Frequently Asked Questions
Sightseeing Trips - including Glacier Tours
Whittier Glacier Tours and Wildlife Tours can accommodate up to 12 people. We can tailor trips to the needs of a group (i.e. glaciers, remote areas, fish hatcheries, sea otters, sea lions, Dall’s porpoise, etc.). Folks can also take one of our “pre-packaged” tours which are:
- Blackstone Tour – 2 1⁄2 hours. Trip goes into Blackstone Bay for a look at mainly glaciers and sea otters. Kittiwake rookeries are seen both in Blackstone Bay and on the trip back along the north shore of Passage Canal opposite Whittier.
- Harriman Fiord Tour – 4 hours. This trip heads north up through Port Wells into Harriman Fiord and affords the opportunity to see many glaciers, sea otters and kittiwakes. Other marine life and an occasional black bear are sporadically seen too.
- Northwest Sound Tour – 6 hours. This trip essentially expands the Harriman Fiord Tour by traveling down beautiful Esther Passage and to either a large sea lion rookery or to the Esther Hatchery (Wally Noerenberg Hatchery). With enough notice, shore visits to the hatchery can be arranged.
Please note that our Tours can be slightly chilly, even during the summer months in Alaska. It’s always a good idea to bring along a water proof jacket and a sweater…even if you have to leave it ashore in your vehicle or room. our Boat, the “Eye of the Storm” is fully enclosed adn heated, but we know you will want to go out on deck from time to time to take pictures of the Glaciers and Wildlife.
Fishing Trips - Whittier Halibut Charters
Fishing trips, including Whittier Halibut Charters, typically leave around 7 am, which means catching the 6:30 am tunnel opening into Whittier. We typically return to the docks by 6 pm. We primarily fish for halibut and, in July and August, offer silver salmon trips. Rockfish, lingcod and an assortment of other fish typically are caught on halibut charters.
For halibut trips, travel time can be up to 2 1/2 hours out and 2 1/2 hours back. Weather is usually a significant factor in where we go.
Our Whittier Halibut Charters offer one of the most amazing Alaskan Fishing experiences that you can ever have. When your hook goes into the water, you never know if you are going to hook a 25 pound halibut (we call these ‘chickens’) or a 100+ pound Halibut (known as ‘barn doors’). Even the smallest of halibut, however, will put up an amazing fight. When you hook a ‘barn door’, however, it will usually give you one heck of a battle. More than once fishermen have taken turns fighting one of these brutes before getting them to the surface. If you like to fish, and you are coming to Alaska, then one of our Whittier Halibut Charters is a must!
Although our silver salmon charters target these acrobatic, energetic and good tasting fish, we occasionally pick up other types of salmon (kings, pinks, chums and even sockeye), free swimming rockfish and a few other species. Travel time is typically around an hour out and an hour back from mid July through August.
We use top of the line gear for our fishing charters and have electric reels for very deep fishing or for clients who need a bit of help. For left-handed clients, we can also provide left-handed reels as needed.
Another important point to make is that your fishing trip will often be enhanced by sights, sounds and experiences typical of some of the best sightseeing tours (which is one of the reasons we encourage bringing your camera!). Typically we will slow down or stop to take advantage of these unique opportunities to view wildlife at a respectful distance in their natural environment.
What if I miss the tunnel opening?
If you’re on the road and something happens to delay your arrival in Whittier, please call Captain Dave directly at (907) 244-0234. We may be able to adjust our schedule by an hour to allow you time to make the next tunnel. Keep in mind that changing our schedule may negatively impact others. For those without cell service, there are phones at the Girdwood “T” turnoff, at the Portage Visitor Center and at the Portage Lodge.
What happens to the fish after they are caught?
Usually my deckhand will filet and/or clean the fish for you while we are out so that you are ready to go when you return to the docks. You may then elect to have your catch further processed at Fee’s Custom Seafoods, a local Whittier business. They are experts at freezing, cutting fish into portions, vacuum sealing, storing and even sending fish to your home or to friends and relatives. Of course, you can also just take the filets with you in your own coolers.
