Planning the Trip of a Lifetime

By: Bryan C. Meck

Well, we thought it was a trip of a "lifetime". In 2004, we thought our trip to Cordova, Alaska was indeed the trip of a lifetime. As you've read in previous articles on Charlie's site, it indeed was just that. But guess what? We decided to do it again this year! On September 15th, Charlie Meck, Gary Light, myself, Dave Tongue and Terry Shoemaker of Grand Rapids as well as a few of Terry's friends made the L O N G trip to Cordova again. The final result was similar - lots of shoulder pains from hauling in 10-15 lb Silver Salmon. There were some pitfalls that we encountered along the way that one planning a trip to Alaska anytime of the year to fish for salmon would be wise to take note, however.

First off the trip is long - especially when you're flying out of Rochester, NY. We left at 6:45am and arrived in Cordova at 12ET (7pm Alaska time). All total it was 17 hours from ground to ground. When making the trip, make certain you have enough to read and are able to make such a long trip. I, for one, did not drink enough water on the flight and during our trip came down with a rather nasty infection. When there's only one pharmacy in town you're at their mercy. If you're prone to any infections or need to take prescription medications pack accordingly!

With the new airline regulations on what you can bring on the plane, remember: 311. You can bring 3oz bottles of a solution (hair gel, contact lens solution, etc). These must fit in a 1-quart bag, finally 1 bag per person. This way you can take items that you could use in the very likely event that your luggage doesn't make it to the final destination with you. In 2004 we had our luggage removed when in Cordova in order to make room for more salmon that fishermen were taking home!

Another tip for packing is to take a small fly rod, reel and if you're able to some emergency flies and waders with you so, again, in the likely event your luggage arrives a day late you can fish the next day. Also, when purchasing your Alaska fishing license you can purchase your license on-line at: You can buy your fishing license, print it off and then not have to worry about finding a place to buy one. This is especially handy when flying to a remote location and in the event the lodge or camp either does not sell or has sold out of fishing licenses.

Some packing ideas include making absolutely certain you pack at least one (better pack two!) gore-tex rain jacket. I always take two and inevitably give one to another guy in the fishing party when they find out that "waterproof" in the lower 48 doesn't necessarily apply to Alaska. How much rain you ask? Cordova received 10 inches of rain over a couple of days after we left. It rained during two days when we were there and part of every other. Those days that it rains be prepared for 2-3 inches. I can't stress it enough. If you plan for rain you'll be able to fish. If you don't you'll be miserable.

Finally, and most importantly use the internet. You can check out the 15 day weather forecast at for an idea of the impending weather. You can research some of the independent sites (outdoorsdirectory) go to some of the state forums to see how the fishing has been the previous week to see if you need to alter the "program" and finally to research your lodge. We decided to again stay at Orca Adventure Lodge. We've always been happy with the food and accomodations that they offer. It depends on your taste and your budget. You can go from bed and breakfast's, to outcamps to high end lodges that serve filet and lobster. The choice is yours.

I hesitate to say trip of a lifetime anymore. There's no doubt that I'll be back...and soon.

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