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Dec 19, 2021| Top Activities & Things To Do

The Best Places to Fish in Alaska

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BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Baranof Fishing
Ketchikan, AK

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BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Classic Casting Adventures
Sitka, AK

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Moore Charters
Juneau, AK

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FishHound Expeditions LLC
Anchorage, AK

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Alaska Galore Tours
Juneau, AK

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Adventure Sixty North
Seward, AK

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Fishing in Alaska is as exceptional as it is diverse. With countless salt and freshwater fishing opportunities throughout the vast state, out-of-state anglers are often overwhelmed when deciding where to try their luck. Fortunately, there are almost limitless places to fish in Alaska. Before selecting a destination, it's a good idea to become familiar with the many different types of fishing available around the state. 

Fishing in Alaska - The Basics 

Most people visiting Alaska imagine fishing for salmon along a pristine river somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. While this is certainly a viable option, there are many other angling possibilities depending on location and the time of year. 

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is an Alaskan tradition. Just about every fish in Alaska can be caught on the fly, but salmon, trout, char, and grayling are the most popular targets. Determined anglers can even target halibut on the fly, challenging many false perceptions about the world's largest flatfish. 

Private Charters

Boats can be privately chartered by both individuals and groups. Single and multi-day saltwater trips allow anglers to target massive deep-water fish like halibut and lingcod. Freshwater excursions make it possible to catch huge lake trout and northern pike.

Guided Adventures

Guides can be hired to fish in remote streams and rivers well off the road system. Floatplanes are often used to reach remote areas with spectacular fishing for steelhead, salmon, and trout. In addition, some guides are licensed to fish in otherwise inaccessible bodies of water. 

Ice Fishing

Intrepid anglers who are planning a wintertime visit to Alaska will find an ice-fishing paradise where they can catch massive fish under dazzling northern lights. 

Self-Guided Fishing

Often, the most rewarding fishing trips are largely unplanned. A travel rod and a handful of lures are all an angler needs to catch world-class fish in Alaskan waters. If you're not sure where to fish, ask a local. Once you get an Alaskan to start talking about fishing, you may never get them to stop. 

Some Things You Need to Know Before Fishing in Alaska

Alaska is a big place, so fishing regulations vary from place to place. Therefore, it's essential to become familiar with local regulations before setting out on the water. A fishing license is also required for fresh and saltwater and can be purchased online. Single and multi-day fishing licenses are available, so it makes sense to choose the most affordable option based on how many days of fishing are planned.

King salmon fall under a special category, so fishing for Alaska's premier gamefish also requires a king salmon stamp, which can be purchased along with a license. All paperwork must be available to show any law enforcement official, so it's a good idea to store licenses and stamps in a Ziplock bag.

One of the things that makes Alaska such an amazing fishing destination is abundant wildlife just about everywhere, especially in streams where fish like salmon gather by the thousands. Bears are commonly sighted by anglers in Alaska but using common sense will avoid a negative interaction. If a bear makes an appearance, it’s a good idea to give it as much distance as possible.  

Lastly, the weather in Alaska can change without warning. A warm sunny day can quickly turn cold and wet. Therefore, layering clothing and packing rain gear is always a good idea, even on shorter fishing trips.

Where to Fish in Alaska 

In truth, just about everywhere in Alaska has some sort of fishing nearby. When people ask where to fish in Alaska, much depends on the time of year and the species of fish targeted. Some of the top places to fish in Alaska are as follows.

Bristol Bay Fishing

Home to one of the largest and healthiest king salmon runs on the planet; Bristol Bay is a top destination for knowledgeable anglers. The Nushagak River and its tributaries offer incredible action under a spectacular backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Homer Alaska Fishing

Everything from single-day charters to multi-day trips departs from Homer where some of the state’s most pristine waters can be readily accessed. Homer is best known for massive halibut, but fishing for rockfish, salmon, and lingcod are equally robust.

Kodiak Island Fishing

Kodiak is the home of the world’s largest coastal brown bears. How do they get so big? They have plenty of fish to eat. Access to some amazing fishing opportunities is a short boat ride from downtown Kodiak, with little-known Shuyak Island offering some of the best fishing in the state. 

Indian Creek Fishing

Located near Anchorage, Indian Creek is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Salmon and char are frequently caught on an assortment of lures like Pixies and spinners.

Copper River Fishing

A fly fisherman’s paradise, Copper River boasts all five species of salmon and trophy-sized wild-run rainbow trout. There are fishing lodges and local guides always willing to help newcomers learn the ropes.

Bird Creek Fishing

Only 25 miles from Anchorage and accessible by road, this is a very popular spot for catching salmon and Dolly Varden.

Sitka Fishing

No list of famous Alaska fishing towns would be complete without mentioning Sitka, which is located in Southeast Alaska. Serious anglers enjoy multi-day fishing trips by staying in a lodge, but day charters and guides are also available.

 

Most anglers want to know the best time to go salmon fishing in Alaska but much depends on the location and the time of year, so it’s important to talk with locals about the timing of their runs. For example, Coho fishing starts heating up in Sitka by late June, but Haines doesn’t see any silvers until late summer.  

Halibut are caught from early May to the end of September. In Valdez Alaska, halibut fishing remains good in October. The cost of a fishing trip will vary depending on the nature of the trip. For example, a single-day charter split among a party of six may only cost a couple of hundred dollars each, while a weeklong stay at a premier lodge can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. 

An Insider’s View of Fishing in Alaska

While fishing big water gets the most attention from anglers visiting Alaska, some of the most memorable fishing opportunities are often found in unexpected places. For anglers willing to forge their own path and maybe risk a couple of sore legs, smaller bodies of water found in the alpine and subalpine are often filled with hungry fish eager to bite. 

For example, both Juneau and Skagway boast small lakes that were stocked with brook trout many years ago. None of these lakes are accessible by car but well-maintained trails offer easy access for fly and spin fishermen alike. 

Wrangell and Prince of Wales Island are also off the beaten path, but both destinations feature miles upon miles of roads that were once used for logging. Today, these same roads provide access to streams and lakes teeming with fish.

No matter the destination, Alaska never fails to live up to its reputation as the last great frontier and one of the world's best fishing destinations.

Andrew Cremata is a lifelong fisherman and 26-year Alaskan resident. He has lived in Skagway throughout that time with his wife Brittney and many pets and is currently serving his third term as Borough Mayor.

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