Do you dream of catching trophy rainbow trout on a stream so remote it doesn't even have a name? Does the thought of fly fishing for wild King salmon in grizzly territory make your eyes light up? Do the words "float plane" put an extra spring in your step?
Alaska fishing and fly fishing vacations are all about big adventure and epic wilderness experiences, and the beauty is that you don't have to be an expert angler to enjoy a trip like this.
With over 6,000 miles of coastline, more than 3,000 pristine rivers, and the largest wild salmon runs in the world, Alaska is a target-rich environment where even a beginner has a good chance of catching fish.
Aside from the abundance of clean waters and healthy fish populations, fly fishing Alaska offers long summer days to maximize your time on the water and excellent opportunities for wildlife watching and photography.
"To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most
wonderful countries in the world."
A fly fishing trip in Alaska is perfect for beginners and experts alike.
Sport fishing of all types is big business in Alaska. Each year close to 500,000 anglers visit the state and spend an estimated $1.4 billion on fishing licenses, fishing charters, fly fishing lodges, fly fishing guides, and more.
The vast majority of visiting anglers fish in what the Alaska Division of Sport Fish calls South-central Alaska. That's the area that includes Bristol Bay, the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, Anchorage and Cook Inlet, the Kenai Peninsula, and areas along Prince William Sound.
View South-central Alaska in a larger map
If you want to stay close to civilization, the waters of the famed Kenai Peninsula are home to four species of salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and steelhead trout. The Kenai River hosts the largest wild king and Coho salmon runs in the state and the Russian River sees the second largest runs of sockeye salmon every summer. The Kenai and the Russian also hold healthy rainbow trout populations.
Further south on the Kenai Peninsula, the towns of Seward and Homer offer a wealth of Alaska fishing fly fishing opportunities for multiple species of salmon and saltwater halibut.
The majority of the peninsula is easily accessible. It's drivable from Anchorage, the roads are paved, and there are a variety of lodging and restaurant options.
Be warned though, proximity to civilization means competition with other anglers. During the height of the summer season, the Kenai and Russian rivers can be packed with fishermen.
If you are craving solitude while fly fishing in Alaska, leave the roads (and other fishermen) behind and head to the Alaska Bush. Fish for wild salmon and trophy rainbow trout on the pristine waters of Bristol Bay or experience the even more remote waters of the Alaska Peninsula. The towns used to access these areas are a bit rough and don't have many services, but they do offer a sense of remoteness that is hard to beat.
We've put together travel guides and fly fishing lodge information for:
The Alaska fishing fly fishing season runs roughly from mid-June through the end of September. This corresponds with the yearly salmon runs, starting with the king and sockeye salmon runs in June and ending with the Coho salmon run in September.
The exact timing of salmon fishing in any season depends on many factors, including where you are fishing and what species you are targeting, but the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offers estimates with their sport fish run timing charts.
On the Summer Solstice (June 21), Anchorage receives close to 20 hours of daylight, and each day after that the days shorten by 5 minutes. With that much daylight, you can fish until your arms give out all summer long.
Temperatures drop and snow starts falling in late September or October each year, so even though the Coho may be still be around, many tourist spots close down after September 15th. We visited Seward and Homer the first week of September and a lot of the shops and fishing charter operations were starting to close down for the winter.
There are many ways of travelling around Alaska - float plane, helicopter, bush plane, train, RV, or simply renting a car.
If you are considering driving Alaska in an RV, we highly recommend it. We've put together some information about our Alaska RV rental experience.
If you are staying at one of the fly fishing lodges in Alaska or fishing with a guide, they will certainly provide a detailed list of what to bring, but we've put together this list to get you started:
Don't forget, whether you're going to Alaska fishing or fly fishing, you'll need to purchase an Alaska fishing license.
If you are traveling to Alaska fishing, fly fishing isn't the only thing to do. Here are a few side trips to consider: