish the rough, or even semi-rough, water of Late September and October. I was worried about the crows nest: rising 30 feet off the bow, swinging back and forth in the swell, was it pulling and twisting the fore-deck? Was it loosening the planks along the bow? What about the swim step bolted to the wooden timbers of the stern, where the “Dudes” whack the big king salmon? It was being driven into the swells whenever the boat pitched into the bigger seas! “Kaboooom!” The sound it made when we passed over the big swells wasn’t good. What was that doing to the integrity of my stern? I was completely anxiety ridden. The weather. The fish. The boat. The lodge. My son. My time… I’m 58 years old! What the hell am I doing out here? I don’t need this shit! I should just sell this blackcod quota! I don’t have time for this! I have a business to run! A wife to, well… you know! A teenage daughter in the house (it’s her senior year)! AGAIN, WHAT THE F*** AM I DOING OUT HERE! I am too old for this stress and SHIT!

I long-lined 30-50 miles offshore for well over 30 years. Many times fishing into November when there were storm warnings nearly every other day.

When did I go so soft? I never used to be like this! I used to thrive on danger and stress!!! I can’t take it anymore!

And then…

…we started to catch the blackcod…BIG blackcod. One-hundred-dollar-a-piece-blackcod!

Damn, baby! THAT’s what I’m here for! Fish, after fish, after fish! 250 fish landed in the next hour! Sixteen thousand dollars worth… unbelievable! Amazing!

Not the fishing…NOT the money… MY ATTITUDE! I was having a ball! The weather? What weather? Was it rough? Who knows? What’s rough? What pain in my hands, and shoulders… from gaffing and pulling the big beautiful blackcod aboard? As fast as I could get the gaff out of one fish, it was driven into the head of another! Sure it hurt. But now it hurt good!


We are all baited up for another trip now. We plan on leaving tonight. The weather is kinda crappy… again. The current is even stronger than before. I don’t know if we can find those big blackcod again. I don’t know if the weather will stay “fishable”… or turn ugly. I don’t know where the next malfunction of engine, electronics, or gear, will be… or how we will cope with any problem that arises out at sea. But that is what we do…

…at least for now.

2012 Rates

We have raised our 2012 rates about 4.5%

There are two primary reasons for doing so. These two reasons are related.

1. Our fuel cost were up over 30% from 2010 to 2011.

2. We have spent over $150,000 for charter halibut permits so that you may keep two halibut of any size per day. (Remember that fishing lodges in Sitka, and the rest of southeast Alaska, are restricted to one halibut under 37″).


Several halibut less than 37″
Julie lying with 275 pound halibut!

These are related because it is the extra travel to area 3A that is partly responsible for the 30% increase in out costs in fuel.
Remember that we are still $1000 less expensive than The World’s-Greatest-Fishing-Lodge, Fantastic-Fishing-&-Fun-For-All Lodge, and Too-Good-To-Be-True Lodge (Not their real names… duh) to name a few in southeast Alaska.

We are a no excuse, top tier fishing lodge with arguably the best fishing in all of Alaska (who else provides statistics to back their claims?) Our boats, accommodations and dining is equal, or superior to, these “luxury” lodges. The extra $1000 may get you as cooking lesson, designer Lincoln-log furniture or perhaps a massage… but I guarantee that it won’t get you any more fish!

Not everyone will like my sometimes blunt, and unapologetic self-promotion. I have never aspired, or pretended to be humble. We work as hard as we can to give you the best possible fishing experience in Alaska and we are proud of what we have accomplished.

I believe that most of you appreciate that I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.

Good fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


August 25, 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Should we let big halibut go?
Fishing Report
Quick Links

Dear Popeye the Sailor-man,

Thank you for your continued interest in the Highliner Lodge. We strive to bring you honest and interesting fishing reports and keep you updated on changes in the charter fishing industry and our own Highliner Lodge & Charters operation.

I hope you will read carefully my views on whether, or not, to keep large halibut. This has been highly controversial as the halibut stocks decline. There is a lot of misinformation (propaganda) on this subject and I have done my research and want to explain our position.

Also, very importantly, this newsletter gets into the proper care for your fish. Many lodges have mishandled your catch for years. Taking the time to care properly for your fish will make the difference in you enjoying your fillets all year long, or having your wife throw the fish out… because it smells and tastes bad!

