Alaska Fishing FAQs

General Alaska Fishing Questions

Where can you fish in Alaska?

In Alaska, you can fish just about anywhere you can get to by car, plane, boat, or hiking. The Kenai River has some of the highest quality accessible roadside fishing options in the state. There are public fishing locations for those who want to do it on their own and guided fishing trips where you get out on the rivers, lakes, and ocean. Some areas are really difficult and expensive to get to. The Kenai River offers easy access and awesome fishing.

Where can I fly fish in Alaska?

With over 9,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, Alaska offers near-infinite fly fishing possibilities. One of the most accessible and famous is the world-renowned Kenai River located on the Kenai Peninsula.

Where is the best fishing in Alaska?

Depending on which species you are targeting, there are a lot of great places to fish in Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula is a great option because of the quality salmon, rainbow trout, steelhead, and halibut fishing all in close proximity to one another. It is all accessible by car with relatively short drives between locations. There is also top-notch fishing for grayling, lake trout, northern pike, and burbot in interior Alaska. There are fly-in, remote locations for excellent fishing, as well.

What is the best month to fish in Alaska?

The best months to fish in Alaska are the summer months of May, June, July, and August, and the fall months of September and October. There are specific dates that are considered peak for each species available in Alaska, and it is important to do your research before you plan a trip and spend your money. We highly recommend contacting us before you pick your dates so we can offer some good advice on the timing of your trip based on your fishing goals.

How much is a fishing trip in Alaska?

The cost of a guided fishing trip in Alaska depends on what you are fishing for, where you are going, and for how many days you are going to fish. Check out our day trip pricing and our package pricing to get you started.

Do I need a license to fish in Alaska?

You need a copy of your fishing license on your person when you are fishing in Alaska. If you are a nonresident (16 and older) or a resident (18 and older), then you need a valid fishing license for the day(s) you are fishing. If you are king salmon fishing, you will need a king salmon stamp valid for each day you are targeting king salmon. If you are under the legal age required, get a harvest card and carry that with you for your fishing trips. For some trips you need to record fish and some you don’t, so it is just easier to always have a harvest card with the youth. Check out pricing for a fishing license here.

Where can I buy a fishing license in Alaska?

You can purchase a fishing license online or at a physical location in Alaska. Places that sell fishing licenses may include sports stores, fishing stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and many other retail type stores. Click here to purchase a fishing license online.

Kenai Fishing Questions

What kind of fish are in the Kenai River?

The Kenai River has four species of salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, whitefish, hooligan, and smaller bait fish that inhabit the river. On occasion, you can find a lake trout near the outlets of Skilak & Kenai Lakes. The four species of salmon in the Kenai are sockeye (red salmon), coho (silver salmon), humpy (pink salmon), and chinook (king salmon).

When is the Kenai River open for fishing?

The Kenai River is open for fishing 12 months out of the year, but the openings for specific species vary by season. It is best to check current regulations with the state of Alaska to make sure you are legal. Generally speaking, the summer months, when most people book adventures with us, there is always a species of salmon we can fish for on the Kenai River. Rainbow trout fishing is open after June 11th.

How far is it from Anchorage Alaska to Kenai Alaska?

It’s about a 3-hour drive (158 miles) from Anchorage to Kenai, Alaska. Most people rent a car and make the drive when they come on a guided fishing trip with us. You may also take a 15-minute flight with Ravn Air for under $100, each way, and then rent a car out of Kenai.

Where does the Kenai River start?

The Kenai River starts in Cooper Landing, flowing 17 miles into Skilak Lake. The 29.5 mile long stretch from Skilak Lake outlet to the Sterling Highway bridge is known as the Middle Kenai River. This is where the Middle Kenai transitions into the Lower Kenai, running for an additional 21 miles before emptying into the Cook Inlet.

How deep is the Kenai River?

The Kenai River is generally a wide, slower-moving river that averages 3-10 feet deep during summer months. The Kenai has plenty of fast water with boulders sticking up as well. There are spots with plenty of gravel bars that are only inches deep, and there are holes that are over 20 feet deep. It is a good idea to hire someone who knows the river to guide you safely around if you have not been on the Kenai before.

