Fishing In Alaska: The Ultimate Guide To Planning Your Dream Alaskan Fishing Trip
Fishing in Alaska is the stuff dreams are made out of for many dreamy anglers. Alaska’s oceans, rivers, and lakes are teeming with huge runs of record breaking Salmon, trophy rainbow trout, arctic char, halibut and many other challenging sport fish.
Fishing in Alaska is to enjoy and experience fishing like you’ve never experienced fishing before. It’s the place where fishing myths and legends are born. Rivers teaming with so many salmon you can walk across the river and not get wet…Halibut so massive it takes a team of people to drag them onto the boat…and lingcod and other rock fish so plentiful they can get in the way of targeting other fish.
This is fishing in Alaska! There’s a very good reason fishermen flock to this state every summer in pursuit of Kings and other fish.
Purpose Of This Alaska Fishing Trip Guide
The purpose of this guide to Alaska fishing adventure is to not only help you transition from dreaming to doing, but to make sure that you’re Alaska fishing adventure is the best one ever!
In this guide, I’m going to show you everything you need will need to know in order to plan for your Alaskan fishing vacation. The main points we’ll cover are:
- Where to fish in Alaska
- What kinds of fishing to do in Alaska
- Where to stay in Alaska for your fishing trip
- When the best time to fish in Alaska is and how to plan your trip around it
- The different kinds of fishing vacations and packages there are available in Alaska
- Tips on how to prepare for your Alaskan fishing adventure, and
- What to do after your great Alaskan fishing trip
So let’s get started!
Why Is Fishing In Alaska Is So Popular
Ask just about anyone who loves fishing what one of the top places they hope to visit someday, and Alaska will make the list more times than any other location. Alaska is the top fishing destination for more than 220,000 fishermen every single year. Why? Because in Alaska, there’s something for everyone.
Sport fishermen visiting Alaska for the first time can take advantage of the nearly 3,000 licensed fishing guides that offer charters and guided fishing trips all around the state. While experienced fishermen have the option of partaking in self-guided, do-it-yourself Alaska fishing trips.
Including all the islands, Alaska has more than 34,000 miles of shoreline. There are more areas in Alaska for saltwater fishermen to explore and fish then they could cover in a lifetime. Many of Alaska’s abundant and remote lakes and rivers are largely unexplored and undocumented.
For fishermen who want or need the convenience and amenities of a big city, there are Alaska fishing packages available right inside or directly next to big larger like Anchorage.
For the more adventurous types, Alaska is very well known for its fly in fishing adventures that literally fly you into some of the most remote areas and wilderness you will ever experience. You have the opportunity of fishing in rivers and lakes where humans have rarely set foot.
The wildlife that you’ll experience during your fishing trip to Alaska will leave you speechless. It’s not uncommon to witness bears standing guard in wait for salmon to pass by, or bald eagles perched in trees watching you from above as you fish.
But since fishing is what you’re coming to Alaska for, lets go over the different kinds of fishing that’s available for you to do on your Alaskan fishing trip.
Different Kinds Of Fishing To Do In Alaska
When it comes to fishing, Alaska has something for everyone. You can fish both saltwater and freshwater in the same day. Fish for the most popular species of Alaskan fish like salmon and halibut, or the not so common fish like Arctic Char and Sheefish. Take to the water on a boat to tackle halibut or fish for trophy trout and king salmon from the banks, you’ve got it all in Alaska.
With over 34,000 miles of coastline, it would take half a lifetime to walk all of it if you walked 1000 miles every single year! Along your journey you would experience an indescribable and immense stretch of natural and majestic coastal beauty. And most of these areas would be teeming with sea life.
Alaska has five species of salmon, over 30 species of rockfish and dozens of other marine species of interest to fishermen. In other words, there’s so much saltwater fishing in Alaska, it’s ridiculous.
Alaska is a playground for freshwater fishermen as well with many freshwater species of fish, the most popular being rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, steelhead, arctic char, arctic grayling, northern pike and sheefish.
