Travel & Places Fly Fishing

Salmon Fly Fishing in Alaska

    Geography

    • The best areas in Alaska to go fly fishing for salmon are the southern regions of the state where rivers and creeks are present. Salmon runs from the southeast peninsula all the way to the southwest section of the state so that the rivers and creeks are filled with fish. The south central section of the state around Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage also offer many salmon fishing opportunities. While many of the central and even northern parts of the state have salmon, there aren't as many due to fewer spawning pools and the longer swim to and from the ocean, which means more fish die from predators along the way.

    Species

    • There are five species of salmon that can be found in Alaska. These species include the king salmon (which is the largest species by far), silver (coho) salmon, sockeye (red) salmon, pink salmon and chum salmon. Spawning times can vary, as the king salmon spawns between the months of September and October, while silver salmon spawn from October to November. The salmon runs of saltwater salmon returning to freshwater in the months before spawning indicate the best times to catch salmon fly fishing, although there are always salmon in the freshwater to catch. The physical appearance of each salmon species changes depending on whether the fish are in spawn or not. Colors and patterns change drastically. One example is the silver salmon, which sports a green and blue back and silver sides normally, but has a dark brown to black head and deep red sides while spawning.

    Licenses & Regulations

    • In Alaska, any resident between the ages of 16 and 60 is required to have a sports fishing license to go fly fishing for salmon, or any other fish. Residents under the age of 16 or over the age of 60 are allowed to fish without a license. All non-residents must have a sports fishing license. Individuals fishing for king salmon must also purchase an additional king salmon stamp. As of 2010, resident fishing licenses cost $24 for a year-long license. Non-residents can choose between one, three, seven, and 14 day licenses or buy an annual license. As of 2010, prices depend on the length of the license and range from $20 to $145.

    Guides & Lodges

    • There are many professional guides and lodges that specialize in fly fishing for salmon. Lodges will provide local guides, or visitors can hire an independent guide who knows local rivers and streams. Either way, both paid options are a good idea for fly anglers who haven't been to a particular area before. If you decide to go it alone, staying near streams that have parks and a developed area is the best idea for safety reasons, and always carry a can of bear mace and a survival kit for worst case scenarios. The Kenai Peninsula and small towns within an hour's drive of Anchorage are all great areas for salmon fishing that are also developed enough to make getting lost or in trouble much less likely.

    State Records

    • Fly anglers are going to have a challenge chasing state salmon records in Alaska. According to the Alaskan Sportsman website, the record king salmon caught in Alaska's Kenai River weighed in at 97 lbs. 4 oz. Chum salmon has the next largest record at 32 lbs., and the popular silver salmon has been reeled in at 26 lbs. Fly anglers fishing for red salmon only need to hit 16 lbs. to tie the state record, and the Alaska state record for pink salmon is the lightest at 12 lbs. 9 oz.

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