Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography Fishing

On a family charter, you'll have the opportunity to do it all — fishing, hiking, paddling, photography and wildlife viewing.

Our Trips

Family. Fishing. Hiking. Whales!

Alaska Wilderness Charters, Alaska Photography Workshop, Alaska Paddleboard

The rugged Alaska coast offers limitless opportunities for uncrowded, pristine adventure. On our Family/Group Charters, you'll experience hiking, kayaking, surfing, and paddleboard adventures in the astonishing blue-green waters of calm coves and bays and among haunting icebergs adrift in mystical fjords.

Family Charters

Join us on one of our scheduled eight-day family charters. You'll enjoy observing the unique wildlife and breathtaking scenery of Southeast Alaska, home to eagles, black and brown bears, humpback whales, orcas, stellar sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, and harbor seals. The 95' Glacier Bear is an outstanding platform to launch your adventure and a nice warm place to relax after daily sessions. The Crew will pamper you while the Captain maneuvers Glacier Bear to place you in the perfect location.

Schedule Your Trip

  • Trip Dates: Custom Charter
  • Starts: Juneau or Sitka
  • Ends: Sitka or Juneau
Crabbing

Toss out the crab traps in one of our many productive locations, and (with a bit of luck) we'll haul in a bounty of delectable Dungeness crab. All-you-can-eat crab dinners do not come any fresher or more delicious!

Alaska Wilderness Charters, Alaska Photography Workshop, Alaska Paddleboard
Hiking

People throughout the world enjoy hiking in the wilderness, usually on established trails. Hiking in Southeast Alaska is best suited for those in good physical condition, as it may require walking on unimproved trails, often for several miles. Sometimes it is necessary to climb steep paths on mountainsides and cross small streams. The reward for this effort can be a serene mountain lake, a beautiful view of the surrounding wilderness, and photos of wildlife seen along the way.

Kayaking

The Inuit invented the kayak, a light, narrow, and maneuverable boat with an enclosed cockpit propelled by a double-bladed paddle. They crafted kayaks by stretching oiled hides from sea mammals over wooden or whale rib frameworks. Most were or a single person, but some had an additional seat for a passenger.

Paddleboard

The rugged Alaska coast offers limitless opportunities for uncrowded, pristine paddling adventures. Stand-up paddle surfing and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing, where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand-up paddleboarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water.

Shrimping

We've got a secret we'll be happy to share with you. We know where the Spot Prawns and Striped Prawns are! We'll set out shrimp traps on our way to a secluded anchorage for the evening. Then we'll haul up our catch in the morning. Prepared by our Chef, Alaska's large and tender Spot and Striped Prawns are the best of the best!

Alaska Wilderness Charters, Alaska Photography Workshop, Alaska Paddleboard
Sport Fishing

Drop a line from the 28' For Reel with one of our four professional-quality fishing rods and reels, and test your luck and skill at bringing in Halibut, King Salmon, or Rockfish. Your "catch of the day" will be fileted by our fishing guide and can be fresh-frozen or prepared by our Chef that evening for an unmatched culinary delight.

Whale-Watching

Whale-watching is a popular activity on Alaska charters. Unfortunately, these interactions of whales with humans can negatively affect whale populations. Occasionally boaters cruise too close to whales, preventing the animals from hunting for food or inadvertently separating mothers from their calves. Alaska Wilderness Charters has a deep commitment to protecting the natural resources we share with our guests.

Wildlife

Marine mammals thrive in this area, and the opportunities to see these majestic animals are many. We'll see humpback whales, orcas, harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, and Alaska brown bears on a typical trip.

Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography Fishing

an experienced guide will lead you to great locations for photography.

Alaska Fishing Adventure

Alaska Wilderness Charters, Alaska Photography Workshop, Alaska PaddleboardStream Fishing

Six clients are allowed on our fishing boat, the 28' For Reel. On most days, we'll see very few other people fishing in the locations we've selected. If we do encounter another group, we can quickly move to a different location. “Combat fishing” is not in the works!

Novice or experienced — we'll make each day work for you. We often cruise directly to get to the perfect location, but we have great flexibility to choose from several alternative fishing spots if conditions are not right.

Many of our guests spend multiple days fishing on our charters. Generally, a couple of days of successful fishing for salmon and halibut provides all the frozen fish you'll need for home use. We’ll be happy to clean and freeze your fish for you. When you arrive at your destination in Juneau or Sitka, there are excellent fish processors that can pack and ship your catch.

The area is a photographer's dream, with humpback whales and orcas, sea otters and river otters, sea lions and seals, brown bears and black bears, and hundreds of bald eagles and other shorebirds populating the rugged coastline and inland meadows and forest.

