How to Salmon Fish in Alaska

How to Salmon Fish in Alaska
Alaska is practically synonymous with salmon fishing. If you are travelling to the 49th state, chances are it's either for the scenic splendor or the excellent fishing. Bring a rod and reel and you can enjoy both by following these steps in your pursuit of the mighty Alaska King Salmon, or any of the smaller equally delicious varieties, including pink, silver (also known as coho), chinook, and sockeye.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Medium-duty rod and reel spooled with 15-30 pound line
  • Fishing tackle and bait
  • Alaska fish license
  • Alaska salmon permit stamp
Step 1
Go in season for the salmon you wish to catch. King salmon season begins in mid-May and lasts two months. Pink, silver and sockeye season begins after the king salmon runs and lasts until late September. Specific opening and closing dates vary from year-to-year and region-to-region.
Step 2
Get a guide. Studies by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game show that even experienced anglers enjoy greater fishing success with a guide to show them where and how to catch this delicious fish. Mere hours separate guided anglers from their catch, the studies show. By contrast, novice anglers might spend an average of 40 hours on the water before hooking a salmon.
Step 3
Catch king salmon casting streamers and pink flies on 3/0 to 4/0 hooks in pools and eddies. Cast past the target and allowing the fly to drift with the current over your sweet spot. Use just enough sinker weight ahead of the fly to pull it to a depth where the kings can see it (5-10 feet) during their late May runs.
Step 4
Catch pink salmon, the most abundant salmon in all Alaskan waters, by casting or trolling red and white spoons and spinners downstream, then retrieving against the current.
Step 5
Catch coho and chinook salmon by using live herring or chunks of this strong-smelling baitfish. Live herring should be hooked behind the dorsal and below the spinal cord to prevent paralyzing the bait. Cast behind waves during the changing tides when baitfish congregate. Keep the bait at a depth of about 20 feet, as schooling coho will seldom go deeper.
Step 6
Hunt for sockeye salmon, which have a rich, red flesh, along the shoreline of fast moving rivers and streams. Sockeye hug the banks, typically 2 to 5 feet from shore, in water about 5 feet deep. Cast upriver and let wet streamers or hooks baited with salmon eggs to drift downstream close to shore.

Article Written By James Clark

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.