Alaska offers a mind-blowing number of unspoiled locales, from icy glacier-carved fjords to dense, forested shores, to cast, drift or sink your fishing line.
The 49th state is truly colossal in scope for fishing fans, with more than 3,000 named lakes, more than three million unnamed lakes, tens of thousands of miles of coastline, and around 12,000 rivers, not to mention endless creeks and ponds.
Given the state’s overwhelming size, here’s a list that narrows the choice down to 12 of the best places to fish in Alaska, where you can snag freshwater rainbow trout, coho salmon, and a host of other species.
Kenai Fjords, Seward
Kenai Fjords and Kenai Fjords National Park are where jagged Alaskan mountains and glaciers rub up against the pristine shores of the Gulf of Alaska. This chunk of wild terrain, near the town of Seward, is also a prime spot for catching fish.
The Kenai Peninsula will afford you the chance to pluck freshwater fish, like rainbow trout and Dolly Varden, from the current at popular sites like Cooper Landing, along the Upper Kenai River, where you can wade out and cast your spinner and spoon lures.
If you’re not into wading, bank fishing opportunities flourish here as well, with plenty of big salmon and trout swimming around for anglers of all levels of experience to pull from the waters.
Head out to sea to experience the rugged beauty of the region by booking a deep-sea charter out of Seward. During your voyage, you can try to hook some halibut, a variety of rockfish (also known as sea bass), or perhaps some coho or bluish-green Chinook salmon.
Icy Strait Point, Inside Passage
Icy Strait Point is a serene spot in the sheltered Inside Passage, an island-specked waterway that extends from Puget Sound in Washington State to the Gulf of Alaska.
Icy Strait Point is one of the best places to fish in Alaska due to the gigantic halibut swimming offshore. After acquiring your fishing license (in Hoonah, or online ahead of time), chase after your scaly prey on a well-equipped boat with a seasoned local guide.
If you fancy stream fishing for some cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, steelhead trout, silver (coho) salmon, and more, local outfitters will take you to some of the best fish-laden streams and lakes Chichagof Island has to offer.
Mendenhall Lake, Juneau
Headed to Juneau, Alaska’s state capital, with a desire to fish? If that’s the case, Mendenhall Lake, around 12 miles from the city, should easily satiate your angling and fly-fishing needs.
Mendenhall Lake, Mendenhall River, and the nearby kettle ponds, set inside the massive Tongass National Forest, are where locals go to angle, bait, or practice trolling flies. You can catch a variety of species here, including coho and Chinook salmon, Dolly Varden, and cutthroat and rainbow trout.
Knudson Cove Marina, Ketchikan
Fishing at Knudson Cove Marina is one of the best things to do in Ketchikan, located at the southeastern tip of the Inside Passage.
Apart from the lush, mossy rainforest reserve in the region, and the exquisite coastal scenery, one of Ketchikan’s main claims to fame is its outstanding salmon fishing, which is how the area received the “Salmon Capital of the World” moniker.
Knudson Cove Marina offers DIY fishing trips, with tackle and gear included, aboard rented boats or kayaks, as well as charter halibut and salmon excursions. All that’s required of you is a reasonable amount of stamina, plus a fishing license, which you can pick up at the marina, or online.
Depending on when you arrive, you’ll have a chance to hook at least one species, if not more, of Alaska’s five main types of salmon (chum, king, pink, silver, and sockeye). Silver salmon also go by the name “coho,” while king salmon are often referred to as “Chinook.”
Herring Cove, Ketchikan
Near Ketchikan, you’ll come across Herring Cove, which as the name suggests, is abundant with fish. And even though you might bait your hook with herring, you’ll likely be angling for king salmon hatchery returns and other spawning species.
But you won’t be alone while you cast your line; plenty of black bears come for a fishy feast, plucking their meals straight from the creek, and will be your constant companions, although you’ll need to maintain a safe distance from them.
The marshy terrain of Herring Cove boasts a 22-foot tidal difference between low and high tides, causing the landscape to alter throughout the day. Keep an eye out for the wild creatures that Alaska is known for, such as bears, blue herons, and eagles looking for some succulent fish.
Inside Passage, Ketchikan
If you’ve had your fill of bait-casting or fly fishing, the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour, which operates in the Inside Passage from the base of Ketchikan, will provide you with a fascinating perspective on how to harvest protein-rich treasures from the sea.
This isn’t essentially an active fishing tour, but it’s an educational excursion that anybody can join, including children.
