Category Archives: Destinations

History of Valdez Fish Derbies: 55 Years of Fabulous Fishing

History Written by Laurie Prax

When it comes to a fish story, everyone has a different tale. And when the story begins more than 50 years ago, there are many colorful and varied details. To re-create the history of the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby, started in 1952, Chamber records were scoured and interviews were conducted with previous organizers and officials as well as local anglers and business people.

Different people have been credited with starting the Silver Salmon Derby, but everyone agrees it was started by local business people and later picked up and run under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce. When the Chamber closed its doors in the late 1990s, a small group of volunteers ran the derby using the Gaming Permit of the Valdez Convention & Visitors Bureau. The derby currently is its own non-profit corporation run by seven volunteer committee members.

In the early days, anglers were fishing for wild stock Coho salmon in the derby. The traditional return of wild stock Cohos to Corbin Creek was about 9,000 fish annually, according to Dave Cobb of the Valdez Fisheries Development Association. Cobb said the derby has grown exponentially with the silver return over the years.

The Silver Derby ran for 30 years before the inception of a Valdez Halibut Derby, which was started in the mid-‘80s by Darrell Shreve and Jim Heston. In the late ‘90s the halibut derby was changed from a large fish derby to a target weight derby. In 2002, the big fish derby returned with a $10,000 prize for the largest fish caught.

The Pink Salmon Derby started in 1991 as a four-day derby with a $500 prize each day, and a Kids Pink Salmon Derby day was held in 2001. The Pink Salmon Derby was discontinued due to low ticket sales, but in 2008, the Kids Pink Salmon Derby made a comeback with a free one-day tournament open to kids age 5 through 16, and continues to this day.

As we look back through the years it’s remarkable to see how the Fish Derbies have grown. With $80,000 in cash and prizes at stake, it’s refreshing that most anglers are fishing for the sport of it. Sure, the prizes make it more exciting but it’s one of the few contests where you get to spend a wonderful day on the water win or lose.

Go to for more information.

Bristol Bay Retreat, Right On The Salmon-rich Naknek River

Come to Bristol Bay Retreat on the beautiful Naknek River to experience Alaska’s true last frontier. We offer fishing for all five species of salmon as well as rainbow trout, grayling, Arctic char, lake trout and pike, plus waterfowl hunting at its finest, ptarmigan hunting, and bear viewing at the world-famous Brooks Falls, located in the heart of Katmai National Park.

If you are in the King Salmon area and just need a place to sleep for one night or one month, you can enjoy and relax in our spacious 4,000-square-foot lodge located on 5 sprawling acres on the Naknek River. We offer a bed-and-breakfast service that rivals any bed and breakfast anywhere.

Our lodge is a six-bedroom three-bath lodge that can comfortably sleep eleven adults. You can enjoy your meals in the very large dining area inside or, if the weather permits, we have a huge outside deck that overlooks the Naknek River.

After a long day on the river fishing for the tens of thousands of salmon that swim the river just in front of the lodge, you can come back and relax in the steam room, or Banya, as they are locally called.

Your adventure into Alaska’s wilds starts here. Contact us today!

Call (855) 907-2327, email or go to

Kenai Riverside Lodge

For many fishermen, a trip to Alaska to fish for kings on the Kenai River is a dream – often never realized. Why? Budget, time, distance — sure … but more often, family. We talk to anglers around the world who worry about taking precious vacation time and money to go on a trip that seems, in a word, selfish.

Luckily, with Alaska Wildland Adventures, that worry is over. Our Kenai Riverside Lodge on the banks of the upper Kenai River in Cooper Landing, Alaska, is home to both our sportfishing program as well as adventure packages for travelers of all kinds.


We lead the way on the Kenai with great guides, top gear, personalized service and attention to the “details” of your trip. If you have family or friends along who are less enthusiastic about fishing, our sportfishing packages can easily include days where everyone fishes, one person fishes, or a select group hits the water.

