Alaska is one of the world’s top fishing destinations, and with good reason: you can catch a myriad of popular freshwater and saltwater game fish within the state’s borders. There are salmon, rainbow trout, pike and Arctic Char in the lakes and rivers of Alaska, and you can catch more salmon, halibut, and lingcod in the Pacific. Because there are so many fishing options in Alaska, you’ll want to plan ahead to get the most out of your trip. Here are four expert tips to help you plan an Alaskan fishing expedition.
1: Choose Your Targets
Before figuring out travel and lodging, you’ll need to decide what kind of fish you want to catch, as this will determine what part of the state you travel to. If you’re hunting salmon, for example, you have both freshwater and saltwater options, but if you’re after halibut, you’ll need to head out to the ocean. For freshwater fishing, you’ll likely be able to fish from shore or rent a canoe; saltwater fishing, on the other hand, will probably require you to charter a seaworthy boat. To find out which species of fish can be caught where you can check out the website for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
2: Get the Right Tackle
Before leaving, you’ll also want to figure out what kind of bait and tackle is best for catching the kind of fish you’re after. If you’ve fly-fished before, Alaska has excellent fly-fishing rivers for king salmon and rainbow trout, but you’ll need a strong fly tackle to hold the weight of these fish. If you’re lure-fishing in a river or lake, you’ll want a variety of tackle, including spinners, drift lures and topwater plugs, and deep-sea fishing off the coast will be a different story altogether. If you pay for a charter or are otherwise fishing with a guide, the rod and tackle you need will likely be provided for you. If you’re striking out on your own, you can find everything you need in a tackle shop in Anchorage once you get off the plane.
3: Book Travel and Lodging
Alaska is the biggest state in the country, so don’t be afraid to spend a couple hours choosing your lodgings. If you want to focus solely on fishing and not worry about food or transportation, consider staying at a fishing lodge. These can be pricy but may include a guide as well as boat or plane service to ferry you to the best fishing spots. If you want to save money and strike out alone into the wilderness, you can rent a U.S. Forest Service cabin for as little as 25 dollars a day. These cabins are located in Alaska’s two massive national forests, both of which have fishable lakes and streams, and some cabin rentals include a boat. As for transportation, it will depend entirely on where in Alaska you’re fishing. To get to remote areas of the state, you’ll need to charter a plane, although this will likely be included if you’ve paid for a full charter package. If you’re planning a lower-budget trip, consider renting a car to give yourself the freedom to explore a variety of fishing spots.
4: Make a Packing List
Creating and following a packing list will be essential. Alaska gets 20 hours of sunshine a day in the summer, so you’ll need plenty of sunscreen, something many people forget when traveling to the coldest state in the U.S. Because of the excess sunlight, you may also want light-blocking shades to help you sleep. You’ll need hiking boots, preferably waterproofed, as well as a raincoat, although some charters companies provide you with waterproof gear. Exactly what you need to pack will ultimately depend on where you’re fishing, so don’t be afraid to consult experienced fishermen or the Internet for advice. Perhaps the biggest obstacle you’ll face when planning an Alaskan fishing trip is the sheer number of fishing opportunities in the state. Do some research to make an informed decision and don’t rush to pick a charter or lodge, and stick to these four simple steps to help you plan. If you do all this, you’ll be sure to get the most fishing, and the most fun, out of your trip.