Alaska Salmon Fishing Questions

Where is the best salmon fishing in Alaska?

The Kenai and Kasilof rivers offer some of the best salmon fishing in the world and are accessible by car via Anchorage. You can catch four of the five species of salmon on the Kenai Peninsula. Fly into Anchorage, rent a car, and drive three hours to our location in Soldotna. There are also fly-in trips we offer in June and August – for red (sockeye) and silver (coho) – to more remote places in Alaska. There are other fly-in locations in Western Alaska that offer excellent salmon fishing.

What time of year do the salmon run in Alaska?

Salmon start running up the rivers in Alaska by early May and can run through early winter. The peak of salmon entering the rivers in Alaska is June – October. There are five species of salmon that enter specific rivers at specific times, so it is very beneficial to have a guide help you find and catch these salmon. On the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, you can catch salmon from late May thru the end of October annually. You can also catch salmon year-round ocean fishing out of Homer, Alaska.

What is the best time to go salmon fishing in Alaska?

The best time to go salmon fishing is dependent on where you are fishing and what species you are targeting. The Kenai River is awesome because it has fishable numbers of salmon for most of the summer months! Check out our salmon page and see peak dates.

How do you catch salmon on the Kenai River?

There are many ways to catch salmon on the Kenai River. You can fish from a boat on the river or from shore at any of the public state or federal parks. People cast for salmon with fly or spinning gear. Anglers also troll and drift the river. You can use flies, spinners, crankbaits, bait, etc., depending on what part of the river you are on and current regulations. There are areas where regulations are more strict on what gear you are using so make sure to know the rules for where you are fishing.

What weight fly rod for Alaskan salmon?

Depending on which salmon you are trying to target there will be the appropriate fly rod to use. When fishing for red salmon (sockeye) you will need an 8-9 weight fly rod that is about 9 feet long. Silver salmon (coho) can be a slightly bigger fish, so a 9-foot 9 weight is the right choice. If you are targeting king salmon (chinook) then you are going to want a 12 weight rod. You can single hand cast for all these species. If you want another option for silver or king salmon then switch or spey rods are a great alternative. The single hand rod is the ticket for red salmon fishing since you are fishing from shore, and they run tight to the bank.

What do you wear to salmon fish in Alaska?

When fishing in Alaska you are going to want to have layers of clothing, rain gear, and ideally waterproof boots. Make sure to avoid cotton layers. Bring a backpack with extra layers in case you get wet or cold. When salmon fishing it is also a great idea to have eye protection or sunglasses. Bring a winter hat and gloves for those cold spring or fall mornings.

What is the best type of salmon to eat?

There are different answers to that question. Silver salmon (coho) is the mildest of the salmon in terms of flavor and cooks up nicely. Red salmon (sockeye) has a rich, robust flavor, and the meat is more firm than silver salmon. King salmon (chinook) is super flavorful with thicker fillets, but more rare at the grocery stores, at this time. Everyone has a favorite type of salmon to eat, and you just have to figure out which is yours!

Alaska Silver Salmon (Coho) Fishing Questions

Where is the best silver salmon fishing in Alaska?

Some of the best silver salmon (coho) fishing in Alaska is on the Kenai Peninsula, particularly the Kenai River. On the Kenai, there are multiple runs of silver salmon throughout the fall. The size of the average silver salmon is also impressive in the 10-14 pound range with a 15+ pound silver not uncommon. You can also spend a day flying in to one of three remote locations for some excellent silver salmon fishing. Most people that fish multiple days or do a package with us end up booking a silver salmon fly-in trip.

Is coho salmon from Alaska?

The silver salmon (coho) is a species of salmon that we find in Alaska, Canada, and the Northwest states of America. You can also find this native salmon species in Japan and Russia. The great lakes have introduced the silver salmon, as well, but they are not considered native.

How do you fish for silver salmon in Alaska?

