Stories from Alaska

An insider's journey through Alaska's best kept secrets

Fishing in Alaska: Why It’s So Easy to Get “Hooked”

For avid anglers and first-time fishermen, Alaska is where most fishing fantasies come true. Fishermen travel to Alaska from around the world with dreams of hooking a spectrum of salmon, heavy and hearty halibut, beautiful biting trout, and graceful grayling.

If there’s a will for fishing, there’s an Alaska waterway filled with fish: the state is covered in and surrounded by bountiful bays, lakes, rivers and streams. Heavyweight fishing catch (king salmon, halibut), middleweights (silver salmon) and some surprisingly strong lightweights (rainbow trout, grayling) can be found all across this angler’s paradise.

Fly-fishing for salmon on Big River Lakes from Redoubt Bay Lodge.

With practically as many fishing options in Alaska as there are fish to catch, it can be intimidating or overwhelming for beginners to figure out how to even get started. No worries – the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offer endless online and in-person resources and information, as do many of Alaska’s friendly outdoor stores and sporting goods shops, whose staff are happy to supply travelers with fishing equipment and essential fishing tips as well as a fishing tale or two.

Good result from a guided fishing trip on the Kenai Peninsula.

Want to maximize your fishing time and minimize your logistical stress? Connect with a fishing charter operation or fishing guide that will outfit you with gear, take you to the fish, and even clean and package your catch for you. Most offer full-day, half-day and customizable Alaska fishing trips, so there’s something for everyone.

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest town, offers phenomenal fishing. Silver salmon literally swim into downtown up Ship Creek, where anglers await, lining the banks. Anchorage-area lakes (Delong, Jewel and Mirror) and creeks (Chester and Campbell) offer smaller, but equally exciting fish like rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and Arctic grayling. No wonder it’s often named one of America’s Best Fishing Cities.

Visitors to coastal areas like Valdez, Seward, Ketchikan, Homer, Juneau, Kodiak, Cordova and Whittier can hit the wide-open water to hunt halibut, rock fish and salmon. Just about anywhere along Alaska’s road system, fishermen can park, walk a few feet and cast into a lake to land a trout or a river to slay a salmon.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of catching a fish in Alaska, make sure to do your homework before your trip. Visitors should purchase a non-resident Alaska fishing license, and a separate king salmon stamp if they plan on going after the big guys. Licenses can be bought online, at sporting goods shops, or grocery stores. Also, research and follow all regulations from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Here’s a final fishing tip, albeit an optional one: if there’s a derby taking place in the area you’re fishing, consider entering. Catching a big fish is thrilling; catching a big fish that’s worth $10,000 can pay for your Alaska trip and a celebratory round of deep-fried, beer-battered halibut!