What is your business philosophy?
Our goal is to offer a top notch experience to all our customers, many of whom return year after year. We realize that you can take your business to many other companies. We always strive to keep our service standards high. We also appreciate your feedback after the charter has ended; this helps us monitor our performance.
Can you accommodate persons with disabilities?
We do all we can to accommodate the disabled.
What is there to do in Whittier?
Whittier is a very unique, Alaskan town. We live in Whittier year ‘round and will be happy to let you in on some of Whittier’s secrets, including its history, a “crystal ball” look at Whittier’s future, recreational opportunities, and visitor attractions (including the Whittier Museum). Whittier has an assortment of seasonal restaurants and shops to visit. There are also several options for overnight accommodations in Whittier. We’ll be happy to answer questions and give further explanation before, and during, our trip.
Can I bring a cooler? Should I bring food and drink?
You may bring a smaller cooler for lunch and drinks, but please leave your bigger coolers (for fish) onshore. We can recommend companies that provide charter lunches but ask that you contact them directly. They usually need at least 24 hours advance notice.
What should I wear and bring?
Weather can vary significantly from day to day and even hour to hour around Prince William Sound. As a result of his past career in weather (35+ years with the National Weather Service, 29 of those in Alaska), Captain Dave can typically give customers an idea of what to expect on the day of their charter several days prior to the actual trip.
For fishing trips, we advise dressing in layers and recommend the top layer being water repellent. Wearing older clothes, like jeans, is probably a good idea. Bringing along rain gear is never a bad idea. Hats help keep sunburned heads to a minimum and also help with “heat loss” on cooler days. We recommend that you wear non-skid shoes. Sunglasses or other protective eyewear are recommended.
For sightseeing trips, wear comfortable clothing, again dressing in layers. Comfortable, recreational walking shoes are recommended too, especially when stopping for a tour of one of the hatcheries or for other shore-side stops.
It’s a good idea to bring gloves for cooler days out on the water. Another recommendation is to bring a camera to record some of the truly wondrous sights and experiences during the trip.
What about parking and the Anton Anderson Tunnel?
PWS Eco-Charters will provide free parking and reimburse your normal vehicle tunnel costs for your charter day. Motor homes will typically need to park in the commercial lot, just south of the railroad tracks, and pay a fee. This lot is also available for general parking.
You can purchase fishing licenses at a variety of locations around the State and at a few businesses in Whittier. You can also use our “Links” page to purchase a license “on line”. For those needing last minute licenses (which will be checked and recorded before heading out), we also sell these on board the “Eye of the Storm”. Here, too, we make no profit on selling these.
Whether you are sightseeing or Whittier Halibut Fishing, you will be glad you are on the “Eye of the Storm”. The “Eye of the Storm” is a custom-built, aluminum, tunnel hull, state-of-the-art boat. It is a fast, very stable and safe boat, powered by three 300 hp Suzuki outboards. The boat was built by Dave Kindred and his staff at Heavy Weather Boats in Anchorage. It is also a sub-chapter “T” boat, better known as a USCG inspected boat. You will find it incredibly stable when Halibut fishing. It is also designed to give you a smooth and fast ride to and from the fishing grounds. While nearly all charter boats in Whittier are “6 packs” (able to carry up to 6 passengers), the “Eye of the Storm” can take up to 12 passengers, along with its crew. The “Eye of the Storm” has the latest electronics including;
- Furuno Navnet 3D
- MaxSea TZ software (Version 3)
- Furuno WS-200 weather station
- Maretron N2K View
- Computer monitor screen in the passenger area
- Camera systems
- Redundant communications equipment
- Two 10 person life rafts
- EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon)
- Type I PFDs for everyone
- Interphase forward/downward looking sonar
and a whole host of other safety equipment. There is also a private head (bathroom). Visibility is excellent and sights and information will be pointed out during the trip over the onboard communications systems. Fishing is done from both the bow and stern.