Steve & Jill

Should We Let Our Big Halibut Go?
(or… should we just insist that other people to let their big halibut go?)

Recently I have been personally chastised by someone was on my Highliner Newsletter List.

Here is what he emailed me:

“Please remove me from your email list…I personally find it appalling that you and your clients (a) kill the big female halibut that are the bearers of literally millions of eggs and thus the pillar of the population, and (b) brag about it as if killing a big fish was a glorious thing to do. And especially with halibut where you can measure the length, take pictures, and get a good estimate of weight from the length. On top of this, it is the “trophy”, macho mindset that you glorify in your emails that is one of the factors leading to the current population declines and thus limits on halibut fishing in Alaska and B.C. I and many of my fishing colleagues routinely fish from lodges such as West Coast resorts in B.C. and Fireweed in Craig where the lodge owners encourage the guests to release halibut over about 70#, ling cod over about 40#, and to not target yellow eye. Though they cannot require it, most of the fishers follow those guidelines. And still go home with great stories, lots of fish, and a sense that they have reduced their impact on the overall populations of the fish they love to catch.

I and my colleagues plus anyone else I can reach via social media will avoid Highliner Lodge so long as the “Mine is Biggest” philosophy prevails.”

Before you all feel so guilty for killing a big fish (or secretly wishing you had a chance to kill a big fish) and fall on your fishing knives in despair, please take a look at our Highliner Lodge Facebook Discussion Page to see how I responded:

Should we release large halibut?

This person doesn’t seem to understand that ALL of southeast Alaska fishing lodges fall under the 37″ fish rule and can’t keep a halibut over about 20 pounds anyway. Some lodges are located in areas where the average halibut is only 9 pounds! They are not taking the moral high ground by talking of releasing big spawners… when you are precluded by nature, or by law, from being able to catch, or keep, them in the first place!

While I am presuming the writer was sincerely concerned about our halibut resource, his knowledge of current management of the halibut, lingcod and yellow-eye stocks in SE Alaska is insufficient to support his argument:

“I and many of my fishing colleagues routinely fish from lodges such as West Coast resorts in B.C. and Fireweed in Craig where the lodge owners encourage the guests to release halibut over about 70#, ling cod over about 40#, and to not target yellow eye. Though they cannot require it, most of the fishers follow those guidelines”

As I wrote above, SE Alaska is already limited to one halibut under 37″ per day… and only one lingcod (30-35″) and one yellow-eye per YEAR. No one has to rely on the lodge owners to encourage them to do the right thing… it is the law.

BTW, maybe I am the ignorant one here… I wish I knew of a way to measure a halibut in the water! I haven’t had any guests who were willing to get in the water with the halibut for the “trophy shot” either! If someone could tell me how to do this, I’d sure appreciate it!
Although Julie was willing to “kiss” the fish, I don’t think she wanted to swim with the fish, so that she might get her picture taken before releasing it!

If you know me, if you have read my earlier emails and newsletters, you know that I am committed to good conservation practices and ethical behavior at the Highliner Lodge. I have been asking for years, “Don’t you want your grandchildren to be able to catch halibut in the future?”

If you read the discussion on the Highliner Lodge Facebook page, you know that
the director of the International Pacific Halibut Commission told me that if it were as simple as letting the big fish go, their job would be easy. He did not say that it would be a better way to manage the halibut stocks.

We will continue to celebrate our catch of halibut!

We are fishing in an area without a size restriction (because there is no need for one). If there comes a time (and it may come to this) that fisheries management says that we need to reduce the catch of halibut, I will support regulations restricting the size, or number, of halibut we are allowed to keep.

I have always supported these regulations in SE Alaska (unlike so many other lodges in Alaska & Canada who have been fighting these restrictions any way they can for years!)

One more thing… I am so tired of hearing that big halibut don’t taste good and are full of worms etc!
How many of these people who spread this slander have ever tasted a big halibut? We have eaten fillets from these big halibut at the lodge this year and they are delicious. They are just as good as a smaller halibut. The halibut that taste bad are:

1. Not bled
2. Brought on deck thrashing about, bruising the flesh
3. Not gilled & gutted right away
4. Left on deck all day in the sun & wind
5. Not iced
6. Filleted on a table swimming with blood and fish feces
7. Not rinsed properly (blood and bacteria in flesh)
8. Thrown in an inadequate freezer where it takes over 24 hours to freeze

Halibut that don’t taste good, are halibut that are not cared for properly!

