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Top Fishing Charters in Alaska

Fishing in Alaska

Alaska is a land with many names and even more opportunities, including some of the finest fishing in the United States. Anglers here can take their pick of more than 3,000 rivers, 3 million lakes, and 34,000 miles of coastline. Cast your line in any of them and you might hook into all five species of Pacific Salmon, Trout, Dolly Varden, Lingcod, Rockfish, and some of the biggest Halibut in the world. From family vacations to an angler’s wilderness getaway, Alaska fishing charters and guides will help you experience this “Great Land” like never before.

Alaska Fishing Spots

The angling opportunities here are so abundant that Alaska’s Department of Fish and Wildlife had to classify the state into five regions. Even the most experienced of local anglers couldn’t honestly tell you where to find the best fishing in Alaska, with so many places competing for first and others that are yet to be discovered. However, a few destinations stand out from the rest. Whether you came here for the fishing itself or would just like to try your hand at it while passing through, these destinations promise an unforgettable day on the water.

Anchorage

Both highway accessible and budget friendly, there’s no better place to test the waters than Anchorage. You may not find the most spectacular fishing in the state while you’re here, but the local waters can produce excellent catches, which makes this a great place to begin your Alaska fishing vacation.

The area’s creeks and lakes are often crowded with anglers eager to hook into Salmon and Trout, especially on fly rod. In winter, you can enjoy excellent ice fishing on local lakes, with a chance to catch Northern Pike, Grayling, Arctic Charr, and even landlocked Salmon. If you’re looking to escape the fishing pressure, however, you’re better off heading to one of Alaska’s secluded fishing lodges.

The Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is easily one of the top fishing destinations on this side of the States. Anglers here have relatively easy access to a wide variety of opportunities. The Kenai River alone is one of Alaska’s most visited fisheries, known for monster King Salmon and a handful of IGFA line-class world records. Summer is the prime time to fish here for Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden, as well as Silver (Coho), Pink (Humpback), and Red (Sockeye) Salmon.

Other notable rivers on the peninsula include the Russian River, Moose River, Kasilof River, Anchor River, and Deep Creek.

The Kenai Peninsula also hosts a number of saltwater fishing fleets in Homer, Seward, and Whittier. Local charter boats fish the Prince William Sound for Salmon, Halibut, Lingcod, Rockfish, and Salmon Shark, as well as Dungeness and King Crab when in season. Hardcore Halibut lovers need look no further than Homer, the self-proclaimed “Halibut Capital of the World,” where anglers land record-breaking “barn door” Halis.

Kodiak Island

Located southwest of the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island boasts one of Alaska’s most productive fishing fleets. This port stays busy year-round, with regular inbound flights to keep its world class fishery accessible to visiting anglers. The main focus here is bottom fishing for Lingcod, Rockfish, and Halibut, as well as crabbing.

Of the island’s many rivers, the Karluk is a top tourist destination, featuring Salmon, Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, and Dolly Varden. It’s not uncommon for anglers to spot Brown bears fishing for Salmon in some of the same spots.

Southeast Alaska

Southeast Alaska has its own collection of rivers, lakes, and abundant coastline. Regular flights and ferries carry anglers to Juneau, Ketchikan, and other coastal towns with access to Salmon, Lingcod, and some of the best Halibut fishing Alaska has to offer.

Freshwater anglers will have a field day fishing the Situk River, one of southeast Alaska’s premier fishing holes. A handful of lesser known creeks and rivers also offer good fishing, with Chum, Pink, and Silver Salmon, Dolly Varden, Rainbow Trout, and sea-run Cutthroat Trout. 

Dense forestry, frequent rainfall, and relatively few roads make this leg of the state a little harder visiting anglers to navigate, so hiring a local fishing guide when you arrive is recommended.

Remote Fishing Destinations

If you can hear the great Alaskan wilderness calling your name, some of the state’s more secluded fishing alleys should be right up your alley. Rivers and lakes scattered throughout the farthest reaches of this land offer superb freshwater fishing, accompanied by little no fishing pressure. Chief among them are the Susitna River Drainage, The Lake Clark and Wood River regions, and the Alaska Peninsula. If you’re aiming as far from the beaten path as possible, set your sights on Brooks Range.

Many of these areas are only accessible by boat, float plane, or airplane, but this is a small obstacle for determined anglers. A variety of Alaska fishing lodges cater to those who are willing to make this journey to paradise. If you’re in the market for a hassle-free experience, you’ll find plenty of all inclusive fishing packages designed to offer guided fishing, meals, and lodging. 

