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Well-Traveled: A Fishing Escape to Waterfall Resort in Alaska

Reconnect with the great outdoors in the Last Frontier, one of M&A lawyer Melissa Stewart’s most memorable destinations.
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Well-Traveled: A Fishing Escape to Waterfall Resort in Alaska

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With a humpback whale breaching the water just a reel cast away, I hooked what I believed to be a boulder on my fishing line. After a 10-minute fight, what surfaced was a 100-pound halibut. It was the first fish I had caught since I was 10, but inexperience was irrelevant at Waterfall Resort on the Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. After three days of fishing, I wound up with 95 pounds of halibut, salmon, black bass, and lingcod on my return flight to Dallas.

I embarked on my journey to the Last Frontier by flying into Ketchikan, Alaska—the salmon capital of the world. Most Waterfall visitors stay overnight in Ketchikan before taking a floatplane ride to the resort, which is only accessible by sea and air, the next day. I’d recommend staying at Cape Fox Lodge, perched in the Tongass National Forest. For dinner in the resort’s dining room Heen Kahidi, the grilled pesto halibut was a standout—and it’s a recipe I’m recreating in my home kitchen for the halibut I caught.

The 30-minute floatplane ride over the collection of islands and forests is breathtaking. And landing on the glassy water just a few breast strokes from the docks at Waterfall Resort is exhilarating. At first sight, I felt reconnected with nature. Then, after checking in and being assigned specialized fishing gear—such as bib overalls and waterproof boots—I joined Fisher (my appropriately named fishing guide) on Boat 26 and took off for the sea. That first afternoon, my two fellow fishermen and I netted just a handful of fish. But over the next two days, we caught the maximum number of fish during our full-day outings.

Edrington’s Memorable Company Trip

The global spirits company Edrington, which reported $997.8 million in revenue in 2022, rewarded its USA employees in the summer of 2022 with a getaway to Waterfall Resort. Leading the charge for the U.S. division was former Managing Director Raul Gonzalez—who captained the 40-person trip. The latest trip was the company’s second trip to Waterfall Resort and first since 2019. “We plan this trip so we can all connect in a meaningful way,” Gonzalez says. “We have people here from all over the country, so there were people I didn’t even know coming into the trip. But now I know their dog’s name, their families, and their background. None of our employees are pro fishers, but there is no better place to create connectivity and grow culture than the ocean while fishing.”

The resort’s 26 rugged yet comfortable boardwalk cabins were built in 1912 to house fish cannery crew members. Since then, 66 more rooms, suites, and townhouses have been added to the property. The Tongass Townhouses host up to four guests in the two-story accommodation perched up against the forest. The Egg House Suites built over the water are also a great option.

In my downtime from reeling in the beasts of the sea, I took a 45-minute hike to a majestic waterfall deep in the forest of the 52-acre property. For most of the hike, I walked safely behind a baby black bear. When I arrived, his mother was tearing apart a jumping salmon at the waterfall’s base—a memory I will remember for a lifetime.

What a maxed out day looks like while fishing at Waterfall Resort. Ben Swanger

I didn’t leave the resort hungry, that is for sure. Just like summer camp, dinner is at the same time for all guests each night. The buffet serves all the classic Alaskan dishes, such as reindeer sausage, elk, king crab legs, anything salmon, halibut, and more. After dinner, the Lagoon Saloon beckoned my name each night for a drink—or six. And yes, the veteran bartender, Ron, was on call to arrange shuttle service for anyone who hits their limit. (I’m not speaking from experience.) I also spent some downtime hitting golf balls on the property’s lone par 3, 175-yard golf hole that taunts with an intimidating island green. 

I left Waterfall Resort a little sore from my battle with the 100-pound halibut but refreshed in every other way by the great outdoors. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the king salmon of the season—but if you do, you win $10,000 and a chance at a Ford F-150—but the 95 pounds of fresh Alaskan fish I’m still enjoying to this day sure makes me feel royal.  

The Circle of Life

Winstead PC attorney Melissa Stewart set sail with 16 family members on an Alaskan cruise in 2006, and Ketchikan, known as “Alaska’s first city,” was her favorite stop. “The nature is astonishing,” she says. “The landscape is like an impressionist painting. And one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen is the salmon leap from the river. The only thing that topped it was watching the bears catch the salmon.” For lunch and dinner in town, Stewart says the “more dive-y the restaurant appears to be, the better the food will be—it has that New Orleans vibe to it.” Stewart’s parents planned the trip for three generations within the family; she hopes to carry on the tradition with a new Alaskan voyage for her own grandchildren, once they grow old enough.


Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…