Here’s a brief introduction into the more popular species of both saltwater and freshwater sport fish in Alaska. Follow the links in each section for more information on these styles of fishing.
Halibut Fishing In Alaska
Pacific Halibut are one of the most popular fish to catch in Alaska. These incredible fish can grow well over 600 pounds, which are also called ‘barn doors’ for good reason. Halibut fight hard and can wear out even the strongest of anglers. In addition to being a challenging fight, they are absolutely delicious and are incredibly popular to eat.
Catching halibut is not terribly difficult. But it usually does require the use of a boat. During some summer months, halibut can be found as close in as as a mile from shore. Other times of the year you may need to head a little further out into deeper waters to find them.
No boat? No problem. According to some resources, Alaska even offers surfcasting opportunities for those without access to a boat, with catches of halibut and other bottomfish possible from the shore!
If you decide to fish for halibut in Alaska on your own without a fishing guide, the most difficult part of catching them will be actually be locating them. Once you find suitable halibut habitat, it’s just about as simple as dropping a line down to where they are and waiting. But finding those spots that hold the halibut on your own, especially if you’re new to the area, can be difficult. And that’s not how you want to spend your Alaskan fishing vacation.
That’s where the benefit and value of enlisting the help of a local fishing guide comes in. Fishing guides are experienced and know halibut fishing like the back of their hands. This means they know exactly where the fish are and exactly how to catch them. Their livelihoods depend on you and I catching halibut!
When Is The Best Time For Halibut Fishing In Alaska?
According to Alaska.org, the best time of year for halibut fishing in Alaska is between mid May and mid September.
Tip For Fishing For Halibut In Alaska:
If doing a self guided Alaskan halibut fishing trip, here’s a tip from Alaska Jim for locating halibut habitat.
“You are looking for a spot where the ocean floor rises above the surrounding area by 50 to 150 feet, a hill or peak under water. These hills or peaks are called humps and are where you will commonly find the halibut waiting for you.
Once the hump is located, the anchor is dropped and down goes the lines. Halibut will play with or ‘mouth’ the bait for a few minutes before deciding to swallow. At this point, get ready for a workout.”
For more tips for halibut fishing, checkout my 23 Halibut Fishing Tips.
Salmon Fishing In Alaska
It’s nearly impossible to travel to Alaska and not see or hear about salmon fishing. Salmon fishing in Alaska is by far the single most popular kind of sport fishing in the state. This is for a very good reason. With over 334,000 King Salmon alone caught per year, the largest salmon ever taken by sport fishermen have been taken from Alaskan rivers and oceans. For example, the largest salmon ever caught with a rod and reel was a 97 pound King Salmon taken from the Kenai River…with a spin-and-glo!
Even though there are over 2 million salmon caught in Alaska every year, they aren’t quite as easy to catch as halibut. Salmon fishing requires a more technical style of fishing, which makes the investment of hiring a charter or fishing guide that much more valuable.
If you’ve never fished for salmon, then I highly recommend hiring a guide, at least for your first time out. Fishing for salmon in open ocean waters is much different than fishing for salmon in freshwater rivers. Hire a guide and pay attention to what they do and where they go. Take notes and learn from them. Then when you decide to return on a self guided tour, you’ll know exactly where to go to find the salmon and how to get them in the boat.
When Is The Best Time To Go Salmon Fishing In Alaska?
Wanting to know when the best time to go salmon fishing in Alaska is a very common question. Unfortunately, it’s a question not easily answered. With five different species of salmon, each of them will make their run to their spawning grounds at different times of the summer.
But if I had to commit to one time of year to go fishing in Alaska, I’d choose early summer. If you plan it right, and with a lot of luck, you could feasibly catch the king salmon run, the coho salmon run and the sockeye run.
But to be able to make a better decision on when to plan your trip, there are several factors you need to consider.
The Species of Salmon You Want To Target
Salmon fishing trips to Alaska should be planned anytime between May and October. Fishing during these months you can expect to catch salmon. Another added bonus about fishing during these months is that the best weather in Alaska is also during this time.
