Scoping out Petersburg Alaska
Written By: Michael Ponce
Date: July 23, 2018
This trip to Alaska wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. Our schedule was thrown off when a deal fell through and all of a sudden Nic Gadouas, Robert Field and I had some free time on our hands. A few Facebook Messenger sessions later... we were heading to Petersburg Alaska. Our trip started off in Juneau for a quick night before we headed to Petersburg in the Wrangell Narrows the following morning.
After a quick flight to Petersburg, we were met by Rich Whitaker who helped us get around town. We did a little grocery shopping for the week, grabbed our fishing licenses and a little grub. From there we hopped in a boat and cruised over to the cabin where we would be staying for a few days.
Once we got to the cabin we met the owner, Jeff Laabs. He showed us around his property and helped us understand what his vision is for his operation. We proceeded to make dinner, enjoy a few cocktails and enjoy the wonderful views (the views from the cabin were incredible). If you want to see what really happened, check out Rob's Field Trips videos (link below).
Side note: There was a derelict boat that was just off the owner's property line that just worked as a photo subject matter. We all took turns trying to capture it. I think mine came out pretty damn good.
The next morning we lazily got up and ready for our first day of fishing. We were heading to a river on Mitkof Island to wade fish for Chinook salmon, something we have never done. Armed with nothing more than a few Daiwa spinners and some chrome spoons, we headed out. It was a damp day with very little sun (a perfect Alaskan summer day). For the most part, the spitting rain kept the flying bugs out of our face.
With only a few casts, we had our first hook-ups. Each of us hooked up and unfortunately we struggled to keep them hooked. In some cases we snagged em (they were that thick) while others fell for the lure. Regardless, none of them stayed on long enough for us to know for sure.
After some misses, we started to get the hang of it and started landing some fish. We were hooting and hollering as each of us got a taste of landing a King salmon. We even temporarily paused our filming and use of electronics so that we can be in the moment. Rob, Nic and I fished that river for hours not even knowing that we exceeded our scheduled time to be there. We didn't care... we loved it!
The second day of fishing had us chasing bottom ocean dwellers such as Pacific halibut and various rockfish. The fishing gave way to catching within minutes of our arrival to Jeff's favorite spot. Fishing giant spreader bars with freshly dead herring did the trick for all of us. Pacific halibut was high on our list for our Alaska trip. Coming here and catching them within minutes of our lines hitting the water was special. After all of us got our halibuts, we moved onto another secret fishing where we relentlessly jigged up rockfish after rockfish. It got a little silly at one point.
After 3-4 hours of ridiculous fishing, we decided to head back to the cabin and pull on crab pots and pitch fork for some butter clams. This place is so wild that we can harvest food from just about anywhere. That night we feasted on some salmon and dungeness crab. The place sounded like a frat house with all the moaning going on.
Though our time at the cabin was short, we got the Alaska experience we were looking for. The fishing was unreal, the food was amazing, the people were kind and hospitable and the scenery left a mark on us forever. Alaska tamed three city boys and reminded us what true wilderness looks like.
We want to thank Rich Whitaker and Jeff Laabs for hosting us and showing us the ropes. Your hospitality was greatly appreciated.