Horizon West | Sitka, Alaska Guides & OutfittersHorizon West - Sitka,  Alaska

Alaska Fishing Report





Bruce’s Blog, End of season review and Looking Forward


Holy Moly what a year it has been!

Three years ago, things here at Horizon West were moving a long and life was perfect. We’re going to call that “normal for Bruce and Peggy”. Two years ago, all hell broke out with Covid resulting in cancellations, massive restrictions and much uncertainty if we were even going to have any season. We’re going to call that” the new normal for Bruce and Peggy looking much like Hell on a bad day”. Forward to this past season, we could not have added any more people. We booked the most people in HW history, and had to turn away over 200 people. We’re going to call that ‘the new crazy normal”, and Bruce and Peggy are still a little shell shocked.

It was a great season for the books in many ways. Fishing was generally very good, especially if Kings were your main quarry. King Salmon numbers were predicted to be good, and I think they surprised everyone. They were even better than predicted. As a matter of fact, they were so good, that by the end of June we were on our way to exceeding our quota which resulted in an, in-season restriction and closure.

Days of old, when you could go out and catch and release 20-30 kings in a morning, were again a reality for quite a few of our guest and  stayed consistent from May through early August. Unfortunately, because of our earlier catch rate, keeping Kings was shut down. Bummer.  

This year’s average size was nothing to write home about, 14-16 pounds and sometimes pushing 18 pounds. Although we didn’t see many truly large fish over 30lbs, the mass of Kings more than made up for it.

Silvers were another story, starting out slow, and not arriving in big numbers until later in the season. Catch rates from mid-July thru mid-August, averaged around 12-18 fish per day with occasional limits brought to the dock. It wasn’t until the last 2 weeks of August, that catch rates kicked into high gear, with limits of big fat river bound Silvers hitting the decks. A lot of that late August action happened on the inside waters which also offered calm seas, beautiful scenery, and bonus wildlife sightings.

Halibut and Lingcod were another real bright spot this past season with an increased size limit like we haven’t seen in many years. Halibut up to 50”, and Lingcod sizes increased to 40”, made those that prefer their bottom fishing, very very happy.

There were many fish in that 40-50”bracket caught and it was amazing how much extra weight they put on at those sizes. When the boats would bring in some of those bigger Butts and Lings, you’d just look at them and think, there’s no way those are legal, but of course they were. We just weren’t used to seeing fish that big. It made for some good stories and for some better eating.

What can we say about last year’s weather? Not much, it was normal, the good, the bad, and the ugly, we had it all. The sun, wind, and rain, but it was about what you’d expect living in a Rain Forest.

Our crews last year were exceptional. After 29 years of doing this, one of the best groups we’ve ever had. From our Captains, James, Kyle, Josh, Trevon, and Mark, to our deck officers, Alex, Mac, Devon, Jake, and Zack, you couldn’t ask for a more professional, devoted, and hardworking bunch. Our land crew were no slouches either. Our ladies, Brianna, Taylor, and Nicole did a masterful job, and worked hard to make sure your needs were all met. And our fish processor, 6 time reigning world champion man of many fish bags, the Bulgarian Butcher, Matt, who again outdid himself. Never once was he late for an airport run and this is the first time ever we did not have one complaint on how clients fish turned out. Best ever. At this time, we’re not sure who all will be returning, but we’re hoping they all come back.


What does next year look like you ask???? Boy, am I glad you ask that question, because we at Horizon West are not just sitting on our laurels this winter, and believe me, I’ve got some big laurels. We’ve been working hard on something for over a year now and our hard work is about to pay big dividends for all of us.

As some of you, who have been with us for a while now, know we have been trying to not just sell our business, buy a motorhome and retire to that tacky little trailer park in Arizona, to spend our senior years, but to find that perfect fit. Someone that can take our creation, our years of devotion, and most importantly, YOU, our valued customers and friends, who are the base of everything we are, and why we still love doing this after all this time.

We’ve had, over the years, plenty of people, who wanted to buy our business. Often the first words out of their mouths were, “Boy, I love to fish, and it would be great to own a business where I can fish all the time and take winter off”.  BOY, are you clueless or what. NOT HAPPENING BUD.

I work with 2 brain cells, which qualifies me as a guide, I didn’t think anybody could operate on less, but you win.

And then we’ve had certain employees over the years, that have showed an interest, and I loved this Idea, because all of them have been close to us, like my boys, know the business, and are great people. But sadly, all of them realized they didn’t have that one critical element that it takes to run this business, IT TAKES A PEGGY. Wisely, they all recognized this and backed out.

But, I’m excited to say, that after many years of looking for that perfect match, we have finally found them. I am proud to announce our new partners, JOSH and JILL NELSON, from MINAAASOOTAAA, (I’m learning the language). This young couple are a perfect fit, and by young, I mean in their 40s, except Jill who I think just turned like 20 or something.

Josh has a good background in business and education and has been a vice principal of a school in the past, which qualifies him to handle some of you (and you know who you are). Jill is an Occupational Therapist but is planning on leaving her job to focus on the transition full time.

This partnership is a great match. They have the youth and energy to pump new blood into Peggy’s and my creation, plus they are very savvy in the Wiley ways of the internet and social media. Peggy and I are used to working with stone axes and knives and are pretty clueless on how things operate now a days. We’re stuck in the past and are really looking forward to getting some fresh young eyes on things and help bring us up to date. They have already made a good start by redesigning and updating a brand new website. Check it out at horizonwestcharters.com. For the first year it will be running alongside our old rundown website so that we don’t lose anybody in transition, so you can still get a hold of any of us. They’re also smart enough to know that although there’s parts of our operation that need updating, the bones of what Horizon West is, are solid and there’s no changes needed. So you, my dear Customer can expect the same great service and experience the next time you decide to join us.

You’ll also notice some changes around the lodge, like a new office which will be located just inside the main entrance, so you’ll have better access to us, with any questions or needs. There will be other small changes that you may not notice, like updating our logo and some of the gear that we offer.

Some of the other changes you’ll notice this year will be internal, and those will be coming to some you real soon.  Invoicing and transactions, will be handled by the lovely Jill Nelson. If you have any questions regarding you accounts or just feel inclined to pay money, which I always highly encourage, you can get a hold of her at jill@horizonwestcharters.com, or by phone at 218-998-2799. As always, if you have any other questions or just feel like listening to an old man babble, or maybe you want to know what the true meaning of life is, I’m always here to talk, and according to Peggy, it’s a lot.

In closing, I’m excited about the new partnership and the direction Horizon West is heading, and you should be too. The future of HW is bright, and your continued adventures to Sitka Alaska are going to be better than ever. We can’t wait for 2022 to get here and to see your smiling faces once again. I also want to, again thank each and every one of you for your support over the years and especially in the last few very trying years. It’s what gets us up in the morning and what we look forward to every day. We’re not just about fishing. Were about relationships, and I view wealth in the quality of the relationships you have with people. THAT is what has made Horizon West successful. Consider this Blog as a group hug! You deserve it.

With Respect and Love

Bruce Alan Gipple