I’ve been called a lot of things in my lifetime, but I get really ticked when people refer to me as a “Tightwad” because, as you will see, I am thrifty and prudent but definitely not a tightwad.
When I decided to fish Alaska, I wanted a trip where I would catch a lot of fish at a minimal cost. I convinced my brother-in-law, Steve, and my dad to drive with me to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and catch a ferry to Prince of Whales, Alaska’s southernmost island.
Since hotels cost money, I suggested we drive from Spokane, Washington, until we made it to the ferry. Because I had a small, two-door compact car, gas was cheap. The fact that there was no leg room and we had to travel with our backpacks on our laps for 24 hours didn’t matter because, as I said before, it was cheap.
Before boarding the ferry, I tried to convince my dad and Steve to hide in the cartopper to cut down on the ferry cost, but they refused.
After a 10-hour ferry trip, we unpacked in our $55 – a – night U.S. Forest Service cabin located a mere 30 yards from the island’s Staney Creek, which was teeming with salmon.
We immediately hooked pinks, chums, and an occasional silver weighing up to 13 pounds. Even though I was taking some ribbing, the plastic trash bags I had bought for raingear were working great until an unfortunate thing happened – a rainstorm. I got drenched. After I whined for an hour or so, my dad and Steve finally gave in and we headed back to camp.
I was in charge of planning food for the trip, so when they asked what we were having for dinner I revealed my strategy: “We will be having salmon for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next five days, thus keeping our food cost to approximately zero dollars.”
Steve and my dad stopped griping after I explained the benefits of a high protein diet. In fact, they pretty much stopped talking to me altogether.
The pink my dad cooked that night was tasting pretty good until I noticed several whitish balls in the salmon meat. I asked my dad, “What are these?” He said, “It’s just the flour I cooked it in; it beaded up a little. Relax and eat.” So, I had a second helping.
The next day we went into the town of Klwaoch and shot the breeze with the local lodge owner. We swapped fishing information, and he told us that the egg sucking leech was a killer pattern for the silvers. We thanked him and, as we were heading out the door, he said, “By the way, guys, I wouldn’t eat the pinks around here, they’re infested with worm balls – intestinal parasites. Of course, you would have to be an idiot not to notice them.”
We glared at my dad as he nodded his head in agreement.
For the next five days there was rarely a time when our rods weren’t bending. Between the three of us, we probably caught and released about 75 salmon. I wasn’t really counting, but I think I caught the most, two more than my brother-in-law and five more than my dad. But hey, why talk about me and y obviously superior angling skills?
Prince of Whales Island is a wonderful trip. It’s beautiful and cost effective. The best time for silvers is late August through September. The USFS cabins sleep six, which would bring the cost down to $9.15 each per night. But I want you to know that it’s harder than heck to get six guys into a two-door compact, so the three of us the rent was $18.3 each per night.
Below I’ve listed the approximate per-person cost of the trip.
Gas from Spokane, $50.00; food, $200.00(lost our appetite for salmon); fishing license, $80.00 (14 day nonresident); ferry fare, $250.00 (including share of cost of vehicle); cabin, $92 for five nights; fishing flies, $40.00; cooking stove oil, $20.00; spending money, $100.00; plastic trash bags for raingear, $3.00; deworming medicine, $20.00; cooling-off gift for spouse, $2.00.
Thus, the total cost for frugally fishing Alaska came to only $857.00 each. Hey, I’m not cheap – just careful. Ask my spouse.