Fly Fishing in Alaska: A Newbie’s Information


Studying Time: 8 minutesIf you happen to’re the kind of angler who likes to stray off the crushed path, there’s likelihood fly fishing in Alaska is simply the factor for you. With hundreds of rivers and a few million lakes, you might simply spend the remainder of your life fishing right here and solely see the smallest a part of what the “Final Frontier” has to supply.

Glacier Bay, Alaska, as seen from a boat on a sunny day.

This information will take you thru every little thing it is best to know earlier than planning your fly fishing journey to America’s coldest state. We’ll present you what you possibly can catch, the place you are able to do it, and when. On the finish of it, we’re positive you’ll be itching to forged some flies as quickly as doable. Let’s bounce in.

High Fly Fishing Targets in Alaska

An actual deal with for freshwater anglers, Alaska is house to a few of the greatest Salmon and Trout fishing cash should purchase! It’s additionally the one place within the States the place you will discover subpolar species like Arctic Char and Grayling. To make this spectacular selection extra manageable, listed here are the most well-liked species you possibly can catch on the fly in Alaska:


Two anglers holding a Sockeye Salmon they caught fly fishing in Alaska.

Simply the star of Alaska’s fly fishing scene, the various kinds of Salmon right here will make your day on the water one thing to recollect. Chinook (King) Salmon is Alaska’s state fish and definitely the strongest fighter of the bunch. Alternatively, Sockeye are very fashionable with anglers due to their scrumptious flesh. Lastly, let’s not neglect the likes of Coho, Chum, and Pink Salmon, all of whom make this a fishery you don’t wish to miss.

With so many various Salmon species on the market, you’ll want to select your gear accordingly. King Salmon weigh anyplace from 15–60 kilos, so that you’ll want at the very least a ten wt rod with heavy taking pictures head fly traces and weighted flies which can be massive sufficient for environment friendly presentation. With Sockeye and Chum Salmon, you possibly can knock that all the way down to 7–8 wt rods paired with floating or sink tip traces. Pink and chartreuse flies are good starter choices, and the Dolly Llama sample is a specific favourite with anglers going after Salmon.


A pair of anglers hold a freshly caught Rainbow Trout on their fly fishing trip in Alaska.

One other staple of fly fishing in Alaska, Trout are at all times choice when you’re on the lookout for a conventional freshwater expertise. Alaska is bustling with Rainbow Trout, particularly within the western components of the state the place 30″ Rainbows are widespread. The one drawback is that a few of these fisheries out west are troublesome (and costly) to achieve. That being stated, taking a floatplane journey earlier than a day of fishing is one thing each angler ought to placed on their bucket record.

If you happen to plan on hitting one of many many lakes round right here, you’ll have your justifiable share of Lake Trout as well. They’re normally present in massive, deep, chilly lakes and you’ll fish for them from April all over October. Understand that the most effective time to forged some flies is correct after the ice thaws – when the water is chilly sufficient however not frozen. Native anglers normally use minnow and leech patterns in several colours when trout fishing.

Arctic Char

A wading angler holds up an Arctic Char he caught while fly fishing in Alaska.

Transferring on, let’s speak a bit a few species you possibly can’t discover anyplace else within the US. Arctic Char are literally members of the Salmon household, however because of their trademark spots you possibly can simply inform them other than different salmonids. If you happen to’re on the lookout for a novel fly fishing expertise in Alaska, the Arctic Char will show effectively definitely worth the journey.

The perfect time to go on the lookout for them is between late Might and early July. That’s after they congregate and eagerly go after the native Salmon. They’re aggressive and don’t thoughts shallow waters in any respect, which makes wading a well-liked strategy to method them when the season hits. So far as the selection of flies goes, leech and streamer flies are a few of the extra in style picks amongst native anglers.

Arctic Grayling

A closeup shot of an Arctic Grayling caught in Alaska.

In the case of sheer amount, Arctic Grayling rule the Alaskan freshwater. Their recognition is partly because of the reality you merely discover them all over the place you go. Whereas not the largest fish on the market, they’re most likely probably the most clever. Certainly not must you underestimate the standard Grayling. They’ll shock you. And the very fact they primarily feed on bugs makes them an incredible fly fishing goal as well.

A great method when focusing on Grayling is to start out with the quicker sections of the river you’re fishing in. Graylings’ dorsal fins enable them to make use of the present when operating from predators or catching their prey. Due to their measurement, you possibly can simply go after them with a 6 wt rod. As for flies, the X Caddis, Bead Head Stonefly, and Royal Humpy are all good decisions to start out out with.

And Extra

An angler holds a Dolly Varden he caught while fly fishing in Alaska.

All of the species we talked about above can hold you entertained for a protracted, very long time, however they’re removed from every little thing these superb rivers and lakes can provide. Take the Sheefish and Northern Pike for instance. The previous are often known as “Tarpon of the North”, whereas the latter at all times present an exciting struggle on account of their aggressive nature and cussed ferocity.