With 5 different species of salmon in Alaska, each species essentially takes its turn to move from open water to the rivers with some overlap. Here’s the general timeline for salmon runs in Alaska:
- King Salmon: Late May to early July
- Sockeye Salmon: June to Late July
- Red Salmon, Pink Salmon and Chum Salmon: Mid July to mid August
- Silver Salmon (Coho): July to October
Where To Fish For Salmon In Alaska: The Kenai River
Plan to fish for salmon in the Kenai River from May through October to catch silvers, pinks, reds and kings. Early salmon runs through June can average 16,000 fish. Late runs beginning the first of July can peak at 41,000 fish in the middle of the same month.
Amazingly, the Kenai River is also home to over over one million sockeye salmon, which average between 8 and 12 pounds. These salmon typically arrive in late May and continue their run through mid August. Millions of pink, or “humpback” salmon, will fill the river for three weeks typically in late July through mid-August.
Where To Fish For Salmon In Alaska: The Copper River
The Copper River is another popular destination to find massive quantities of salmon. Kings, sockeyes and silvers begin their run upriver around the middle of May.
In addition to these 3 varieties of salmon, the Copper river is also home to many other varieties of non-salmon species such as rainbow trout, Arctic grayling and steelhead.
Where To Fish For Salmon In Alaska: The Ocean
With the vast amount of ocean fishing that’s available in Alaska, one of the most popular in the state is the Sitka Pacific Ocean salmon fishery.
In the areas near Sitka, the ocean going king salmon fishery is in full during the months of May and June. While a few left over kings can be found making their way through as late as the middle of August.
Sitka just happens to be Alaska’s largest ocean silver (Coho) salmon fishery with silvers weighing all the way up to 12 or more pounds. Silvers typically weigh between 6 and 8 pounds. This is part of what makes Sitka such a special coho fishery.
Coho arrive in Sitka waters around the first week in July. And you can expect the silver fishing to be good through the middle of September.
Alaskan Salmon Fishing Tip:
“Salmon in Southeast Alaska like to grab the bait and swim upward with it. When they do that, your lead will slide to the lowest point in the line and your rod tip will jerk a little bit. It may not be obvious to you, but if you see that, or if your captain or deckhand tells you you’re getting a bite, you have to reel quickly to try and catch up to your fish. It may take upwards of 50 turns before you catch up with your fish and the rod feels heavy, so don’t give up—just keep cranking.
Reel your rod tip right down to the water and reel your line in until it gets heavy and tight.
Once the line is tight and the rod feels heavy, set the hook in the fish’s mouth by jerking your rod upward. Then continue reeling, keeping your line tight, and set the hook again.”
Lingcod Fishing In Alaska
Feared by other rockfish and sought after by saltwater bottom fishing anglers, lingcod is a bottom fish that carries a serious attitude. Alaskan lingcod are slender-bodied bottom dwellers with an orange/brown coloration and massive heads that are mostly mouth. Lingcod are big and strong fighters too. Landing lingcod of 40 pounds or more in Alaska is quite common.
Lingcod fishing trips are a great experience for fishermen seeking a hands-on Alaskan fishing adventure. Working a jig over the rocky bottom of the ocean can be challenging, but the reward is lingcod…and lots of them. Lingcod are predators and are always looking for a fast meal. This makes hooking them simple, but landing them an adventure. This makes Alaska lingcod fishing an excellent target fish for self guided alaska trips as long as you have access to a boat. And if a boat is not available, talk to the locals about the option of jetty fishing for lingcod.
When Is The Best Time To Fish For Lingcod In Alaska?
July, August and September are the best times of year to fish for lingcod in Alaska.
Tip For Fishing Lingcod In Alaska:
According to Crackerjack Charters in Seward, Alaska, the most successful method of Lingcod fishing is to drift with artificial jigs in and amongst rock-piles and relatively shallow reef structures.
Trout Fishing In Alaska
Trout fishing in Alaska is very popular for anglers of all different styles of fishing. Whether it’s fly fishing or tossing spinners, there are trophy rainbow trout and steelhead to be caught. Every year, thousands of Alaskan trout fishermen board planes to be flown into remote areas around the state to land trophy trout.
