Fishing in Alaska

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The opportunity to catch all five species of Pacific salmon, steelhead, trophy-sized rainbow trout, and other species like arctic grayling and dolly varden, while surrounded by breathtaking wild scenery, make Alaska one of the most special fishing destinations in the U.S., if not the world. If you're up for a healthy dose of adventure and don't mind sharing a river with salmon-feasting bears, a trip to Alaska should definitely be on your list.

Southeast Alaska, home to the state's capital city, Juneau, is situated on the coast and is flowing with hundreds of clear small streams. Steelhead, salmon, dolly varden, and cutthroat trout occupy these streams, which run for only 3 to 6 miles before meeting the Gulf of Alaska. Heading northwest takes you to the Interior Region, where half of the state's residents reside. Hundreds of lakes in the region are stocked with trout, but the Interior's streams support healthy runs of salmon, with the best salmon fishing taking place in the southern portion of the region. Just south of Anchorage is the Kenai Peninsula, where you'll find one of Alaska's most famous fly fishing rivers, the Kenai River, with its epic run of king salmon that can reach up to 90 pounds. Further to the west is Bristol Bay, the location of the world's largest returning run of sockeye salmon. Most of the fly fishing in the Bristol Bay region takes place in the middle and upper reaches of the river systems as the bay has a 30 foot or higher tidal range that makes fishing in the lower reaches dangerous. Large runs of the other four species of salmon take place in the Bristol Bay rivers, and the area is also known for producing massive rainbow trout that follow the salmon eating their eggs. South of Bristol Bay is the Kodiak Region, made up of Kodiak Island and the Kodiak Archipelago. All five species of salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout, and dolly varden are found in the rivers and lakes of the region, with an impressive run of pink salmon in late summer.

There are year-round fishing opportunities in Alaska, but the highlight for many visiting anglers is the salmon season which occurs May through September. Steelhead are generally the first fish to enter streams in April and May, followed by king (chinook) salmon in early June, with peak fishing happening around mid-June through July. Sockeye salmon enter the rivers by the millions in late June and early July, and are thought to be the hardest fighting species of salmon in their first few weeks of returning to freshwater. Pink salmon and silver (coho) salmon are the last to arrive, in mid-July and early August. During the salmon season, all the other species: rainbow trout, dolly varden, char, and grayling can be caught and add a nice variety to a fishing trip.


AK Department of Fish & Wildlife
1255 W. 8th Street
Juneau, AK 115526
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