Is an impromptu trip to AK realistic?

Gundriver64

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Good Morning Guys,

This is my second thread related to a prospective trip to AK.

I am strongly considering moving the timeframe from 2022 to this summer (2021). My question(s) are a bit broad in scope:

Is it feasible/realistic to get lodging/day guides/day floats on an impromptu basis? Since, driving up through Canada is a No Go and the Maritime Highway takes too long and isn't cheap what are the prospects for getting rented 4WD vehicles impromptu? Does driving highways 3,4, and 8 constitute as "off road" with these vehicle renting companies?

I think my overall plan (ideally) would be to fly to Anchorage. Rent a vehicle, spend some time fishing the areas in the vicinities in the aforementioned roads. Then fly to Nome, rent a vehicle, find some lodging and fish the areas north of town.

Timeframe would be later in August to mid-September.

Thoughts?

Cheers,
G
 

Acheron

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That's plenty of time. Get on the planning now. Get 4wd and insurance so you don't have to worry about anything on that front. Almost any gravel road is considered offroad by Enterprise/Hertz/etc

These people were awesome in Fairbanks, I bet they are good in Anc also.

Nome is on my list but I have nothing to share experience wise.
 

flav

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I remember my first trip to AK. We had lodging setup where we planned to stay, and just figured we'd find a hotel along the way the first night. There was literally not a single hotel room available in the whole Anchorage area, or anywhere else within several hours drive for that matter. We spent the first night sleeping in the rental car. This was late August, when I'd heard the crowds were less, but everything was still booked. I won't make that mistake again. Unless you're camping, have your lodging and guides set up ahead of time.
 

bushak

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Regarding Nome or just anywhere in western Alaska... make sure you stay up to date on Covid restrictions. The hubs tend to be relatively open if you have a vaccine but the smaller villages surrounding the hubs are still fairly locked down. I don't really have an opinion one way or another but I live in Bethel, in Southwestern Alaska, so just a little heads up. Things are loosening up dramatically so it might not be an issue come August. Also, do some research on rental vehicles for Nome. They can be hit or miss.

Regarding lodging on the road system...I doubt the cruise ships will be able to come up this year so the lodges, such as Princess Lodge, will be open so if you don't mind opening up the wallet then you shouldn't have to worry about lodging. If you are doing a do it yourself trip then do yourself a favor and get this book:

The Highway Angler

Depending on your length of trip you should find plenty of fishing opportunities right off the pavement.
 

thom

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That’s prime Silver and Rainbow season. If crowds are not your thing research might reward you with lesser pressured sites though that will take some effort. The epic fishing often involves spending money for boat or aircraft transport. Consider doing so for at least one day. The link below leads to a month by month adfg fishing report for the many regions of Alaska. These summaries are great for pre trip research. Good luck to you.

 

thom

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Bushak my post recommending a boat or fly out isn’t intended to be at odds with your right off the highway opportunities. You make a good point. My favorite silver hole is within earshot of a divided highway. As long as the newspaper doesn’t decide to run a feature article on the spot it’s often uncrowded.
 

bushak

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Bushak my post recommending a boat or fly out isn’t intended to be at odds with your right off the highway opportunities. You make a good point. My favorite silver hole is within earshot of a divided highway. As long as the newspaper doesn’t decide to run a feature article on the spot it’s often uncrowded.
I didn't mean to come off as confrontational. Just providing prospective that it's possible to find some places still if one is willing to work at it. If one has the means and the time then I'll always suggest a fly-out trip.
 

Gundriver64

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Regarding Nome or just anywhere in western Alaska... make sure you stay up to date on Covid restrictions. The hubs tend to be relatively open if you have a vaccine but the smaller villages surrounding the hubs are still fairly locked down. I don't really have an opinion one way or another but I live in Bethel, in Southwestern Alaska, so just a little heads up. Things are loosening up dramatically so it might not be an issue come August. Also, do some research on rental vehicles for Nome. They can be hit or miss.

Regarding lodging on the road system...I doubt the cruise ships will be able to come up this year so the lodges, such as Princess Lodge, will be open so if you don't mind opening up the wallet then you shouldn't have to worry about lodging. If you are doing a do it yourself trip then do yourself a favor and get this book:

The Highway Angler

Depending on your length of trip you should find plenty of fishing opportunities right off the pavement.
I have the book. Have the vaccine? What does that mean? A "vaccine passport"?
 

Ard

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Watch the weather as it develops through the end of June, there has been no precipitation here in the Matanuska Sustina drainage since the last snow about a month ago. Temps are high and runoff is happening fast, once that begins to wane water levels fall quickly without rains. 2019 we had the million year drought or whatever it was labeled, the result was I had to leave the river boat at home due to low waters.

