Rivers, Lakes, and Streams – A Fishing Fanatics Dream!
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Living The Alaska Life and being a fishing fanatic, pretty much go hand in hand. It’s not uncommon to hear a story about someone that came up to Alaska for a vacation and then literally got hooked on the magic that the 49th state is known for delivering. Whether you love the thrill of reeling in a monster king salmon, or the delicate finesse of finely finagling a trophy rainbow trout on the end of a fly line, the last frontier has so much magic for every kind of fishing fanatic. The truth is, some of the best kept secret spots are off of the road system (and far to good to give away) but these 10 honey holes will give everyone in Alaska the perfect dose of non-stop action to keep them wetting lines for endless hours under the midnight sun this summer. We recommend taking at least five days to do this road trip, but if you have the time, one-week will let you fully enjoy the magic that each stop along the way has to offer. Pack your rod and load up (or pick up the rental car) and prepare for 689 miles + 13 hours of pure fishing fanatics mayhem. Click HERE for the full road trip courtesy of Google Maps.
1 – Kick off the road trip in Alaska’s Golden Heart City of Fairbanks. Here, the most popular sport-fishing mecca in interior Alaska is without a doubt the Chena River. Abundant species include Arctic grayling, burbot, chum salmon, whitefish, king salmon, longnose suckers, northern pike, and sheefish. The Chena River is a 100-mile tributary of the Tanana River and it flows west from the White Mountains towards Fairbanks, which is build on both sides of the river.
Flickr – Joseph
2 – Depart Fairbanks and head to Cantwell off the Old Denali Highway, where the amazing team at Denali Fly Fishing Guides will show you a side to this region like you’ve never experienced before. Fly fishing Broad Pass between the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountain Range is wicked cool for landing Arctic Grayling “the sailfish of the north” but fishing fanatics are also spoiled by some occasional peeps of Denali a.k.a. ‘The Great One.” Hard to beat a day of fishing in this paradise.
Facebook – Denali Fly Fishing Guides
3 – Sweet Talkeetna is a destination all within itself. Add in the Susitna River drainage or the Chulitna River and you’re simply submerged in a fishing fanatics paradise. Fish for all five species of wild Alaska salmon, or try your hand at catching Dolly Varden or Arctic Grayling
Flickr – Greg Mazu
4 – Break up all that river fishing with a lake life outting like you’ve never had before. Known as a year-round playground, Big Lake in Alaska’s Mat Su Valley is a seriously fun time. Angling addicts can try their hand at landing an arctic char, burbot, northern pike, or rainbow trout. There are also said to be coho salmon and sockeye salmon in the lake, which has a maximum depth of 89 feet and was most recently stocked in 1993 by ADFG with rainbow trout. This is a great place to break up the road trip too with an overnight camping trip or a nice afternoon picnic lunch will flinging the fishing pole off the shoreline.
Flickr – Michael Hayes
5 – Fishing fanatics, rejoice! It’s hard not to love a big city like Anchorage when you have this kind of awesome, accessible fishing right in the heart of downtown at Ship Creek. When summertime rolls around, you’ll see the creek lined with anglers hoping to land a prized Chinook (King) Salmon or Coho (Silver) Salmon.
Flickr – Jasperdo
6 – Head south from Anchorage on the scenic Seward Highway roughly 25 miles then pull into Bird Creek Campground for a surprising day of salmon fishing sure to win your heart. It’s hard not to love how easily accessible this honey hole is to access. Anglers enjoy great runs of Silver Salmon (Coho), as well as small runs of Pink Salmon, Sockeye (Red) Salmon, and Chum Salmon.
Flickr – Alex Proimos
7 – Carry on with your fishing fanatics road-trip to the supremely scenic town of Cooper Landing, Alaska. This mountain paradise really has that whole “river runs through it” thing down. Not only is it mind-blowing how gorgeous this place is, the fishing is quite literally out of this world. If you can handle some friendly 😉 “combat fishing” you NEED to visit the Russian River to flip for sockeye, coho, and the occasional pink salmon, as well as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. It’s also very common to see brown bears and black bears sharing these beloved fishing holes with the visiting anglers.
Flickr – Forest Service Alaska Region
8 – Easily one of the most popular sport fishing rivers in Southcentral Alaska, the famous 82-mile-long Kenai River is visited each year by hundreds of thousands of anglers from all around the world. Not only is the color of these glacial fed waters an absolutely striking sight to behold, but the fishing is positively bananas! The King Salmon (Chinook) has always been a very popular fishery, but other great runs include sockeye, coho, and pink salmon. Rainbow trout and dolly varden as well.
9 – Since you’ve already made it to the Kenai Peninsula, you might as well continue the journey south and make a stop at the Kasilof River. Locals flock here each year for dipnetting, but visitors have ample access to enjoy awesome sport-fishing as well. This drift-only fishery is located just a few miles down from the more-famous Kenai River and is truly underrated. Nothing beats catching an early-run King salmon at the beginning of the summer, your full limits of sockeye salmon during the heart of the season, or even a fiercely fighting silver salmon during the early fall months.
10 – A fishing fanatics road-trip would simply not be complete without a saltwater excursion. The very end of the road will lead you to the place known as “the halibut fishing capital of the world” a.k.a. Homer, Alaska! Head out onto Kachemak Bay and spend your day soaking in spectacular vistas while you jig for halibut and troll for salmon. Other awesome species that are a blast to catch include lingcod and yelloweye rockfish. Plus, this wild Alaska seafood is as scrumptious as it gets… Y-U-M!
What are some of your favorite places to yell “fish on” in the great state of Alaska? We’d love to hear about your favorite fishing memories while living The Alaska Life!
Looking for another great read? Check out Spring Trout Fishing – tips for early season angling. You might also enjoy A Guide to Fishing Cooper Lake on the Kenai Peninsula. Or this one about Situk River Fly Fishing for Spectacular Spring Steelhead. If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up being featured in one of our next blog posts.