North to Alaska! That magical-sounding phrase that sends tingles up my spine every time I hear it, finally becomes a reality, next week, for my son, Jim, and I.
The two of us will be gone on a King Salmon and Halibut fishing trip to Sitka, Alaska.
We have been planning this trip for months and months, and it's almost here. Yahoo!
This will be Jim's first-ever trip to the 49th State, my seventh trip to Alaska, my second salt-water fishing trip to Sitka and both of us are eagerly looking forward to our outdoor adventure.
Each of my six previous trips has been a memorable experience and over the years, I have:
Seen fabulous scenery including spectacular mountain ranges, snowfields, glaciers, creeks, rivers, lakes and dense forests. Some of the more memorable sights have been the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet, Mt. McKinley, the Alaska Range, Portage Glacier and the Kenai River.
Seen moose, caribou, grizzly bear, Rocky Mountain goats, Dall sheep, Lynx and red fox.
Seen whales, seals, sea lions.
Seen all kinds of birds such as bald eagles, golden eagles, hawks, puffin, cormorants, loons, ducks, geese and seagulls.
Visited Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Willow Creek, Montana Creek, Talkeetna, Cantwell, Nenana, Fairbanks, North Pole, Denali National Park, Portage Glacier, Cooper Landing, Soldotna, Ninilchek, Deep Creek, Anchor Point, Homer, Seward, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan.
Caught all kinds of fish including: King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Halibut, Yellow Eye (a form of Snapper), Sea Trout, rainbow trout, Arctic Grayling and sand sharks.
In addition, I have heard and recorded the howling of wolves.
On this trip, we will fly from Reno via Seattle to Sitka on Alaska Airlines. At Sitka, we will be fishing with Kingfisher Charters, a company that specializes in sport fishing.
That large, sport fishing company has a total of 18 fishing boats.
I can tell you, based on my own previous experience, Kingfisher Charters is truly "The King of Fishers" at Sitka.
We will be met at the Sitka Airport by an employee of Kingfisher, who will take us to the Best Western Shee Atika Hotel in downtown Sitka (population of about 5,800).
Along the way to the hotel, he will carefully explain the entire process of being a client of Kingfisher, such as staying at the hotel, using our meal vouchers (good at four different restaurants!), departure times for the fishing trips, the processing of our daily catches and our final departure for home.
Then, he will show us where to board our boat at the dock at 6 a.m. the next morning (a mere five-minute walk from our hotel).
After checking into the hotel, we plan to spent the rest of the day sightseeing in Sitka, photographing the sights and buying souvenirs.
Jim and I will fish for three days, and with any luck, we should be able to bring home all kinds of King and Coho Salmon and Halibut. As a bonus, we might even catch Rock Cod and sand sharks.
In 2001, Elaine and I also fished for three days at Sitka.
We returned home with a total of four fish boxes (70 pounds each), full of 280 pounds of flash-frozen and vacuum packed fillets and steaks of Salmon and Halibut.
If Jim and I are equally successful, wanna bet that we are going to be very popular with lots of people in Carson City. You know it!
It has always been my personal goal to catch a King Salmon over 60 pounds and a Halibut over 100 pounds, and who knows, this could be the year when I finally do so.
I am hoping that, at the very least, I can catch a Halibut larger than the one that Elaine caught (83 pounds) on our last trip to Sitka, so I can finally regain some bragging rights around the Quilici household.
On our first day of fishing, Jim and I will travel 23 miles (a 1 1/2 hour ride at high speed) straight out in the ocean to reach our fishing area.
Once there, you are allowed to catch 1 King Salmon, 5 Coho Salmon and 2 Halibut per person per day.
On the second day, we will travel 40 miles in another direction to reach a different fishing area.
On the third day, we will return to where we fished on that first day.
Finally, as a matter of interesting trivia, do you know about the unique road system at Sitka?
Well, if you've never been there, Sitka is located on Baronof Island.
That island has a paved road that goes 7.5 miles out of town in one direction and another paved road that goes 7.5 miles in the other direction. That's it, that's their total highway system!
For information, call Kingfisher Charters in Sitka at (800) 727-6136.
• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you which of the 50 states has the most mountain ranges.
Your pigeon wins if he says, "It's our very own State of Nevada."
• Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.