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Wild country, big fish and opportunities for solitude make for the fishing experience of a lifetime.

With more than 3,000 rivers, 3 million lakes and 6,640 miles of coastline, Alaska takes the old saying "so much water, so little time" to a whole new level. Steelhead in the coastal streams of Alaska’s Southeast Panhandle, salmon and trophy rainbow trout in remote Bristol Bay waters, halibut in Prince William Sound, and sail-finned grayling in the Yukon and beyond — Alaska is big country with big fish.

Much of Alaska is also remote, with fishing accessible only by boat or float plane. One major launch point is Dillingham, a town of 2,500 on Bristol Bay — called the "Salmon Factory of the World" for its prolific runs of five species of salmon, including the largest wild sockeye runs in the world. Several remote rivers thread inland from Bristol Bay to large lakes and networks of smaller streams that teem with spawning salmon as well as rainbow trout, grayling and more. Outfitters based in Dillingham maintain cabins and temporary camps in the backcountry, serving up gourmet food and campfire camaraderie in addition to spectacular fishing.

The main season around Dillingham runs June through September, when daylight stretches toward midnight. June kicks off the runs of sockeye, chum and legendary king salmon. August brings the cohos and pinks. A variety of flies and spinning tackle are effective. Fishing for rainbows is summer-long, and offers good opportunities for fly-fishing with dries, nymphs and streamers. To the uninitiated, these big rainbows can be mistaken for salmon!

If you're after even bigger fish, head for the saltwater. Charter a boat out of Seward or one of the many other port towns, bait your hook and be prepared to hang on tight — a "big" halibut starts at 100 pounds. Anglers have been known to pull in 300-pound-plus halibut. Salmon can also be taken at sea.

Catch and release is always a good option. But eating fish is a part of everyday life in Alaska, and it's easy to pack a cooler of delicious salmon or halibut for the trip home.

Basic Info
Weather
  • 22° Dec-Feb
  • 44° 29° Mar-May
  • 65° 53° Jun-Aug
  • 40° 28° Sep-Nov
Waterways
Cook Inlet, Ship Creek, Anchorage Lakes, Kenai River
Licenses
Fishing license info here: here

The Catch

Top fish species to target in Alaska

Chinook Salmon (King)

The biggest of the salmon family, these fish can get up to 70 or 80 pounds. They are silver at sea and turn red as they make their way upriver to spawn and die.

Chum Salmon

Among the largest species of Salmon, Chum average 8-15 pounds, and develop bold red and black striping as they enter freshwater.

Coho Salmon

Average 8 pounds with dark metallic blue or greenish backs with silver sides and a light belly; spawning fish in rivers are dark with reddish sides

Halibut

One of the world's largest flatfish, Halibut have diamond shaped bodies and swim sideways, blending in with the sea floor.

Lingcod

Neither a Ling or a Cod, Lingcod have large heads and mouths and sharp teeth and body narrows towards the tail.

Sockeye Salmon

One of the smaller species of Pacific Salmon, Sockeye are sought after for their bright orange flesh.

More Outfitters

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