WELCOME TO PELICAN
“Closest to the Fish”
The village was established in 1930s and really began to flourish with the opening of a local cannery that declared itself “Closest to the fish;” a slogan that remains the town’s motto. It comes as no surprise, then that commercial fishing continues to be the community’s number one draw.
Pelican is approximately 100 miles west of Juneau and 90 miles north of Sitka. It is located on the northwest portion of Chichagof Island and is considered to be the starting point to visit the Chichagof & Yakobi Island Wilderness Area.
Currently, Pelican has about 103 permanent residents but that number more than doubles during the summer months.
Due to the village’s location on the Gulf of Alaska, Pelican is where many fish species begin their journey. This has resulted in a long, rich history of commercial fishing opportunities. That fact that fishermen can claim “first-dibs” on the largest, most succulent fish makes the commercial fishing an on-going draw to the community. Pelican offers both saltwater and freshwater fishing with halibut, all five species of salmon, Yellow eye, rockfish, lingcod, Dolly Varden, steelhead and more.
For those not visiting Pelican for the commercial fishing, the dramatic scenery, tours and outdoor attractions are sure to offer something of interest for everyone.
In town, you can take a walk through Pelican’s boardwalk road system and take in the historic buildings and totem poles that celebrate the town’s history, visit the still-functioning 1952 fire truck or stop in at Lisianski Inlet Café, Pelican Joe’s or The infamous Roses Bar & Grill for the freshest seafood you’ve ever had.
Special events are held throughout the year that are a draw for local residents and visitors alike. The Annual Pelican King Salmon Derby is one of Pelican’s biggest events with folks coming from all corners to try their hand at catching King Salmon in the waters of Lisianski Inlet, Lisianski Strait, Stag Bay, and the coastal waters of Yakobi Island.
As with other villages dotted along the Inside Passage, Pelican’s Fourth of July festival is another highlight of the year. With a parade, fireworks and a full day of games and activities, this one of Pelican’s longest-standing traditions.
White Sulphur Springs is just a short ride away and is the perfect spot to relax and rejuvenate in nature’s purest waters. A collection of trails and basins are perfect for hiking, boating and kayaking and will put visitors in the heart of the some of the best wildlife viewing locations where brown bear can be seen feasting on salmon, Sitka black-tail deer are spotted as they roam through the forests, whales can be observed bubble feeding and chasing fish, and all matter of other wildlife can be watched; including sea lions, porpoise and sea otters.
FISHING: SALT WATER & FRESHWATER – Many would call Pelican the “new fishing mecca” with the endless opportunities for both salt and fresh water fishing. The village is perfectly situated on the northwestern corner of Chichagof Island and, prior to the restrictions of the U.S/Canada Salmon Treaty, the port led the world in landings of king salmon.
The protected Lisianski Inlet and Straits prove a choice location for fishing. Large runs of coho salmon surge into the inlets from the Gulf of Alaska in July and August as they head for streams adjacent to Pelican and others within Icy Straits.
In addition to the Salmon, some of the other kinds of fish can be found within the waters near and around the inlet include: Rock Fish, Black Bass (limited to 5 per day), Ling Cod, Yellow Eye, Quillback and Halibut.
Halibut are nearly as popular and as common as salmon. They can be found within the immediate waters around Pelican as well as out around the coast of Yakobi Island. The truly prized halibut are females which can grow well over 100 pounds. Most male halibut do not grow more than 80 pounds; alaskaoutdoorjournal.com is an excellent resource to learn more about halibut. Anglers should note that according to the 2014 Area 2c regulations, fishermen are limited to one halibut per day. The fish must be less than 44” in length or more than 76”. A 44” fish dresses out at about 30# and can be expected to produce about 18# of fillets. A 76” length fish weighs about 234#, dresses out at around 176#, and produces about 110# of fillets.
Freshwater fishermen can find their catch in the many local streams and lakes. Some of the most common fresh water fish include: Dolly Varden, Cutthroat, Steelhead, Coho, Sockeye, Keta, Pink Salmon.
OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY & NATURE TOURS – Pelican sits within the Tongass national forest, one of the world’s largest temperate rain forests and when you include the Lisianski inlet fjords and the Chichagof & Yakobi island coast lines the scenery is truly picture perfect. Guides also known as outfitters lead visitors on hikes through the forests and alpine mountainsides and skillfully point out the animals often hiding in plain sight. The most common mammals in the area are brown bear, Sitka black tail deer, land otter, mink, marten, and red squirrels. Many species of birds can also be spotted including the American bald eagle and the blue heron. Other species of water loving birds can be found along the cost including puffins, terns, gulls, cormorants, ducks and geese, mergansers, kingfishers and more.
