April 17, 2024

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Alaska Fishing Seasons- Everything You Need to Know

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Located in the northwest corner of North America, Alaska is a place of extreme cold and sublime natural beauty. Its pristine rivers and magnificent coastline provide a setting many anglers dream about. However, before you start exploring the “Last Frontier,” it’s important to get familiar with Alaska fishing seasons, as they’ll dictate the kind of adventure you’ll get to enjoy.

While there’s fish to be caught year-round, the harsh Alaskan winter will often turn away even the bravest of anglers. However, for those among you that just can’t resist heading out, there’s plenty of ice fishing to be done. Otherwise, you’ll have to plan your trip starting in spring. That’s when the winter starts to loosen its grip and the waters begin to warm up.

When is the high fishing season in Alaska?

Whether you’re interested in fresh or saltwater fishing, the season in Alaska peaks during the summer. It’s when the weather and the fishing conditions are at their most favorable, drawing in thousands of visiting anglers.

But as we already mentioned, there’s still fish to catch even during the colder parts of the year. So if you’d like to find out what’ll be biting at the time of your trip, check out our month-by-month breakdown. Or, see what’s biting in Alaska right now.


A closeup photo of a Rainbow Trout caught during the ice fishing season in Alaska.

January is the coldest month of the year in Alaska, with temperatures averaging between 20°F and 13°F. So if you happen to visit during this time, you’ll really need to bundle up. On the other hand, whatever lake or river you choose to fish, you’re likely to have it all to yourself. Even the bears will be hibernating, allowing you to experience the wild Alaskan nature all on your own.

Due to the cold, many rivers and lakes can be hard to reach. However, if you find yourself around Anchorage, you can try lakes such as Campbell, Jewel, DeLong, or Sand. There, you’ll get to reel in landlocked Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char, Grayling, and more.

One other option would be to visit one of the larger fishing hubs such as Homer or Ketchikan and try your luck there. Even though you won’t find too many guides offering trips, those that do fish year-round can put you on some winter Rockfish.


A photo of ice fishing shanties on a lake in Alaska.

While the average temperatures may not be quite as extreme in February compared to January, the fishing conditions are largely the same. You can expect most lakes to be iced over, making it a great time to bring out the augers, ice fishing rods, and a thermos full of hot coffee. It’s all about layering up and making the right preparations.

As far as fishing goes, the lakes will still hold plenty of Char, Grayling, Rainbow Trout, and Salmon. In particular, you can pay a visit to one of the numerous lakes found in the Mat-Su Valley, found just north of Anchorage. This region is known as the “Stillwater Fishing Capital of Alaska” and its waters are abundant with fish throughout the year.


An aerial shot of the Kenai River in winter.

By March, the seasons begin to shift, with days getting longer and temperatures slowly rising. This being said, you’ll still find some frozen lakes, allowing you to get one final shot at ice fishing before they thaw.

The beginning of the month is usually when the Alaska Halibut fishing season kicks off. What’s more, you’ll also start seeing more and more charter captains start to offer trips targeting Salmon and Rockfish. If you visit Homer you can even take part in the Winter King Salmon Tournament.

On the other hand, it’s still too early for Salmon to appear along the rivers of Alaska. Instead, if the water conditions allow for it, you’re likely to enjoy some Arctic Char and Trout fishing.


Two anglers on a small boat posing with a trophy-sized Dolly Varden.

As the ice on the many lakes of Alaska finally melts, you can expect the fish to be hungry. You’ll have a shot at catching Grayling, Lake and Rainbow Trout, Pike, Burbot, and several other stillwater species.

The days are now longer and the temperatures are higher compared to March. Because of this, the ocean fishing in April is also slightly better. The species you can expect to catch are largely the same, though, and include Halibut, Rockfish, and the occasional King.

