2021 Season Recap

Wow we did it! We finally started to get back to business as somewhat normal after a 2020 season that was anything but normal...

With much uncertainty leading up to this season, I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people visiting Ketchikan this summer. After speaking with other local business owners, lodges, hotels, and other tour operators, we all agreed that the number of clients vacationing in Ketchikan this year surprised us. This of course created its own set of challenges as many businesses found themselves short handed and understaffed.

Many factors may have played a part in the influx of in town guest but I feel Canada being closed, cruises not starting up until the end of July,(and at a limited capacity) and people just ready to get out and travel made a big impact. Other factors such as fewer travel restrictions, airline rates, vaccines, and accessibility into Ketchikan made us a particularly popular destination.

Businesses that survived 2020 found themselves in a good position to operate this summer as clients visiting Ketchikan were ready to explore and have a good time. Overall everyone I spoke with in town from a business stand point seemed to be happy with their sales. This was great to see and hear about as 2020 truly was bleak. Ketchikan and Alaska as a whole, from a tourism standpoint, was more susceptible to a downturn in business from the pandemic as we live and die by the cruise line industry and independent traveler. Canceled cruises in 2020 took away an anticipated 1.4 million visitors along with a high percentage of independent travelers.

With all that being said, let's talk some fishing!

2021 will go down as one of the best summers in Ketchikan that I can remember. Not only from a fishing standpoint but the weather was awesome too. To start with, the salmon fishing this summer was phenomenal. June brought us the King salmon run and it did not disappoint. We started catching Kings early and often. It was great to see as not every season brings a strong King run. But this summer did. As the king run slowed down the Pink salmon run took off without missing a beat. Limits of Pinks were caught in no time and left us with more time to focus on other species. The most impressive run this summer in my opinion though was the the Silver salmon run. We were able to stay on top of the Silver salmon from late July all the way through September.

With the weather cooperating pretty much all summer we were also able successfully target Halibut. Limits were pretty much the norm this season and a favorable slot limit allowed us to be more selective and keep bigger fish. Most halibut caught in Ketchikan average 15 to 30 pounds. This summer we were able to retain a halibut up to 50'' or over 72" We consistently caught halibut in the 40''-50'' range and pushing 40-60lbs. Halibut put up a great fight and are one of the best eating fish on the planet. Its always fun to see the smile that comes from a client holding their first halibut!

The best part of the season along with the weather and the great fishing are the relationships, friendships, camaraderie you make with the people you meet and work with here in Ketchikan. I'm talking about everyone who impacts our business at The Alaska Catch on a personal level. Our repeat clients who often become friends, fellow fishing guides who you share secret locations with are like extended family, your mechanic who fixes any problem at a moments notice is like our on call ER doctor. Even an old boss who's shared and extends his insight and wisdom over the years becomes your mentor.

After going through a year like 2020, I feel it's important to point out the people in our lives who always have our backs. Although I've never taken honesty, hard work, and friendships for granted, I seem to appreciate them more when things get tough. After the dust settled on 2020 and I seen the core group of guys beside me, I was ready to do my part and to pay it forward. Here's to a fantastic end of the 2021 season and to an excited start to a much anticipated 2022 season.

Cheers to all of you!

Mike Fleece

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