Ask the Pro's: Family Fishing Trip With Young Children

Posted by Pro's on to Ask the Pros
  • We are looking for a family fishing trip that can accommodate children from 3-12 years old.

    We have four children ages 3-12 years. We would ultimately like to fish for two days, and have time to experience the outdoors through different ways that can accommodate our three year old and five year old. Without our children feeling held back by them. We would like to stay for five days. Our budget is dependent upon the options offered. With that said we do not need 5 star luxury. We opt more for extremely clean, and safe. I hope that is of some help. Thank you.

    - Tony

  • Hello Tony: I'm going to assume that at least part of your vacation will be in the Anchorage area, so I'd like to suggest that you head north from there to the Matanuska Valley (the towns of Wasilla and Palmer) where you'll be able to find reasonable motels or B&B's near Montana Creek and Willow Creek or Little Willow Creek where you can fish with your kids, and also be near some nice hiking trails. You can also visit the Musk Ox farm, which I promise you the kids will love. I also believe that a company called "Tippy Canoe" is still operating so you could rent a canoe do some fishing on one of the many lakes in the area. Denali National Park is nearby so you can visit the tallest mountain in North American.

    Take a look at www.alaskavisit.com and go to the Mat-Su Valley section for lots more information. Have a great trip! Pudge Kleinkauf

    Cecilia "Pudge" Kleinkauf - The owner of Women's Flyfishing®, a Trout Unlimited Endorsed business, "Pudge" Kleinkauf, is Alaska's leading woman fly fishing instructor, fly tier and guide.
  • I think the best option for this guy would be to contact Drifters Lodge in Cooper Landing. I think they can accommodate this type of group and there are other things that can folks can do. Seward is a short drive away from Cooper Landing and there they could do a glacier/sea life charter and go to the Sea Life Center, which might be a lot of fun for the younger kids. If this is not what they are looking for, let me know and we will brain storm some other options.

    Mike Brown - Owner of Mossy's Fly Shop in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Tony,

    I'm super happy you've chosen Alaska for your family's vacation and I'm going to do my best to give you a variety of options given the goals you have. Trying to be sensitive to travelling with young kids, these options should give you a good idea of what to expect and you can decide how well your kids will do.

    RV Option

    RV's have some definite upside when visiting Alaska. You essentially can combine a "hotel" and rental car in one vehicle. There are lots of campgrounds and RV parks with a wide variety of experiences (everything from roughing it to parks with showers, grocery stores, etc...). RV's also give you the freedom to adjust your plans and be nimble, should you decide to change any of your plans.

    Whether you're renting a car or driving an RV, and assuming you're flying into Anchorage, I would suggest you set your sights on Seward for your first couple of days. On the drive to Seward, there are several fun activities that are very family-friendly. There are several stops along the Turnagain Arm for sightseeing and for a chance to spot sheep on the mountain-side. In Girdwood, near the end of the Turnagain Arm, you can ride the Tram at the Alyeska Ski Resort and be at eye-level with glaciers and have a tremendous view of Cook Inlet. You'll also find great little restaurants from sit-down family to grab-and-go at COAST pizza.

    Past Girdwood, you'll find other attractions such as the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, basically a drive-through zoo of sorts. You'll also be able to take a hike to Byron Glacier via the Portage Glacier Road on the way to Whittier. At the end of the Arm, you'll drive through the mountains with several scenic stop offs along the way. The town of Hope can be found a short drive off the Seward Highway, which also touts tremendous views.

    Once in Seward, you'll have several options for fishing, hiking, outdoor activities and for scenic boat rides. Seward also has several fun shops, the Sealife Center and restaurants. I would suggest chartering a halibut/salmon trip for a day. Most boats have closed cabins if the kids get tired or want to do something other than fishing. Generally, you can see whales and awesome views while headed to your fishing destination and back. I would also highly encourage you to pick one of the Kenai Fjord Tours available in Seward. These boat trips generally put you right near Humpback Whales, Dall Porpoises, Sea Otters and the occasional Killer Whale.

    Once you've spent a couple quality days in Seward, a trip to Cooper Landing will prove to be a highlight of your vacation. Though this is my hometown and I am quite partial to it, I truly believe that there are endless things to do for an adventurous family.

    The Kenai River originates in Cooper Landing and is home to world-famous Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden and Salmon fishing. The river flows through the mountain town and is as picturesque as it gets! There are several ways to enjoy the river: hiking to vantage points along Kenai Lake, hiking Slaughter Ridge, taking a scenic raft trip and taking a drift boat fishing trip.

    Cooper Landing is also home to the Russian River, where if you time it right, you can witness Sockeye Salmon jump the Russian Falls as they make their annual spawning migration up to the Russian Lakes. It is not uncommon to see Brown Bears, Black Bears and the occasional Moose in Cooper Landing. Caution should be taken when hiking, such as wearing bear bells, carrying bear spray and generally being loud as you hike.

    As far as fishing the Kenai goes, no drift boat can legally carry 6 passengers, so you'll have to charter 2 drift boats. The cost is still the same per person however. There are full day and half day options. Most guides here will have the willingness to work with young children and can show you an amazing time on the river. The float alone is worth the cost of the trip. The fish just add icing on the cake! Keep in mind that we do not keep trout or dolly varden; however, depending on the season, limits of salmon can range from 1 per person/day up to 6 per person/day.

    River or Ocean Only Options: The benefit here is having a home base and less travelling/stress

    River "Only" Option

    This option can be achieved either by the use of an RV or by a rental car. My thought here is to rent a car in Anchorage and pick a quaint vacation rental in Cooper Landing (once again, I am partial to Cooper Landing, but it's hard to beat!). These vacation rentals can be everything from a rustic cabin, to a 5-star quality bed and breakfast. It's best to do your research on TripAdvisor® and other travel sites to find accommodations to best suit your needs. Renting a cabin or house can give you an excellent "home" while away from home. A place to relax and spread out. Depending on which rental you choose, you could have river access and some rentals will loan fishing equipment.

    I would also once again plan on chartering drift boats for a couple of days worth of fishing. You could set it up where you float different parts of the Kenai River so you can see more of the mighty Kenai.

    Aside from fishing, the hikes mentioned above are worth the time and are not that difficult. There are many other activities in Cooper Landing like horseback riding, kayaking, gold panning, etc.

    Ocean Option

    Much like the River Only option, renting a car and a hotel/vacation property in an Ocean location would give you a relaxing "home base" to operate out of. Several small towns are ideal for this sort of option. Seward, mentioned earlier, Whittier, Homer, Ninilchik, to name a few all have their own unique charm. World-class halibut and salmon fishing can all be found as well as other great outdoor activities. There are also lots of places to visit within an hour or 2 of each "ocean town," should you choose to expand your options even further.

    I hope these options help you narrow your search and make the decision for you a little easier. You know your family best and I'm confident that there is a perfect Alaskan vacation waiting for you here!

    We look forward to seeing you in Alaska!

    Dave Lisi - Owner/Guide for Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC located in the small mountain town of Cooper Landing, Alaska where he is a year-round resident, guide, carpenter and trout bum. On any given day, you will most likely find Dave on the banks of the Kenai swinging for trout with his best friend and future wife, Jackie. Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC was built in early 2017 with the goal of sharing the love and passion Dave and Jackie have for the Kenai Peninsula and the fish that live there.
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