While the fishermen are out on the river searching for the in-season salmon species (king, sockeye or silver), or perfecting their fly-fishing techniques for giant rainbow trout and Dolly Varden, everyone else can be on a guided two- to seven-hour rafting trip or a gorgeous hike in the Chugach Mountains.

We encourage families and couples to come together, share experiences, do some separate activities if they choose, and then gather around the dinner table, bonfire, deck, and sauna to relax and enjoy the lodge.

Our lodge and amenities keep everyone comfortable and content. Sixteen private guest cabins with attached baths and private porches are nestled into the wooded riverside setting. Our main log lodge has a cozy lounge area with a wood stove, a bar where a cold beer or glass of wine can be purchased, and our main dining room where breakfast and dinner are served. Relax on our brand-new, expansive deck overlooking the river, enjoy a bonfire, take a wood-fired sauna and (if you’re game!) dip in the river after … or play a game of ping pong, horseshoes or sand volleyball.


Another great advantage to fishing with Alaska Wildland Adventures? Ease. We take care of everything for you, even transportation to and from Anchorage. So all you have to do is pack a bag, show up on time, and enjoy.

We only book trips on the phone and via email so our expert staff can assist you in creating the perfect trip to fit your style. Once you arrive in Alaska, everyone from shuttle driver to your guide is dedicated to you and making your trip as worry-free and fun as possible. We outfit you with great gear, fish out of top-quality boats, pack lunches customized to your dietary needs, and filet, pack and freeze your fish!
Our season is short, and prime dates do book up early.

For over 35 years, we’ve been guiding guests on the water and around the mountains, creating family memories that last a lifetime. Call us today at (800) 478-4100.

Ace Air Cargo, Flying To 18 Communities Daily

Flying to 18 different communities daily takes commitment, and that’s what we have at ACE Air Cargo.

We started out as an all-cargo airline and have been crisscrossing Alaska since 1996, delivering your mail and freight from Ketchikan to St. Paul Island to Bethel. People have come to rely upon ACE Air and ACE Air Cargo to get the job done.

And as of Feb 6, 2012,  we began offering scheduled passenger service to Dutch Harbor. We are very excited about this and want you to join us on our next scheduled flight.

You can check us out at

For all your cargo, passenger charters or our new scheduled passenger service, ACE Air and ACE Air Cargo is truly your one-stop shop in Alaska. We want your business and will work hard to keep it.

Pearson’s Pond B&B, Located Beautiful Mendenhall Valley Near Juneau

Pearson’s Pond was founded in 1990 as a small bed and breakfast. Over time, Diane Pearson, a master gardener and interior designer developed The Pond into a romantic, luxury retreat.

The inn is located in the Mendenhall Valley about 10 minutes from Juneau International Airport and only 3 miles or a short bike ride from world-famous Mendenhall Glacier. The inn transitioned to Maryann Ray’s ownership in 2009, where tasteful upgrades and a thoughtful focus on guest service and hospitality have ensured the inn maintains its position as AAA’s only Four Diamond Award-winning lodging property in the state of Alaska.

Nestled in the Tongass Rain Forest alongside a glacial kettle pond, Pearson’s Pond’s gardens are the definition of serenity. Described as “enchanted” and “magical” by our guests, the garden boasts a sauna, two hot tubs, three gazebos, a small waterfall, porch swings, a campfire and more. From the dock you can enjoy time on the pond in a pedal boat or a rowboat (preferred by honeymooners) or curl up in a chaise lounge to read a book from our comprehensive library.

The inn’s casual elegance is the perfect place to relax after a day of outdoor activities. Snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa in front of your fireplace or with a glass of wine and your honey on your oh-so-comfy loveseat. Enjoy premium cable on your flat screen TV, free movies from our DVD collection and complimentary wi-fi. Some rooms even offer two-person whirlpool tubs and eat-in breakfast bars. Breakfast, afternoon snacks and evening hospitality hour are provided daily. For dinner you can cook in your kitchenette, use one of our barbeques or enjoy one of Juneau’s many restaurants (we tell you where to find the best of the best). Each room has a fireplace, private entrance, private bath, sitting area, kitchenette, and a luxury queen bed with featherbed and 600-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.

