Cover photo: A day of fishing aboard the 39 foot One Day is a truly a pleasure.
By Kevin Orton
Senior Field Editor
It seems like with all of the traveling I do on a yearly basis to Alaska that there are not many populated places left that I have not been to. However, one of those places was Seward, Alaska. Seward is a coastal town, about 125 miles south of Anchorage. Abrupt mountain slopes cloaked in shaggy summer greens and perpetual snows form an impressive backdrop for this progressive city of some 4,000 people. Shipping, fishing and tourism provide Seward’s economic base. Large passenger cruise ships and freight ships call frequently at the Alaska Railroad dock. Cargos are transferred to and from the Alaska Railroad. Three modern fish plants process salmon, caviar, crab, herring, halibut and other bottom fish. A Marine Industrial Center with a 3,000-ton ship-lift has been built on the east side of Resurrection Bay. Nash Road, leading to this facility, is a five-mile scenic drive looking out over the bay and the mountains. The town of Seward is named for William H. Seward, who arranged for Alaska’s purchase from Russia. Seward is also an ice free port which is part of the reason this part of the world is so popular among the many industries using the water. But of course what mattered to me the most for this particular trip was the rich history of fishing that is done in Seward.
On this adventure we would be fishing with Captain Hill Norvell and his Alaskan Fishing Adventures. Hill got his first boat when he was 14 years old and hasn’t looked back since. To say he knows the hot spots to find the fish would definitely be an understatement. On this trip I would be accompanied by Kent Danjanovich, the senior editor and fishing guru for Sportsman’s News. When we arrived in Seward it was a welcomed sight to drive up to Hill’s “bed and breakfast” style lodging facility. It was only about a 2 ½ hour drive from Anchorage, but after the flight and the drive it was very nice to be able to put my feet up in luxury. Hill can accommodate up to 12 guests a week with his lodging which includes four private rooms, each with its own bath. Most of the rooms even have a private entry and exit for your convenience. There is also satellite TV and free Wi-Fi for you to use if you would like to stay connected with the world back home.
Our plan was to fish two full days with Hill and film for an upcoming edition of Sportsman’s News Television. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with us the first day. We had 30 mile an hour winds and eight foot rolling swells on the water and so we chose to stay in and do some sight-seeing. There are actually quite a few very cool things to see in Seward, especially for someone visiting for the first time. One of those things is that Seward is home to an active glacier called Exit Glacier. It is located in the Kenai National Forest and you can basically drive your car right to the bottom of it and then hike the trail to get some amazing photos. This glacier is fed by the Harding Ice Field which is massive and if you are up for a longer hike you can also visit that. We then had time to run over to the Alaska SeaLife Center, located at the end of town. It is actually very well done with a lot of very interesting sea animals on location. The Alaska SeaLife Center is the only permanent stranding facility for marine mammals in Alaska. As such, they do a lot of rehabilitation of marine animals that need help. The main objective of the Rehabilitation Program is to return healthy, rehabilitated animals back to their natural habitat. We then capped our day off with some amazing fresh-as-it-gets seafood. I was actually quite surprised at just how much there is to do and see in this small port town.
The next morning we were up bright and early in anticipation of getting the chance to get on the water and fish with Captain Hill. We arrived at the dock and boarded the boat at 7am. The boat is a magnificent vessel. Hill fishes in style with his new custom-built 39 X 13 Carman. I will admit that I have never been on a cleaner, more well-maintained boat. All of the equipment that Hill had was absolutely top notch. It took a couple of hours for us to get out of the bay in Seward and into the open water hot-spots that Hill has on his GPS systems. The first spot was for halibut. The lines quickly went down, but with not very many hits and just a few fish, Captain Hill knew we needed to move to his next spot. On the way to the next halibut spot we stopped in a hole that produces black bass and lingcod. And produce it did. No sooner would we get our lines down than every pole would hook up with one of these prehistoric looking sea creatures. It only took us about 30 minutes to limit out on sea bass and lingcod, with the biggest ling well over 50 inches and weighing in at almost 50 pounds, so we continued to the next spot for halibut.
As Captain Hill suspected it proved to be where the fish were hiding that day and in no time we all had our limit of halibut. Nothing giant, with the biggest weighing in at about 60 pounds, but great fun to catch and perfect for the box to take home. When we were all limited out, we headed to the next spot to work on our limit of silver salmon. We had caught a few of them at the other spots, but when we arrived at the “Silver Hole” it was ridiculous. Everyone was fighting silvers in every direction. Captain Hill is well known on the water and a couple of his fellow captains joined us and literally as soon as they pulled up almost every fisherman you could see had fish on. It was a riot. All in all, even though we only had one day to fish, we caught plenty and filled up our fish boxes for the journey home. Captain Hill really knows his waters and when the fish were not in the spot we were, he had plenty of other options to find fish. Captain Hill gave us the “mixed bag” tour of the waters near Seward on this day and needless to say, we all had a great time on the water.
Captain Hill runs a no nonsense fishing operation. He takes the “business” of fishing very seriously. He definitely knows the waters well and his years of experience will have you on the fish. He offers daily trips for up to six fishermen or he can put together a package for you to stay at the lodge and fish until your heart’s content! His schedule fills up fast, so give him a call today at 907-321-8886. You can also look him up on our website or visit his at www.fishwithhill.com. We are proud to have Captain Hill and his Alaska Fishing Adventures as one of our newest Platinum Approved Outfitters. When you give him a call, tell him the guys from Sportsman’s News sent ya!