Obviously, small fish are easier to care for and don’t add up to hundreds of pounds that overwhelm a the typical Sears chest freezer that most lodges use (we have an industrial blast freezer sized for many hundred of pounds of fillets per day)… perhaps the big halibut taste bad at some fishing lodges because they are not cared for and frozen properly.

We take great pride in how we care for your fish. We hear over and over that, “The fish never tasted as good from the last lodge we went to!” Compare our photos of the fish we catch at the end of the day with those of other lodges and you will notice that all of our salmon & halibut are cleaned and iced, and the fish from many other lodges… well most of the others are bruised, never bled & cleaned, or even iced. They have been sitting in box all day long with their guts, gurry and… you know, that F word in mentioned above (f***s)! By the time they are filleted, most of these fish have been unrefrigerated for 10 hours. Would you leave a salmon, or halibut, fillet (at $20-30 per pound) on your counter for hours before you cooked it for dinner?
Ok, the big halibut (above) wasn’t cleaned… but all the others were! The big fish most often are caught in the last few hours of the day and sometimes are still kicking around by the time they hit our dock!

Big halibut don’t taste bad! The commercial market actually pays a lot more for halibut over 60 pounds. If they tasted so bad… the market would stop paying up to $30 per pound for the fish, or the demand for big halibut would drop until the premium price was on the small halibut!

Fish that are not cared for properly taste bad… really bad sometimes!
My grandma grew up during the Great Depression and told me it is a crime to waste food. It is a crime to mistreat your fish. Thousand of pounds of fish are wasted every year because when they are thawed out at home, they smell, or taste, bad and are thrown away. Cared for properly, they should last a year in your freezer and taste almost as good as when they were caught.

Please look at my Highliner Lodge Facebook Page Discussion:


Fishing Report

It has been over a month since my last fishing report.

Excuse: I was too busy guiding to get a newsletter out!
Alexco Silver Chest!
The season has provided the best fishing that we have ever seen! There have beed a few slow periods here and there, in fact, we have been completely skunked a day, or two, this year (not because they weren’t ANY fish to catch, but mostly because we spent all day focused on catching only king salmon, or only big halibut in area 3A… because that is what our guests wanted to do).

Stephanie & Lauren’s Big Halibut
We have had an incredible unbroken string of great fishing for the past 5 or 6 weeks! Pretty steady king salmon fishing, lots and lots of cohos, easy limits on small halibut in 2C (a fish every 10 minutes on average) and limits on halibut in area 3A every time we went there (usually releasing 10 – 30 halibut while getting our limits too)!
Buddy, Armand, John, cat. Zach and Robert with limits on 3A halibut and that is a 25 pound king salmon laying on the dock as well!
Our next newsletter will include our catch statistics, as promised!

Got to go now. I am taking the Highliner Lodge crew for two days of “Dude Fishing” and sight seeing on the F/V Pelican! Shari will finally get to see a whale… (Shari and Jess don’t get out of the lodge much)!

Please remember to see our discussions on Facebook. Post your photos and opinions too!

…and Good fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


June 30, 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Quick Links


Dear Papa Hemingway,


I never thought that I’d be sending out notice that we have broken our Highliner Lodge record of catching a 375 pound halibut… so soon… or perhaps ever.

Indeed, the fat lady hadn’t sung yet… We have established a new record… in fact, we have shattered that record!

I believe we may have just broken the Alaska State record for a sport caught halibut. I don’t know that we can prove this claim to get into the record books, but I will do some research to see what that entails.

This is a link to an Alaska Department of Fish & Game webpage describing Pacific Halibut:

on that page it is written that the Alaska State record is 459 pounds.

We did not weigh this fish, but used the length to weight conversion table published in the Alaskan tide book. And the fish wasn’t skinny!

94″ long = 466. 2# live / 349.7# dressed

Here is the blow by blow report:

Kent Carmichael from Kansas gets a strong tug on his fishing line. He remembers not to try to set the circle hook! Big head shakes ensue. Kent tries to move the halibut, but can’t really make any headway. The fish stubbornly refuses to move. He tightens the drag. After a few cranks up, the fish goes back to the bottom. A few more cranks and the fish goes to the bottom. Crank, crank…zzzzzt, zzzzzt, zzzzzt the fish goes back to the bottom! Up, down, up, down, up, up, down…for 15 minutes! Then the fish starts to move …but it’s moving towards the anchor gear!! (no captain wants to see a big halibut get tangled in the anchor line) Finally… Kent turns the fish and starts making headway, slowly bringing the halibut up the water column.

