(This is a sponsored post on behalf of Valdez Fish Derbies.)
Give a kid a fish, and he might eat it, if you’re lucky. “Uh-uh, no way, I’m NOT trying that.”
Teach a kid to fish, and the picture changes. The fish changes. Everything changes.
Alaska is about fish. Watching fish, catching fish, smoking and canning and eating fish. Whether to support a resident subsistence fishing family, or sport for a two-week Alaska visitor, fish are part of summer’s vibrant fabric, providing more than dinner on a plate at $25 a pound. It’s life, and without fish, life up here would look very, very different.
For small communities like Valdez on Prince William Sound, fishing is even more precious. From the minute visitors show up for a chartered halibut tour, or the purse seine boats leave the harbor to collect full holds of pink salmon, Valdez throbs with the pulse of Alaska’s oceanic bounty. The energy is papable, as we found out last summer during the Pink Salmon Festival in early July. People fishing, people eating, and people sending photos back home; gleeful pictures that all but promise multiple meals from the freshest fish imaginable.
Kids love Valdez. Heck, we love Valdez. The rich history and outdoor recreation combined with breathtaking scenery never fails to disappoint. Between hiking, kayaking, or day cruising to look for whales and glaciers, Valdez possesses a package to support just about every interest level. Then there’s the fishing.
A big draw to Valdez is an annual series of events collectively known as the Valdez Fish Derbies. Starting with a halibut derby mid-May to early September, the fish derby series offers both adults and kids opportunities to win cash prizes and show off their fishing mettle in a comfortable format. Nothing fancy, just register, pay $10/ day for a derby ticket ($50/season), and go catch one; or two, or, maybe several. It’s the way Valdez has done things for 55 years, and it works.
Kids have their own derby, fishing for Pink (Humpy) salmon on July 20, 2013. Any kid can try; the derby is open to children 5-16, and no license is required for children under 16. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game offers a great map of good spots around Valdez for these pale-fleshed fish, but our favorite is along Allison Point, across the harbor from town and near the Solomon Gulch fish hatchery. The hatchery is a great visit, too, with 100 million salmon fry released every year from this facility, the largest Pink salmon hatchery in Alaska. It’s a great place to look for bears, too, and we usually head over in the evening or morning hours to see if a big brownie has run off with a salmon from Solomon Creek.
Pink salmon are best sought a few hours on either side of high tide, but if you’re not sure when to take the kids out, just ask someone at the Valdez Visitor Center on Chenega Street; volunteers are always ready with free fishing advice.
Read up on lodging options, favorite restaurants, and other family-friendly activities in our past posts about Valdez, HERE.
Teach a kid to fish. The resulting clean plate might surprise you, and one never knows where that might lead.