Fishing in Cordova, Alaska
The impetus for our Amtrak trip this year was a call from my dad. He asked me if I would be interested in going fishing in Alaska with him, my grandfather, and my brother. I'm not much of a fisherman, but I do love to see my family whenever the chance arises, the answer was of course "yes".
My grandpa, Gramps as we call him, has been to Cordova a few times for fishing and thought we all might enjoy joining him. My brother, who already lives in Alaska, and my dad, who does not, all met the day before I arrived, a day earlier. By the time I flew in, one flight from Seattle to Anchorage, then a short flight to Cordova, Gramps had already caught two salmon.
Unfortunately, this early catch was more of a peak of the fishing than a sign of what was to come. In the end, between the four of us, we only ended up with eleven fish. This was fine with me, I was there to see my family.
Cordova is a town east of Anchorage, it is a small fishing village only accessible by plane or ferry. Gramps had fished here before, so this is where he booked cabins for us. The cabins we booked, Bears Den Cabins, are a family run set of cabins right on the Eyak River. With our cabin rental were included two john boats for fishing on the Eyak, as well as a van to get into town and to and from the airport. If you can afford it, I think the cabins are well worth the cost.
My brother rented me a fishing pole and waders, it was too much to bring cross country, both on a train and then a plane, then back home. I only had shorter waders, whereas everyone else had chest waders. Bit of a spoiler, chest waders didn't help!
The first two days of fishing netted me two fish and zero bites otherwise. Dad, who chose to fly fish, was having the worst luck of all of us. I loaned him my pole after my two-fish success story, which promptly broke. He went to town to buy a new reel, then the pole promptly broke. My dad did eventually catch a fish, as he and Gramps stayed on the river much longer than I did. Paul, ever the soloist spent a lot of time on the river by himself or with me. He caught and gutted his fish immediately after catching them. Bears Den Cabins has a fish cleaning station, and Cordova has a fish processing place, they will filet and package your fish, either to take home or ship it overnight to you. I ended up giving my dad my fish. Considering how much tickets, processing, and bringing home cost, this was the most expensive fish I'm sure he has ever eaten if he has even eaten it.
You may think that the Eyak River was just bad for fishing, you'd be wrong. The most frustrating part of our adventure was that we were the only people in Alaska not catching fish. We would spend hours fishing, someone would float by and fish would practically jump into their boat. Stop to ask for directions? Fish jumps in their van. It was infuriating from a fishing perspective. Either way, after catching two fish, killing them, and then killing my brother's three fish, I had enough fishing, anyway.
Besides the fishing, which seemed more like casting and reeling, we were still in the vast and beautiful Alaska; we also had a van. Near Cordova, there are two glaciers and countless hikes you can visit. The afternoon of our third day, dad and I tried to head out to the Million Dollar Bridge and accompanying glacier. After about ten miles of bumpy gravel roads, we opted to turn back. Headed back, we stopped at a small, perfectly clear lake, as well as a hike to a glacier much closer to town.
The hike was not clearly labeled, it took me much longer to find the glacier than my dad and Gramps, who turned back and found a quick path to the glacier. Regardless, the hike was very pretty, very green, and very steep. I really enjoyed it. The glacier, though, was not nice or scenic. It was not really visible from many vantage points, either.
Back at the cabin, we had dinner; we had bought all our food from the grocery store, as everything in Cordova is expensive. My dad is the one who made most of the food. In hindsight, I wish I had pushed more to cook at least one of our catches. Oh well, next time.
The second to last day that we were there, we had to have any fish we caught to the processor by noon, so fishing after noon was not something any of us did. My dad, Gramps, and I decided to make another attempt at getting to the Million Dollar Bridge and Miles Glacier. We loaded up the old Econoline van and headed out.
The bridge is somewhere around mile 40 or so, and the sign outside the airport said the road is closed at mile 38 or something. We figured "hey, that means the road is closed well after the glacier and bridge" and we kept going. Unfortunately, after about an hour of rumbling bouncing, we realized that mile 0 was actually in Cordova, about 12 miles west of the airport. A bridge was out far before the glacier. Fail Version 2.0. Oh well. We walked out on the "do not go out here under any circumstance" bridge, right past the fence and sign. We saw otters swimming in the water, then we drove back to the cabin.
We went back to the cabin, and I packed for my early flight to Anchorage, a five-hour layover in Anchorage, a long night in Seattle, then finally home. The trip to Alaska was an awesome bookend for this trip. Spending time with my family, who I barely see anymore, was awesome.