Juneau Flyfishing…

Bear Creek Outfitters… Part One

I have had three major passions for most of my life… photography, fishing and backpacking.

Having lived and worked in Yosemite National Park for three years I have hiked hundreds of miles throughout the Sierras.

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Hiking the Panorama Trail In Yosemite… Half Dome on the right
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Taking a break along the Merced River in Yosemite National Park
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Tyrolean Traverse on Lost Arrow in Yosemite 3,000 feet above the valley floor

Later in life I lived the Rockies near Sun Valley and Stanley, Idaho again finding myself hiking trails and fishing the pristine waters.

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Fishing for rainbow trout in the Big Wood River near Hailey, Idaho. This was one of my favorite rivers to fish and only minutes from my front door.
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Stanley Lake near Stanley, Idaho about an hours drive from Hailey, Idaho and a favorite place to camp, backpack and fish for trout.

I think this is why I have felt such a kinship with Alaska. Just like Yosemite and the Rockies it gets into your blood. This is my sixth summer of traveling to Alaska and the Inside Passage and I am already looking forward to coming back next year.

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Mendenhall Lake and the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska
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Ketchikan Creek with Salmon Statue in Ketchikan, Alaska

Working as an Acupuncturist at Sea on various cruise ships I have been to the ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway dozens of times. I have become friends with a handful of locals and I have entered a restaurant, a store or walked down a street and someone has come up and said, “you are back”. It makes me feel welcome and at home.

One person I have been acquainted with over the last couple years is Matt Boline of Bear Creek Outfitters in Juneau. I have never met Matt in person but have spoken to him several times by telephone. He helped me book a couple tours that covered three of my Bucket List items.

One was to go flightseeing in a floatplane, another fly-fishing for salmon in a remote location and a third flying to an island and photographing Kodiak bears in the wild as they feed on salmon.

This post is going to cover two adventures, fly-fishing and the bear viewing. They both start with a flight to a remote island on a floatplane. You are met at your ship by a private van and taken to the Juneau airport where the field office of Bear Creek Outfitters and the floatplanes are located.

Once you arrive you will meet your guide and pilot. If you start, as I did, with the fly-fishing tour you will be outfitted with a pair of waders, given a fly rod and purchase an Alaska fishing license. You are also given a short safety lecture about the flight and what to expect during the day.

Next you are shuttled to the floatplane on the other side of the runway. The engine roars as your speed increases down the waterway, the plane shutters a bit and the next thing you know you are airborne.

Along the way you have great views of the Mendenhall Glacier, the surrounding mountains, the inner island waterways and the myriad of beaches and coves that dot the numerous islands in and around Juneau.

After enjoying the flightseeing for approximately 30 minutes the pilot gently banks the plane and lands on calm water coming to rest on the shoreline of a remote island.

Debarking the plane you grab you gear, spread out and begin fly-fishing. I personally have fly fished for years but regardless of your experience from novice to expert the guide is with you to share advice and his strategy.

With a change in the tide we took a short walk from the main channel to a small tidal creek. You could see the fish laying there waiting for you to try your luck. In our case it was Dolly Varden that was available and everyone on the trip was able to catch and land fish.

I personally along with a couple others landed salmon in the main channel. For those that did not all fishermen know they call it “fishing” or a reason… otherwise they would call it “catching”.

At the end of our trip we again loaded into the floatplane and headed back to the Juneau airport after a successful day of fishing and I ticking off a couple Bucket List items.

I want to apologize that I do not have photographs of this excursion. Instead of a camera in my hands it was a fly rod and I was busy catching fish… lol

To book this tour contact Bear Creek Outfitters, Matt Boline – Operations Manager – 8991 Yandukin Drive Juneau, Alaska – (907) 723-2663

Author: larry pannell

I started my career in photography as a professional photojournalist in 1978 at the time working with several newspapers and magazines in Southern California. What I loved most about photojournalism was its diversity and over my career I covered professional sports, concerts and travel. As life would have it mine took yet another turn and in 1988 I developed an interest in holistic medicine. I became a professional massage therapist specializing in sports medicine. In 1991 I decided to go to medical school and obtained a medical degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine and stared my career as a licensed acupuncture physician. After medical school I moved my practice to northern Idaho for a year before settling in the resort area of Sun Valley, Idaho. I’ve always been an outdoor person and hiking and backpacking the Rockies and fishing the pristine river waters and high altitude lakes offered me a wonderful photographic opportunity. In 2010 I left Sun Valley and I once again found myself on a cruise ship, this time working as an “Acupuncturist at Sea”. For the past seven years I have traveled to over 75 countries, which has allowed me to photograph much of the world.

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