Forty five minutes later, while Zach is landing a forty pound halibut (did I say this was a triple header?) the fish starts to show itself… on the far side of the boat!? The third fish and Kent’s BIG halibut are suddenly tangled together?! Elmo Carmichael (that is Kent’s 90 year old dad) realizes his fish… is Kent’s fish?! (Elmo’s halibut got caught up in Kent’s leader… you know, the one that has the BIG halibut) The fish won’t come up any further, in fact, it decides to head for the bottom… right now! Kent and Elmo’s line smokes off of both reels at as fast as anyone has seen the line run before! Where will this big fish stop? Having just seen the boat (perhaps the only fish it has seen that is bigger than itself in many, many years) the fish keeps running toward the bottom!

Will it stop, or just keep on going?

Two rods, two backs, father and son… both finally slow the fish down, and it slows to a stop about half way down.

Together, they begin to lift the fish again. Pump and reel, pump and reel, pump and reel…it’s a grueling mindless battle (come on!… matching wits with a halibut isn’t that much of a challenge for most of us… This halibut may have lived as long as Elmo, but if it had any sense at all, it would just take off and never look back).
Every 3 or 4 minutes the fish would pull real hard on both lines, load up the rods until the drag started to release the pressure and then arch it’s back and “shake” it’s head back up till the line went slack and both rods straitened out (slack line!?) and then dive 20-50 feet. This was repeated over, and over… and over again.

After another 30 minutes, the fish appeared in the water again…





The harpoon was ready…the time had come…if mismanaged now, the fish might realize that it was time to GO!!

Zach, stuck the fish… not perfectly, but stuck her good…and pushed the harpoon shaft all the way to the hilt… What? It’s too short?! The harpoon head wouldn’t come out the other side of the head! The fish went crazy! Blood was everywhere in the water! The harpoon shaft bent 45 degrees! All that was holding the crazed fish was the two fishing lines… one wasn’t even hooked into the fish, but wrapped several times around the other leader. Shit! Shit!! SHIT!!!

The fish was still struggling at the surface, when Zach had the presence of mind to stick the shark hook through the fish’s lower jaw, and pull it out it’s mouth and then take a wrap around the line again! Now it was either the rope would rip through the lower jaw of the fish… or the halibut was never going to see the bottom again!
It won’t be an official record. We never weighed it. We did measure it very carefully several times. We held the tape in a strait line. It measured an honest 94 inches. It wasn’t growing. We wouldn’t cheat, or lie, about a halibut of this size. (Maybe a smaller, less significant fish, but not this fish) The tide book table said it was 466.2 pounds!!

Kent: too tired to smile, or just “the way we pose in Kansas”?

The forklift was being repaired, so we couldn’t lift the big halibut any higher! Buzz is smiling, maybe he is from Missouri!

Fishing Report

Kings! And now cohos showing, along with the record setting halibut, this group of 4 fisherman caught 15 cohos, 3 kings and 8 halibut (including the 466 pounder) in one day!

Closest to the Fish!

What are you waiting for? Book now and book often!

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


June 25, 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Quick Links

Dear Carrie Fisher,

Thank you for your continued interest in the Highliner Lodge. We strive to bring you honest and interesting fishing reports and keep you updated on changes in the charter fishing industry and our own Highliner Lodge & Charters operation.

Steve & Jill


Fishing Report

Howard Trotter from Utah sets a new Highliner Lodge record with a 375 pound (what else can you call it?) BARN-DOOR!!

This halibut was caught in the last hour, of the last day of a spectacular five day trip for Howard and his two friends from Utah, Bill & Pete. Howard had just released several very nice 50-70 pound halibut and had one more fish to fill out his daily bag limit, when he decided to switch from a baited circle hook to a lead head jig and scampi (with a little bit of salmon belly for scent). Zach expressed his doubts about the effectiveness of the set-up under the circumstances and Howard said he’d bet a Corona that he’d catch a halibut over 100 pounds in the next 15 minutes. Zach figured he’d made a sound wager and no doubt was looking forward to enjoying the beer back at the Highliner Lodge while gazing at the mountains…at Howard’s expense. Well, this time the “Boy Wonder” was wrong!