Final, however definitely not least, we’ve got the Dolly Varden, usually confused with their shut cousins – Arctic Char. Whereas Arctic Char keep on with lakes, Dolly Varden spawn and reside in streams and rivers, hardly ever exhibiting up in lakes. They share an uncanny resemblance, however you possibly can merely inform them aside by evaluating the Char’s noticeably-forked tail with the Dolly Varden’s that’s solely barely forked.

The place to Go Fly Fishing in Alaska

Now you understand what your choices are when it comes to fish species. However you also needs to know the place to search out them. In spite of everything, Alaska’s a reasonably large place. Choosing the cream of the crop when taking a look at hundreds of various rivers wasn’t simple, however we’re positive you’ll like what’s in retailer. So with out additional ado, let’s dig into a few of the greatest locations to go fly fishing in Alaska.

Kenai River

An aerial view of the Kenai River in Alaska.

Even when you’ve by no means been fly fishing in Alaska, you might need heard good issues in regards to the Kenai River. Positioned within the south of the state, it’s the primary fishing vacation spot for a lot of anglers flying in. We will hardly blame them, because the Kenai River is a productive fishery stuffed with Rainbow Trout, Coho, and Sockeye Salmon, in addition to Dolly Varden. Enjoyable reality, it’s additionally the record-holder for the most important King Salmon ever caught! Again in 1949, Les Anderson caught an astonishing 126 lb monster, nonetheless unbeaten to this present day.

Whilst you can technically come right here to fish any time of the 12 months, we’d suggest an August or September journey. That’s when the fishing actually comes alive and also you’ll see anglers land trophy-class 30″ Rainbows. With sufficient talent and a touch of excellent luck, you is likely to be amongst them. When you’ve boated a type of, you’ll really perceive why the Kenai is a world-famous vacation spot.

Alagnak River

A river close to the Alagnak on a bright day, with a pair of feeding bears next to the water.

Additional away to the southwest, you’ll discover our subsequent cease – the Alagnak River. One other river famend for the scale of its fish, this one’s an actual deal with for all Salmon lovers on the market. Boasting 5 completely different species of Pacific Salmon, in addition to Rainbow Trout and Arctic Grayling, it’s an incredible choice for each newbie fly anglers and seasoned casters alike.

The Salmon run begins in late June with Sockeye and Kings, carefully adopted by Chum, Coho, and Pink Salmon. The going is sweet all the way in which till mid-to-late September, providing you with loads of time to plan a summer season trip to recollect for years!

Quartz Creek

Spawning Salmon in the waters of Quartz Creek, Alaska.

Quartz Creek is thought for being a high Dolly Varden fishery, together with being simply navigable given its smaller measurement. It’s match for a extra off-the-beaten-path expertise that highlights Alaska’s beautiful wildlife and distinctive fishing alternatives. The rationale why it’s not a extra mainstream location is just because Salmon fishing is strictly prohibited.

If that’s not a deal-breaker for you, give it a shot throughout the August or September peak season! As soon as the Dolly Varden are passed by late September, you’re nonetheless left with some Rainbow Trout to tide you over. One phrase of warning, although. Native brown bears additionally fish the waterway, however they normally achieve this at evening. Even so, hold a watch open and a few pepper spray on you, simply in case.

Alaska’s Many Lakes

A panoramic view of Wonder Lake and Denali National Park in Alaska, with mountains in the background.

With such world-class fishing at so many various rivers, a whole lot of anglers pay little consideration to the stillwater fisheries. Whilst you can nonetheless make the case for the lakes being Alaska’s best-kept secret, extra anglers come to go to yearly. Because of a constant stocking program throughout the state, now you can discover loads of Arctic Grayling, Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Salmon, and Arctic Char strewn throughout Alaska’s lakes.

To cowl these lakes individually would merely take up manner an excessive amount of area. Fortunately, the Division of Fish and Recreation retains a meticulous on-line depository of all stocked lakes, full with maps and lists of species. They’re sorted by municipality, making it simple to search for your native lakes and plan your Alaska fly fishing journey.


Earlier than we wrap issues up, there are some things it is best to know in regards to the native fishing laws. For starters, any non-resident angler over 16 might want to purchase a fishing license. If you happen to’re a resident, then you need to be 18 and older. Shopping for an Alaska fishing license is straightforward to do on-line, and right here’s our full information with all the small print.

There are additionally laws relating to bag and measurement limits, relying on the fish species and physique of water. For instance, when you’re trying to catch some King Salmon you’ll want a separate stamp to maintain them legally. We extremely suggest touring with a licensed information who’ll fear in regards to the guidelines and go away you free to concentrate on the fishing itself.

Fly Fishing within the Land of the Midnight Solar

Bird Creek in Alaska on a clear summer day.

When summer season hits, Alaska can stand up to 22 hours of daylight on any given day. The one state the place you possibly can get pleasure from daylight at midnight, we will safely say it’s a very distinctive expertise. If you wish to relish the sensation of casting flies on the frontier, with untamed nature throughout you, there’s hardly a greater place to be.

Have you ever ever been fly fishing in Alaska? Any tales to share or catches to brag about? Tell us within the feedback beneath!


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