With so many large trout teaming Alaska’s rivers, many of the fish caught by anglers would be considered a trophy anywhere else. But in Alaska they have implemented a benchmark length that the fish must reach before it’s considered to be an actual trophy sized rainbow trout. In Alaska this mark is usually set at an astounding 30 inches!
Rainbow trout are a very popular game fish and are prevalent all over Alaska. They can be found in lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the entre state thanks to both natural and introduced populations. The sheer volume of trout in these rivers and lakes makes fly fishing in Alaska one of the best fly fishing destinations in the world.
When Is The Best Time To Fish For Trout In Alaska?
If you want to fish the peak rainbow trout fishing season in Alaska, Alaska River Adeventures advises to plan you’re Alaskan fishing trip anywhere between mid August through the end of September. This is a great time of year to target the Alaskan trout fishery, because the weather is still moderate and salmon and other fish species can still be found in case the trout aren’t biting.
Tip For Trout Fishing In Alaska:
This Alaska trout fishing tip is from Jason Gasper at AlaskaFlyFishingGoods.com. Check out their website for 7 more great tips about fishing in Alaska.
“Talk with local fly shops in the region you’re visiting. I am not talking about the big box stores or a fly shop in the Lower 48. The “ma-and-pop” stores in Alaska have the best fish gossip and are likely your most important source of information for a successful trip. Besides, these small stores are generally cool places to hang out and have a vested interest in your success.”
Other Kinds Of Fishing To Do In Alaska
Ice Fishing In Alaska
It’s not surprising to learn that Alaska offers really good ice fishing in addition to the popular summertime fishing most of us only hear about. If braving the winter weather and standing out on the ice and dropping a line through a hole in the ice into the water is your thing, then ice fishing in Alaska is for you!
When most everyone else has put there fishing gear away for the winter, the true hardcore fishermen head out to take advantage of the fish that just lie in wait below the surface of the ice. And better yet, ice fishing in Alaska can be done on the cheap! Ryan Ragan mentions in his article, Ice Fishing Stocked Lakes In Anchorage And Beyond, “But the good news is ice fishing can be done on a small budget and with minimal gear.”
There are many different species of fish you can catch while ice fishing in Alaska, including rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, pike, lake trout, burbot and charr.
The state of Alaska has an abundance of easily accessible and productive ice fishing locations. Check out Alaska.gov for more information and locations for ice fishing in Alaska.
Fishing For Sheefish In Alaska
The Sheefish, also known as a Iconnu, are described as one of the most underrated game fish in Alaska. According to Daniel Smith of HowToCatchAnyFish.com, the largest sheefish can be found in the northwestern part of Alaska, in the Selawik-Kobuk region of the state.
Even though Sheefish can weigh more than 30 pounds, they are not powerful fighters. According to Daniel Smith, “A medium light action spinning rod or a 6 or 7 weight fly rod should be fine for most Sheefish. They tend to like smaller lures and flies, so scale tackle accordingly.”
Sheefish are delicious table fare as well. According to Tyler Freel from OutdoorLife.com, “…if you fed their succulent white meat to anyone alongside halibut, they would have a hard time telling the difference.”
Crabbing In Alaska
A fishing trip to Alaska would’nt be complete without doing at least some crabbing. Dungeness crab are so plentiful in Alaska that it is easy to catch more than you could ever need. There are places crab are so thick, you can literally scoop them up with a net.
According to Green Rocks Lodge, which I had the privilege of visiting a number of years ago on a self guided Alaskan fishing trip, Dungeness crab can be caught approximately between the first of May through the end of September.
Often times, fishermen will drop their crab pots on their way out to the fishing grounds then check them on their way back in. This is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the deliciousness of Alaska with minimal effort.
Where To Fish In Alaska
Most folks who planning a fishing trip to Alaska want to know where the best fishing in Alaska is before they commit to a specific location. You’re going to be investing a significant amount of money on a trip of a lifetime, so make sure you go where the fish are!
