BEARS, BEARS, BEARS – Up Close and Personal! Fly out bear viewing and fishing. Experience glaciers, mountains and unbelievable vistas. A must-do when visiting The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground that will be sure to bring you memories that last a lifetime!
We had the pleasure of going out with High Adventure Air Charters this past Saturday, and boy were we in for a treat! We arrived to a beautiful log-home style facility tucked into beautiful thick tall green trees.
We set out to catch Silver Salmon and hopefully do some bear viewing as well! Silver Salmon (Coho Salmon) adults usually weigh 8 to 12 pounds and are 24 to 30 inches long, but individuals weighing 31 pounds have been landed. Adults in salt water or newly returning to fresh water are bright silver with small black spots on the back and on the upper lobe of the tail fin. They can be distinguished from Chinook salmon by the lack of black spots on the lower lobe of the tail and by their white gums; Chinook have small black spots on both tail fin lobes and they have black gums. Spawning adults of both sexes have dark backs and heads with maroon to reddish sides, according to ADFG.
As we walked up to the counter to check-in for our fly-out Bear Viewing & Silver Salmon Fishing trip, we were pleasantly surprised to see all the beautiful, lush flower baskets lining the way to the registration area. All the colors were so vivid and smelt divine!
And of course, this very practical outdoor thermometer was also a wonderfully clever touch. We can always rely on Alaskans to bring the humor, that is for sure!
As we walked in the lobby, we were impressed by a very welcoming atmosphere and some really neat adornments that were perfectly fitting for the occasion. This “Fish Stories Told Here” paddle was just one of the [many] cool knick·knacks displayed.
Another couple that caught our eyes were these two… “Tight Lines” and a saw with an incredible wildlife display cutout in the metal. Alaskan ambiance at it’s finest!
The coffee/water/tea bar was also very accommodating and a great touch. We made sure to indulge a bit. Always important to say hydrated before a day of fish slaying!
And when we say that we indulged, that didn’t mean on all of the delicious baked goodies that they ALSO had offered in the lobby. Oh, wait! Maybe we did succumb to these tasty treats just a bit… too yummy to resist! Can you blame us? 😉
As if we weren’t already off to a very full-filling start, our eyes were glistening with excitement when we perused this (very successful) “Catch of the Week” bulletin picture display.
Another really neat feature that the lobby had was this aerial map that with little flags that shows all of the lakes and rivers that High Adventure Air Charter fly’s out to.
Some of the closest and most frequently visited spots are Wolverine Creek, Big River Lake, Lake Clark Pass, Duck Cabin, Nushagak, Parkers Lake, and the Kustatan River. If you can’t quite read it, the purple flag indicates our “take off” point at High Adventure Air Charter.
For our trip, we were flying out to the Kustatan River to go fishing for Silver Salmon and to do some bear viewing at the foot of Wolverine Creek. It looks so close on the map, like maybe just a hop, skip, and jump over the Cook Inlet.
We were told that it would just be a quick 30 minute flight via float plane. And as we walked down to the lake to enjoy the last few minutes before our plane arrived, we were continuing to take in all the neat little features that were displayed on the property. Like this sign… so many choices, so little time! Oh wait, we live here! #spoiled 😉
More beautiful flowers and possibly the greenest grass and nicest landscaping around as we head down to wait for our plane. A top-notch experience right out of the gate!
When our plane finally arrived, our excitement gained stronger and stronger as the pilot unloaded 4 energetic, smiling guests that just came back from the very same trip that we were about to go on. Lots of smiles from ear to ear, we knew we were going to be in for a good time!
There was another group of people that were preparing to take off at the same time that we were. Double the trouble, double the fun! “WE ARE READY!” 🙂
Enjoying one last lake view before loading up and hitting the sky! For a mildly overcast day, the weather was in the low 60’s and felt absolutely perfect!
We loaded up in the DeHavilland Beaver floatplane and got ready to enjoy a scenic flight to the western shores of Cook Inlet. This was our super-awesome pilot, Greg. He did great and we felt very safe and comfortable the entire trip across the inlet.
Ready, set, go! There were four of us total in the plane, plus the pilot. The plane seats 6 total passengers plus luggage. It was very comfortable and we didn’t feel like sardines at all!
And here we are, up high in the sky with a beautiful view as we are leaving across the Cook Inlet!
Once we crossed over approaching near the Tustatan River, our eyes were in amazement as we looked down at such raw, natural beauty that was just flourishing with vivid colors.
As we landed, we were graciously greeted by our guide, Ben. He was incredibly accommodating and we could tell that he knew what he was doing right from the get-go. Again, we just knew that we were in for a good time!
After we loaded up on the boat, we watched as our floatplane took off and left us in the good hands of our guide right SMACK out in the middle of Alaska’s Playground! Amazing! 🙂
Up, up, & away! We will see him back here in about 5 hours! Hopefully by then, we will have limited out and seen lots of bears! 😉
Within a half hour, all four of us on the boat had caught at least 1 fish! The silvers were biting and dancing around like crazy, it was GREAT!
FISH ON, time to grab the net and reel her in! Teamwork was the key to success, that is for sure!
Scoop her up, and pull her in! Steady… steady… scoop!
There we go, another one to the boat! Woo hoo! Bring it on, slippery silvers!
As we were enjoying lots of laughs and good times slaying salmon, we were surprised by the next special feature; BEAR VIEWING!
Of the (nearly 100) shots that we took of just the bears, we gathered a few of our favorites to show you.
This one got busy eating delicious early spawning sockeye salmon. Happy, healthy bear getting his daily does Omega 3’s with wild Alaska salmon!
And this little black bear just looked like he was ready to get out of dodge! Up the trail he went. “Too much paparazzi,” he thought. 😉
After the show was over, our guide took us to a floating island and proceeded to filet all of our fish. Oh, I forgot to mention… we ALL limited out and caught 3 silver salmon a piece. That is 15 total salmon on the boat.
And Step #2:
Step #4… fillets for days! Ben did a great job and whipped right through all 15 salmon in a matter of minutes. It was truly a pleasure to watch. He was a pro!
About the time Ben was done filleting our fish, the plane came flying back to pick us up.
We pulled up to the plane in the guide boat, loaded up all of the delicious silver fillets and our belongings, and we all got in. With HUGE smiles on all of our faces, I should add! Our smiles were non-stop and gleaming from ear to ear!
The ride back offered amazing views, just like the ride out. It was like dessert for our eyes. So many beautiful colors and amazing views that seem to go on, and on, and on!
And although we endured a light rain for the majority of our time on the boat, we wouldn’t have changed a thing! If anything, the rain added to the experience and gave us all a good reason to keep casting, and casting, and casting (to keep our bodies moving and stay warm). It was spectacular from start to finish (and everywhere in between)!
If you are interested in having an experience of a lifetime, we highly recommend this amazing trip (or any of the others that they offer) with High Adventure Air Charter!