You can catch silver salmon in many different ways, which is why this species is so popular and fun. On the Kenai river we can cast, twitch, or troll for silver salmon. When casting you can cast fly rods or spin rods. Because silver salmon are so aggressive we can catch them using plugs, spinners, flies, jigs, and many other lures, depending on the day.

What is the season for coho salmon?

The season for silver salmon (coho) in the Kenai River area is from early August through October 31st. The season closes starting November 1st to protect spawning salmon.

What is the limit on silver salmon in Alaska?

The limit varies for silver salmon depending on where you are located in Alaska. In our area on the Kenai River, we are allowed to keep two silver salmon per person, per day in August, and three per person, per day the rest of the open season through Oct 31st. The fly-out trips we offer for silver salmon have a daily limit of three per day, per person.

Alaska Red Salmon (Sockeye) Fishing Questions

Is red salmon the same as sockeye?

A red salmon and a sockeye are the same species (Oncorhynchus nerka). Each species of salmon has two names. One name is their given name and one is a nickname. A sockeye is called a red salmon because of how red the skin turns after it enters the river. The meat is also bright red and generally holds that color after being cooked.

Where can I fish for sockeye salmon in Alaska?

You will find sockeye salmon in most rivers of Alaska that have adequate salmon habitat where mature salmon can spawn and juvenile sockeye can survive. The Kenai River system is an ideal habitat for sockeye salmon because there are two huge lakes, lots of slow-moving water, and many tributary streams. It is most people’s choice of location because it is a roadside fishery that is very accessible. Western Alaska – Bristol Bay, in particular, is the other location where you will find high numbers of red salmon. It is an amazing fishery but more expensive and harder to access. Read more about sockeye fishing the Kenai River with us.

What is the limit on red salmon in Alaska?

The limit on red salmon depends on local regulation for the waters you are fishing. On the Kenai Peninsula, the standard red salmon (sockeye) limit is three fish per person, per day. If the escapement has been reached, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game can increase the limit. If it is a year of lower abundance, ADFG can also reduce the limit.

What is the difference between red and pink salmon?

Some people confuse red (sockeye) and pink (humpy) salmon that are fresh from the ocean because they can look similar, but it is easy to tell the difference once they change into their spawning colors. In the ocean, both fish are bright silver but the pink salmon is typically smaller than the red. Once in the river, the red salmon turns bright red in the body with a green head. The pink salmon gets a big hump on the back and turns grey and white. The taste of the red salmon meat is highly sought after, while the pink salmon meat is less desirable. If you catch a pink salmon in or near the ocean, it is edible, whereas you can catch a red salmon that has been in the river for a while, and it’s still good eating.

Alaska King Salmon (Chinook) Fishing Questions

What is Alaskan king salmon?

The Alaskan king salmon (chinook) is one of the most highly sought after species of salmon in Alaska. It is the largest of the five species, but also the rarest. Whereas sockeye and humpy come in by the millions, the king salmon comes in by the thousands. The world record king salmon was caught on the Kenai River in 1985 by Les Anderson, weighing 97lbs 4 oz, and put the Kenai Peninsula on the map for salmon fishing in Alaska. Now because of lower numbers of native king salmon in our area we only fish the June Kasilof River king salmon run, which is a hatchery king salmon run. This is still a good run of king salmon, and you can keep a hatchery king. We have had thousands of happy customers while spending our time in late June to end of July targeting red salmon and rainbow trout.

Where is the best king salmon fishing in Alaska?

There are a few different places that could be considered the best king salmon (chinook) fishing in Alaska. One location is on the Kasilof River in June during the hatchery run because you have the chance to catch multiple king salmon in one day and bring one home with you. This location and run offers some prime, early season river fishing for king salmon. The Nushagak River is another prime location to king salmon fish because there are high numbers of fish that return annually to this area. The Kenai River is another location that is still considered one of the best in Alaska because you still have the chance at catching a world-class king salmon. The Kenai River king salmon is struggling with low numbers right now, but if you do hook one it could be a giant. The Kenai and Kasilof rivers are accessible by our road system and the Nushagak River is a fly-in only location, making it more pricey. There is also ocean fishing for king salmon out of Deep Creek and Homer that can be good at certain times of the year.