If you’re interested in fishing the Kenai or other rivers in Alaska, you should know it’s still not yet the season for Salmon to start running. However, you’ll often see Trout, Arctic Char, or Dolly Varden feed on the Salmon smolt during the second half of April, making it a great time to reel some in.


An angler holding a Rainbow Trout up to the camera.

While it’s not yet summer, the fishing is definitely beginning to heat up. Saltwater angling during May is pretty consistent, with almost all of the Alaskan favorites on the menu. Whether it’s Halibut, Rockfish, or King Salmon you desire, all you have to do is get out on the water.

River fishing in the first half of May resembles what you’d experience in April. If you head to the Kenai River, you’ll have a chance to catch Rainbow Trout as they chase after Salmon fry. Dolly Varden will also be lurking in the waters, giving you more than enough variety before the high season gets here. 

Starting mid-May, the Chinook Salmon season officially kicks off both on the Kenai and the nearby Kasilof River. Kings are some of the most exciting fish you can hope to fight. They’re excellent fighters that taste absolutely divine.


Two anglers with a big Chinook Salmon caught while drift fishing on the Kasilof River.

If you’re looking to catch your fill of Chinook Salmon, now’s the time to hit the Kenai Peninsula rivers. The Chinook run usually hits its peak somewhere around the third week of June, but it’s possible to catch these fish throughout this month. Start your adventure from Soldotna or Cooper Landing to fish the Kenai River, or go drifting along the Kasilof.

Another species you can expect to reel in is Sockeye Salmon, especially if you visit the junction between the Kenai and the Russian River. Alternatively, you can fly fish for Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden which will also be biting at this time of the year.

On the saltwater front, you can expect to reel in plenty of King Salmon. There’s also a lot of action on the bottom in case you’d like to fill your coolers with Rockfish and Lingcod. Halibut fishing is also good all over Alaska but Homer is where you’ll get the best opportunity to reel in these flatfish.


An angler with a huge Chinook reeled in during the peak Salmon fishing season in Alaska.

July’s your last chance to fish for freshwater Chinook, as their season in Alaska usually closes at the end of the month. But even though their time will be coming to an end, the second half of July is when the Coho Salmon season begins. Not only that, but you’ll also get to catch Sockeye, often lauded as the toughest-fighting Salmon species.

Also, don’t be surprised if you run into bears as you explore the Alaskan freshwaters. July is the time of the year when they’re most active. You’ll often see them close to the water or grazing on wildflower, so make sure you stay vigilant.

If you turn to the ocean instead of the rivers, you’ll find the Alaskan saltwater fishing season at its peak. Whether it’s big Kings you’re looking to catch, doormat Halibut, or to just put some Rockfish or Lingcod on the dinner table, it’s all in the cards. Seward, Homer, Ketchikan, and Juneau are all fantastic starting spots to start your adventure.


An angler holding the famous doormat Halibut, reeled in during the summer fishing season Alaska is known for.

The first half of August offers some nice Sockeye Salmon action on the rivers. Coho fishing is usually great as well, especially in the latter part of the month. But that’s not all, Chum Salmon will be running through the Kenai Peninsula waters as well. And so will Pink Salmon if you happen to be visiting on an even year.

If you hop on a saltwater charter in Alaska, you can expect to reel in plenty of Lingcod, Halibut, and other bottom fish. In addition to that, you’ll have a shot at the Pink, Sockeye, and Coho Salmon that have made their way to the ocean. There’s no other time in a Salmon’s lifecycle when they’re as big as they get while they’re feeding in the saltwater.

All in all, unless you specifically want to target Chinook Salmon, August is one of the best months to go fishing in Alaska. You’ll get plenty of variety and guaranteed action.


An angler holding a big Alaskan Silver Salmon.

While it may no longer be the peak season to go fishing in Alaska, September is still a fantastic month to visit this part of the US. Salmon fishing will still be going strong with all the species except for Chinook swimming through. In addition to that, you’ll get to enjoy some truly amazing Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden angling along the Kenai Peninsula rivers.

