Alaska has 21 species of sport fish… Need we say more?
Fishing? We got your Alaska fishing right here! The state of Alaska has 21 recognized species of sport fish in its streams, lakes and oceans. Alaska fishing is incredible with saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing, fly fishing, and in the winter – ice fishing. Alaska also has 3,000 rivers, 3 million lakes and 6,640 miles of coastline, a sport fishermen’s greatest challenge can be deciding where to get started.
Fishing in Alaska can be spectacular with its healthy salmon runs, giant halibut, and 20 pound trout. Giant king salmon over 50 pounds are not uncommon. Grayling, northern pike, and rainbow trout are easy to catch in many inland streams.
You can charter a boat or float plane and fly off to a secluded fishing hole. Fish along the highway, or hike to a lake. With over 3 million lakes, 3,000 rivers and countless fish-filled streams, you can see the challenge isn’t catching fish, but deciding what kind to catch and where!
Alaska State Fish and Game Dept.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a great website for areas to fish, regulations, and loads of maps.
Alaska Dept. Fish & Game
Where to Start:
From Anchorage – The famous Kenai River is just a couple hours south of town. Halibut and other saltwater fishing is within a three hours drive of Anchorage. Prince William Sound (Whittier) is just over an hour away; Resurrection Bay (Seward) is 2.5 hours; and Kachemak Bay (Homer) is 5 hours south. (There are quick commuter flights to both Seward and Homer.)
The lakes along the Denali Highway are Arctic Grayling territory. These cousins of the trout typically mature to 13 ounces, though the Alaska state record tips the scales at 4 pounds higher. They are easily fished from May to September and have a reputation for hitting just about anything, bait, lures or flies. The BLM recommends ten spots along the highway for grayling: Ten Mile Lake (mile 10), Tangle Lakes (mile 23), Landmark Gap Lake (mile 25), Rock Creek (mile 25), Fiftymile Lake (mile 50), Glacier Lake (mile 31), Sevenmile Lake (mile 40), Crooked Creek (mile 47), and Brushkana Creek ( mile 105).
Ten Mile, Tangle, Landmark Gap, Glacier and Sevenmile Lakes, along with Big and Little Swede Lakes at mile 25, also have lake trout. Burbot, a freshwater cod with a whisker-like barbel at the tip of the chin, are found in Ten Mile, Tangle and Big Swede. Mature Burbot in Alaska range from 18 to 45 inches and from 1 to 18 pounds. The Alaskan record is a monster 24 pounder.
Fishing Katmai National Park:
Sport fishing in Katmai National Park is world-class – jumbo rainbow trout pulled from the local waters put the park on the map in the 1950s. On the Algagnek and Naknek Rivers, you can reel in rainbow trout, char, grayling, pike, and five species of Pacific salmon. The northern pike, which goes by a slew of monikers – including water wolf, devilfish, jackfish, and snake – is renowned for its barracuda-like savagery when feeding; its powerful jaws are lined with 700 razor-sharp teeth. Definitely pack a fisherman’s hemostat to remove your hook!
Southeast Alaska Fishing:
The diversity of fish and shellfish in this productive oceanic near-shore environment is great. The main fish pursued by Southeast Alaska fishermen are the five species of Pacific salmon and the Pacific halibut. Rainbow, cutthroat, brook and steelhead trout are also available in some freshwater stream systems. Grayling, kokanee and Dolly Varden are also locally available. Various bottom fish are caught by sport and commercial fishermen. Crab are also available.
Southcentral Alaska Fishing:
Southcentral Alaska offers the widest variety of saltwater fishing and inland fishing in the state. The Bristol Bay area is famous for exceptional rainbow trout. Lake trout grow large in some lakes in the region. Arctic char and Dolly Varden are found in many of the waters of the region. Salmon runs are spectacular in some areas, and include king or Chinook salmon, sockeye or red salmon, chum salmon, coho or silver salmon, and pink salmon. Halibut are seasonally abundant in Gulf of Alaska, Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound waters, as are various species of bottom fish. Grayling and burbot are found in some streams, and lake trout and pike are commonly found in southcentral lakes.
Interior Alaska Fishing:
Anglers enjoy a great variety of fish and outdoor opportunities in the interior of Alaska. This enormous area of Alaska offers all five species of Pacific salmon in its rivers as well as some of the most sought after fish in the Arctic in its many, many lakes and streams. Northern pike are abundant in the rivers and lakes and some of largest sheefish in the world can be caught in this vast region. There are plenty of opportunities to fish for trophy Arctic char, lake trout, Dolly Varden, and grayling. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game operates an active stocking program for rainbows and land-locked salmon in lakes accessible by road. Interior rivers also provide excellent habitat for burbot, sometimes referred to as Alaska lobster.
Far North Alaska Fishing:
The Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers drain most of Interior, Arctic and Western AK. Western and Arctic AK is sparsely tree covered. Except for alpine and sub-alpine areas, most of the Interior is covered by trees. Distinct mountain ranges, rolling hills and wide river valleys and flats are the dominant landscape features. Summers along the coast are cool, and warm in the Interior. Salmon make long distance migrations up the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers. Grayling are perhaps most widespread, but trout, pike, burbot, char, and sheefish are widely distributed.
Fishing in bear country:
You are responsible for your own safety in bear country. In any outdoor activity — fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, hunting, picnicking, berry picking, even going to work — you may encounter bears. Be aware of your surroundings and conditions, especially in times of low light and areas of low visibility. Look up and around every few minutes. Check the immediate area for fresh bear signs. Consider moving to a different spot if such signs are encountered. Make plenty of noise. Go out with a friend or a group of friends. Let someone know your trip plans.
Don’t make it easy for bears to find food — garbage, birdseed, picnics, fish, or game, for example. When you catch a fish you intend to harvest, immediately kill your fish, then bleed it into the water. Bleeding into the water quickly clears the blood from the fish, thus improving quality. It also reduces the chance that blood, which may attract the attention of bears, will get onto clothing or the stream bank.
Check out our Bear Safety page.