The past month or so, Bass Pro Shops Altoona has had former associate Jake Fergesen, a northeast Iowa native, helping us out. Jake was with us when we opened, progressing to hunting lead and camping lead positions, then transferred to the East Peoria store where he became Hunting Manager. Now Jake will be the new Fishing Manager at the Anchorage store, which opens in 2014.
Jake is familiar with Alaska, having worked there a few years back. Since so many people travel to Alaska, we asked him to share some basic tips.
Helpful Tips for Travelling to Alaska
by Guest Blogger Jake Fergesen, BPS Anchorage Fishing Manager
* Bug Spray - The beautiful vistas of Alaska are known around the world. But, one thing you don't always see are the bugs. You will need bug deterrent pretty much anytime you're outside in the summer.
As soon as I got settled into my new Alaska location, I was anxious to do some fishing. I had only been there a few days and was ready to attack the fish. On my first fishing outing, after about a minute into it, I realized I was the one under attack.. Even with all my excitement, the fishing only lasted about 5-10 minutes.
Now, bug spray is with me wherever I go in Alaska. 100% DEET is the best bet, but if you're wearing Gortex and/or fishing, you need to remember a couple of things. DEET can eat away at the fishing line and the Gortex membrane on waders and rain gear. So, a DEET-free product - like Sawyer® Premium Insect Repellent 20% Picaridin - might be a preferable choice, as Picaridin doesn't harm your equipment and gear. Wherever you go in Alaska, always have it with you. I leave my spray in the fishing tackle, kayak, and in the car.
* Binoculars - Make sure you have binoculars that are compact and easy to carry. You want the most magnification that you can hold steady...a 10 power is recommended. Again, binoculars should always be with you. I've been driving down the Seward Highway and spotted a grizzly and her two cubs on a river bank far away and could enjoy them with my binoculars from a safe distance. You never know when that moose or bear is going to give you a view to appreciate and remember.
* Bear Spray – The chance of having a close encounter with a bear are slim, but you always want to have your head on a swivel and be mindful. I was wading and fishing the Russian River for sockeye salmon and had a few encounters with a bear that was also fishing for its food. The bear was within probably 20 yards. You stay calm – talk to it in a loud non-aggressive tone. Unless they are with cubs, surprised, or have been conditioned to people giving them fish, bears are mostly curious. The last thing you want to do is throw a fish. Keep all your gear within arms length. On the river I was at, and many other rivers, you can actually get fined if you have a pack or tackle box and it’s not within 10 feet or so or within reach.
* Rain gear - Are you going to be in and out of rain? Then lightweight and packable rain gear, like Frogg
Toggs, would probably work. But, if you know and are planning on spending all day in the rain, go with a heavy duty rain set, like Helly Hanson – real rubberized stuff. Helly Hansen makes rainwear that the fishermen and oil workers use with 100% waterproof protection.
* Sun Protection - Visitors to Alaska often overlook sun protection due to the cooler temperatures, but coming from someone who's learned the hard way, it is an item you need to remember to take. I was enjoying t-shirt weather, around 80 degrees, on a raft fishing all day long...warm, but not scorchingly hot. I was having fun and not feelilng the heat...until later that night when a serious sunburn appeared.
* Camera/Memory Cards - The camera is an obvious one, but you'll take so many pictures you might need to bring an extra memory along with you so you don't run out. Most cell phones have a pretty good camera, but if you have a good digital camera with a zoom, you'll want to bring it. On a trip to Denali I saw pretty much everything – caribou, moose, etc. I took decent pictures of Dall rams up on a mountainside because I had a camera with a good zoom.
But, keep in mind: Try not to get so caught up in taking pictures that you miss actually seeing what's around you. Put down the camera, once in a while, and enjoy the beauty without the lens.
* Layers - In the summer, the mornings can be in the 40s and the middle of the day can get up close to 80. You'll want layers you can shed as the day goes on. Go with synthetic fibers and avoid cotton because there's a good chance it will rain some and you'll get wet.
Alaska in the summer is amazing. It's light out almost 24 hours a day, which allows you to get more out of each day. As large as Alaska is, you won't be able to see everything in one trip. Identify the area you most want to see and plan your trip for that. Make a list...the next area on your list that you want to see will give you that reason to take another trip north to Alaska!