The adventure takes place aboard a comfortable boat fitted for accessibility and protection from the elements. The crabbing vessel, when visitors are its cargo, never ventures out into open water, which can be stormy, but rather sticks to the calmer Inside Passage.
The real treat here will be the chance to watch working crab fishermen ply their trade as they haul up massive crab pots full of the day’s catch.
The tour will teach you about how the Alaskan fisheries landscape works, while also affording you the chance to spot popular Alaskan animals (bears, seals, raptors, and more) during your voyage.
Sitka Sound, Sitka
Freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities abound in and near Sitka Sound. The sound, along the western flanks of the Inside Passage, is bordered by Baranof Island to the east, and marked by the looming Mount Edgecumbe, a historically active volcano, at the tip of Kruzof Island to the west.
Depending on when the fish are running, and when you arrive, all five main salmon species are on offer here. Time allowing, outfitters and practiced guides can take you on some king salmon or halibut-focused trips in Sitka.
You’ll find companies that can set you up for some stream-based freshwater fly-fishing escapades as well, with wild steelhead possibly on the casting menu.
Chilkoot Lake, near Skagway
Chilkoot State Park and Chilkoot Lake, less than two hours from Skagway, rate as one of the best places to fish in Alaska, especially if your heart is set on landing some salmon.
The narrow, mountain ensconced lake is popular with folks who baitcast, along with people who prefer spinning reels, or fly fishing. If you come equipped with a fishing license and the right gear, you should be good to go.
While fishing at this Alaskan lake or next to the Chilkoot River, know that you’ll also be sharing space with bears, eagles, seals, and otters that come to hunt in the park. The different salmon species “running” to their breeding grounds are a big draw for a variety of predators.
Fly Fishing in Denali National Park
Denali National Park’s glacier silt and silt-filled rivers and streams don’t always lead to the best fish habitats.
But with the right guides, regardless if you’re a fly-fishing expert or novice (outfitters will kit you out and can give you a few casting pointers), you’ll come across some clear water spots, with wriggly aquatic wonders just below the surface.
Massive roe-fed rainbow trout is one such “wonder” on offer here. But the main species sought after in Denali, twisting around habitats like the cold Nenana River, plus different creeks, is the gorgeous freshwater sailfish, the Arctic grayling.
You can opt for an afternoon fishing tour, or if you’re in Denali for several days, an extended inland cruise tour that will let you fish different currents inside the pristine, mountain-filled national park, which happens to be over six million acres in size.
Talkeetna Lakes Park, Talkeetna
If you opt for a side trip to Talkeetna Lakes Park, you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to visit the charismatic Alaskan town of Talkeetna, which is situated close to Denali, the highest peak on the continent.
Talkeetna, where the Chulitna, Susitna and Talkeetna Rivers converge, is a brilliant—and typically uncrowded—fishing utopia stocked with scaly prey. You’ll encounter great angling spots all over the park, including the main river and cool streams loaded with a variety of species like Dolly Varden and rainbow trout.
Stick with bank fishing here, if that’s more your pace, or else get wet with some wade fishing action. If you want to push out into the water even farther, you can opt for a Mokai motorized kayak tour, letting you snag your daily catch while taking in the park’s impressive natural canvasses at the same time.
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the best places to fish in Alaska thanks to the abundance of species you can catch here. Particular attention should be focused on the oversized Alaskan halibut lurking out in the saltwater.
This dramatically picturesque park, west of Juneau, is also the location of more than 1,000 Alaskan glaciers and a profusion of wildlife, from humpback whales and orcas to sea otters, sea lions, and bears.
Guides can take you out to try for a monster halibut. When it comes to freshwater fish, Glacier Bay’s lakes, rivers and streams offer Dolly Varden, salmon, and different kinds of trout. If fish are on your mind, this protected ecosystem won’t disappoint.
Lake Clark Angling, Anchorage
Lake Clark Preserve and Wilderness, near Anchorage, is one of the most scenic destinations in Alaska for lake fishing.
Sockeye salmon runs, linked to the Kvichak River watershed drainage, are a big deal here. You can also try to land Arctic char, Arctic grayling, northern pike, rainbow trout, and salmon at different locations inside the preserve, including Crescent Lake.
Lake Clark itself, around 45 miles in length, is like a scene from a postcard, with the majestic Chigmit Mountains serving as a jagged backdrop to the icy glacial water.
You can angle or fly fish at the lake to your heart’s content—provided, of course, you have a proper fishing license and comply with all of the local fishing regulations.
If you’re ready to discover the best places to fish in Alaska for yourself, browse our Alaska cruises, then book a northern adventure through the pristine coastal waters of the 49th state.