Try doing a web search for “fishing lodge,” and you will get hundreds of thousands of results. At any major sports event, you will find dozens of outfitters, each promising the trip of a lifetime. How do you choose the best fishing destination for you?
Determine Your Fishing Trip Priorities
The first step in deciding on a destination for a once-in-a-lifetime fishing experience is to sit down with everyone else going on the trip and talk about what you want to get out of the experience. It is not enough to say you want great fishing because that can mean different things to different people.
One party member may be thrilled to catch 20 fish per day, while another may expect to see 20 fish per hour. It is the time to be completely open and honest because the more you communicate your desires, the more likely you will have a fantastic trip.
Some critical decisions to make from the start include:
What fish do you want to catch?
It may seem obvious, but you must address it. If one of your parties is desperate to catch lake trout, you have chosen a bad resort. Wherever you go, decide how much time and effort you want to put into each species. What is important and what is not? Are you after walleye, pike, bass, or char?
Do you want to see many actions? Or perhaps a trophy fish?
A fish on every cast? Alaskan Fishing Adventures’ hunt for a king salmon? Is that great fishing? Or would you wait all day for a colossus bite? We all want fast action and trophy fish, but you must manage expectations. So, which is more vital? And what is a big fish in your eyes? Would a 20-pound salmon make you happy? Is a 50 required?
What method does the fisherman use to catch the fish?
Can you fish by sight? Is it mostly deep trolling? Imagine spending all winter watching people on TV fishing shows, big pike hammer on topwaters, only to discover that the only way to catch them on your lifetime trip is by deep trolling in 60 feet of water.
What is a reasonable budget?
Let us face it: money motivates us all. You must be honest about your budget and your plans for completion. If you have $1,000 to spend on a trip, would you rather spend it on a week at Lodge A or three days at Lodge B, which may offer more upscale accommodations or a better chance at catching a trophy fish?
Once you have decided on the types of fish, you want to catch, and how you want to see them, you will need to talk about the accommodations.
Are you willing to rough it in a tent camp where you have to prepare your food to get the kind of fishing your group wants, or is a certain amount of creature comfort also a priority?
How important is a hot shower at night or having someone else cook and clean? Can you go a day without a flush toilet? Will you bring your boat?
Again, it is critical to be honest, and realistic from the start.
Contact the government
Contact state or provincial tourism departments for information on fishing lodges. If your group plans to fish for salmon or steelhead in Alaska, contact the Alaska Department of Tourism. They can send you information on outfitters, fishing, licenses, and regulations.
The most important aspect of planning a fishing trip is selecting the right fishing trip destination. Choosing the right fishing companions is also critical.
In the End
Once you have determined your top priorities for fishing and lodging and established a rough budget, it is time to look into what different lodges offer. The type of fish you want to catch, the time you want to spend away, and the cost should help you narrow your search.
Using your group’s priorities should help you narrow your search within that geographic area. Make everyone’s fishing trip a success. That leaves you to contact local fishing lodges and see what they offer.