A Helpful Guide to Planning Your Alaska Fishing Trip
Planning a fishing adventure to Alaska can be a daunting and sometimes overwhelming endeavor. There are thousands of destinations spread throughout the largest state in the nation. Sportfishing in Alaska encompasses many unique fish species from the deep sea to tidewater areas, mountain lakes to inland streams. Access to some fishing locales can be a quick 10 minute drive out of town, or up to a one-way 4 hour seaplane ride.
There is a fishing opportunity for everyone in Alaska, from novice to expert. Alaska offers world-class fishing adventures for all walks of life. One destination may be a perfect match for you, but may not fit the likes of another. Outlined below is a simple guide of 5 topics to help choose the Alaska fishing adventure, lodge, or fishing destination that meets your expectations of a truly ‘world class’ Alaska fishing experience.
1.) Salt or Freshwater? Alaska offers many very different fishing opportunities in both salt and freshwater environments. To narrow down the areas of Alaska you will be fishing you must first decide your ideal venue. Decide whether you are interested in pursuing halibut in deepwater offshore shoals of the Pacific, or fly fish a pristine mountain-fed tributary for river run salmon. Do you want to troll for large schools of silver salmon in Prince William Sound, or pursue trophy rainbow trout in small fertile inland streams. These are just a few examples of the fishing opportunities in the ocean v.s. Alaska’s inland freshwater areas. Some research in this area is helpful, but your initial decision should be based on your preferred fishing style. Note there many areas in Southcentral Alaska where you can combine a freshwater river experience with a few days of offshore fishing within a few hours drive.
2.) Choose your fishing Style. Do you prefer to fish from a boat? Are you a fly fisherman, or do you wish to learn to master the art? Do you want a combination of spin fishing and fly fishing opportunities? Do you prefer to wade and cast, or sleep in the boat and wait for your bobber to go under? Do you like to fish large rivers, small streams, lakes, oceans, estuaries, etc. great baits for fishing
How you prefer to fish will help eliminate some destinations that only offer the opposite of what you’re looking for.
3.) Do I hire a guide? Well, it’s really your choice of course, but I will come right out and say “Yes, most definitely.” Even if you are an experienced angler, Alaska is a much different venue than what you may be used to elsewhere. For experts as well as novices, you have the opportunity to catch many fish here in Alaska with just a little guided assistance. Local fishing guides not only help you to find the fish, but they show you the best techniques to lure them to strike, have knowledge of the local history and wildlife, and also are great companions to have on the water. Guides save you time and help tie your Alaska fishing experience together. And, most importantly, you will be more successful.
So, unless you are solely an independent angler, seek areas or operations that offer guided fishing, whether it be an independent guide, or a guide that is included with a resort or lodge package. Guides are not created equal! Be sure to ask detailed questions about the guides and the operations. You will find exceptional guides who are overall good people and go out of their way to make your experience enjoyable, but you will also find some places that have unenthusiastic guides who for whatever reason have not yet realized they have a ‘dream job’ and spend most of their day sitting in their boat watching you fish. Your guide should have the same enthusiasm to be on the water if you do. Be sure that is a quality you demand when seeking a fishing guide service or lodge in Alaska.
4.) On or off the road? Well, obviously if you’re fishing in saltwater, you will leave the road system via boat and fish the millions of acres of blue ocean property Alaska is blessed with. In localized areas and hot fishing holes you may be in good company, but seldom will you be battling with other fishermen or other boats. Your biggest competition is the number of other fishermen that will be sharing the boat with you.