Our wellness spa offers a wide range of massages and hand/foot treatments and our fitness center sports everything from free weights to a full-body vibration machine. We also provide bikes, fishing equipment and kayaks for our guests’ use.

Juneau in the summer is an outdoor paradise with an amazing array of excursions. You can do everything from glacier ice climbing to ziplining and from dog mushing to whale watching. We will help you decide on the best tours for your taste through our concierge services — available on a complementary basis to our guests.

We also offer end-to-end destination wedding and vow renewal consulting services, as well as all-Alaska vacation planning services. At Pearson’s Pond, we want your visit to be everything it can be and we work hard to make sure that happens.


Ouzel Expeditions Puts Anglers On Choice, Remote Alaska, Kamchatka Fisheries

Ouzel Expeditions has been putting anglers into remote salmon and trout fisheries for 35 years in Alaska and 22 years in Kamchatka. Ouzel was the first western guide service in Kamchatka.

We provide expert guides, tasty meals, large and comfortable rafts, upscale camps, bush flights and access to a host of great rivers. In Alaska, licensed and certified guides provide fully guided, weeklong raft trips on scenic wilderness rivers within Katmai National Park, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Arctic NWR and Aniakchak National Park and Refuge. Ouzel has experience on all of the famous remote rivers: Kanektok, Aniak, Nushagak, Chilikadrotna, Mulchatna, Kisaralek, American Creek, Salmon River, Aniakchak, Hula Hula, Lake Creek, Talachulitna, Holitna and Kwethluk, among many others.

All require access by plane. As everyone knows, fishing is plain and simply better in places where there is not a lot of traffic.Indeed, our experiences can change your perspective! Many a guest has told us that they “think about their trip with us every day of their life.” Ouzel features excellent fishing for five species of salmon, trophy rainbow trout, Arctic char and Arctic grayling. Beginning fisherman and families are encouraged and taught on our wilderness journeys.

When we began operating in Kamchatka in 1991, we were looking for great salmon runs but couldn’t keep the gigantic rainbow trout off our hooks. No one complained and the rest is history. Today Kamchatka is famous for its huge rainbows – we’ve caught them up to 33 inches long. Ouzel introduced catch and release angling to Kamchatka and the use of Russian helicopters to access its beautiful rivers for fly fishing. We run exploratory trips each year, hence all the great streams we float today. We are still finding and fishing new rivers that have never been fished by Westerners before. Our experienced guides, excellent equipment and years of experience make any river we float a comfortable wonderful experience.

Our camps are extremely comfortable, from our sleeping tents to our SOTAR rafts to our three hot delicious Russian meals each day. The soups and main courses are hearty and heart healthy. After breakfast you wade off downriver. Camp is packed on your raft and floats down to you. Two guests per raft fish with a seasoned, helpful fly-fishing guide who rows and works hard to make your trip a wonderful experience. We wade fish at the holes, floating and fishing our way down the river. At day’s end the rafts go ahead and set up camp. You can either ride along or wade fish into camp. We carry a satellite phone for emergency communications.

Six species of salmon return to Kamchatka while Arctic char are present all summer. Kundzha (east Siberian char) are great fighters! Salmon arrival times vary from stream to stream but generally arrive the same time in Kamchatka as Alaska. We fish for king salmon from mid-June through early July. Silvers arrive mid-August and run through October. Chum run all season long. Sockeye salmon arrive in July and August. Pinks run early August through September, but are only strong in even-numbered years.

Ouzel Expeditions’ Alaska and Kamchatka Fishing Expeditions are imitated but never equaled! Give us a call and we’ll answer any questions you may have. For 35 years we have been a family business. Contact Paul or Sharon Allred and Ouzel Expeditions at (907) 783-2216 or go to

Embassy Suites, Anchorage

Centrally located in Midtown just minutes from shopping, Downtown, and Ted Stevens International Airport, we offer 169 luxurious suites that will allow you to stretch out and relax.

We are the newest full service hotel in Anchorage complete with flexible meeting space and Pi Kitchen + Bar serving breakfast, lunch and dinner along with room service for your convenience.