Just a few jigs into the last 15 minutes of the trip, Howard set the hook on this magnificent fish! YAAHOOO PARTY DOG… FISH ON!!

…30-40 minutes later, Bertha Butt took a look at the Highliner and… headed all… the way… back down… to the bottom! DAMN!

…20-30 minutes “MORE LATER”, Big Bertha Butt evaded the harpoon and… headed… all… the… way… back… down… to the bottom! DOUBLE DAMN!

I know Jill can’t stand the suspense (even though the fish is cut into a hundred pieces and safely in a fish box now!) so I will cut to the chase (wait this is the chase!) and just say, another 20-30 minutes “MUCH MORE LATER!”…well, the third time was the charm!

From all the reports, Howie didn’t get any help with Mrs. Big Bertha Butt, so considering, the considerable depth (I will not divulge any trade secrets here) his forearms and hand must have been a little tired!

Zach conceded defeat graciously.

When the Highliner pulled into it’s stall, back in Pelican, Zach once again bounded up the boat ramp with the news!… My reply, “GET OUT OF TOWN! NOOOOO, NOT MORE HALIBUT!”

I ran down the ramp with Zach to see the behemoth for myself. “YABBA-DABBA-DOOOOOOO!! A NEW HIGHLINER LODGE RECORD!!”

I went up the dump hill road to fetch the forklift. This was the only way we were going to lift and display a 375 pound halibut!

It took as long to finish the photo-shoot as it did to fight and land the halibut! 10 cameras, 100 photos, Howie and the fish, Zach, Howie and the fish, Jess with he fish, Jill with the fish, Zach and Howie and Bill and Pete with the fish, complete strangers and the fish, Vance-the-fuel-dock-guy with the fish (Vance contended that he weighed more than the fish…and no one argued with that)!

Epilog: Big Bertha Butt overshadowed the fact that, once again, the Highliner fishermen limited out on king salmon and halibut on the same day! One of the kings was over 30 pounds too! Everyday from June 6 through June 24th the Highliner, captained by the Boy Wonder Zach Hancock, has caught limits of both kings and halibut on the same day!
I don’t know when, or if, the Highliner Lodge record for biggest halibut will be broken. I don’t know how long the Highliner’s incredible streak of king salmon and halibut limits will go on. I do know this: if you want to catch fish, you need to go to where the fish are at.

We are the Highliner Lodge. We are “Closest to the Fish!”

Will you join us?

Call now! (877)386-0397


I called the Juneau Area Sport Fishing Hotline (this area includes all of Admiralty Island including Pybus Bay & Angoon, plus Hoonah and Gustavus… see green area on map) this past week and a recorded message informed me that the king salmon fishing had improved this season over last season…this year it only takes 45 rod hours to catch a king salmon (54 rod hours to catch a king last year)!

That doesn’t mean that every lodge, or every town in the Juneau Area had such terrible king salmon fishing… it just means that some had more terrible, and others had less terrible, fishing in that area!
We are included in the Sitka Area statistics. The Sitka area has 7 times better fishing than the Juneau Area. That doesn’t mean that every lodge, or every town, in that area had relatively good king salmon fishing… it just means that some had more good, and some had less good, but all had better king salmon fishing than any area far from the ocean!

Our king salmon catch rate at the Highliner Lodge has been better than one king salmon per rod hour for the past two weeks.

Did I say we are “Closest to the fish!”

Good fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.
For more up to date fishing reports



June 22, 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

In This Issue
Jill & Steve Go Fishing!
Fishing Report
Quick Links

New Suzuki Marine Dealership & Repair in Pelican


Jill & I are proud to announce that we have opened a Suzuki Marine dealership and authorized repair shop. The new business entity will be called:
MAD MAX MOBILE MARINE MECHANICS and will be based on our 77′ supply boat the MAX currently in the Pelican Harbor.

Captain Chris Oschek is doubles as charter boat captain and mechanical genius for MAD MAX and the Highlliner lodge fleet!

Dear Sport fisherman,

We hope you enjoy our fishing reports! I will try to keep you posted every week, or so. I will try to represent our fishing accurately too. I will let you know when the fishing isn’t so good as well as when it is HOT. I hope you keep us on your email list and pass the report on to your friends too.