For those who prefer not to hike, the local charter boats are a great way to take a water tour. Pelican has several wonderful locations for whale watching and it is not uncommon to to hear the whales before you see them. Other common sea mammals include sea otters, seals, and sea lions. Generally, the charter boats will take you up close to brown bear and other wildlife creatures giving you the perfect opportunity to take stunning photos.
KAYAKING – Pelican is in the center of world-class sea kayaking waters. There are approximately 40 miles of protected inside waters immediately accessible in the form of Lisianski inlet, Lisianski straits, and stag bay, (chart 17303). The outside coastal waters of Chichagof and Yakobi islands offer hundreds of miles of coastline dotted with protected bays, estuaries, channels, etc. An Alaska state ferry travels to Pelican from Juneau every two weeks in the summer months. The ferry offers a convenient method for kayakers to transport their watercrafts to and from Pelican. Kayaks are also available for rent in Pelican.
HOTSPRINGS TOUR – Approximately twenty nautical miles from Pelican is white sulphur hot springs. This site of a natural hot springs has been developed by the forest service to include a guest cabin and a covered hot spring pool with a bathhouse. There is an outside pool where one can stretch out, soak the aches and pains away while listening to the ocean swells break on the shoreline. The inside pool has a shuttered front window, opening it one has a panoramic view of bertha bay, (chart 17321). Contact one of the Pelican charter boat operators for a quote on visiting this special place.
4TH of JULY CELEBRATION – Come and join in on the festivities on the 4th of july. Starting on the 3rd. There is a very substantial fireworks display beginning at 11:00 pm. The rockets spiraling skyward are dazzling; the explosions from the rocket bursts reverberate within the fjord putting an exclamation point on the very impressive display. Needless to say the local “watering holes” are going full steam with partygoers, you may find live music and some contests inside that are best not described here.
On the 4th the day kicks off with a parade on the boardwalk. This purely hometown parade is highlighted with several “floats” and performances that are so imaginative and uniquely Pelican that you must be there to appreciate them. At the conclusion of the parade there is a community picnic at the south end of the boardwalk on “whisky flats”. There are games and prizes for kids of all ages. Later in the day there will be a very entertaining greased trolling pole contest and the “anything but a boat” float contest at the harbor.
PELICAN, A SITE FOR RETREATS, REFLECTIONS, AND SMALL CONVENTIONS – Pelican could prove to be a wonderfully unique location for meetings and groups of up to 50 in need of a location to hold a retreat, conduct a small convention, or even find a quiet place to write the next great novel. As a quiet destination nestled in nature, Pelican is the ideal location for concentration, reflection, or introspection.
The Pelican community hall can easily accommodate groups of 75 to 100 people for public events or private functions. However, if your group intends to spend a few days in Pelican, book your accommodation in advance because it is limited to only around 50 people at a time. The city has bunkhouse style apartments and other housing options can be found from a number of businesses listed on this page. Direct your group inquiries to a city representative at 907-735-2202 and we will be happy to find a perfect solution for your event.
OTHER PELICAN ATTRACTIONS – Pelican offers a lot for visitors to see and do without having to leave the city limits. Over a mile of boardwalk connects one end of town to the other and gives a beautiful view overlooking the harbor and adjacent beaches. Land otter, mink, deer, bald eagles, ducks, geese, and schools of herring can all be seen from here; and between mid-July and September, salmon can be seen from the Pelican creek bridge as they swim upstream to spawn.
The school playground has a covered outdoor basketball court and gives kids of all ages a place to play. Inside the school gym, the basketball court is often open in the evenings for a pick-up game that residents and visitors can all join in on. The public library is open during the summer and children may have a chance to enjoy a story hour or pick up a book to read on their own, while adults can check their email from the public computers equipped with high-speed internet access. Visitors are encouraged to check the library bulletin boards for news and announcements.
There are also several totem poles that have been placed throughout Pelican, adding to the landscape and telling the community’s story. The “unity” totem pole proudly stands in front of city hall and there are two additional totems in front of the Pelican school. Stan Marsden, a Tsimshian master carver who hails from Metlakatla, Alaska lead the project of carving the totem poles and taught many of the locals how to carve, thus making the totems a true community endeavor.
