Think of Alaska. What adjectives immediately come to mind? Breathtaking, mighty, and magical? Yes, this is exactly what this biggest state promises. America’s longest coastline, its largest national park, the tallest mountain on the continent, the world’s longest interior valley glacier, and a lot of bears. It’s a place you’ve always wanted to visit and experience its wonders. And fishing in Alaska is surely one of them.
No words do Alaska’s fishing justice. It has over 12,000 rivers with thousands of streams filled with fish, gorgeous fjords, and over three million lakes – all at your fingertips. The “Last Frontier” has so many fishing opportunities a rod’s length away… you just need to know where to start.
Saltwater Fishing in Alaska
The thousands of miles of coastline in Alaska are full of wonders. Point to an inlet on a map of “The Great Land” and you’ll find up to five species of Salmon there, along with massive Halibut. There’s something for everyone! The question is, are you ready for the battle as soon as you drop your lure?
What else says “Alaska” better than Salmon? The real icon of the Alaskan fishing scene, Chinook – or “King” Salmon – reach up to 100 pounds – and sometimes even more. King Salmon here are not only the most sought-after, but are also the largest in the whole world.
Salmon fishing in Alaska happens all the way from the Bering Sea to Ketchikan. Deep Creek and Cook Inlet are among the best fisheries for huge Kings. The sason generally runs from spring until fall, but you can enjoy some Salmon fishing during the winter months as well.
Halibut fishing in Alaska is the best in the world. There, we said it. Catching these bottom dwellers is a skill that’s been honed for generations. Pacific Halibut can reach up to 500 pounds in weight and up to 9 feet in length – imagine reeling one of those from the ocean floor!
Seward, Dutch Harbor (where the IGFA record of 459 pounds was caught), and even Juneau are prime spots for Halibut fishing, although Homer is considered the “Halibut Capital of the World.” In fact, some of the coastal towns along the Alaskan Gulf exist purely because of the incredible Halibut fishing!
If you like catching Rockfish, Alaska will be like a paradise. Yes, they’re less famous than Halibut, but are still a very popular alternative. There are over 30 species available here throughout the year.
Prince William Sound, Homer, Ketchikan, and many other places in the state offer great Rockfishing action. And even though it’s not common to fish exclusively for Rockfish, these fish are pretty underappreciated.
Freshwater Fishing in Alaska
Alaskan freshwater fishing is second to none. You can pick a remote lodge, hit a local stream, or book a fly-in adventure to little-fished rivers. From June to September, the rivers and streams ripple with all sorts of interesting targets. The incredibly beautiful Alaskan nature is matched only by the diversity of the freshwater fish.
It’s not just for Salmon, but anglers from all over come to Alaska to fish for Steelhead. They are native to the Pacific Ocean’s tributaries and can reach up to 27 pounds. The best place to find trophies is the Kenai River, although you can find Rainbow Trout throughout the central and southern regions of the state.
Depending on the river, the season usually runs from the beginning of summer until fall. You can combine fishing for Salmon with Trout – and believe us, you won’t be disappointed. A trophy Rainbow can weigh up to 18 pounds!
If you’re an avid fly fisherman, Cutthroat Trout is surely on your list. This fish is a popular freshwater catch in Alaska. And in case you were wondering, it got its name because of the red color across the underside of its lower jaw.
The southeast coastal streams and lakes of Alaska are the best place to catch Cutthroat Trout. Try Prince of Wales Island, Ketchikan, the North Gulf Coast, or remote coastal areas around Prince William Sound. Pack your Trout gear and enjoy the opportunity to explore and try something a little different!
Remember Dolly Varden, a coquette who dressed in colorful clothes in Charles Dickens’ novel “Barnaby Rudge?” That’s how this fish got its name. Some say it’s Trout, while in fact, Dolly Varden are members of the Char family.
These wonderful fish can be found in Alaska’s interior and north of the Alaskan Peninsula. Alaskan Dollies are usually caught in the cold waters of lakes and streams around Kodiak Island, the Kenai Peninsula, Bristol Bay, the Susitna River Drainage, and Prince William Sound.
Types of Fishing in Alaska
A fishing trip in Alaska is unlike any other. Alaskan lakes are teeming with huge Salmon and Trout, while its oceans are home to arguably the best Halibut fishing in the world. There are so many ways to satisfy your angling needs, be it in complete solitude on a remote beach or by fighting for Salmon with a brown bear. Let’s take a look at how you can make your Alaska fishing adventure one to remember.
