What a Catch! A Scottsdale couple runs a lodge…in Kenai, Alaska
A Scottsdale couple runs a lodge…in Kenai, Alaska
By Michelle Talsma Everson
To say that local businessman and entrepreneur Terry Johnson has lived an adventurous life would be an understatement. Alongside his wife Angelyn and family, Johnson spends part of his year in the North Valley and part in Kenai, Alaska, where he owns and operates the award-winning Salmon Catcher Lodge.
“I opened the lodge in 2001, starting building on the property, and haven’t stopped in 17 years,” Johnson says. “We [his wife and younger children] come back to Arizona during the school year and our older son is on site running the lodge while we’re here. We go back during the summers. I spend a lot of my time traveling all across the U.S. going to outdoor sports shows and conventions to promote the lodge.”
Before he owned a lodge in Alaska, Johnson spent 40 years as a pilot.
“I’m proud to say that I was one of the first groups of pilots hired by UPS Airlines; I was part of the team that helped build it from the ground up,” he shares. Some of his career highlights include being a 767 airplane international training instructor and flying around the world in 12 days.
“I tell you what—I really do miss flying airplanes,” the retired pilot turned lodge owner and family man shares. “I had a great career though; I’m a pretty bright technical guy and am proud of what I accomplished.”
With the money he saved up from his flying career, Johnson—who originally hails from Canada—bought the Salmon Catcher Lodge in 2001 and has been working hard to keep the family owned and operated business going ever since.
“I bought the lodge, then married my wife 12 years ago,” he says. “She has two older children who help run the lodge and then we have a 5- and a 7-year-old. She’s a lovely woman, very family-first. She is just as invested as I am—she does the accounting, meets and greets guests and a lot more.”
So how does one go from a pilot to an Alaskan lodge owner? Johnson says he fell in love with the area, started with a cabin, and built it from there.
The award-winning fishing lodge is located on the Kenai Peninsula, southwest of Anchorage. Salmon Catcher Lodge operates year-round but summer is one of the prime times to visit, Johnson says. He’s proud to share that Salmon Catcher Lodge has won a variety of accolades, including honors from booking.com, Sportman’s Warehouse, NAPA, and many others.
Johnson says that what makes his lodge stand out is its flexibility to accommodate a variety of guests. Sprawled out over five acres, it’s comprised of several luxurious log cabins in scenic Alaska. It essentially looks like a live postcard with green trees, rushing blue waters, and the best fishing available (with different kinds of fish available at different times of the year). Guests range from expert sportsmen to families on fishing trips and everything in between. Johnson says the cabins are the perfect spot to begin the ultimate outdoor Alaskan adventure.
“When it comes to Alaska fishing trips, Salmon Catcher Lodge offers some of the best Alaska fishing packages. All you need to do is show up,” according to the lodge’s website. “Wondering what’s included in our Alaska fishing trip package and Kenai River lodging? A fully equipped kitchen complete with gas range, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, cooking, and dinnerware. No need to bring anything, but the food.”
Johnson adds that they’re currently constructing a new building with space for a hot tub, sauna, and gym.
In addition to Salmon Catcher Lodge’s picturesque beauty and top-rated customer service, the lodge and Johnson are also known for something more altruistic—providing wounded veterans and other heroes (including policemen, firemen, and paramedics) with all-expense paid fishing and recreational trips. Johnson does this work with Kentucky Wounded Heroes and is passionate about giving back to those who served our country.
“I saw how some veterans were treated when they came back from Korea and Vietnam, and I wanted to do something to treat them with the respect and honor they deserve,” he shares. “So I thought that I could give a little bit of what I’m making and pay it forward to these vets through life-changing fishing trips and outdoor adventures.”
Johnson’s ultimate dream would be to see Salmon Catcher Lodge become a philanthropic rehab place for veterans and other service men and women to heal and enjoy the natural beauty around the lodge.
“If I could team up with someone to help make that happen, it’d be a dream come true.”
To learn more about Salmon Catcher Lodge, visit salmoncatcherlodge.com or e-mail Terry Johnson at email@example.com.
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