Ketchikan, Alaska, is a midsize city in the southern end of the panhandle. Ketchikan sits squarely in the midst of the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest. Be prepared for lots of rain when fishing the waters around Ketchikan. The city and environs average around 180 inches of precipitation each year. Fishing around Ketchikan allows for both saltwater and freshwater angling. Salmon, halibut, trout and arctic grayling can be found in the streams, creeks and ocean around the city. Out-of-state anglers need to have valid Alaska fishing licenses to fish the state's waters. Licenses can be purchased in the city or online through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Beginning in mid-May, the king salmon begin to run in the waters near Ketchikan. By June, they are at their peak, making for prime angling. All five species of salmon (chum, sockeye, king, silver and pink) are found in Ketchikan's waters by July. Good salmon fishing continues through August. Ketchikan holds an annual King Salmon Derby that is open to locals and visiting anglers. There are several options for charter operations out of Ketchikan's harbors and marinas. Charter operations provide all needed fishing and foul-weather gear. Many provide snacks and beverages. The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau maintains a list of recommended fishing guides and charter boat operators. There are smokehouses that will filet, smoke and ship your catch to home addresses.
The deep and cold waters off Ketchikan make for prime halibut habitat and fishing. A halibut charter trip is an efficient and effective means of fishing for the flat, bottom-dwelling fish. Halibut charters are available in the harbor and marina. The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau maintains a list of charter boat and fishing guides. Sightings of orcas, humpback whales, harbor porpoise and sea-lions are benefits of hiring a charter. Most halibut charters provide all needed fishing and foul-weather gear. Check with the charter captain when booking your trip. Be prepared for rain. Filet and shipping can be arranged with the charter or through the services available at the harbor docks.
Fly-fishing - Trout, Dolly Varden and Grayling
There are many opportunities for fly-fishing around Ketchikan. Renting a car and driving up the North Tongass Highway is a way of getting to many small creeks that have arctic grayling and dolly varden. Keep an eye out for "spirit bears" while fishing the area. The Tongass National Forest is home to black bears that have a white fur known as "spirit" or kermode bears. There are fishing shops in the city where you can ask what the fish are hitting on. Fly-in air services bring anglers to lakes and streams on Prince of Wales Island or the mainland. Fly-fishing guides and air charters can be hired at the downtown float-plane docks or along Canal Street. The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau has a list of guides and air charters. Misty Fjords National Park has creeks and streams for fly-fishing, as well as locations for salmon fishing.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.