It’s also worth mentioning that Steelhead tend to make their runs around this time of the year. These supercharged Trout are a blast to fight and definitely worth planning a trip around. The Karluk River on Kodiak Island offers the finest Steelhead fishing in the state.

Saltwater-wise, there’ll still be plenty of Halibut to catch, in addition to the standard bottom fish species that lurk in the depths year-round. Much like in the previous month, you’ll still get to fish for saltwater Salmon along the different bays and inlets along the Alaskan coastline.


A big Rainbow Trout being released back into the water during the fall fishing season in Alaska.

Compared to warmer parts of the world, October is considered to be late fall in Alaska. It’s when the seasons begin to shift once more, the days get shorter, and the temperatures begin to drop. For freshwater anglers, this also marks the time when the spawning Salmon reach the end of their life cycles.

This means you’ll have to switch your focus to other fish as the month passes. Luckily, the Trout action should still provide you with plenty of entertainment. In fact, it’s a great time to fish for big Rainbow Trout, as well as good old Dolly Varden.

On the ocean side, you’ll often see fishing slow down in October, with most of the charter captains in Alaska ending their seasons. Halibut start to migrate out of reach and fishing in some parts of the state closes due to regulations. The saltwater Salmon season is generally open at this time of year, but you’ll still see fewer of these fish in October when compared to the summer months.


A smiling angler with a big Rockfish caught somewhere in Alaska.

When you’re this far up north, winter arrives as early as November. At this time, you’ll see smaller inland lakes ice over and the days get shorter. Of course, this doesn’t mean the fishing stops, you’ll just need to layer up and adapt to the breezy conditions.

On the ocean, you’ll still be able to catch some delicious Halibut. As you search for fish along the sea bottom, you’re also likely to reel in some Rockfish. Sometimes, you’ll even see the occasional Salmon bite while you’re out there.

If you don’t mind the cold, November is also a good time to hit the Kenai River. There, you’ll enjoy some of the best Trout fishing Alaska has to offer, as these fish will be feeding on the Salmon carcasses and their eggs. You should also keep an eye out for Crab season openings since you might get a chance to harvest some of these tasty critters on your trip.


An Arctic Grayling being held out of the water.

This is your last chance to reel in some Halibut before their season closes for a month. That is if you can find a charter captain that’s still willing to take you out on the ocean. Around this time, Ketchikan is a good starting point for those interested in catching some deep sea delights.

December is also the start of the ice fishing season in Alaska. It’s when the frost on the lakes will start getting thick enough to fish on. Some of the more famous inland ice fishing lakes include Birch and Quartz lakes, Matanuska Lakes, as well as Nancy Lakes. 

Along these, and many others, you can expect to catch Arctic Char, different types of Trout, Grayling, Burbot, landlocked Salmon, Pike, Dolly Varden, and more. You’ll even find a few rare guides offering river fishing, however, most have ended their season either in October or November.

Alaska Fishing Seasons: From Ice Fishing to Doormat Halibut

An aerial shot of the Alaskan fjords and the surrounding mountains.

The great state of Alaska is famous for its Salmon and Halibut fishing that takes place each summer season. However, anglers who are willing and sufficiently equipped can fish even during the depths of winter. Extreme cold and ice fishing are not everyone’s cup of tea, but the potential for adventure is there. From big fish to bears and stunning wildlife, in Alaska, you’ll get to witness it all.

One last note before you go – always make sure to check out the fish regulations yourself. They can change quite often and can vary between different parts of Alaska. You can do so by visiting the ADFG website.

What’s your favorite season to fish in Alaska? Which species do you enjoy targeting the most? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Alaska Fishing Seasons – All You Need to Know appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Marko
Title: Alaska Fishing Seasons – All You Need to Know
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/alaska-fishing-seasons-all-you-need-to-know/
Published Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2022 11:34:00 +0000

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