Fly Fishing in Alaska
When folks make their first trip to Alaska for fly fishing adventures, they’re always a little surprised. It’s one thing to read about a state that covers 660,000 square miles. It’s another to look out the window of a bush plane and see an incredible, unspoiled wilderness stretching across the horizon.
Where do we keep all the fish? With more than 3 million lakes, 3,000 rivers and a coastline that stretches over 6,000 miles, they’re not hard to find. We have seasons up here too, so if you think it’s always cold in Alaska, you’re in for another pleasant surprise.
We thought about putting together a list of favorite rivers and lakes, but it would just be too long. There’s nothing like revisiting a familiar stream, and we’re always discovering new secluded spots. If you’re headed for Alaska to enjoy a little fly fishing, we definitely recommend casting your luck in these waters.
Galbraith Lake on the North Slope
Let’s start way up north. The Dalton Highway runs all the way to the Arctic Circle, but we stop when we get to Galbraith Lake. This is deep backcountry, so don’t expect much in the way of civilization. Do expect to get in some hiking around the lake’s shores, and definitely expect to be rewarded with a setting that Alaska fly fishing dreams are made of. This is the place to set your sights on landing those monster lake trout you’ve always heard about.
Copper River Out of the Wrangell Mountain Range
Slide on down southeast to the Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park and Preserve. Spend some quality time fly fishing on one of Alaska’s first rivers to receive a catch-and-release-only designation for rainbow trout. You have more than 300 miles of pure runoff rushing with chinook, coho, and sockeye from the middle of May through October. Thanks to the Copper River’s special designation, this is one of the premier places for stalking some of the biggest ‘bows in the state. It’s all yours in a breathtaking stretch of valleys shaded by towering spruce, birch and cottonwood.
Glacier Bay South of Juno
The Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve provide an unforgettable backdrop for chasing sockeye, chum, pink and coho salmon. We favor fly fishing on Glacier Bay, but the action’s always great for spinning gear too. Choose between fresh water for resident and sea-run trout or deep salt for huge halibut. Cutthroat and steelhead keep the action hot, and dolly varden are always fun to catch. When you’re ready to give the rod and reel a rest, Glacier Park offers some of the best wildlife watching in Alaska.
Kenai River Through the Alaskan Panhandle
The upper parts of this magnificent river are unmatched for finding favorite fishing waters that you can claim as your very own. The area’s secluded, the scenery’s beautiful, and rainbows can top out at 20 pounds. You have more than 80 miles of crystal clear river to scout all the way down to the Cook Inlet. Picture casting to trophy fish with the towering Chugach Mountains in the background. Make that experience real stalking sockeye, coho and 6-pound dolly varden on the Kenai River all summer long.
Lake Iliamna Between Kvichak Bay and Cook Inlet
It holds its own as one of the world’s largest fresh-water lakes covering more than 1,000 square miles at the north end of the Alaskan Peninsula. Legend has it that a giant blackfish protect the lake by biting holes in the boats of visitors guilty of unsportsmanlike behavior. We’ve never seen it happen, but no one misbehaves when they’re fishing Lake Iliamna for king salmon from early spring through July. Dolly Varden help keep everyone on good behavior from mid-summer through the end of September. Catch-and-release makes sure that the ‘bows here stay trophy size, so plan on tangling with trout pushing 24 inches.
Kvichak River Out of Lake Iliamna
We have to be honest about this one. Even if our back porch didn’t overlook the banks of this incredible river, it would still be one of our very favorites. Its pristine waters serve as the only connection between Iliamna and Bristol Bay, and it supports one of the largest runs of red salmon on the planet. Numbers for sockeye hit more than 58 million in 2015, so count on fierce action and plenty of production. With 50 miles to explore, you can spend an entire season on the Kvichak River and enjoy world-class fly fishing every day.
Ship Creek in Downtown Anchorage
When was the last time you perfected your presentation in an urban setting? Chances are pretty good that you’ll spend time in Anchorage on your way in and out of our great state, so enjoy fishing downtown at Ship Creek while you take in the city’s historic sites. Get lucky at one of the summer derbies, and angle for the tagged catch that can put cash in your fly box. Sneak up on salmon within a few steps of a bait shop, or take a fresh seafood break at the Bridge Restaurant right over the water. It’s fun, it’s different, and it’s a uniquely fly fishing in Alaska experience.
The Alaskan Adventure of a Lifetime!
If you’ve ever daydreamed fly fishing Alaskan rivers and lakes, it’s time to start making plans. If you’ve ever wished you could leave civilization behind for just a little while, we can show you waters where it happens every day. Yes, we’re some of our state’s biggest fans because this beautiful outback is our home.
You have a standing invitation to come up and spend some time with us. We mentioned that it’s not always cold in Alaska, and that’s true. Folks from the Lower 48 enjoy fly fishing trips up here pretty much from the spring ice-out through our gorgeous summers and into the final coho runs that mark fall.
You can find us year-round at No See Um Lodge on the Kvichak River. You can find our fierce, fighting game fish all across the state. Whether you’re a fellow trout bum or just now catching on to the world’s greatest outdoor sport, the experience of an Alaska fly fishing lodge is always the adventure of a lifetime.