The first thing you should ask yourself is what’s your target fish. Are you more focused on catching King Salmon or Coho? Or are you after one of the other species of salmon in Alaska. Perhaps you want to try and catch more halibut and lingcod, then maybe fish for salmon if time allows?
Or maybe you’re a fly fisherman who wants to land a trophy Alaskan rainbow trout deep in the interior of the wilderness.
Once you’ve answered the question of what your target fish is, then you can proceed with the other sections of planning your Alaskan fishing adventure.
Best Places To Fish In Alaska Based On Species Of Fish
Where Is The Best Halibut Fishing In Alaska?
According to Halibut.net, “The Aleutian Islands in Alaska is the heart of hali’ country. And like the heart, the area pulses on the seafloor with these fish like blood rushing through an oversized vein. This main artery of the Pacific Ocean provides the best opportunity for halibut to gorge themselves on easy meals and sport anglers to hook up with truly trophy-sized ‘butts almost every time.”
But excellent halibut fishing is not exclusive to just the Aleutian Islands. Halibut fishing is good in many other parts of Alaska as well. So don’t think you’re stuck to traveling only to the Aleutians.
Incredible halibut fishing can be found in southeast Alaska as well, such as near Yakobi Island and other areas near and around Sitka and Petersburg.
Where Is The Best Salmon Fishing In Alaska?
Asking where the best salmon fishing in Alaska is, is in fact a very loaded question. There are so many places you can go to fish for salmon in Alaska. And with there being 5 different species of salmon in Alaska, it really depends on what specific species you’re after.
In addition to knowing what kind of salmon you’re after, you also need to ask yourself what kind of fishing you want to do. Do you want to fish for Kings on the banks of a river alongside other fishermen? Or do you want to target Silvers in a remote part of the state where you won’t see any other humans the whole time you’re there? And don’t forget salmon fishing in the open ocean.
Below is a list of what I believe to be the best places for salmon fishing in Alaska based on some of the different scenarios I mentioned above.
Best Remote Salmon Fishing In Alaska
If you’re like me, you dream about jumping in a small plane and flying to a remote part of Alaska where you get to fish for salmon alongside nature and no one else. But with so many remote areas like this in Alaska, where’s the best remote area to disappear in?
We don’t want to take 3 days to get to our fishing spot, but we also want to be remote. Well, according to AlaskaKingSalmon.com, ”…the Nushagak River is far and away the undisputed champion.”
In addition to being one of the best remote areas to fish in, they also state that, “The Nushagak River is also famous for its Sockeye/Reds and Coho/Silver Salmon. The Nushagak District receives over 8 million Sockeye annually and hundreds of thousands of Coho/Silvers. The King/Chinook run regularly comes in over 100,000 and the Chum arrive in a 300,000 fish army. All of this happens between June and August on the Nushagak making the river the best Salmon fishing in Alaska.”
Best King Salmon Fishing In Alaska
For some of the best king salmon fishing in the state, you don’t even have to leave town or take an entire day out of your schedule. According to Alaska.org, “Alaska’s most productive king salmon sport fishery is located right in downtown Anchorage! Fish for salmon at Ship Creek even if you have only two hours.”
Ship Creek offers king salmon fishing in late May all the way through mid July, which is when the Silver Salmon begine to make their way through to the spawning grounds up. The silver run can last until early September.
With that said, however, if you want to get out of town, then the Kenai River is where you want to pursue Kings. The Kenai is renound for its king salmon fishery and is often times the first place people think of when they think about Alaskan King Salmon.
Best Sockeye Salmon Fishing In Alaska
In addition to offering all the species of salmon available in Kenai River, Soldotna Park, in downtown Soldotna, has incredible sockeye fishing and is also a good place to learn how to fish for sockeye. But because of its popularity, it can get crowded during peak sockeye season.
The combination of easy accessibility, hard-packed gravel and a shallow grade makes Soldotna Park a top Sockeye fishing destination.
