As the sun crests the mountains that border the Kenai River Valley, sunlight permeates the thin walls of lodge sales manager Chad Carter’s Yukon-style cabin tent, and the surrounding pine forest erupts in a chorus of birdsong. As if that weren’t enough to rouse Mr. Carter from slumber, there’s also the prospect of what he may spy when he looks out his window: a lone moose or perhaps bear cubs.
Mr. Carter, along with the rest of the Alaska Wildland Adventures staff, remain immersed in the Alaskan wilderness for the summer season, which has helped them develop an extensive knowledge of region. But even more significantly, Mr. Carter notes how the secluded environs have helped forge bonds between staff, who enjoy a close-knit community during summer months. “They become your family,” says Mr. Carter. “You go on adventures together—it’s definitely a teamwork approach here.” Guides strive to incorporate guests into that community, limiting expeditions by foot, raft, and kayak to small groups of 10 people. They also empower guests with the tools they need to navigate the region, including maps and safety tutorials. And, after a long day’s journey, they treat overnight guests to communal, home-cooked meals of Alaskan seafood.
Aboard the deck of the Rainisong, a 65-foot U.S. Coast Guard–certified charter boat, the licensed boat captains and experienced crew of Seward Fishing Club steer guests into salmon-rich waters during morning or afternoon fishing trips. Shipmates cast professional bait and tackle into the sea with enough time to nab a silver salmon or entertain schools of fish with synchronized worm kick lines. In between reeling, guests can amble across the walk-around decks to stare at the scenic surroundings, or venture below the cabin to relax in the wooden interior, equipped with seating, 16 bunks, and two bathrooms.
In the more than 50 years that Tom Corr has spent fishing, he's reeled in his fair share of milestones. In the Kenai Peninsula alone, where Corr has hunted trout since the early 1980s, he’s caught rainbows of up to 15 pounds, silvers of up to 20 pounds, and kings of up to 85 pounds—much heavier than even the local toddlers trying to eat the worms straight from the fishing line.
Today, Tom continues to lead drift-boat fishing adventures up and down Alaska’s rivers as the owner of Salmon Chaser Charters. To carry out regular trips throughout the peninsula's myriad fishing troves, Corr surrounded himself with other exuberant guides, each bringing his own experience and wisdom to luring, catching, and arm-wrestling huge fish into submission. During outings, the guides venture into the scenic waters of the Kasilof River and Kenai River—an area famous for its bustling fish population from August to October.
When Kevin Thurman rocks back and casts his fishing pole forward, there?s a good chance the fly lands where the fish are biting. Throughout his more than 40-year fishing career, he has worn many hats, including that of a professional fishing guide and licensed Coast Guard captain. He now shares his wealth of knowledge during charter fishing trips on the Kenai River as a certified Kenai River guide with Alaska Fishing Service. To equip fellow fishers for their excursions, he supplies all of the fishing gear necessary to facilitate proud moments of reeling in a salmon, rainbow trout, or grizzly bear.
Outfitting patrons with brand-name gear from Gary Loomis and Lefty Kreh, Alaska Tackle Rental supplies equipment for fishing excursions throughout the state. Fly-rod and spinning setups abet clientele in catching salmon and trout, and tackle, licenses, and hip boots help procure fish in murky town-square fountains. The in-house experts also dispense advice on prime fishing spots with take-away info sheets. During off-hours, clairvoyant staffers can rendezvous with clients for gear deliveries to their hotel or van down by the creek.