Giant Pike in Alaska
Trophy northerns weighing up to 40 pounds are Alaska’s best-kept secret, and they’re available all season long in shallow water, not just at ice-out.
Midnight Sun Trophy Pike Adventures fishes the Innoko River, a tributary of the mighty Yukon located 310 miles west of Anchorage. Home is a luxury 67-foot houseboat that accommodates a maximum of six guests per week (two per stateroom) and features gourmet meals. Fish with medium spinning or casting gear or a fly rod. All tackle is furnished if you want to travel light.
Nearly 700 pike over 40 inches were released last year, and the venue produced many world records and line-class records.
_Available species: _Northern pike to 40 pounds; sheefish (a.k.a. inconnu); 40-plus-pound king, chum, silver and pink salmon; Dolly Varden; grayling.
_Best months: _June into September for pike and sheefish. Salmon vary.
_Access: _The outfitter reserves flight from Anchorage to Aniak (approx. $370). A floatplane then takes you to the houseboat.
_Cost: _From $2,500 to $3,800, depending on dates and length of stay. Includes meals, guides and tackle use.
Other amenities: Trip includes one-day fly-out for salmon, trout or grayling (extra fly-outs can be purchased). Complimentary bar.
Contact: 800-440-7453; mstpa.com.
Phenomenal Pheasants Abundant wild pheasants, first-rate cuisine and great accommodations are the hallmarks of Grand Ciel Lodge, near Plankinton, South Dakota. Grand Ciel means “Big Sky” in French, and this comfortable lodge overlooking the prairies certainly lives up to its name.
Bring your dogs or hunt with lodge owner Brad Boisen’s well-mannered Braques FranÃƒÂ§ais (French Pointers). At dinnertime, don’t fret over the choice of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus or rosemary venison kabobs with pearl onions. Have both, and wash them down with a fine California red.
The lodge has six double rooms, a fireside television room and a three-season porch overlooking a pond.
[pagebreak] Best months: Book in October or early November if you want a cornfield shoot. If you’d rather walk grasslands for wild birds, arrange your hunt for late November or December.
_Access: _Sioux Falls is the closest airport. From there the lodge is about 100 miles via rental car.
Cost: Three-day, four-night packages start at $1,895 per hunter. The price includes lodging, meals, licenses, guiding, dogs and bird cleaning.
_Other amenities: _Complimentary bar, massage chairs and hot tub.
Contact: 605-942-7337; grandciellodge .com.
Sailfish on a Fly
Guatemala is the hottest venue for sailfish in the world, and Fins ‘n’ Feathers Lodge, located in the port town of Iztapa, just 60 miles from the capital, is the best jumping-off point for a unique flyfishing adventure.
The accommodations are first-rate, whether you stay in the small hotel or in one of the two-bedroom, two-bathroom waterfront villas. On good days, boats score more than 70 releases.
_Available species: _Sailfish up to 150 pounds, blue marlin to 400 pounds, yellowfin tuna to 100 pounds, dorado (dolphin) from 20 to 40 pounds.
Best Months: April through May and November through December.
_Access: _Direct flights to Guatemala City leave from many U.S. hubs.
_Cost: _$3,000 for three days (includes meals, lodging, guides, airfare and ground transportation).
Contact: Herb Roselle at South Fishing, 800-882-4665, southfishing.com; or 305-663-3553, artmarina.com. -J.G.