Alaska is a vast land and has many opportunities to fish. If you are planning a trip to Alaska to do some fishing, there are several hints and tips that can vastly improve your chances of landing the big one. Always have your valid Alaska fishing license with you when fishing, as rangers and game wardens may ask you to present it.
Where to Fish
Due to the size of the state, just selecting a place to fish can be a daunting task. Southeast Alaska, also known as the panhandle, is a prime area to fish for five species of salmon (chum, sockeye, king, silver and pink) and halibut. The Lynn Canal area between Juneau and Skagway has hundreds of miles of prime salmon fishing. In Juneau, head to T-Harbor and fish for pink and chum from the shore. In Skagway, you can fish for pink in Pullen Creek, which runs parallel to the town just one block off the main drag. Halibut fishing from Haines allows for good catches because of the deep and icy waters off the harbor.
Timing Is Everything
When to fish for Alaskan species is as important as where to fish for the five species of salmon that spawn and live throughout the state's waters. Pink and chum run in the Juneau area during mid-summer (late June). There is a spring king salmon run in the capital city in mid-April lasting into May. Heading up to the Kenai Peninsula, you can catch an early king salmon run on the Kenai River in mid-May through June. One tip for the early Kenai River king run is that the river does not get as crowded as the late-summer run. If you want peaceful fishing for kings on the mighty Kenai, fish it in May.
Fishing in Alaska requires more than mere fishing experience and savvy. Alaskan fishing requires you to be on guard and vigilant for any number of hazards and dangers. Be "bear aware" when fishing in Alaska. Many rivers, such as the Russian (on the Kenai Peninsula) and parts of the Talkeetna and Chultina Rivers are frequented by grizzlies searching for salmon. Bring bear spray and know how to use it properly. Keep your ears open to sounds of rustling brush. Anticipate changes in the weather. Do not wear cotton clothing when heading into the back country, as it has no thermal qualities when wet. Wear multiple layers of synthetic or non-cotton natural fabrics such as wool or silk.
Know how to read a tide table if fishing the coastal beaches and areas. Alaska has tidal changes up to 30 feet, and many an angler has been stranded on gravel bars as the tide came in. Tide tables are typically free and can be found in sporting goods stores and grocery stores throughout the state.
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.