Rather than jumping all over the place which can become costly you could inquire at lodges over on the Lliamna Peninsula you may get lucky. If your goal is fly fishing for salmon and other species in an Alaska like environment you're gonna need to get away from people. Kodiak Island would be my choice post labor day, actually from around the 12th through the end of the month in September. Weather can be brutal but with the ferry system as it is things will be less crowded. I went every fall for 10 days for many years and loved it. By 2014 the people began to pour in due to word of mouth and I never went back. I am different than many in that I place a high value on not being surrounded by butt heads while I fish. Not every one is but when there are enough people there will be some. As an example, I took the KRGA courses back in 2009 so I could guide down there but never worked the rivers due to crowding. This place can get way more crowded that you may think.

The 2019 drought followed by the 2020 covid19 pandemic gave me a 2 year break from guiding and I may not work this year. If I were I'd tell you to come on.
 

Gundriver64

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Watch the weather as it develops through the end of June, there has been no precipitation here in the Matanuska Sustina drainage since the last snow about a month ago. Temps are high and runoff is happening fast, once that begins to wane water levels fall quickly without rains. 2019 we had the million year drought or whatever it was labeled, the result was I had to leave the river boat at home due to low waters.

Rather than jumping all over the place which can become costly you could inquire at lodges over on the Lliamna Peninsula you may get lucky. If your goal is fly fishing for salmon and other species in an Alaska like environment you're gonna need to get away from people. Kodiak Island would be my choice post labor day, actually from around the 12th through the end of the month in September. Weather can be brutal but with the ferry system as it is things will be less crowded. I went every fall for 10 days for many years and loved it. By 2014 the people began to pour in due to word of mouth and I never went back. I am different than many in that I place a high value on not being surrounded by butt heads while I fish. Not every one is but when there are enough people there will be some. As an example, I took the KRGA courses back in 2009 so I could guide down there but never worked the rivers due to crowding. This place can get way more crowded that you may think.

The 2019 drought followed by the 2020 covid19 pandemic gave me a 2 year break from guiding and I may not work this year. If I were I'd tell you to come on.
Goals are simple: Goal 1-Week 1) Catch a rainbow in the waters N/NNE of ANC (Susitna/Talkeetna watersheds, perhaps?). Right now, there are plenty of AirBnBs available plugging in dates the last week of August. Would like to hire a guide for a float trip (couple of day trips).

Goal 2 - Week 2) Fly to Nome and explore the waters off the roads doing some DIY fishing.

Week 1 = Last week of August
Week 2 = 1st week of September.

However, if the conditions are sucking or shaping up to be sucking, then maybe next year might be better. My fears are that the COVID hysteria will get to some unanticipated level of BS and as a result put a damper on travel plans.

FYI, the drought in the interior west is going on unabated. I am fishing streams now that I normally wouldn't fish until June/July timeframe. So, I understand how a lack of rain/snow can be a real issue.

Cheers,
G
 

thom

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Party town Nome! You are looking at the seldom seen now. Edge of civilization still meets Cat tractor in Nome. Go both directions when you get there. The adfg summary for a previous AUG will dial you in for most productive known spots. The country NW, out toward Wales, has stream crossings, and was scratched around for metal, but is still wild. You should have a good adventure here. It might be a tad unpolished for the average DIY but being a gun driver surprises will not alarm you.

The COVID is being approached differently here. Alaska welcomes medical tourist specifically for the shots right now. The governor just offered a sister Canada town free vaccinations.
 
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bushak

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I have the book. Have the vaccine? What does that mean? A "vaccine passport"?
There isn't a "vaccine passport" but western Alaska is basically a third-world country in regards to infrastructure, healthcare, etc. Furthermore, most of the villages are ruled by their tribe so the state gives them a lot of autonomy during this pandemic. I'm not trying to be political or anything but many of the villages, surrounding Bethel for example, are still locked down to outsiders. In Bethel, for another example, there are different quarantine rules for those that are vaccinated vs those that aren't. All I'm saying is to make sure you are aware of the local restrictions.

I imagine by summer, especially by July, a lot of those restrictions will be gone.
 

bushak

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Party town Nome! You are looking at the seldom seen now. Edge of civilization still meets Cat tractor in Nome. Go both directions when you get there. The adfg summary for a previous AUG will dial you in for most productive known spots. The country NW, out toward Wales, has stream crossings, and was scratched around for metal, but is still wild. You should have a good adventure here. It might be a tad unpolished for the average DIY but being a gun driver surprises will not alarm you.

The COVID is being approached differently here. Alaska welcomes medical tourist specifically for the shots right now. The governor just offered a sister Canada town free vaccinations.
Fly fishing is Nome has always been on my bucket list. I coach, or should say coached, the boys varsity basketball team in Bethel so the bulk of my trips to Nome have always been in the winter.
 

thom

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Nome was always winter for me also. Worked a little on the essential services runs to Wales and beyond as relief but never actually fished there. My old neighbors in Town had a place out that way and went for the annual runs.

Sea run char is something to think about out West. Those fish will never draw the attention that kings, silvers, rainbow, etc do but was there ever a more beautiful salmonid?

You guys in Bethel do some good work.
 
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