Fly Fishing in Alaska
Alaska’s fly fishing opportunities will easily spoil you during the summer months. You can treat yourself to a real adventure by flying directly to a remote fishing lodge. That’s because a lot of premium fly fishing spots are not accessible by car or even boat.
You can cast your line in countless rivers, including the Kenai, Cooper, the Kenai, and many more. June through August is the best time for Salmon fishing, while Trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic Char can be caught up until October.
Fishing with a Charter
As we said earlier, many of Alaska’s remote locations are not easily accessible. Hiring a guide and booking an Alaska fishing charter will not only simplify your logistics, but also provide you with a hassle-free experience.
You’ll easily find a professional team ready to show you around, introduce you to the best fishing Alaska has to offer, and give you expert advice. Plus, a local captain knows these waters better than anyone else. You won’t have to worry about anything but catching fish.
Ice Fishing in Alaska
Alaska keeps fishermen busy throughout the year, and the winter season is no exception. Between November and March, the best fishing happens under the ice. Keep in mind that the safest way to enjoy ice fishing is by booking a trip with a knowledgeable guide.
Winter anglers have hundreds of lakes at their disposal to target Trout, Char, and even Salmon. The Birch and Quartz Lakes in Alaska’s Interior, Matanuska-Susitna Valley with over 80 lakes in the region, and Anchorage with its Chinook ice fishing opportunities mean you’re never far away from a prime spot.
Top Fishing Spots in Alaska
Where to fish in Alaska? Everywhere! You can start by picking one of Alaska’s Department of Fish and Wildlife’s five regions. If you are wondering which destination to discover first, here are a few places that might interest you:
- Southeast Alaska. There are various coastal towns such as Juneau and Ketchikan where you can get your hands on Salmon, Halibut, and Lingcod. Freshwater enthusiasts will enjoy a great selection of lakes and rivers. The chief spot for Salmon, Trout, and Dolly Varden is the Situk River but you can also check out some lesser-known rivers and creeks.
- Kodiak Island. This place stays busy throughout the year thanks to its incredible angling opportunities. Just southwest of the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island offers world-class crabbing and fishing for Halibut, Lingcod, and Rockfish. For some freshwater fishing, head to the Karluk river.
- The Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai River holds many IGFA line-class records, but it’s not the only spot you should visit on the peninsula. The Kasilof, Moose, Russian, and Anchor Rivers, along with Deep Creek also offer incredible freshwater action. Saltwater fishing-wise, Homer, Whittier, and Seward are the places to go. In fact, if you’re a hardcore Halibut fan, you’ve surely already heard of Homer – the so-called “Halibut Capital of the World.”
- Anchorage. This might be the best place to go if you want to escape the pressure. Anchorage has many exclusive backcountry lodges where you can enjoy ice fishing on local lakes (think Pike, Grayling, and Char) and fly fishing for Salmon and Trout.
- Remote Destinations. The Alaska Peninsula, the Susitna River Drainage, Lake Clark, and the Wood River regions are even better places to escape from the fishing pressure than Anchorage. Brooks Range is almost as far north as it gets, where you can get a taste of the Arctic wilderness.
Fishing Rules & Regulations
Now that you know what to expect from your Alaskan fishing adventure, it’s time to think about local regulations. Fishing charters do not usually provide licenses for their anglers, so you’ll have to get one yourself. Note that every region has its own rules and regulations.
Both freshwater and saltwater licenses are available online for every resident aged 18 and older and non-residents 16+. If you’re planning to fish for Salmon, you’ll need to get a special stamp in addition to your permit. Some species are not always open to harvest, so make sure to check everything before you cast the line.
Fishing in Alaska – The Land of the Midnight Sun
As you now know, there’s more coastline in Alaska than the rest of the United States combined. There are so many places to explore in this angler’s paradise that the hardest decision is picking where to go first.
The best thing about fishing in Alaska is that you can always come back for more. Explore a remote river or try to land all species of Salmon in Bristol Bay. Catch the biggest Halibut in the world or learn everything about the fishing culture in Ketchikan. You can’t go wrong with Alaska.
Have you ever fished in Alaska? What was it like? Would you like to share your experience with us? Let us know in the comments below!