Alaska Fishing Styles

Fly fishing is a favorite among freshwater anglers looking to catch Salmon and Trout in Alaska’s lakes, rivers, and streams. For those who choose spinning or conventional tackle instead, backtrolling and drifting roe tend to be the methods of choice when targeting Salmon.

Saltwater Salmon fishing in Alaska takes on many forms, including trolling, mooching, and jigging. It’s common to use downriggers since these fish swim deep down. Live Herring is one of the most popular baits for Salmon.

You can target Halibut, Rockfish, and Lingcod by bottom fishing with baits or jigs. Anglers in Alaska have honed their Halibut fishing skills for generations, and many guides have a trick or two up their sleeves when it comes to catching this flatfish. A basic rule of thumb is to rely on bait with a strong odor, such as Herring or Salmon belly. Some anglers drop chum near the bottom to attract these scent-feeding fish toward the bait.

Need to Know

Alaska fishing charters typically do not provide licenses for their customers. Residents 18 years and older (or non-residents 16 and older) can buy a saltwater or freshwater fishing license online. Anglers harvesting King Salmon also need to buy a special stamp.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife defines local regulations based on five regions, each with their own rules and pamphlets. Once you know where you plan on fishing, you can read the regional regulations online.

Some species like Halibut and Lingcod are not always open to harvest. Fishing pressure in AK’s top destinations has led many anglers to practice catch-and-release, so be sure to check with your guide ahead of time if you plan on keeping your catch.

Alaska
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Alaska Fishing Seasons

Picture Alaska in winter and you probably imagine nothing but ice! Just below the ice are delicious surprises, however, including Charr, Grayling, and Northern Pike. If you’re game, try ice fishing with a local guide.

Hardcore fly anglers can make the most of February by targeting Steelhead and other Trout species in one of many rivers and streams. Be wary of the weather, since this can limit transportation.

Spring is coming, but the prime season for saltwater fishing is still months away. Those who do venture offshore at this time of year have to keep an eye on the weather forecast.

Saltwater fishing can be quite good in April, with a decent chance of landing Halibut, Rockfish, and even King Salmon in some places like Homer.

Salmon fishing is heating up in Alaska! Kings are the first to arrive in May, with some of the biggest appearing in the Kenai River.

Bottom fishing is excellent in June, when Halibut and Rockfish are at their peak. Lingcod may not be open to harvest yet, depending on where you fish.

Alaska’s summer fishing season is in full swing, with an abundance of King, Silver, Sockeye, and Chum Salmon swimming in local waters. Look for Pink Salmon in years that end in an even number.

Late summer is one of the best times to cast your line in Alaska, with Halibut, Lingcod, Rockfish, and Salmon biting vigorously along the coast. Anglers fishing the rivers will also find more variety than ever.

Freshwater fishing is excellent in autumn, with Northern Pike, Grayling, and Lake Trout at their peak. In some areas, Salmon fishing is still strong.  

Charter boats in some towns start shutting down for the winter, but others continue bottom fishing for Halibut, Lingcod, and Rockfish when the weather allows.

Local lakes are freezing over and that means it’s ice fishing season again! Come carve a hole and drop a line for Northern Pike, Grayling, and Charr, or try your luck in a local river for Trout.

Alaska’s winter season continues, with the most determined anglers heading to frozen lakes for ice fishing or local streams for some light tackle and fly action. 

Alaska Fishing Calendar

What People Are Saying About Alaska

"August fishing trip"

Howard Walker fished with Alaskan Adventure Guides on August 5, 2018

Go with the sea hunter. Great experience

"8hr salmon/rockfish combo"

Ryan Wachter fished with Alaskan Adventure Guides on July 31, 2018

Crew was very helpful and knowledgeable.

"July fishing trip"

Charlene Semkin fished with Alaska Fishing Company on July 29, 2018

Just book with JIm and you will have a great time!!!

"Full day with Brett on the Kenai River"

Benjamin Burton fished with Brett’s Guide Service on July 26, 2018

River fishing in Kenai may not be for everyone, but I think everyone should try it at least once. I normally fish saltwater but had a great time on the Kenai River with our guide, Brett.

Top Targeted Species in Alaska

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Coho)

Salmon (Sockeye)

Halibut

Top Alaska Destinations