Guide To fishing in alaska

How To Plan A Successful Fishing Trip in the Great State of Alaska!

The fishing opportunities in Alaska are nothing short of world class! You have several choices for where and when to fish, so let's break down  the best ways to plan your fishing trip in Alaska and how to bring that amazing catch home. 


IN THIS GUIDE TO fishing in alaska, WE WILL COVER:

1. What Type of Fishing Can You Do In Alaska

2. Salt Water Fishing in Alaska


3. River Fishing in Alaska


4. Bringing Your Alaska Catch Home


decide what to fish for

Are you looking to stock your freezer with fresh Alaskan seafood? Favorite take home species are halibut, cod, and salmon. Halibut and cod are always caught by saltwater fishing, also referred to as deep sea fishing. All five species of Alaska salmon can be caught at sea or in rivers during spawning season. The time of year that you are in Alaska will dictate where you need to fish for river salmon. Kings, for example, can be caught in saltwater almost year round, but in the river systems only May through July. 

Catch and release fishermen have the chance to experience world-class fishing for rainbow trout, dolly varden, and grayling in both Alaska's interior and in Southeast Alaska. Visitors can hook into a 20-30 inch rainbow all summer long! If you plan to join John Hall's Alaska on a land tour that spends two nights at the Backcountry Lodge in Denali National Park, our guests will be provided with the opportunity to fish for trout or grayling in both Wonder Lake and Moose Creek with the gear and fishing license provided. 


Ready for some excitement? Try a day out on the water in Alaska, trolling for 80 pound kings, or using a down rigger to hook a 350lb halibut! While most salmon caught are in the 20-40 pound realm, and the best tasting halibut are under 40 pounds, it's still fun to know you have the chance to wrestle with a monster while at sea.

The unexpected benefit to Alaska saltwater fishing comes with the chance to fish alongside humpback whales, orca whales, seals and eagles. It's not uncommon to be 20 feet away from a humpback while reeling in your catch! All residents age 18 or older and nonresidents age 16 or older must purchase and possess a sport fishing license to participate in Alaska sport fisheries. In addition, a king salmon stamp is required to fish for king salmon. You can buy it online or purchase the license in town before your excursion.


River fishing is a wonderful way to spend a day in the great outdoors with the possibility of spotting a bear or eagle fishing along the riverbanks. Decide ahead of time if you want to catch and release your salmon, or keep them. This could dictate your fishing location. Rainbows and dolly varden will always be catch and release. The fight they give once hooked makes them a wonderful addition to your river fishing expedition.

The Copper River is famous for salmon that can fetch a pretty penny in your local seafood section. The Kenai River is equally famous for its beautiful blue water and monster kings. Consider fishing the Kasilof and Russian Rivers if you wish for a more solitary experience during the prime fishing season.

Avoid "combat fishing" that can take place long the Kenai during peak times. "Combat fishing" occurs when hundreds of fishermen stand 5 feet apart on the banks of the river and fly fish for salmon and trout. To avoid this, book a boat trip that will hold 4 anglers and your guide. Drift boats, boats without motors, can be chartered on the Upper Kenai and can be reserved for just you and a friend, plus the guide. 


Budget around $175 for a half day trip and $250 for a full day trip. Adventure seekers might consider a multiday fishing trip where you camp along the river and your guide cooks your meals as you go.  


Alaska salmon fishing

how to take your alaska catch home 

If you want to take your fresh catch home, first decide your budget for processing and shipping. Before your fishing trip begins, let your guide know how much you want to spend on processing or give a ballpark on the number of pounds you'd like to take home. This will help your guide determine how many fish you should keep and when to start throwing them back. If you don't do the math before you begin, you could end up with some serious sticker shock to round out an otherwise fantastic trip.


The guide will clean your fish for you. Budget $1.20 per pound for vacuum packing your catch. $1.50 to vacuum pack and flash freeze the fish. Budget another $8.00 per pound to ship your catch overnight to your final destination. Some guides will offer a discount if you pack and ship with them and some hotels will allow you to store your fish in their freezer while you vacation. 


Most guides will store your fish for you and ship it home on the day that you request. If you have a house sitter, you can ship it home immediately. 


Don't forget to tip your fishing guide. Tip generously if they put you "on the fish"! 


Fishing in Alaska Calendar

Let's look at our favorite areas to deep sea fish...


An easy half day drive from Anchorage, both of these port towns offer some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in the state. Talk to your guide if you have an interest in fishing for ling cod, rockfish, or shrimping as that can also be arranged. Expect to travel an hour out to the fishing grounds and to catch your limit when there. Oftentimes the salmon fishing will be non-stop. Boats will generally hold 4-8 anglers and will include all necessary fishing gear. Budget $250- $350 per person for half to full day charters.


Most visitors will stop on one or more of these ports if cruising in Alaska and fishing trips can be booked through the cruise lines or independently. The journey to the fishing ground is normally only 30-45 mins, but you could see some choppy water at times. Book a boat that holds 6-8 people and avoid the "party barge" large group fishing trips where you pay less to fish, but may have to take turns fishing. Budget $300- $350 per person for half to full day charters, but note that these trips may have a fisherman minimum of 4 to 6 people before you can secure the boat. Gear is provided.

If you are joining our Untamed Alaska vacation, you'll get the opportunity to fish the waters of Prince William Sound for your fresh Alaskan catch. The year round home to over 80 whales, you've got a great chance of taking in some quality whale watching while you fish. These trips are often made available to visitors who stay at adventure lodges in the area, so check before you book!


Saltwater Fishing in Alaska
Kenai River fishing Alaska

Arranging your fishing trip 

John Hall's Alaska guests have complimentary access to our list of premiere, fishing charter partners from across the state. Let us know your time frame, desires and dreams and we can make a trip happen for you. 


Remote fishing lodge stays, multiday trips, and combo fishing excursions are all available as options for the avid fisherman or fisherwoman. Come in a few days before your land adventure or stay a few days afterwards and take advantage of some of the best fishing in Alaska!


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