The Best Place to Catch Salmon in Alaska

While fishing may not be an activity for everyone, no one can deny the rush you get from catching a big one, like a salmon that just put up the fight of its life!

In beautiful Alaska, you’re surrounded by rivers and creeks, perfect for hooking all kinds of fish, including delicious salmon. Home to over 12 different salmon species, Alaska is the ideal place to fish for some salmons.

In this guide, we’ll point you to the best place to catch salmon in Alaska. We also tell you when’s the prime time in the year to go looking for salmon and what equipment might help you catch one.

Let’s get started!

1.   Kenai River

Kenai river is Alaska

West of the Chugach Mountains rests the majestic Kenai River. It’s the top location for catching salmon in Alaska, where the IGFA record for the heaviest King Salmon was held.

The fact that Kenai River is the preferred habitat for over five different salmon species is another reason it’s a popular spot for catching this fish. If you time your trip correctly, you may have the chance to hook Chinook (or King), Pink, Sockeye, or Silver (Coho) salmon.

Additionally, the lower area of Kenai River is where you can do most of your salmon catching. Throughout the summertime, you’ll find thousands of salmon fish migrating there for a colder climate underwater.

As a result, you might be able to catch one from shore! Proceeding up the Kenai river offers you a chance to exercise combat fishing.

2.   Kasilof River

best place to catch salmon in Alaska.

Known as the ‘little brother of Kenai River,’ Kasilof River is located 11 miles away from its older sibling and is significantly smaller.

That’s one of the few differences between both rivers. The Kasilof River may be home to the same salmon species that the Kenai River has, but their sizes are quite smaller in Kasilof. A salmon there typically weighs no less than 40 pounds.

Not just that, but, unlike in Kenai, you can use live bait when catching salmon in the Kasilof River. Plus, motorboats will be hard to maneuver in such a narrow river, so you’re better off fishing in a drift boat instead.

In Kasilof, the lower regions of the river are best for catching fish. You’re more likely to find shoals of Silver and Sockeye salmon at the furthest ends of the river.

3.   Ship Creek

If you’re a fan of ocean waters instead of fishing in rivers, check out Ship Creek. It’s not as remote as the other two locations, making traveling there easier and more affordable.

Ship Creek is just as popular a fishing spot when it comes to catching salmon. Located in downtown Anchorage, you can find enough Silver and King salmon there.

Be careful hiking down Ship Creek’s muddy shoreline, though. The Creek’s slope is flat, so it can be hard to reach the water quickly. That’s why we recommend having a pair of hip boots handy.

Additionally, Ship Creek is known for its high tides. So, the best time to go fishing there will be two hours before or after a tidal change.   

4.   Kodiak Island

Brown bear on Kodiac island

Kodiak island, with its saltwater and river fishing spots, makes for the perfect, secluded place to catch salmon in Alaska. If you have the budget and the time, head out to the Kodiak Archipelago for a serene fishing experience.

At Kodiak Island, you’ll find more than strong water currents and breathtaking landscapes. There, you may catch plenty of salmon, including King, Sockeye, Pink, and Silver ones.

Not only that, but Kodiak Island features what anglers call ‘honey holes.’ These spots are ideal for hooking any kind of fish. A few of the honey holes in Kodiak are Red River, Sargent Creek, Buskin River, and Dog Salmon Creek.

The main thing to look out for at Kodiak Island is the brown bears. Known as the second-largest subspecies of bears, they’re bound to be your main competition when it comes to catching salmon.

When to Go Salmon Fishing in Alaska

Alaska is one of the few states that offer year-round fishing. When it comes to hooking salmon, though, the perfect time to catch some ranges from the spring months to the summer ones.

King salmon, for instance, starts appearing around May. You’ll find this species in the Kenai River from May till October. In Kodiak Island, however, King salmon can’t be found until mid-June.

On the other hand, Silver salmon appear later with the beginning of summer. They stick around well into November in some regions.

Pink salmon join the fray in mid-August. You can find them in the Kenai River during the same months as King salmon.

Sockeye and Coho appear in June and stay in Kasilof River till mid-July. Sometimes, Coho salmon remains till mid-August too.

What Type of Tackle/Equipment Is Recommended?

Salmon fish is known to be quite aggressive. Sockeye and Silver salmon, especially, have a reputation for breaking fishing gear and destroying bait for the fun of it.

In other words, you’ll need to be prepared. Here’s a list of what type of tackle we recommend taking with you:

  • An open-face spinning reel plus a bait-caster
  • A six to nine feet rod with a line that ranges from 17 to 30 pounds
  • A fly rod that weighs around eight to ten pounds and is at least ten feet long
  • A large arbor reel with an easily adjustable drag system

The golden rule is that salmon species will be attracted to bite spinners and flashy fly patterns.

Make sure to pack enough storage bags for your catch of the day and have a cooler on board to keep your salmon fresh.

Summary

In this article, we covered the top four locations where you can go for the best salmon fishing in Alaska, which, not surprisingly, is among the best salmon fishing destinations in the U.S.

That said, we recommend checking out the wonders of Kodiak Island. Not only are you guaranteed a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but you’re also sure to catch more than one salmon species there.

Have fun fishing!

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