“Whether your fishing dream involves mountain stream or briny ocean, making it a reality is easy—and beautiful—in Alaska. With nearly 34,000 miles of coastline and countless pristine lakes and rivers, Alaska is a fisherman’s paradise. Alaskan anglers regularly throw back fish that would be considered trophies elsewhere. No experience? No problem: top-flight guides offer up all the equipment and instruction you need. You’ll likely be going after the Big Two: salmon and halibut. Salmon range from pan-size to nearly 100 pounds, while halibut can weigh hundreds of pounds. Dining on your catch may be easier than hauling it in; most charters offer filleting, freezing and shipping.”
There are four basic ways to go fishing in Alaska:
Hire a guide: This is the fastest and easiest way to catch fish, since the guides know where the big ones are biting. Prices start at around $150 per day for ocean charters and $100 per day for river guides; both supply all the transportation, equipment and advice you’ll need.
Fly-in: This is the quickest way to Alaska’s back country—by seaplane. In less than an hour, you’re waist-deep in wilderness and fish. From fighting king and silver salmon to feisty trout and grayling, pilots know where to find the fish. The cost is anywhere from $250 to $450 per person per day; you generally get license, lunch and all the equipment. Some companies include a guide, while others charge extra for this service.
Lodge: Fly-in fishing lodges are the ultimate wilderness luxury. If you’re willing to spend a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per week, a fly-in resort puts you in the middle of nowhere, away fro the angling hordes, and serves up all the attention, instruction and gourmet food you can handle.
Solo: For the patient traveler, going solo offers its own rewards. Make friends in fishing stores for advice on good locations, or search out your own slice of water. You’ll need a license, and you can rent equipment easily.
Check the Alaska Fish and Game Department’s sport fishing website and regulations and get a license before you go casting a line. Non-resident licenses run from $10 for a day to $100 for a full year. King salmon tags are extra, and you can only catch one king salmon per day.
Some places to begin your fishing trip include:
Anchorage: Some of south central Alaska’s best fishing is available in Anchorage. Ship Creek is Alaska’s most productive king salmon sport fishery, and its located right in downtown Anchorage. Bird Creek is located just 20 miles south of town along the magnificent Turnagain Arm. This location hosts pink and silver salmon galore, but be prepared for “combat fishing” when the runs are in, as hundreds of angles bump and nudge their way to the best spots. Lake fishing in Anchorage, at one of the more than dozen stocked lakes, including Little Campbell Lake in Kincaid Park for rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and arctic char; Sand Lake in South Anchorage for pan-sized trout, salmon and the voracious northern pike.
Homer or Seward are the jumping off points for halibut fishing on an ocean charter. Homer is an eclectic, laid-back community of artists and fishermen that lies at the end of the Sterling Higway; it is the gateway to Kachemak Bay, one of the richest fishing bays in the world. Seward is a picturesque seaside community, with a bustling harbor, quaint shops and galleries, and a reputation as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park.
Logistics: Both Homer (PAHO) and Seward (PAWD) have paved runways and are a short flight for Cirrus pilots from Kenai or Anchorage. Once there, plan on a one- to two-hour boat ride for prime fishing in the ocean, usually for a full-day cruise.
Logistics: Kenai (PAEN) or Soldotna (PASX) have paved runways that are a short flight for Cirrus pilots from Anchorage, Homer or Seward. You can then rent a car and drive an hour to Cooper Landing, or hire a guide in town.
Susitna River Valley, north of Anchorage, has plenty of salmon in the 30-50 pound range and amazing wilderness (bears, eagle, moose) along the riverbank. Its on the way to Talkeetna and Denali National Park; hire a guide in town.
Logistics: Talkeetna (PATK) has a paved runway and is a short flight for Cirrus pilots from Kenai, Homer, Seward or Anchorage.