Best Coho Salmon Fishing In Alaska
There are many locations in Alaska that are great for fishing coho, or silver salmon. But my top location for fishing coho for this guide is the convergence of the Kenai River and Moose River.
This is what Alaska.org has to say about this silver salmon fishing location:
“You can find sockeye, pink or silver salmon here… since this is also the main stem of the Kenai River, you might also find king salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden. But the spot still has a best-kept-secret atmosphere: When the entire Kenai River is abuzz with anglers, this location will often be one of the quietest. You’ll also find a fairly small campground, with modern outhouses, a boat launch and parking for both cars and RVs.”
The Best Trout Fishing In Alaska
Regarding rainbow trout fishing in Alaska, Tyler Freel from OutdoorLife.com mentions in his article, The Top 10 Best Alaska Fishing Trips, “Bristol Bay gets a lot of its attention for killer salmon fishing, but for me personally, the thought of peeling out rainbows, fat on freshly-laid salmon eggs is much more alluring. You won’t find a better place to do it. Because these fisheries are remote—like many places in Alaska—your best bet is to book a guide/charter service. There are plenty of options available with a wide range of lodging. Go ahead and stock up on those egg patterns and get ready to live the fly fisherman’s dream.”
Best Places To Stay In Alaska
When planning a fishing vacation to Alaska, there are thousands of different places you could stay. There is everything from all inclusive fishing lodges to remote camping fishing trips. Not only that, but each location and each fishing package will offer different types of services, amenities that you’ll be able to choose from.
Since you’re coming to Alaska to fish, or at least your trip will be centered around fishing, then the different fishing services offered at each location should be your top consideration.
Here are some of the main things to consider when deciding where to stay in Alaska.
Remote Lodges offer guests unspoiled rivers and streams that are rich in many different fish species. Remote Lodges can sometimes cost more and may have a minimum number of days you must stay, but staying in a remote location is often times well worth the additional cost and is an excellent way to experienced the wilderness and natural beauty of Alaska.
The Best Remote Fishing Lodge In Alaska: Kodiak Resort
Lodges In National Parks:
There are a total of eight national parks in Alaska. While it is very uncommon for fishing lodges to actually be located inside the national parks, they can apply for special permits that allow their guests to fish within the parks.
And if camping is your style, then planning a trip in and around one of the national parks in the state is recommended.
Alaskan Fly In Lodges:
In my opinion, there’s no better way to experience a true Alaskan fishing adventure than to stay at a fly in lodge. Fly in lodges are fishing destinations that are far away from the buzz of larger cities where you’ll initially fly into at the beginning of your trip.
Fly in lodges are usually located in remote areas of the state which offers not only excellent fishing, but incredible wildlife viewing as well.
With a fly in fishing trip, you’ll coordinate your arrival day with the lodge owner who’ll arrange to have you flown in a small plane from the main airport out to their remote location. Some lodges will have their own dirt landing strip, while others fly you in on plontoon planes and use the water as their airport.
But don’t think it’s just limited to fixed wing aircraft either. Fly in lodges like the Talaheim Lodge use helicopters for their “heli-fishing” fishing trips. These guys will fly you into some of the remotest areas where few people have ever been. The advantage of using the helicopter is that they don’t need a landing strip or water to land on. I’ll definitely be considering Talaheim Lodge for one of my next Alaska fishing trips.
Flying out to your lodge, you’ll be able to witness Alaska from a vantage point few others can. Flying over ocean, rivers, mountains and valleys. It truly is the best way to experience Alaska.
Best Alaskan Fly In Lodge: Katmai Lodge and Talaheim Lodge
Self Guided Fishing Lodges
Some of my favorite ways to stay and fish in Alaska are at self guided fishing lodges. The first time I came to Alaska was at a self guided fishing lodge, and it was an amazing experience.
Self guided fishing lodges are often times in remote areas, but can also sit on the outskirts of towns. Many of these types of lodges will be as hands off with the guests as you want, but are always willing and ready to help. Many will offer fishing charter services and even fly out services as an extra service.
