Surrounding geography of forest, mountains, fjords, channels, and peninsulas make Ketchikan a great access point for unique Alaskan sights and experiences. A mountain rain forest above Ketchikan provides rare glimpses of wildlife, like bears, whales, and eagles among surprisingly lush woodland. The world’s largest collection of standing totem poles pays homage to local Native American history, and is displayed at three locations around Ketchikan: Saxman Village, Totem Bight, and Totem Heritage Center. Those with a Paul Bunyan fetish or looking for some extreme physical release can visit, or even train at, the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show – rated by the Travel Channel as one of the Top 10 Things to See in Alaska. Even kids can take a turn at axe throwing or log rolling, instructed by award-winning, world-class athletes.
Tucked between Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness and Prince of Wales Island, Ketchikan sits barely inland southeast Alaska, west of Vancouver; extremely reasonable and more accessible to visit than any other region of Alaska. Ketchikan International Airport can be reached by 90-minute flights from Seattle, or via a more deliberate, scenic route through the Inside Passage, by ferry and cruise ship on the Alaskan Marine Highway System. Ketchikan is known as the Salmon Capital of the World, and remains one of the less crowded, still rewarding fishing destinations in Alaska. Fishing options are enhanced by spawning salmon in clear surrounding waters, and the opportunities to fish in freshwater streams, rivers, and creeks without being bothered by anyone else for miles – these days, all too often an uncommon experience. In Ketchikan, however, this is par for the course.
Kayak fishing brings you easily into schools of Halibut, Rockfish, Coho, Pink and Chum Salmon, with minimal noise and undue ecological stress. To get into the action more quickly, many choose to fly-in fish more remote areas for freshwater Pioneer Fish, Cutthroat Trout, Dolly Varden, and Steelhead Trout. Freshwater and Saltwater Coho Salmon are consistently larger, tastier, offer a better battle than Sockeye Salmon; and all may be found in abundance in the waters around Ketchikan. King Salmon fishing is not permitted in freshwater here, but there are more than enough other species to keep you busy. The opportunity to fly and spin fish for Salmon, Trout, and Steelhead, while surrounded by such raw, natural beauty, should not be missed. Saltwater day or overnight trips take you away from crowds and into great masses of Halibut, Salmon, Ling Cod, Yelloweye, and Rockfish.
Many local charters and captains offer day/night, or overnight fishing and sightseeing trips into the unbridled wilderness surrounding Ketchikan. Various options and methods of fishing can bring you easily and quickly to remote streams, lakes, and deeper saltwater. Ketchikan is most accessible for all arriving in Alaska, whether by plane or boat, and holds many surprising attractions. Once you get here, be prepared for new and different ways to find a lot of fish, and the peaceful solitude of fishing without intrusion of noise or other people.