What We Provide

We'll help you maximize your experience in the areas we fish. We provide an experienced fishing guide and boat transportation, using either our 28' For Reel or our 16' Lund boat. If you have fishing gear (including fly fishing and spin fishing gear, boots, fishing vests, jackets, and waders), by all means, bring what you trust. Alaska Wilderness Charters has a limited supply of waders, plus some essential fly fishing and spin fishing gear. We also carry a small first aid kit.

Alaska Wilderness Charters, Alaska Photography Workshop, Alaska PaddleboardStream FISHING

What You Need to Bring

Between the sunny days in Alaska, it can be cool and damp. You'll need to bring rain gear, rubber boots, and some warm clothing — see Recommended Gear. The stream waters are always chilly. We will be wearing waders when fishing, but long pants or long underwear bottoms beneath them can be a nice thing — especially if you choose to stand in the water much of the day. A small day pack is handy for your binoculars, camera (be sure to store it in a zip-lock bag), and some extra clothing. Anyone over the age of 12 will need an Alaska fishing license. The same license applies to saltwater fishing.

Adventure Fishing

Our fishing destinations are in areas of the Alaska Wilderness that see very few visitors and have no roads. The trip offers spin-casting or fly-sighing in streams where steelhead, cutthroat and rainbow trout, Dolly Varden (Arctic Char), and salmon thrive for avid fishers. If you don't like to fish (but your partner does), be sure to bring your binoculars and camera — the wilderness areas we go to are stunningly beautiful, and we often see bears, eagles, and other wildlife.

Alaska Salmon

King (Chinook). These are the largest Alaskan salmon and one of the most prized catches. Kings are rich in flavor and firm in texture. They usually weigh around 20 pounds; the record weight is 97 pounds. Kings are particularly prized because they are fattier, thanks to cold temperatures and a long migration. Kings are excellent smoked and taste great grilled, baked, poached, or any other way you can think to cook them up.

Sockeye (Red). Sockeye salmon is blue, tinged with silver while living in the ocean. Two distinguishing features are their long, serrated gill rakers ranging from 30 to 40 in number and their lack of a spot on their tail or back. Sockeye is not as large as kings, but they have a rich, deep color and a high oil content. Flavorful and beautiful, sockeye salmon presents well on the plate, and their density makes them a favorite for sushi. This fish also pairs well with other intense flavors.

Coho (Silver).Coho salmon is another favored wild salmon. Aggressive and fast, these smaller fish (averaging 10 pounds) congregate at the mouths of rivers to wait for fair weather or high tide. They are popular with sport fishers, and their meat is also prized. Coho salmon's flesh is more orange than red, and it has a mild flavor, with the firm flesh that is typical of the top three types of Alaska wild salmon. During their ocean phase, Coho salmon have silver sides and dark-blue backs. It is a favorite for grilling and canning.

Pink (Humpy). In the ocean, Pink salmon are bright silverf. After returning to their spawning streams, their coloring changes to pale grey on the back with a yellowish-white belly (although some turn an overall dull green color). Pale in color and light in texture, pinks have a lower fat content than kings, reds, and silvers. They are the smallest of the five Pacific salmon, averaging 3 to 5 pounds. They are also the most abundant and are easily caught and processed. Pinks are usually canned and sold in Europe, the South, and China. Alaskans are notoriously snobby about their salmon and tend to stick to the three more popular varieties. Pinks are an excellent source of protein.

Chum (Dog). The least desirable of the five Pacific salmon, chum, have the lowest market value and are often sold to foreign markets. Though they are not as firm and rich as king, red or silver salmon, chum is an excellent protein source and has enough oil to be versatile in cooking. Many believe that chum salmon have a bad rap. At the very least, chum is preferable to farmed salmon. If caught in the ocean and processed well, chum can make a tasty, lightly-flavored dish. Chum's roe (eggs) are the most valuable of all the Pacific salmon for the roe alone.

Alaska Sport Fish

Halibut.The Pacific halibut is the world's largest flatfish. In July 2014, 76-year-old Jack McGuire caught a 482-pound Pacific halibut in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Halibut are dark brown on the top side, with an off-white underbelly and small scales invisible to the naked eye embedded in their skin. Halibut are symmetrical at birth, with one eyeball on each side of the head. Then, about six months later, during larval metamorphosis, one eye migrates to the other side of the head. The eyes become set once the skull is fully ossified. At the same time, the stationary-eyed side darkens to match the top side, while the other side remains white. This color scheme disguises halibut from above -- they blend with the ocean floor --  and below -- they blend into the light from the sky. This capability is known as countershading.

