Alaska is the heartland of Chinook Salmon fishing, and where else would the King make his court than in its capital? The Salmon fishing Juneau has in store for you is unbeatable for a number of reasons. The first reason is, well, numbers. There are so many spots and so many fish in all of them, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find one. Bringing them to bear is a whole other story, but you’ll find them alright.
The other great thing about Juneau’s King Salmon is that you can catch them every month of the year. Sure, their freshwater run may only last a few months, but they can be found patrolling the area’s Pacific waters year-round. And it gets better, because there are more than just Chinook swimming in these waters. Coho, Pink, Sockeye, and Chum Salmon can all be caught in the surrounding rivers and streams. You can even find them all at once in the height of the summer season!
What to Expect From a King Salmon Trip
Your day will be completely different depending on when you come, so timing your visit is key if you have a certain fishing style in mind. You can rely on having an awesome time, the difference is just in how you do so.
Freshwater Salmon Fishing
Juneau’s freshwater Chinook run can start as early as June, and lasts well into September most years. August is by far the best time for targeting Kings, but if you come in July you could be in with a chance of bagging all five Salmon species in a single day, propelling you into the IGFA’s hall of fame with a Salmon Fantasy Slam.
Whenever you come, you’ll be heading out on foot along narrow creeks and fast-flowing rivers, looking for the perfect place to wet your lines. Fishing pressure can be very heavy in high season, so heading out with someone who knows the area is the best way to guarantee fishing space. The best guides get booked months or even years in advance, so be sure to get in early!
Saltwater Salmon Fishing
You have a lot more flexibility with saltwater Salmon fishing. The fish are around pretty much all year, and you have hundreds of miles of coastline to fish for them on. Trips usually run for four to six hours, but can be combined with other species like Halibut or Lingcod in full day “combo packages,” sending you home with a variety of massive, delicious food fish.
Ocean-going King Salmon are usually caught around craggy coastal areas but also take to open water. Most charter captains have a variety of spots they can hit whatever the weather. The whole area is a maze of deep fjords and sheltered inlets, so there are always some secluded spots to try.
Freshwater Salmon excursions focus on fly fishing, and with good reason. Fly fishing for King Salmon is hands down the most effective way of catching them. It’s seriously hard work, though. Bring along a solid 9-weight switch rod if you want a chance against 30-pound Juneau Kings. Your fly choice depends on whether you’re a stripper or a nympher. Dragg’n Flys and Chewy Eggs work great for dead drifting while Guide Intruders and lightweight Fish Tacos are great for swingers.
Saltwater Salmon fishing is very different. You’ll either be trolling or mooching, depending on how thick the fish are and what your captain does best. Either way, your trip will involve lots of juicy Herring and plenty of heavy hits. Mooching involves drifting plug-cut baits while trolling covers more ground with strip or steak baits to draw in these fast-moving predators.
Need to Know
You’ll need a saltwater fishing license and a King Salmon stamp to target Juneau’s Chinook Salmon. Most lodges and charter boats will provide tackle, but freshwater guides may not. Either way, you’ll usually have much more success with tackle you know when fly fishing the area’s creeks and rivers.