Highliner Owners Jill & Steve actually fish for Fun!

Jill & I have fished together three times this past week and have caught our limit of kings, halibut and yellow-eye in an average of 3 hours each day. We released several halibut and a couple of king salmon each day as well! So the fishing has been extraordinary!


Jill’s catch of the day: I think she should have iced it down better, looks like rigor mortis has set in!

Fishing Report

This group of wrestlers from Oregon thought that Captain Zach was ok for a basketball player!
Yesterday was the 15th day in a row that all of our fishermen have limited out on king salmon and halibut on the same day! Those choosing to fish in Area 3A have limited out on king salmon AND TWO HALIBUT OF ANY SIZE every day!

Willie O’Brien caught a monster 185 pounder after a 45 minute fight and set a 2011 record (to date) for the lodge!

The weather has been very calm and we have had almost no rain in two weeks. (I hope this report doesn’t jinx us!)

Jill & I hope to see you at the Highliner Lodge soon!

Book early and book often!

Good fishing!

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports

Save 20%
Last minute discounts: If you’ve asked for a “last minute discount” or “sportsman show special” you know how stubborn I can be! We don’t inflate our prices so we can give you the illusion of a “discount” when we agree to give you a lower price later. However, there are times when we have an empty room and a spot for another angler on one of our boats. If you are able to travel with short notice and you can fit into our schedule, we MAY be able to offer you a discount.

Offer Expires: When I get tired of someone trying to get a great trip on the cheap!


May 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

We have the largest Halibut in Alaska according Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game Stats!
In This Issue
Don’t expect the ordinary

Dear Gentle Fisherman,

We have just acquired a 3A Halibut Charter Permit. This allows us to cross the line into the regulatory area just north of us, to catch up to 2 halibut of ANY size, per fisherman, per day. As you know, this year we are required to release any halibut over 37″ in area 2C and are limited to 1 halibut per day.

This is good news. It gives us a lot more flexibility in choosing how we structure your fishing experience at the Highliner Lodge. This does not guarantee that we will catch 2 halibut a day per fishermen, or that we will catch a monster halibut, but it does give us an opportunity to try!

There are some “catches” to this development. Area 3A is more exposed to the weather than 2C. It  requires a an extra hour of travel time to get there, and once we catch a halibut in 3A we cannot fish for halibut in 2C. So in some ways we will be limited by weather and regulations.

Acquiring this 3A Charter Halibut Permit gives us a great advantage over almost all halibut fishing lodges in Alaska for two reasons. One: we are close enough to the border between the two regulatory areas that we can fish both (2C & 3A) unlike Sitka, Yakutat, Seward, Petersburg, Homer etc. Two: We have the largest average halibut in the state; we average about 45 pounds…Sitka, Homer & Seward average about 15 pounds!

Book early and book often at the Highliner Lodge!

Good fishing!


Still can’t keep these guys… maybe someday we will get a slot limit?

Please feel free to post photos or comment on our Facebook page (it’s still new and kind of lonely,  it’s in need of some friends and some likes!)


Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports


February 18, 2011
“Closest to the Fish!”

We had a great season!

We usually catch both salmon and halibut on the same day. 2 halibut, 10 cohos, 1 king & some rockfish for Judy & Jerry. They were new to the lodge this year and just flew out today after a four day trip. They have re-booked for 2011 and are bringing another couple! The day before we had four halibut for four fishermen: 2 @ 185lbs and 2 @ ~ 60lbs!

Great dining! Halibut & salmon yin yang

This is the third time we have seen a brown bear in the water…so close you could put the salmon net over its head!

Roy & Timmy’s 270 pounder a new lodge record!


Still getting big kings.

I have never seen a larger Yelloweye than the one in Armand’s arms.

We watched this sow hand off a salmon to one of her cubs…who ran it up into the woods..then came back and fell asleep while waiting for the next fish to swim up stream…sometimes, we have times where we have to be patient to catch a fish too.

Bubble feeding humpbacks show off while we are trolling for salmon!

We are up over 100% this season (up 22% last season) and next year’s booking have grown more than that! So if you have a particular time that you need to make the trip…don’t wait too long.

Good Fishing!

Steve Daniels
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.

For more up to date fishing reports