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(It used to be... It's all) About Me

Five years ago this page opened with these words:

The Highliner Lodge was conceived and built to bridge my past career in commercial fishing and my family’s future as owners of the Highliner Lodge. From the beginning, an ambitious and difficult construction project, that suited my hard scrabble personality as wrestler and commercial fisherman), has evolved into a more personally challenging business that requires relaxing a little,  developing personal relationships, and... even having some fun!

That seems like a long time ago!

Further back… a decade ago, we started out rebuilding the oldest building in Pelican. I didn't know where I was going with that project… maybe just a restaurant and hotel. It would be a chance to start a business that the rest of the family could be involved in. A chance to learn some new skills. I thought at the time that some of the local charter fishing guys would bring their guests to the lodge... and a few did andTHAT was interesting!

In the summer of 2004, a group of guests staying at the lodge (fishing with one of the local charter guys) asked me if I would I take them fishing if they came back to the Highliner Lodge the following summer? They reasoned that I had commercially fished around here for years… and that I must know all about sport fishing? I guess that appealed to my vanity… I tend to think I can do anything.

However, wrestling and commercial fishing did not exactly prepare me for the hospitality business!

It wasn't long after, that I was told that I needed to work on my people skills (my idea of persuasion seemed to be a headlock)! I was also told that the customer is always right. I think you can see how hard that was going to be for me. I was told by so many people that this was a terrible business to be in… that people are rude and demanding, that I must be miserable pretending that their jokes are funny and taking the blame for bad weather or poor fishing.

I guess they didn't know me very well. I never laugh at anything unless I really think it's funny. I usually tell folks exactly what I think… sometimes before they even ask. When things went sideways with a guest…well, I figured I was weeding out the bad apples. In spite of me, the Highliner Lodge grew... and grew… and grew some more!

"Why is the Highliner Lodge growing so fast, when almost all of the other lodges are loosing business?" It's not all about me... it's all about the fishing!

What a difference a decade makes! I used to think it WAS all about me! And that worked pretty well… for a while. But one person can only do so much. For that matter, I'm not the self-made man I thought I was either. One night at the Highliner Lodge dinner table, after launching into my story of my first king salmon... 52 pounds by the way... one of my guests remarked, "Sounds to me like your mom caught that fish." Long pause at the table... I guess in telling the story many times over the years... I had forgotten that my mother did catch that fish... she gave that fish to me... and more importantly she gave me my start in commercial fishing... and she gave me my work ethic!

Mom & I
My Mom & I with our 52 pound king salmon 1976

I had lots of help along the way. Great wrestling coaches... teachers... mentors... deckhands... employees... and my family!

I started the Highliner Lodge & Charters as a one-man-band in 2005. Now we have 5 captains and are still growing dramatically. It's not "All about me"... my family, our captains, our crew all have contributed greatly to our success! The Highliner Lodge has helped to bring my family together.

Highliner Lodge hosts Steve & Jill Daniels in Pelican, Alaska
My lovely wife Jill, who never aspired to the complexities and stresses of this enterprise, has risen to the challenge beautifully, and fully supports my ambition to see the Highliner Lodge distinguish itself as the premier fishing destination in all of Alaska. Had I continued my solitary life on the ocean as a commercial fisherman, it is doubtful that we (and that means all of us: Jill, my sons Joe, Jon and Ryan and my daughters Lindsey and Ali) would have developed such a strong a bond and shared experience. They may not all agree with this assessment now... but in time, I am confident that they will. While I have experienced some personal success in my life as a wrestler and a commercial fisherman, these were mostly individual accomplishments. As determined as I can be, I know I can’t fully realize my goals here at the Highliner Lodge without the support and dedication of my family and our crew. With their continued love and support, together we can accomplish great things...and I have to have a lot of fun along the way. 

Steve Daniels
February 14, 2014
Happy Valentines Day!

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Captain Ephraim Lohrey crew caught the record halibut for 2012 at 336 pounds!
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Captain Zach Hancock aka Boy Wonder, displays the king salmon he caught off the dock in front of the Highliner Lodge the first day get got here!
Ali Daniels gets out of the lodge now and then to sport fish with her dad.
Lindsey, thank you for inspiring me to change my "It's all about me" attitude!