Article Overview: Fly Fishing in Alaska
Alaska, often referred to as the Last Frontier, is a haven for stunning landscapes and a paradise for avid fly fishing enthusiasts. The pristine rivers, diverse fish species, and untouched wilderness make it an ideal destination for those seeking an unparalleled angling adventure. In this article, we’ll explore why you should consider traveling to Alaska for fly fishing, the best times to go, what to fish for, where to stay, essential gear, and the many activities that await you in this remarkable destination.
Alaska’s rivers are renowned for their abundance of salmon, trout, and other sought-after fish species. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, Alaska offers challenges and rewards for every level of fly fishing.
Why Trust Us
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Together AlaskaExplored has more than twenty years of experience traveling, working, and exploring the beautifully rugged 49th state. Working in television has taken us all around the world, and no place more than Alaska. During our time here, we’ve documented countless stories from every corner and crevasse of the state. We’ve helped showcase the grandeur of this wild place for National Geographic, Discovery, Disney, and Animal Planet. Now, we want to share our knowledge and real-life experiences with you!
AlaskaExplored combines years of firsthand experience with extensive research to deliver YOU with the best knowledge to help plan your next great Alaskan adventure.
My Experience Fly Fishing in Alaska
I’ve been privileged to watch a few remarkably talented fishermen fly fish in Alaska. The few times I’ve tried my hands at it, I’ve neither had the grace nor talent to be successful at this type of fishing I consider an art form. I’ve had the joy of filming plenty of these artists working their angling magic on the rivers of Alaska. To film someone fly fish is to watch the masterful whip of their line, usually backlit, fly through the air and gently hit the water’s surface, mimicking nature perfectly. I can’t imagine a more symbiotic relationship with nature than harvesting your protein this way. In this article, I hope to guide you in curating your own trip to fly fish in Alaska!
Table of Contents: Fly fishing in Alaska
Table of contents
- Why Trust Us
- My Experience Fly Fishing in Alaska
- Fly Fishing in Alaska
Fly Fishing in Alaska
When To Go
Alaska is home to a variety of species you can target when fly fishing, including Chinook salmon, coho salmon, sockeye salmon, rainbow trout, and Arctic grayling. Alaska has it all, whether you’re drawn to a guided day trip on a river or want to have a multi-day hiking/camping adventure to a more secluded fishery, but planning your trip based on your target species will be essential. Here is a list of potential fish to catch if you are planning to fly fish in Alaska.
- King Salmon / Chinook Salmon:
- Northern Pike:
- Chum Salmon / Dogs
- Dolly Varden:
- Sockeye Salmon:
- Rainbow Trout:
- Arctic Grayling:
- Silver Salmon / Coho
- Pink Salmon / Humpies
When to Fly Fish for Alaskan Salmon:
The optimal time to visit Alaska for fly fishing depends on the type of fish you’re targeting. The summer months from June to September are generally considered prime for fly fishing in Alaska. During this period, you can witness the famous salmon runs, with multiple species migrating upstream. The Chum Salmon (dog Salmon) return to spawn in the rivers in late June, while the Sockeye and Pinks arrive in July and early August. Silver Salmon are the last Salmon to reach the rivers from mid-August through October.
When to Fly Fish for Other Alaska Species
While Alaskan Salmon may be the biggest draw for most anglers travelling to the state, there are plenty of other species that make fly fishing in Alaska a popular destination. You can fish for Northern Pike on the Yukon River from July to September. Steelhead has both a spring and a fall season; Southeast Alaska offers excellent Steelhead fishing from April to May.
Rainbow Trout are one of the more popular trophy fish when fly fishing in Alaska. When you see one of these beauties, you’ll understand why so many people travel to Alaska to catch one. You can typically catch Rainbow Trout from June to October.
Dolly Vardens, which are sometimes an annoying bi-catch for those wanting to get their Rainbow Trout, can be fished from June to October. The Dolly Varden’s physical appearance changes over the summer months; they become more pleasing to the eye later in the season. If targeting this fish as a trophy, try catching them later in the season.