Yelloweye Rockfish. The yelloweye rockfish is one of the most significant members of the genus. Its name derives from its coloration. Known to locals as "red snapper," it is not to be confused with the warm-water species that formally carry the name Red Snapper. The yelloweye is one of the world's longest-lived fish species and can live to a maximum of 114 to 120 years. As they grow older, they change in color, from reddish in youth to bright orange in adulthood to pale yellow in old age. Yelloweye live in rocky areas and feed on small fish and other rockfish. They range from Baja California to Dutch Harbor in Alaska. Yelloweye rockfish are prized for their meat and were declared overfished in 2002. Commercial fishing for yelloweye is not allowed.

Alaska Freshwater Fish

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Posted by Alaska Wilderness Charters on Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Arctic Char. The Arctic char is closely related to both salmon and lake trout and has many characteristics of both. The fish is highly variable in color, depending on the time of year and the lake's environmental conditions where it lives. Anglers have taken record-sized fish, known as iqaluk or tariungmiutaq in Inuktitut, in northern Canada. The flesh color can range from a bright red to pale pink.

Cutthroat Trout. Throughout their native and introduced ranges, cutthroat trout vary widely in size, coloration, and habitat selection. Their coloration can range from golden to gray to green on the back. Cutthroat trout can generally be distinguished from rainbow trout by the presence of basibranchial teeth at the base of the tongue and a maxillary that extends beyond the posterior edge of the eye. Depending on subspecies, strain, and habitat, most have distinctive red, pink, or orange linear marks along the underside of their mandibles in the lower folds of the gill plates. These markings are responsible for the common name "cutthroat", first given to the trout by outdoor writer Charles Hallock in an 1884 article in The American Angler.

Dolly Varden. The back and sides of Dolly Varden are olive green or muddy gray, shading to white on the belly. The body has scattered pale yellow or pinkish-yellow spots and lacks black spots or wavy lines on the body or fins. Small red spots are present on the lower sides. These are frequently indistinct. The fins are plain and unmarked except for a few light areas on the base of the caudal fin rays. S. malma is remarkably similar in appearance to the Arctic char (S. alpinus), so much so that they are sometimes referred to as "native char" without a distinction.

Rainbow Trout. Rainbow and steelhead trout are the most widely known trout globally, and anglers highly prize them because of their strong fighting abilities. Freshwater resident rainbow trout usually inhabit and spawn in small to moderately large, well-oxygenated shallow rivers with gravel bottoms. They are native to the alluvial or freestone streams of the Pacific basin. Introduced rainbow trout have established wild, self-sustaining populations in other river types such as bedrock and spring creeks. Lake resident rainbow trout are present in moderately deep, calm lakes with adequate shallows and vegetation to support the production of good food sources. Lake populations generally require access to gravelly bottomed streams to be self-sustaining.

Steelhead Trout. In Alaska, the two commonly recognized forms of Rainbow trout are based primarily on where they spend their time feeding and maturing. The most common Rainbow trout in Alaska is the stream-resident form, known as Rainbow trout. The Rainbow trout lives its life entirely in freshwater, with perhaps short periods spent in estuarine or near-shore marine waters. The second form is commonly known as the Steelhead trout. These trout leave freshwater as juveniles and migrate long distances in the ocean, where they grow to maturity before migrating back to their original home waters.

Respect for the Resource

Many of our guests spend multiple days fishing on our charters. Generally, a couple of days of successful fishing for salmon and halibut provides all the frozen fish you'll need for home use. We’ll be happy to clean and freeze your fish for you. When you arrive at your destination in Juneau or Sitka, there are excellent fish processors that can pack and ship your catch.

Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography Fishing

There's nothing that compares to watching eagles soaring near the water's edge. WE'll get fairly close without disrupting them.

Alaska Wildlife Viewing

Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography FishingAlaska Brown Bear
Black Bears and Brown Bears

There are more than 50,000 black bears and 35,000 brown bears living in Alaska's untamed wilderness. They're lumbering through berry-covered hillsides, raising their young and slapping at salmon-choked rivers. But unlike moose, you probably won't casually encounter bears along most roads. You have to go searching. That's one reason why bear-viewing tours are some of the pricier excursions you can take in Alaska. Most tour operators gain access to bears' prime locations via a small plane, though some tours will take you on a boat. But it's completely worth the price—these are just about the best wildlife viewing experiences you can have.

Indeed, many companies guarantee sightings. They do so because they know when and where to find the peak locations for the significant salmon runs each summer. Those snow-fed rivers are shallow, swift, and clear, and they offer a spectacle in themselves— because, along with the arrival of the bright red schools of fish also come the bears.

When you take a tour, you'll see bears congregating near the water—playing, sunbathing, and teaching their young fishing technique—and you can get reasonably close without disrupting the event (and, of course, stay safe). You'll likely also see the bears start feeding with a frenzy. It's not unusual to see 15 or 20 of them throughout the day—and tens of thousands of spawning red salmon. For an extended experience, choose a bear-viewing lodge or boat tour.

