A Beginner’s Guide to Alaskan Salmon Fishing
The northern-most state in the US boasts several world-class fishing spots, and salmon fishing in Alaska is some of the best: Alaska produces 80% of the world’s high-value wild salmon! So whether you live there year-round or are taking a trip to beat the worst of the summer heat, you should consider adding salmon fishing to your agenda. This basic information will help get you started. It might be a good idea to bring along some smaller gear to catch rainbows and dolly varden trout found throughout much of Alaska. Trout fishing in most of the state is second to none! You can learn more about trout fishing at Troutster.com until I get more into it a little more on this website.
Two great choices for salmon fishing in Alaska are the Kenai river and the Copper river. Five types of salmon swim the Kenai: silvers, reds, pinks, and kings, and over a million sockeyes! The Copper is home to silvers, kings, and sockeyes, and is said to produce salmon with superior fat and oil content due to its intense rapids.
Salmon Fishing Dates
You won’t have to worry about missing the best time for fishing: Alaska’s peak season is five months long! King salmon fishing begins in May and extends through July; red salmon are June through August, and silver salmon stock the rivers from July through September.
You’ll probably want to choose between fly fishing and spin fishing. Make your decision and then buy equipment based on that. Most likely, you’ll want an 8-10 foot rod rated for a 15-30 pound line—the salmon can get pretty big, so be sure they won’t snap your line!
Drifting and plunking are the two techniques you should start with.
For drift fishing, stand on or near the shore (somewhere you’ll be stable) and cast your fly upstream. Aim for slow-moving areas of water where your bait can drift gently—for instance, behind boulders in the water. Then all you need to do is wait for a bite and reel it in! Since you’ll be reeling downstream, this won’t be much of a challenge.
Plunking is similar to drift fishing, but should only be used in sections of river with high salmon traffic and high water. You’ll set up your line on the shore (make sure to look up specific instructions for doing this so your rod doesn’t fall into the water) and then simply leave it alone until you see it bend, indicating that a fish is biting. You’ll then reel it in the same way.
Fishing license laws will vary depending on where you go, so do your research and procure the necessary documentation before heading out to the water. You can view the Alaska Fishing regulations here. Wear suitable footwear and a life vest in dangerous areas, use caution, and enjoy!