Staying at a self guided fishing lodge in Alaska is probably the most affordable way to book an Alaskan fishing vacation if you’re looking for cheap Alaska fishing trips. Many self guided fishing lodges will provide all your meals and all the gear that you’ll need for your stay, including boats.
Best Self Guided Fishing Lodge: Green Rocks Lodge
Tip For Choosing The Best Place To Stay In Alaska
This tip is courtesy of myalaskanfishingtrip.com
Research Fishing Guide Ratio:
“For guided fishing tours, with the exception of saltwater fishing, the average ratio of guides to guests is 1:2 or 1:3. The higher the ratio, the less personal attention you receive. If you are a master fisherman then, the ratio may not be as important. If you are targeting a new kind of fish, such as Arctic Grayling, then you might want more attention from the guide. For saltwater fishermen, the guide is usually 1:4 or 1:6 depending on boat size.”
When To Plan For Your Alaskan Fishing Trip
It’s never too early to start looking and planning out your Alaskan fishing vacation. The earlier you begin looking, the sooner you’ll be ready to actually commit and book a fishing lodge, and reserving your spot.
You want to try and have your trip booked between 6 and 18 months from the time you actually want to go. Most people try to book their fishing trips 1 year out.
The fishing season in Alaska is short, and available beds and guides go quickly. The average fishing lodge holds between 8 and 12 guests. So space fills up fast at these lodges. So as soon as you know when and where you want to go, make those reservations!
Preparing For your alaskan fishing trip
You may be wondering what you should take with you on your trip to Alaska. Well, here are some tips for preparing for your Alaska fishing vacation.
What to pack for your Alaska Fishing Vacation
As you can probably imagine, the weather in Alaska can be unpredictable. So bringing the proper clothing and accessories for all different kinds of weather is a good idea.
During fishing season, daytime temperatures can range between 50 to 70 degrees F. It’s not unheard of that some days even reach up into the 80’s. July typically has the warmest weather, but weather in Alaska can go from sunny and warm to wet and cold during any month of the season. In the early and late parts of fishing season (early June and late September) there can be a chance of freezing temperatures.
General Fishing Dress Code:
Think layers when fishing in Alaska. Polypro, capilene and wool all keep you warm, even if you were to get wet. These make good first and second layers. Always have rain gear with you even if it’s clear and sunny in the morning. Please bring enough wool or synthetic socks for your entire lodge stay. Though cotton socks are fine for around the lodge, you’ll want to avoid wearing anything cotton while fishing. Please note that laundry facilities are not available at the lodge.
Rain Gear: Consider investing in a quality two-piece rainsuit. Make sure the top of the rainsuit has a hood as well. A good set of rain gear does not have to be really expensive. But if you think you may use them again, then spending a little more now will save you in the long run. Plastic ponchos or vinyl rain suits are not suitable rain gear for fishing in Alaska.
Waders: Your lodge may provide waders for you. Please verify this before you leave. If not, you will need to bring your own. A good set of waders are breathable or neoprene. A good place to look for waders if you’ve never owned a pair is fishingpicks.com or Cabela’s.
Shoes and/or Boots: Bringing a good pair of shoes as well as a good pair of fishing boots is also very important. You’ll need good boots to wear both tromping around the wilderness as well as to wear while in the boat. At the end of the day, you’ll want a comfortable pair of shoes to slip into while hanging around the lodge resting. Your footwear should be comfortable, lightweight and water repellent. Again, spending a little bit of money on the right pair of boots will save you money and foot-ache in the long run.
Pants: Bring along a couple pairs of comfortable and durable jeans or other durable pants. Throw in a pair of fleece pants as well to wear under your waders. The river water in Alaska is cold! Don’t forget to throw in a pair of shorts for the hot tub.
Shirts: Good shirt options include T-shirts, flannel shirts and lightweight long sleeve shirts. Think layers and what could easily be removed if the day begins to warm up.
Jackets, sweaters and vests: A fleece jacket or pile jacket, vest and/or wool sweater are great options for layered warmth.
