Alaska is home to every Pacific salmon species, including the king salmon popular among sport anglers. The state's untouched wilderness and pristine lakes and rivers draw thousands of anglers every year. Discover proven fishing methods for catching wild Alaskan salmon, and you might land the state's next record catch.
Start fishing at dawn or dusk. During Alaska's summer salmon season, the sun never sets, but the fish still function on their inner biological clocks, and anglers should still work the waters around 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Walk along the river and find a clean, clear area in which you see the occasional flash of salmon below the surface. Position yourself in the water just off the river's bank. Some of Alaska's rivers flow quite hard, and you should make sure you are positioned well so you do not fall over. Bait your line with live or plastic worms and a treble fly, though you might wish to use a lighter fly if you want more of a fight while pulling the fish in. Fish as you would regularly with a fly rod. Once you snag a salmon, move downstream to force the salmon to fight against both your rod and the current. This tires the fish out faster and lets you bring it in quicker.
Spooning or Spinning
Spinners and spoons typically work better in Alaska's reservoirs and lakes than fly fishing. They allow you to cover a larger area, increasing your likelihood of landing a salmon. Attach the spoon or spinner to your line and cast. Reel in just fast enough so that the tip of your fishing rod vibrates, signifying that the spinner or spoon is doing its job. Make short casts with slow retrieves. When casting, wait for varying amounts of time to give the bait time to sink before retrieving. This lets you work different depths of the water until you find one at which most of the salmon can be found.
Alaska's northern climate means its waterways quickly freeze over in December. Don't let the frozen water dissuade you. Dress warmly, wearing multiple layers, insulated boots and gloves. Test the ice to ensure it's thick enough to bear your weight--generally, six inches is deemed thick enough for most anglers. Bore a hole in the deep section of the lake using an ice auger. A 12-inch hole should be sufficient for landing all but the largest king salmon. Drop your line into the water and wait for a strike. Some Alaskan anglers sprinkle broken eggshells into the hole. This makes the bottom of the water lighter, enabling them to see their line and any potential salmon.
Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle
Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.