Spacious two-room suites featuring Serta Suites Dreams & Embassy Essentials Bedding

Sofa bed in the living room and 32-inch flat screen TV

Oversized work desk, ergonomic chair, dual-line phones with data port, high-speed internet service with secure in-room printing to the business center

Included are a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee maker


Complimentary cooked-to order breakfast

Complimentary evening manager’s reception

Pi Kitchen + Bar serving contemporary cuisine


Indoor heated pool and whirlpool

24/7 fitness center featuring Precor equipment and leading edge cardio and resistance training equipment

Local attractions include Anchorage Museum (2 miles), Imaginarium (2 miles), Anchorage Zoo (3 miles), Aviation Museum (1.5 miles), Coastal Trail (2 miles), O’Malley Golf Course (3 miles)

For more, see or call (907) 332-7000.

Hampton Inn, Anchorage

The Hampton Inn Anchorage is conveniently located in Midtown that puts you close to everything whether you are visiting on business or pleasure; plus we have several restaurants within walking distance.

We offer guest rooms including four Jacuzzi suites and we are proud to offer a newly renovated lobby.

Friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms, and the best value in Anchorage is what you will find at the Hampton Inn – We love having you here!


Comfortable guestrooms with either king or double beds featuring a warm Alaskan decor

Refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, iron and ironing board in every room

32-inch flat panel TVs with premium cable channels including HBO

Complimentary high speed wired & wireless Internet throughout the entire hotel

Large work desk with adjustable lighting and ergonomic chair

Premium Clean and Fresh Hampton Bedding Package


Complimentary on-the-house hot breakfast buffet

24-hour Fitness Center

24-hour Business Center

Complimentary 24/7 airport shuttle service and scheduled service to downtown and area locations

Guest laundry facility

24-hour Convenience Mart

Heated indoor pool

For more, see or call (907) 550-7000.

Homewood Suites, Anchorage

Our residential style hotel offers 122 newly renovated suites designed to give you a great value plus all the comforts of home.

We are conveniently located in the Midtown area within walking distance to several restaurants and minutes away from shopping, Downtown, and the airport.

Whether staying a few nights or a few weeks, you will discover why JD Powers ranked our brand the highest in guest satisfaction.


Spacious studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites with separate living and sleeping areas

Fully equipped kitchen in every suite featuring a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, stove top, and dishwasher

Sofa bed in the living room and two 32-inch flat screen TVs

Spacious work desk, ergonomic chair, dual line phones with data port, and high speed internet service

Clock radio with MP3 Connection


Suite Start hot full breakfast buffet served daily

Welcome Home reception with dinner plus beer & wine every Monday through Thursday

Wireless high speed Internet throughout the hotel

24-hour Business Center and

Fitness Center

  • Heated indoor swimming pool with whirlpool
  • Barbeque grill on our patio
  • Basketball Sports Court
  • Parking

For more, see or call (907) 762-7000.

Hilton Garden Inn, Anchorage

At Hilton Garden Inn we know when you travel; you have important things to do. Whether meeting an important client or reconnecting with family, having everything you need the night before is critical to being your best on your big day.

We offer 125 spacious guestrooms including five Jacuzzi suites, and making sure you are prepared is our main focus. We are conveniently located in the Midtown area within walking distance to several restaurants and minutes away from shopping, Downtown, and the airport.


Spacious guestrooms with either king or double beds

Self-adjusting Garden Sleep System bed in our kings

Refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker in every room

32-inch high-definition flat panel TVs with premium cable channels including HBO

Complimentary high speed wired & wireless Internet with secure, remote printing to the business center

Large work desk with convenient desk-level outlets, adjustable lighting and ergonomic chair

Two telephones featuring voicemail speaker & data ports

Innovative, easy-to-set alarm clock radio with MP3

USA TODAY delivered each weekday morning.


Over 1,467 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space to accommodate up to 80 guests.

Catering and audio visual service available

For more, see or call (907) 729-7000.