Alaska Fishing Lodges - Looking Forward to the 2021 Season
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You may have read a recent article we posted where we spoke with a few Alaska fishing guides about how Covid-19 affected the 2020 Alaska fishing season and what they thought the upcoming season may hold. We also checked in with a few Alaska lodge owners because they may have tougher guidelines to follow since they host overnight stays.
How Did Covid Impact these Lodges in the Summer of 2020?
Of the six lodges that we asked, only two were open for their full season last year. However, three of the other four were open for the majority of the fishing season…simply opening late as they worked to meet safety protocols. The three were all able to stay open for the rest of the season without issue.
The lodges did see a drop in bookings last season due to the safety concerns of anglers but also to ensure the guests that did travel were safe. As Alaska Trophy Adventures said, "we made the decision to limit the number of people we would have each week so as to allow social distancing and only same household shared cabins/boats/guides". Another spot, Alaska's Log Cabin Resort, limited guests by opening the RV Park only and not the lodge itself. They did manage to still have a fishing camp community while staying safe by having 'happy hour' for campers that were there for over two weeks. When new campers arrived at the camp, they would stay distanced until hitting the two-week mark…just enough time to collect their own fishing stories for around the fire.
As you might imagine, just because less anglers were able to hit the water didn't mean the fish stopped biting. For the most part, lodge guests saw normal numbers of fish…King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, and Silver Salmon being noted as strong while done lodge noticed a slight change in the Halibut fishing season (timing and volume). So, it sounds like the species availability was mostly strong and lower numbers of anglers made hitting dailies a bit 'easier'. On the Kenai River, for example, Salmon Catcher Lodge noted fishing was similar to previous years although it had less anglers with only 500-550 guide boats on the Kenai. Over on the Kvichak River, No-See-Um Lodge noted that their seemed to be less fishing pressure with a lot of lodges either closed or running at a reduced capacity. They mentioned how it's hard to know if that's why the fishing was so good – but no anglers were complaining about less people on the river.
Lessons Learned in 2020 Will Help Make the 2021 Season a Success
When looking ahead to the 2021 fishing season, all the lodges will certainly continue to work with the safety protocols used last year. Those include wearing of masks, testing requirements, proper distancing of guests, etc.- some lodges have information on their websites that explain their approach to Covid19 safety. Most expect to see lower bookings than a 'normal' season but up from 2020 due to vaccinations and less restrictions on travel. It should be noted that lodges do expect international anglers may still face some hiccups getting to Alaska due to travel restrictions as we all work through the pandemic. Some noting cancellations from the international anglers already.
One lodge that wasn't open last season, Great Alaska Adventures, says their bookings for 2021 are "gangbusters"…they are all set with safety protocols and are blocked off for proper social distancing. They were at the lodge last year, without guests though. While they had their own fun fishing and bear viewing, they look forward to hosting guests again and expect the upcoming season to be quite special. Another lodge that is already filling up as much as possible, Jimmie Jack Fishing Lodge, noted "the American Outdoorsman does not stop pursuing adventure" – and an Alaska fishing trip is certainly an adventure.
Many businesses across the United States and the world took big hits last year, Alaska fishing lodges were no different. The good news is we're making strides and even with reduced capacities in place, anglers can still find last minute Alaska fishing trip specials – but regardless of the package, all the lodge owners are excited to see what the new fishing season brings and are doing what they can to get anglers to the fish…safely.
Get answers to any additional questions you have by submitting them to our "Ask the Pros" column. Questions can be Covid19 safety related or just general Alaska fishing ones. We'll check in with lodges and guides to get you some info to help as you plan your Alaska fishing trip – for this year or any other.
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