When is the best time to fish in Alaska?

 Fishing for Arctic Char and Dolly Varden on the Kongakut River in June.

Fishing for Arctic Char and Dolly Varden on the Kongakut River in June.

We are asked this question on a daily basis, but it is an important one! A couple of factors come into play, but most importantly when can you come, what fish are you interested in targeting, and what region/river do you choose? With over 3,000 rivers in the state, and year round fishing opportunities, how do you decide what trip is best for you?

Alaska is massive, 663,300 square miles in size! It can be snowing in the Arctic in June, while in Fairbanks it can be 80 degrees! We saw this last June when we went to fly out of the Kongakut River and fly back into town! Fairbanks being the closest city to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That was certainly a surprise for everyone but it helps give perspective on size. As you look through our scheduled trips, you probably noticed that we offer certain rivers and specific times, this is because we have used 40 plus years of experience on these rivers to target the best times to go!

A big factor is then which of the dates on a certain river do you choose from? Typically we have a range of dates to select from. We use prior experience and historic fishing logs to help determine when the runs are the strongest to target certain species. We also have to take into consideration fish and game regulations in Alaska, which have very specific opening and closing dates to help manage our native species. All the dates we have scheduled could be considered “Peak” fishing times, so you really can’t go wrong choosing any scheduled dates and using them as a reference.

 On the Kwethluk River with Ralph Fisher in Late July.

On the Kwethluk River with Ralph Fisher in Late July.

To take it a step further, would be if you were interested in targeting a specific species. You can fish year round in Alaska. You will have the most variety of species and the largest runs June through September. In June, we like to go up north to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fish for Char, Dolly Varden, Grayling, and Sheefish. With the Rainbows spawning, and the salmon either haven’t shown up yet in the rivers or are low numbers in the rest of the state, the Arctic is a perfect place to visit this time of year. This is also a great time to be up there too, because the mosquitoes and gnats haven’t hatched yet. Around mid to late June, that is when King Salmon are at their peak. Sockeye (Reds) are in full swing the first week of July through the last week of July. The last week of July through first week of September is when the Coho (Silvers) Salmon are here, with their peak being around the last week of August. Alaska is a Rainbow Trout paradise, with the exception of May 1-June 15th, you can fish for rainbows year round.

Steelhead trout can be found in about 60 streams and rivers in the state. Their range is throughout Southeast Alaska up to Bristol Bay Region. There is an early spring run that starts in March in the Southeast and runs through early June. An elusive mid-summer run, and then again in late September through November 1 from Yakutat to Bristol Bay is prime for fishing for these strong fighters.

Since we fly into the headwaters or lakes to start our river trips, we usually start out fishing for char and grayling, and as we float downriver, we get into rainbows, and salmon. So every fishing trip offers diversity of species.

Here is a link to our 2019 Scheduled trips.

We’ve attached a link if you are interested in Alaska Fishing Regulations.