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What’s the Best Time to Go Fishing in Alaska?

Posted on April 02 2016

Spey fishing for king salmon.
This was a good time to go. Photo: George Orbanek.

Today’s post falls into the ‘questions we get asked all the time’ category. When talking to folks about fly fishing in Alaska, inevitably we get asked the question, “what’s the best time to go fishing in Alaska?

It’s a great question! However, to answer that question takes much more than a simple one line answer. So, today we’ve decided to dedicate a post to explaining the best times to visit Alaska, depending on your interests.

Unlike other fisheries the ‘best time’ to go fishing in Alaska is extremely dependent on your own interests and goals. Our Alaskan season is extremely diverse – There is no ‘best time’ per se, rather periods of the season best suited for what you want to accomplish. With that in mind, today we break down the ‘best’ time to visit Alaska depending on your angling needs..

What’s the Best Time to Fish Alaska?

Simply reference the quote that best describes your interests and read on for our recommendation! Keep in mind, the time-frame is specific to our fishery, and might vary some in other parts of Alaska.

“I want to swing flies for big chrome anadromous fish.”

You should go fishing between mid June and mid July.  Our king salmon fishery peaks at this time, and provides a very unique situation involving king/chinook salmon a few miles from the salt, in water that sets up perfectly for the swung fly.  It’s like steelhead fishing, only they’re bigger and there are more of them. Bonus: if you’re interesting in spey casting, we have many great spey instructors on staff to help you learn.

“I want to catch trout on mouse flies.”

You should go fishing between mid June and late July.  Our trout fishing is fairly consistent throughout the the entire season (that’s mid June through August at Alaska West), but fishing giant dry flies that imitate rodents seems to be most effective between mid June to late July – when the weather, water levels and relative lack of salmon flesh in the river combine to make our trout crazy for Mickey.

“I want to catch as many fish as possible.”

You should go fishing in August.  The silver/coho salmon run in Western Alaska peaks throughout the month of August and consistently provides numbers of fish that aren’t really believable until you experience it first hand.  One memorable quote from this past August came from someone in the fly fishing industry who fished with us for the first time – “I could literally catch as many fish as I wanted.”  Bonus: our rainbow trout are at their fattest in August.

“I want to catch salmon using topwater flies.”

You should go fishing in late August.  Our silver fishery is good for more than just numbers – poppers and pollywogs can work great too!  It is awfully exciting to see chrome salmon in soft water chase and then eat a chugging topwater pattern – if this kind of fishing doesn’t get you going, you don’t have a pulse. Late August means the most silvers in the river of the season, and that means the best top-water potential. Bonus: rainbows, dollies, grayling.

“I love variety.  I want to catch lots of different species on lots of different water using lots of different techniques.”

You should go fishing in late July.  In late July, we target king salmon, chum salmon, sockeye salmon, pink salmon, silver salmon, rainbow trout, dolly varden and grayling, and we sometimes catch whitefish and starry flounder too (seriously).  We swing flies, strip flies, and dead drift flies.  We fish on foot and from the boat.  We fish the main river and the side channels and around upriver spawning beds.  Some guests like to chase the salmon grand slam – all five salmon species, all on flies, all on the same day.  Others just like taking it all in and having fun fishing in a lot of different ways. It’s also a great time to bring the family along too! Bonus: great weather and few bugs, usually.

“I love salmon, I want to bring some fish home to the family.”

You should go fishing between early July through August. At Alaska West, we allow our guests to bring home up to 50 pounds of fresh or smoked salmon fillets, all individually vacuum packed, frozen, and neatly packed. Through July chrome chums (which are fantastic smoked) and sockeye are available for anglers to take home, and our staggering numbers on silver salmon in August provides plenty of opportunities to take some fish home.

Depending on your interests, we still have a few prime-time spots available for the 2016 season! Drop us a line for more information.

More on Planning a Trip to Alaska

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