Best Time to Fish in Alaska

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There is a time for everything, including fishing in Alaska. Alaska offers some of the best fishing opportunities, but good timing is key. Since you wouldn’t want to leave empty-handed, you must be wondering when is the best time to fish in Alaska

The summer months are the best time for your Alaska fishing trip. June, July, and August are the peak months for different species.  

Here is everything you need to know about fishing peak seasons as you plan your Alaska trip.

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Best Months for King Salmon Fishing

The best fishing time for King Salmon in Alaska is May to July. In May, rivers have low water levels, forcing the species to hide in deep holes. But with each tide, more kings enter the rivers. 

King salmon, or Chinook, is the largest of North Pacific salmon species and can weigh up to 80 pounds. Their bluish-green head, silvery sides, and black spots on the upper body identify them.

Fishing Spots

Kenai River holds the world record for the largest king salmon of 97 pounds and is home to many more. The King salmon run peaks in mid-July.

Kasilof River boasts two salmon runs from mid-May to June, with peak numbers in early June. However, due to its small, shallow, and rocky nature, drifting boats are preferable for fishing to motorboats. The remote Nushagak River is home to peaceful fishing grounds, too, with up to 100,000 fish in summer.

Insider Advice

Chinooks are large, have powerful fighting ability, and are tricky to hook and challenging to land. However, fly fishing and casting/spinning fishing can get you two kings on the same day. 

Best Months to Fish Pink Salmon

July to August are the best months to catch pink salmon in Alaska. Mid-August, is when the numbers are high, particularly in even-numbered years.

Even with its silver-gray or pink tinge color, the species is referred to as humpies since males have distinctive humped backs in the spawning season. Their average weight is 3 to 6 pounds, but some exceed 10 pounds.

Best Fishing Spots

The Kenai and Kasilof Rivers are suitable fishing grounds. Kodiak Island, too, has large populations and is ideal for angler fishing. 

Insider Advice

Humpies are aggressive and always put up a fight. Nevertheless, you have better odds of catching some with fly fishing or spin fishing.

Best Months to Fish Silver Salmon

The best months to catch silver salmon in Alaska are July to September. Although they begin their movement in late June, the peak season starts in August. 

Silver salmon has silver-colored scales, a bluish-green head, bright red sides, and black spots on its back. It is also referred to as Coho salmon, with an average weight of 10 pounds.  

Best Fishing Spots

Plan a trip to Ship Creek since it is easily accessible, and 250,000 smolts were released a few years back. Cohos also visit the Kenai River with an early run from late July to early August and another in September.

Try the Buskin River on Kodiak Island too. More than 10,000 humpies return here every year. 

Insider Advice

Thanks to their aggressive feeding habits, cohos readily take flies, spoons, and spinners. But once they are on the hook, they leap into the air with their acrobatic moves and can be tricky to land. 

Best Months to Catch Sockeye Salmon

The best months for fishing Sockeye Salmon are July to August. The sockeye numbers are highest in late July.

The species has a red body and green head during the spawning seasons hence the names ‘red salmon’ or ‘reds.’

They are easy to spot and target since they swarm Alaska’s rivers every year in hundreds of thousands to breed. Moreover, they are the best-tasting salmon in Alaska, with most people stocking them for winter. 

Best Fishing Grounds

Kenai River offers the largest sockeye salmon fishing grounds, especially when millions arrive here for breeding in mid-July. The Kvichak River provides a remote fishing expedition. 

Insider Advice

Sockeyes fight the hardest among salmons, and landing them may prove problematic. Fortunately, they get worn out easily and prefer swimming close to the shore, where you can catch them easily. 

Best Months to Fish Chum Salmon

The best time to fish chum salmon in Alaska is from June until late August. There is a peak in chum populations in the second week of July. 

The chum has a relatively poor flavor to other salmon. Despite this, many anglers find them a spot due to their aggressive behavior. 

This species develops large teeth during spawning and is nicknamed ‘dog salmon.’ They weigh between 10 to 15 pounds, but some adults reach 40 pounds. 

Best Fishing Spots

The species prefers deeper channels to shallow waters. It thrives near river mouths of small and medium-sized rivers. 

Insider Advice

Chum salmon are difficult to land, even for experienced anglers. They are aggressive and strike fiercely. Moreover, with their relative lack of preferred spawning locations, they are difficult to spot. 

Best Months to Fish Arctic Grayling

The best fishing season for Arctic grayling in Alaska is summer, from May to September. The peak times start from mid-August until September. 

They are generally smaller, with a typical adult weighing 5 pounds. They are identifiable with their silver body, large dorsal fin, and iridescent spots and markings.

Arctic Graylings are opportunistic and visual feeders attracted to insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish.

Best Fishing Spots

Since these are freshwater fish, they thrive in rivers and large lakes like Lake Clark. The rivers and streams that flow into Lake Clark have high numbers too. 

Insider Advice

This species is intelligent and has keen eyesight. It can outwit anglers and their lures, making it difficult to land a bite.

However, hungry arctic graylings are easier to catch with fly fishing. Also, using different angles may warrant successful fishing. 

Best Months to Fish Dolly Varden

July to September is the best time to catch Dolly Varden, with August having peak numbers.

The dolly, a species of char, takes advantage of the spawning seasons of other species. It follows them upstream to eat their eggs to gain their 15-pound weight. 

Best Fishing Spots

Plan a trip to the Arctic and Pacific drainage. Kodiak Island and Bristol Bay have the longest runs lasting from June to the end of September. The Kenai River is another perfect spot for residents and anadromous species of this Alaskan fish.

Insider Advice

The Dolly Varden is aggressive and can break your fishing line, thus a suitable sport fish. 

Best Months to Fish Arctic Char

July till September is the perfect time to fish Arctic Char in Alaska. There is an increase in numbers from early August to early September. 

Arctic char can survive in freshwater, though some species migrate from the sea to spawn in rivers. Regular-size arctic char weighs 9 pounds, while dwarf fish weighs 5 pounds. 

Best Fishing Spots

This species prefers cold regions, thus common in polar regions. Bristol Bay and lakes on Kodiak Island are prime fishing spots too. 

Insider Advice

They are easy to catch because they bask at the shores of rivers and readily bite lures. Nevertheless, slight movement deters them, and they fight hard when hooked. 

Best Months to Fish Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout numbers in Alaska peak in fall. Although you can go fishing from July until October, it is not until mid-August to mid-September that the numbers increase. 

This species primarily thrives in freshwater. Those from streams and rivers weigh 3-4 pounds, while those from lakes are 20-50 pounds. 

Best Fishing Spots

The Kvichak and Kenai river are prime fishing spots as they have crystal clear waters and abundant salmon that rainbow trout eat.

Insider Advice

Rainbow trout are acrobatics who fight relentlessly when hooked. Therefore, be prepared for an exhilarating battle when trying to land one. 

Final Thoughts

Alaska offers all-year-round fishing opportunities, including ice fishing in the winter. Nevertheless, the best time to fish is in summer. Apart from fishing, get to watch the Northern lights or explore the vast national parks in Alaska.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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