Fishing in Alaska is an experience many visitors dream about. And what’s the fastest and easiest way to catch a fish in Alaska? Shore fishing!
Some visitors simply can’t invest their valuable travel time and/or money taking a guided fishing outing or a daylong fishing trip. But for those who still want to wet a line, yell “Fish on!” and possibly land a salmon, trout, grayling or Arctic char, shore fishing is refreshingly easy. Grab a rod and reel (your own, rental or loaner) when its convenient during your Alaska vacation and step up to the shore of one of Alaska’s fish-filled waterways.
To get you started, here are eight of the hottest, and most accessible, shore-based fishing spots in Alaska.
Kenai River, Cooper Landing
For fishermen looking to get hooked on Alaska’s best angling action, the Kenai River is the place. This is where large salmon runs are plentiful and Alaska fishermen flock in hot pursuit and it’s where legends are made. Here in 1985, Les Anderson caught a record king salmon, which weighed in at 97 pounds, 4 ounces, and was five feet in length! Because the Kenai is where the wildest Alaska fishing dreams often come true, this angling destination attracts many, so expect to see its riverbanks lined with fishermen when the fish are running. Locally known as “combat fishing”, the experience can live up to its name. The tranquil “A River Runs Through It” vibe this is not! But the ultimate prizes here are so good, most are willing to sacrifice some comfort to land a big one. Heck, even the area’s resident bears sometimes pop by for an occasional salmon bite. How totally Alaskan!
Ship Creek, Anchorage
Yes, Alaska’s largest and busiest city, Anchorage, has one of the best fishing stretches in the state, and these are conveniently located in downtown. Each summer, the salmon return to the narrow creek that feeds out of Cook Inlet, and the fishermen are quick to follow. Because of its convenient location and plentiful fish, this fishing spot is a very popular place to shore fish. Watch or talk to the locals to get the exact positions of the creek’s best fishing spots. Worst case scenario: you enjoy fishing on an Alaska summer day and end up fishless, but then hit one of downtown Anchorage’s amazing restaurants for some tasty salmon someone else caught. Still just as delicious!
Eklutna Tailrace, Palmer
Less than an hour north of Anchorage, nearing the Mat-Su Valley, is a gem of a shore fishing spot, where the Knik and Matanuska Rivers converge and the annual spawning of salmon takes place. In addition to this cyclical event which helps build the population of salmon, salmon stocks are also added here. Fishing here is particularly comfortable thanks to many improvements to the area around the fishery over the years. There’s a convenient parking lot and even a bridge that allows for fishing on both sides of the waterway.
Allison Point, Valdez
The salmon runs at this hot spot along Port Valdez are so sweet that many fishermen find themselves competing for a catch with the local seals, sealions and bears. The fishing here also benefits from the nearby Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery, which releases millions – yes, millions – of salmon fry and smolts here annually. As grown adults, they return here months later, ready to eat, spawn and fight if caught on the end of your hook.
Homer, Kenai Peninsula
While known as “the Halibut Capital of the World”, this entire South Central Alaska fishing town is a great place for shoreline fishing, whether it’s along the famous Homer Spit (End of the Spit and Mud Bay are best bets in our book), at Fox River, Bluff Point or along any riverside where the salmon are pretty plentiful all summer. Bridge Creek Reservoir is a mellow spot where you can shore fish for Dolly Varden and rainbow trout, too.
Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River, Juneau
If your journey takes you to Alaska’s charming capital city of Juneau, you can also hit a fishing jackpot just outside of town at Mendenhall Lake. Species of salmon and trout, as well as Dolly Varden, are aplenty in this inspiring place. While you’re casting and reeling, you can breathe in both the scenery and freshest of fresh scents from the Tongass National Forest that surrounds you. A true Alaska lake and river fishing experience!
Quartz Lake, South of Fairbanks
This Interior campground area in Alaska’s North features a huge lake filled with hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout and landlocked and fishery-stocked coho salmon. Quartz Lake also has lots of grass, so fishing strategically from cleared areas (certain spots along the shore, the fishing dock, boat launches) will improve your chances of catching some of those amazing fish and decreases your risk of catching well, weeds!
Talkeetna, Near Denali
There’s a lot to recommend fishing in Talkeetna on top of the town’s Alaska Gold Rush history and views of “The Great One”, the mountain of Denali. A fun and funky little Alaska town, Talkeetna hosts and boasts excellent fishing! What’s not to love about fishing only a few hours north of Anchorage? Your fishing options here are many: Talkeetna Lakes Park Recreational Area has a series of lakes with easy access. And the Susitna, Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers all converge here, too, which deliver all species of spawning salmon. There are also countless creeks where rainbow trout, grayling and Dolly Varden can be caught, too.
Whatever your destination in Alaska, you can find a nearby shore to cast a line from. Just get to know a few locals and they’ll be happy to share their stories and their insights about how to maximize your fun when shore fishing in America’s 49th state.