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Alaska FAQs

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BY CHRISTOPHER BATIN
During the past few months, I’ve been inundated with questions about Alaska trip planning. My suggestions below might also be of help to other members thinking along these lines.
How do I ship home any fish I caught?
The best way if you are flying commercially is to pack it in a fish box or cooler. I use coolers several times a year to transport fish to and from the lower 48. You’ll need to place the vacuum-packed fish in a large, plastic bag (I use a heavy-duty contractor trash bag). The fish will stay frozen for most trips to the East Coast if you use a quality Coleman or other cooler.
Check the cooler as one of your checked bags. If you have too many bags, rather than paying $125 in excess baggage fees, it is often cheaper to instead ship home the clothes and items you won’t need during your return trip. Shipping fish Federal Express from Alaska costs a minimum of $4 per pound, with a typical 50-pound box going for $200 to $300, depending on where you live.
Will I need fishing waders or will hip boots be enough? Do I even need waders?
Waders are required to effectively fish most of Alaska. If you are a fishing professional, forget old-fashioned neoprene waders that are bulky and heavy. Go with the new lightweight models that compress well for travel. Add Polarfleece undergarments to your fishing wardrobe and you’ll stay warm in the water. Keep in mind that any type of wading boot with felt or absorbent soles is illegal in Alaska. Not all camps or guides will have waders though many have hip boots. On most ocean charters, only deck shoes are required.
But to truly capture great Alaska photography, you’ll need to get out into the water and that requires wading gear. Waders help keep you dry should you be fishing in one of our September typhoons.
Some other items of you might consider packing include polarized sunglasses for pinpointing salmon in the water, a collapsible walking stick or trekking pole, and a small backpack to carry gear. Ensure you have a smaller waterproof bag inside the backpack to safeguard your mobile phone, camera gear and other electronics.
I’ll be bird hunting. What do you recommend?
Lightweight hiking or hunting boots and a GPS. It is easy to get turned around in the Alaska North Woods, even in the high country, where there are no distinguishing features
or landmarks.
Also, a small backpack is a necessity. In Alaska, you don’t carry birds hanging from your belt like they do in the lower 48, unless you wish to become a grouse and writer burrito for a hungry brown bear.
In thick vegetation, flagging tape helps mark your stand so that after locating downed birds, you can again find your stand. Just be sure to remove the tape when you are finished.
And bring lots of shells. Early September offers a lot of grouse for the hunter — from spruce, to ruffed and sharp-tailed grouse. If you’re shipping up firearms, contact the airline you’ll be flying to confirm the type of gun case you will be using meets current regulations. I recall once trying to use a gun case with only one lock and I had to buy a $98 case from the airline because it had two locks, which was the requirement at the time. Also, if you are planning to drive the Alcan Highway, or travel through Canada, check their entry requirements before you depart. Pay close attention to the detailed firearm regulations so, if necessary, you can ship firearms in plenty of time to receive them upon your arrive in Alaska.♦
—Chris Batin is editor and publisher of The Alaska Angler/Alaska Hunter and is the 2012 OWAA conference local committee chair. For fishing and hunting assistance, contact him at chrisbatin@alaskaangler.com.
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