Long Underwear: Leave the cotton long underwear at home. Other options that are made out of polypropylene, capilene or wool are much better choices.
Socks: If your feet are cold, you’ll be cold. So bring warm socks. Wool or synthetic socks are the best warm socks for fishing.
Fishing Gloves: There are some really good fishing gloves available now days that are both functional and warm. Make sure the gloves you bring are warm and functional. Lightweight wool or fleece gloves are good choices.
Hats: Bring a warm wool knit cap. You’ll be amazed how much a warm hat will keep your entire body warm. Also bring a brimmed hat for those sunny and rainy days.
Polarized Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses are going to help remove glare from off the water and help you actually see the salmon moving up the river.
Day Pack or Backpack: Bring along a backpack or day pack that you’ll be able to throw your extra gear and snacks in.
Bug Repellent: The bugs and insects in Alaska during the summer months can get pretty thick. Bring a good quality insect repellent to help prevent the misery of getting “eaten alive”.
Water Bottle or Hydration Pack: You may be out on the water all day long, but you won’t be able to drink any of it. So bring a water bottle or hydration pack to pack in your own water.
Additional Items To Bring On Your Alaska Fishing Trip: Binoculars, camera with extra memory cards and batteries, sandals for relaxing around the lodge, alarm clock, sunscreen, personal fishing tackle, flashlight, and cell phone charger.
Other Fishing In Alaska FAQ’s
How to get fish home from alaska
The easiest and best thing to do if wondering how to get your fish home from Alaska, is to ask the staff at the lodge you’ll be staying at in advance.
Many fishing lodges in Alaska will process your fish for you. By processing, they’ll clean, fillet and sometimes even vacuum seal it and flash freeze it to prepare it for travel.
If the lodge your staying at doesn’t provide these services, then they certainly will know someone in the area that does. Communication with the lodge staff prior to your trip is critical for planning ahead for knowing what to do with your fish.
To get your fish home from Alaska, you have a couple of options. You can bring a large empty cooler with you. Then fill it with your processed fish and check it on your flight as check-in luggage.
The other option you have to get your fish home from Alaska is to ship it home through a shipping service such as FedEx or UPS. Your lodge staff will be able to help you out with these details as well as provide approximate costs for shipping fish home.
How Much To Tip Captains and Deckhands On Alaska Fishing Trips
Tipping your boat captain and deckhand is generally not a required or expected gesture, but tips are always very much appreciated. Boat captains and deckhands work very hard at helping you catch fish, and are always grateful to know their hard work is appreciated.
As I mentioned, tipping is not required, but it is custom, and it is a large part of the income captains and deckhands earn. So how much should you tip? Generally speaking, for customers who are pleased with the service they received, a tip of 15% to 25% of the price of the charter is fairly common practice for the captain and deckhand to split.
Another idea for tipping fishing guides, is to tip approximately $1 per pound. So if you were to catch a 25 pound salmon, then giving the guide a $25 tip would be appropriate. If you don’t catch anything that day, then $20 for the effort would also be appropriate.
Where To Get Your Fishing License For Alaska
You can buy non-resident fishing licenses for Alaska almost anywhere. But the easiest way to get your Alaska fishing license is to buy it online.
Now that you’ve been armed with all this information on what its like, and what it takes to go on a fishing trip to Alaska, go out there and make it happen. Don’t wait too long. Start making plans now!
If Alaska doesn’t quite appeal to you at this point, perhaps planning a fishing trip to somewhere a little warmer would be more your speed. If you’re thinking of traveling anywhere near Florida or southern California, or anywhere else in the world where there’s warm weather and warm water, then think about giving Dorado, or Mahi Mahi a shot!
If you’re planning on heading to any of those locations, take a look at my Ultimate Guide To Fishing For Dorado.
And if you’re in the mood for trying something completely new, have you tried carp fishing? I’ll bet there’s a body of water near where you’re at right now that’s holding carp. Don’t count carp fishing out until you’ve given it a try! It’s about as basic as fishing can get. Check out my Ulitmate Guide To Carp Fishing to learn how.
Resources And Additional Reading