Locals suggest arranging your schedule to fly in and ferry out of Pelican. On its way to Juneau, the ferry stops in Gustavus, the “Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park” where visitors can spend a day or two there, since there is more frequent ferry service between Juneau and Gustavus.
Alaska Seaplanes Service provides service 3 times daily in summer and 1-2 times daily in winter. Charter service, weather permitting is also available.
SHOPPING & DINING
Many of Pelican’s charter operators and lodges have kitchens that are open to the public.
The Lisianski Inlet Café and Pelican Inn also have gift shops that are open to the public.
Rose’s Bar and Grill
The infamous Roses Bar & Grill… let the good times roll! Bar menu available that includes foods such as burgers and taco salad. Open 7 nights a week. Rose’s bar hats and t-shirts on sale. Friendly hosts & customers will be ready to welcome you!
P.O. Box 1, Pelican, AK 99832
WHERE TO STAY
Pelican’s lodges are family owned establishments, some of which are remodels of buildings that were here in the very early days of the town.
Enjoy a uniquely Alaskan experience with Captain Terry, a lifelong resident of Pelican; and an avid fishing, hiking, and boating enthusiast, a licensed skipper, and a licensed commercial fisherman. The charter services specializes in salmon and halibut sport fishing, and wilderness adventures. Lodging is available at our conveniently located four-bedroom townhouse overlooking the Pelican harbor. Visit the website for current pricing and amenities.
Highliner Lodge & Charters Inc.
Provides all-inclusive multi-day package charter fishing adventure vacations that include your seaplane flight from Juneau to Pelican, Alaska, guided-fishing, all meals, fish packing, gear and tackle.
J & S Lodging
Phone: (907) 723-9811 or (907) 789-9812
Mailing: Box 211434, Auke Bay, AK 99821-1434
Located along the boardwalk in the middle of Pelican, rents out two apartments for overnight stays or for longer visits. One unit has a queen bed, bath, microwave, small refrigerator and bar sink. The other unit has a full kitchen, double queen bed, single bed, and a bath.
Joe and Sandra Quinn have lived in southeast Alaska since 1987.
Joe is captain of the Eskimo, a Catamaran-style Baja Cruiser that combines speed and a smooth ride for comfort and convenience. Sandra’s home-cooked meals are legendary.
Pelican Joe’s is a short walk or skiff ride from the main town. Guests can enjoy watching the sunset from the porch after a delicious meal prepared from the day’s catch.
Will take personal care of your group–help you with scheduling your travel on Alaska Seaplanes, meet you at the dock, fillet/package your fish, make sure your frozen fish gets back to Juneau and stored in Alaska Seaplane’s freezer until you leave Juneau AND fix you incredible meals to enjoy.
Pelican Inn & Fishing
This is Larry Jarrett’s Wild Alaska Lodge headquarters. Larry has been guiding and outfitting sportsmen in Idaho and Alaska for 45 years; 25 of that in Alaska fishing lodges. Accommodates large and small charter groups, 3 to 4 guests per boat. Offers overnight lodging: five very nice, comfortable and clean rooms. The Inn serves Vicky’s special homemade pizza, a local favorite. Dine in or take out—also serving steak or steak-and-prawn dinners.
Pelican Bunkhouse Rentals
Phone: (907) 735-2202
Mailing: PO Box 737, Pelican, AK 99832
The City of Pelican offers bunkhouse style, (hostel), housing to the traveler on a budget. These rooms are the former quarters of the workers at Pelican Cold Storage. They have shared bathroom facilities and are clean and serviceable.
Lisianski Inlet Wilderness Lodge & Charters
Established in 1939, Lisianski Inlet Lodge is Located 2 miles west of Pelican and has accommodations for up to 8 guests.
Full-service lodge provides a comfortable and private retreat for small groups and independent travelers looking to get off the beaten path.
Offers both fresh and saltwater fishing for salmon, freshwater fishing for trout, fishing for halibut, lingcod, rockfish and sightseeing/photography trips in the surrounding wilderness and Glacier Bay National Park.
Your charter captain, Norm Carson is a retired Alaska State Trooper commander, and a former commercial fisherman. Norm is a recognized expert on the local history, He wrote the book, “Courage and Death on the Gulf of Alaska”, a non-fiction account of a local tragedy and heroism. Linda, his wife is an award winning photographer and an excellent cook. They offer a quality fishing and touring experience, with fish cleaning, vacuum packaging & freezing at no extra cost. Small groups of 2 – 6 people for fishing, water taxi, or outdoor photography are their specialty. “Lodging only” is available for those that wish a remote and peaceful setting.