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Deadliest Catching

A unique Alaskan commercial salmon fishing experience at Highliner Lodge & Charters (available in July & August only)!

The 50′ custom wood-hulled F/V Pelican leaving Pelican harbor early in the morning.

As a Highliner Guest, you may choose to spend a day or two Deadliest Catching (previously known as “Dude Fishing”). There’s nothing really “deadly” about it… no danger, no made-for-tv drama, just a real hands-on adventure commercial power trolling for salmon aboard the 50’ F/V Pelican. Catch and keep an unlimited number of salmon because you’re commercial fishing, not sport fishing.

Commercial power trolling for salmon has been called “Alaska’s Gentleman’s Fishery”. As much a lifestyle as a living for many commercial fishermen, it is at times beautifully serene and at other times full of swashbuckling adventure. A cross between gold-mining and cattle rustlin’, salmon trolling is acknowledged as the commercial fishery requiring the highest level of skill and sophistication. It is exactly like sport fishing, except that you are trolling 40 to 60 lures in the water at one time… that is ten or more lures per guest! As much art as science, locating and catching salmon to earn your livelihood can be an exercise of extreme humility. As in sport fishing, some fishermen seem to have all the “luck”, and these fishermen are called “Highliners”

How Does it Work?

A commercial power troller fishes for salmon exactly like a charter boat trolling with down riggers. The difference is just a matter of scale. A typical troller drags four stainless steel wires through the water with 60 pound cannon balls attached to the bottom. Think BIG DOWN RIGGERS on steroids! The boat moves through the water at about 3 MPH dragging these cannon balls very close to the ocean floor… in and around structure that holds salmon. These stainless steel lines have stops every few fathoms (fathom = six feet) and at each stop we snap on a 2-3 fathom (12-18 foot) leader. At the end of each leader is attached either a flasher with a tail leader and lure or simply a shiny metal lure. When all four stainless steel lines are deployed, you may have as many as 60 lures trolling through the water at once! 

You get to run the hydraulic gurdy (think BIG, POWERFUL fishing reel) and YOU get to land the fish (club the salmon in the head and gaff it, then pull it on board… the trick is doing this without the salmon getting off the hook, or getting the gaff pulled out of your hands by the fish! I promise not yell at you if you loose a fish… this is strictly for fun. I will instruct you, you will grow proficient and it will be fun! The blood lust runs high… and people get hooked on this very quickly. 

Now, that was the easy part…next you must locate the fish and then… and stay on them… that is the essence of all fishing… locating the fish and staying on the fish. 

Imagine having a fish on every line and catching fish as fast as you can pull them aboard! 

Sound like a lot of work?

The crew and I do the heavy lifting; run the boat, clean & ice the fish, and you guys get to run the gear and land the fish! Occasionally, we can overnight trips on the boat, tucked safely away in a little cove, or you may be taken back to your suite at the Highliner Lodge on a fast boat, have a fabulous dinner and come back out in the morning. At the end of the day, we split the catch and you have the option to buy the boat’s share at a wholesale price. 

We retain and sometimes sell the boat’s share of the catch to cover the extra cost of this operation. If you would like to purchase some, or all, of the boat’s share of the Deadliest Catch you may do so at the commercial fishing ex-vessel price ~ $2.50/lb for cohos and ~ $6.50/lb for king salmon (based on current prices for head-on dressed weight (fillet weight is about half of dressed weight)… this is a bargain considering these fillets would sell for $18-$30+ per pound in your local fish market! 

So, what’s the cost?

In order to go Deadliest Catching, you must purchase a commercial fishing crew license (~$30) and you must also pay an additional fee of $150 – $300. This additional fee depends on how many people are in your group. This replaces a day of sport fishing.

Why would anyone pay extra to go Deadliest Catching? 

“Why would I pay Steve to work on his commercial fishing boat?!” Having taken hundreds of folks out to do this, almost everyone says it was a great experience! Many felt it was the best part of their trip! 

There is another compelling reason..

… an unbelievable catch of king and silver salmon, all caught in about 6 hours of fishing! We fish with up to 40-60 lures at a time and the action is most often non-stop!

Advantages of the Deadliest Catching option:

1. Great way to spend a bad weather day… yes, we do occasionally have rough weather. The boat is stable and heavy, warm and roomy! 

2. Great way to spend a “not very many salmon around” day… this happens even in Alaska… even at the Highliner Lodge… even with me as the captain! 

3. Great way to develop teamwork and camaraderie. 

4. Great way to fill up your fish box with salmon to take home, there are no limits for commercial fishing. 

5. In my opinion (and many of my guests agree… although some don’t want to admit it): It really is more fun, interesting and active than sports fishing. 

6. There is no other fishing experience in Alaska like this!

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