Marine Wildlife Viewing
Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography FishingHumpback Whale

Alaskan waters feature a massive display of wildlife. We'll take you into pristine waters and along undeveloped coastlines — an excellent activity for the whole family since everyone loves watching whales, orcas, Stellar sea lions, and harbor seals.

Our Captain and Crew are always on the lookout for wildlife and will stop the boat from drifting along when they've spotted something good — such as a whale, porpoises, or even eagles, who like to be near the prime fishing locations. You'll probably see hundreds of harbor seals basking on the icebergs around you and any number of glaucous-winged gulls, arctic terns, sea otters, or Dall's porpoises. You may also see dozens of otters floating in "rafts" in the open waters, and hundreds of shorebirds swirling above their rookeries, with their carefully crafted nests tucked among the rocks.

Day 1:We will explore the waters and island shorelines near our first anchorage. Those interested in stream fishing can try their luck in nearby short outlet streams, or they can fish for saltwater species in the surrounding kelp beds. Keep on the lookout for bears!

Days 2-4: This pristine wilderness is abundant with whales and other marine wildlife, seemingly at every turn. The surrounding waters and streams are rich with carcasses of dead fish, plus schools of millions of herring and other small fish. Large predators like brown bears and transient orcas are constantly searching for food.

Days 5-7: Each day of our trip offers an opportunity for wildlife exploration, with good fishing, photography, and paddling too. The group may split into fishing, hiking, paddling, photography, or wildlife viewing sub-groups, depending upon each individuals' preference. We travel through an area of relatively protected waters, with dozens of islands to explore, several good river systems, and idyllic bays and coves.

Day 8: We will pack up our gear, and arrive at our destination.

Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography Fishing

You'll enjoy seeing the amazing wildlife and breathtaking scenery of Southeast Alaska, and observing commercial fisherman at work!

Alaska. Wedding. Charter.

For a magical wedding, there's no better venue than an Alaska wedding charter. That's right—your entire wedding can take place aboard the Glacier Bear. You won't have to worry about the logistics and expense of transporting everyone from the ceremony to the reception. Embark upon your marital journey with an open-air top-deck ceremony, followed by a cocktail hour at the bar and an elegant sit-down dinner for the wedding party in our enclosed dining room. Alaska Wilderness Charters offers a unique opportunity for wedding couples to truly become one with nature. Exchange your vows in the presence and sounds of waterfalls and whales. This charter is tailored to your needs and wishes, and we'll do everything possible to make your Alaska Wedding an enchanting event. Pretty dreamy, right?

Alaska Family Fishing Paddleboard Photography Wildlife
Alaska Family Fishing Paddleboard Photography Wildlife
Alaska Family Fishing Paddleboard Photography Wildlife

Our Guests Speak Highly Of Us!

Alaska Wilderness Charters, Alaska Photography Workshop, Alaska PaddleboardWarm Springs Harbor

  The trip of a lifetime. Every moment of the experience was a true blessing. The Captain, Neil Nickerson and the Crew, Jeff Polizzotto and Al Smith, were the best ever. We were fortunate to have John Schnell, an amazing photographer and guide, with us as well. I highly, highly, highly recommend the trip. One month later and I'm still feeling inspired by the beauty and mystique of Alaska.  

— Amy Giertych, Illinois

  Sailing for a week on Glacier Bear with Captain Neil was one of the greatest vacations! We cruised from Sitka to Juneau, and we saw the most amazing wildlife. We were one with the wilderness. The hiking, fishing, kayaking, paddleboard and photo opportunities were "bar none." This is a wonderful and intimate experience. You'll be spoiled by the Crew — Al and Jeff were on board with us. And you will eat fresh and excellent food.  

— Carol Soo, Illinois

About the Book

  An Alaska charter is the perfect union of wilderness and luxury travel. Welcome aboard Glacier Bear, a beautiful 95' yacht. While on board, you'll experience Alaska's legendary Inside Passage, an intricate network of pristine waterways, granite fjords, and islands of astonishing beauty.

Fishing. Hiking. Paddling in the astonishing blue-green waters of calm coves and bays, among haunting icebergs adrift in mystical fjords. Quaint fishing villages and Alaska's magnificent wildlife — including eagles, bears, orcas and humpback whales. An inspiring tale of Alaskan adventure.  

— John Schnell


Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography Fishing

an Alaska charter is a great activity for the whole family, since everyone loves watching whales, orcas, and Stellar sea lions.

All Photos © 2021 John Schnell Photography
Licensed for use by Alaska Wilderness Charters

Alaska Wilderness Charters Paddleboard Photography Fishing