Alaska enjoys runs of pink salmon in its waters each year, keeping a commercial salmon fishing industry alive in the state. Sport fishing for pinks is permitted each year, depending on where, when and how you fish for them. Life span for pinks is two years, with the fish spawning in freshwater streams, heading to sea, and then returning to the freshwater streams of their origin to spawn and begin the cycle anew. Because pink salmon spawn closer to the tidewater regions of the rivers and streams than the other salmon species, it's possible to fly fish for pinks near the ocean inlets. Be sure to have a valid Alaska fishing license when you fish in the state.
Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers
The Talkeetna and Chulitna rivers run in southcentral Alaska, about two to three hours north of Anchorage and two hours south of Denali National Park. Pinks run on the rivers every other mid-June through late July during even-numbered years. Fly fishing is allowed along the rivers and their smaller creeks and tributaries such as Montana Creek. Try using a 9-foot rod rated to 6 or 7 weight. Black-tied leeches with some red or bright material brings in the pinks, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. For access, use the footbridge out of Talkeetna or head to the pull-out at Milepost 143 along the Glenn Park Highway.
The Kenai River is located on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula and is known for its robust salmon fishing. Pinks run every other year on the Kenai,during even-numbered years (2010, 2012, 2014, etc.). These years, millions of pinks clog the river for about three weeks around the middle of July. Fishing for pinks is allowed on the Kenai, and you can use snag, lure or fly-fishing techniques for landing them. Because the number of pinks is so immense, fishing for them on the Kenai is relatively easy and your creel will fill quickly. Check with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for daily limits when the pinks are running in the Kenai.
The Nushagak River runs through southwest Alaska, near King Salmon and parts of the Katmai region. The southwest runs are every other year on the even-numbered years. Millions of pinks, also known as humpies or humpbacks, come in the river starting in early July. Snagging, lures and fly-fishing are allowed to take the fish. Be prepared for bear interactions when fishing, as the bruins come to the river for the feast. Bring bear spray or a guide knowledgable on bear behavior and safety when fishing the Nushagak, or any other river in southwest Alaska. Bring a 6 or 7 weight rod, with line rated to 20 pounds. A 9-foot rod is recommended for the salmon. Try using black leeches for flies.
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.