How many king salmon can I catch in Alaska?

The daily and annual limits of king salmon change depending on location, and in recent years, depending on run strength. On the Kasilof River, the only river we currently fish for king salmon, you can typically keep one hatchery king salmon per person, per day, with an annual limit of five per year, per person. If you catch a native or natural fish you let it go. On the Kenai River, it has been mostly catch and release in recent years. In the ocean, you can keep one to two king salmon per day, depending on what time of year you are fishing for them.

Why are king salmon disappearing in Alaska?

There are a lot of theories on why king salmon have been disappearing in Alaska. We do know that between local sport and commercial fishermen, we need to allow them access to the river so they can spawn. Since 2013 we have only been fishing the hatchery run on the Kasilof river because of this. Our choice as a business, whether it is legally open or not, has been to leave the native king salmon alone and fish for more abundant species such as red salmon and rainbow trout. That has filled our time and sends people home with lots of catching and a cooler of salmon. Other factors that have made big impacts on king salmon numbers in Alaska have been ocean trawlers bi catch of king salmon, illegal fishing in international waters, Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), warming ocean temps, and lack of food supply for king salmon in the ocean. What we have done locally is to try to get more native king salmon into the Kenai and Kasilof rivers to spawn.

Alaska Rainbow Trout Fishing Questions

What kind of trout are in Alaska?

Rainbow, steelhead, and cutthroat are the three types of trout found in Alaska. Lake trout are present, as well, but are actually in the char family.

What is the difference between steelhead trout and rainbow trout?

The biggest difference between rainbow and steelhead is steelhead are anadromous. Anadromous fish are born in freshwater, spend most of their life in the ocean and return back to freshwater to spawn. Rainbow trout, however highly migratory, spend their entire life in freshwater.

Where is the best trout fishing in Alaska?

The Kenai River is the best roadside fishery in the world and boasts rainbow trout with the largest girth. Western Alaska is also home to fantastic trout fishing but is only accessible by plane or boat. The majority of anglers stay at remote fly-in lodges.

Alaska Halibut Fishing Questions

Where is the best halibut fishing in Alaska?

Some of the best halibut fishing in Alaska is right out our front door in Cook Inlet (Deep Creek & Homer) and Prince William Sound (Seward). Homer and Seward have been big name halibut fishing locations since people started halibut fishing in South Central Alaska, but Deep Creek is an amazing fishery as well. When going out of Homer and Seward you typically have a longer drive and a longer boat ride to get to fishing spots. Both locations are beautiful and have harbors where the boats are moored. Deep Creek is a unique tractor launch on the beach and is very appealing because of shorter boat rides to the fishing grounds. Also, Deep Creek is only 40 minutes from where most of our clients stay in the Soldotna area. If you book multiple days of halibut fishing with one of our packages, consider one day out of Deep Creek and one day out of Homer.

What is the best month for halibut fishing in Alaska?

The best months for halibut fishing in Alaska are May to September with the peak happening from June to August. Calmer seas and nicer weather are also an important factor in having a productive, fun day on the water, which the midsummer days typically bring.

What is the limit for halibut in Alaska?

The limit for halibut in Alaska changes depending on where you are located. In Southcentral Alaska, fishing out of Seward, Homer, or Deep Creek, you can keep two halibut per person, per day on a guided fishing trip. One can be any size and one has to be 26 inches or less. There is an annual limit of four halibut per year for guided trips so you probably don’t need more than two days guided halibut fishing, per fishing trip to Alaska. Unless it is a unique, rare day you should be able to get your limit of halibut each time you go fishing.

How much does it cost to go halibut fishing in Alaska?

Depending on which charter you are going with and the length of the trip it can cost anywhere from $100-$450.00 per person, per day. The less expensive, shorter trips stay close to home and the more expensive, long-range trips get you hours from where you started. Your fishing goals will determine which trip you would want to book. Our halibut partner’s trip costs range from $270-$375 per person. You can do a local halibut-only trip or do a long-range, halibut only or combo trip (add salmon or rockfish) as well.