Heading to Southeast Alaska on your next flying fishing adventure, we got you covered too! Check out our Prince of Wales Island (Full Guide)
Where To Stay When Fly Fishing In Alaska
Alaska offers a range of accommodation options for those wanting to fly fish, from cozy cabins nestled in the wilderness to upscale lodges with stunning views. Many lodges specialize in catering to fly fishing enthusiasts, offering expert guides and convenient access to prime fishing spots. Consider staying in areas like Bristol Bay, Kenai Peninsula, or the Alagnak River for a productive experience. While some of the best fisheries are remote and require days of hiking and camping, here are a few more comfortable options with float planes and helicopters:
Alagnak Lodge (Bristol Bay):
Strategically located on the Alagnak River, this Alaska lodge is where luxury meets fly fishing. You won’t waste daily travel time to and from the fishery since the fish will come to you. The salmon will ride the tide to spawn upstream, passing by the lodge. Rate: 7 days $7,200. 6 days = $6,300, 5 days =$5,400, 4 days = $4,500 (these rates increase by 10% from August 5th through August 26th). Website: Alagnak Lodge / Phone: 808-227-9301
These guys offer a unique heli-fishing experience, eqipped with two helicopters, they can get you to a range of remote fishing lcoations. Once you get to Anchorage, they will take off the rest, picking you up in a bush plane and flying you to their lodge 80 miles west of Anchorage. They offer one week of all-inclusive fly-fishing adventures that typically run from early Sunday morning to Saturday evening and include 6 days of heli-fishing, guides, and an optional glacier tour. Rate: $9600 / per person. Website: Talaheim Lodge / Phone: 907-440-0614
Alaska Rainbow Lodge (Bristol Bay):
Boasting a guide-to-guest ratio of 2:1, access to exclusive rivers, and luxury dining, Alaska Rainbow Lodge is a very comfortable option for those traveling to Alaska to Fly Fish. Using a float plane, their guides can get you to over 30 different rivers in the region. Located in Bristol Bay and continually operated for the last 35 years, these guys have it pretty well dialed in. Rates: $14,6500 / per person, includes transportation to and from Anchorage (The lodge operates from June 8 – September 27). Website: Alaska Rainbow Lodge / Phone: 800-451-6198
Mission Lodge (Bristol Bay):
One of the larger fishing lodges, this Bristol Bay lodge offers spacious suites designed for couples and an even larger “owners suite” that can accommodate two couples or a whole family. The lodge is all-inclusive, including meals & drinks, daily guided fishing, use of all tackle, waders & boots, daily fly-outs, taxes, fuel service charges, fishing license, and r/t private charter flight between Anchorage and Dillingham. Rate: $14,995 / per person, per week. Website: Mission Lodge / Phone: 305-394-5645
No See Um Lodge (Bristol Bay):
Located on a high bank overlooking the Kvichank River, this smaller lodge can only accommodate up to 12 guests per week, offering a more intimate fishing experience. The Lodge has a main house that has two single-occupancy rooms and two double-occupancy rooms. It also has private cabins overlooking the river. No See Um Lodge owns and operates three De Havilland Beaver float planes that can shuttle their guest to a range of fishing locations. Rates: $15,500 per person / per week. Website: No See Um Lodge / 907-531-3324
Katmai Lodge (Bristol Bay):
An all-inclusive lodge located on the Alagnak River, Katmai Lodge offers a more affordable option, including daily guided fishing and meals. Rate: 3-Night Stay (Wed-Sat)$5,200, 4-Night Stay (Sat-Wed)$6,800, 7-Night Stay (Sat-Sat)$8,900. Website: Katmai Lodge / Phone: 800-330-0326
These lodges cater to fly fishing in Alaska enthusiasts of all levels, ensuring an unforgettable Alaskan adventure with a perfect blend of comfort and outdoor excitement.
Essential Gear While Fly Fishing in Alaska
Packing the right gear is crucial for a successful fly fishing trip in Alaska. Ensure you have quality fly rods, reels, lines, and an assortment of flies suitable for the targeted fish species. Don’t forget to bring appropriate clothing for varying weather conditions, as Alaska’s climate can be unpredictable.
I don’t want to go too deep into specific fishing gear since it’s such a personal choice. What I can recommend is the other essential gear needed to be comfortable, safe, and productive on your fly fishing trip in Alaska.
While fly fishing in Alaska, you’ll be spending most of your time in the elements. Mother Nature can be quite unpredictable, so you want to pack right and be prepared. It is advisable to purchase as much gear as possible before arriving in Alaska, as outfitting yourself in Alaska can be quite expensive.
First and foremost, you’ll need some good waders; dont go cheap on these… Gruddens, Simms, Patagonia, and Orvis all make good waders.
Bugs and the sun can be brutal in Alaska, depending on the season. For real, the mosquitos are giant and can ruin any outdoor excursion. Their tiny counterpart, the noseeums, may be even more torturous. Bring quality bug spray and sunblock! Bug nets to cover your face can be useful, as can a good hat to block those rays. Polarized sunglasses are also a good idea.
We’ve said it before, but it’s so true: pack your layers. The temperature swing during the day can be extreme, and you will want to be comfortable while spending your days in the elements. The more layers you have, the more you can regulate your temperature by shedding or adding layers as needed.
Gear Shops that Cater to Fly Fishing in Alaska:
- Mossy’s Fly Shop (Anchorage): 750 West Dimond Blvd #114 Anchorage, Alaska 99515 Website: Mossy’s Fly Shop Phone: 907-770-2666
- 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle (Wasilla): 390 Railroad Ave. Wasilla, Alaska 99654 Website: 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle Shop Phone 907-373-5434
- Alaska Fly Fishing Goods (Juneau): 8465 Old Dairy Road, Suite 101 Juneau, AK 99801 Website: Alaska Fly Fishing Goods Phone: 907-586-1550
- The Fly Box (Anchor Point): 33457 Sterling Hwy Anchor Point, AK 99556 Website: The Fly Box Phone: 299.7121
Fly Fishing in Alaska Conclusion
Embarking on a fly fishing adventure in Alaska is more than just a trip; it’s an immersive experience that connects you with nature in its purest form. The Last Frontier invites you to cast your line into its pristine waters, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife. So, pack your gear, book your lodging and guides early, and discover why Alaska is a must-visit destination for every fly fishing enthusiast.
Fishing in Alaska Facts
- Salmon will travel up to 1,900 miles (3,040 km) on the Yukon River to spawn.
- Alaska has five species of salmon: King, Coho, Sockeye, Chum, and Pink.
- The seafood industry is the state’s largest private-sector employer.
- The Pink Salmon is the smallest of the Pacific salmon.