So You Want To Fish Alaska
by Christopher Tobias
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
October 2014 Issue
James Reid's Shop
o, you want to fish Alaska, but don't have the funds to make it happen. You should think again and really look into
what it will cost you to visit and fish the Last Frontier. You don’t need to take a flight out to the bush to enjoy the great
fishing and sites Alaska has to offer. There are plenty of great fishing locations within a 180 mile radius of Anchorage.
By far your biggest expenses are going to be your transportation costs, e.g. airfare, vehicle rental, and fuel. If you plan out
your trip in advance, you can certainly cut costs by not having to book last minute flights. There are plenty of businesses to
rent a car from, as well as campers, that can find something within your budget. I’m not going to go touch much more on
the logistical aspect of what it will take to get you to Alaska and in and around once you arrive, as there is plenty of
information out there for you to research.
Once you are on the ground and ready to go, your next big decision will be deciding where to fish first. That will probably
be the toughest decision you make during your trip. Local knowledge is always the best way to get information on what
waterways are fishing best. If you’re not into spoon feeding and want to do a little exploring on your own, then grabbing a
good map is the route for you. I do recommend that you at least peruse “The Highway Angler: Fishing Alaska’s Road
System” by Gunnar Pedersen, as it will provide information on what species of fish will be in the creeks/ rivers at the time of
year you are there.
That brings me to another point. When should you come? Well, that is really up to what species of fish you want to target.
Early in the summer (June) you will have the kings starting to show up, but lately those runs have been closing early due to
poor numbers, as well as early run sockeye on the Russian River. July is by far the best time for sockeye on the Kenai
Peninsula, especially the second half of July. Come August, the silvers are starting to roll in and the sockeye are getting
ready to spawn. September and October are probably some of the best times to come and chase big rainbows along the
road system, as most of the tourists are gone and the crowds have thinned out. Plus, things travel wise usually get a little
Once you have figured out what species of fish you want to target, then you can start to concentrate on what gear to bring.
If you want to be able to fish trout and catch either sockeye or silver salmon, then you could get away with only brining a
good 7wt rod. Some people might disagree, but for an all around rod, I would stick with a 10’ 7wt if you don’t want to bring a
ton of gear. Your flies can be as simple or as extravagant as you want to make them, but once you see a “Russian River
Fly”, I’m sure you won’t worry too much about what’s in your box. Have a good assortment of goo-bugs or beads for egg
patterns. Sizes of beads and glo bugs to use can be from 6mm-12mm depending on what time of the year you come. You
really can keep things as simple or as complicated as you want, depending on how much gear you want to carry around
with you on the river.
Getting to Alaska will be the easy part for you, but deciding on where you and your friends want to fish can drive you
insane. Don’t try to over complicate your trip, have a few things planned out, but always be open to making changes. In this
day in age, you should be able to monitor many of the rivers and streams using the USGS water data gauges for Alaska
(http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ak/nwis/current/?type=flow) right from your phones. Just be sure to have fun and be prepared
for when you get here. Alaska can be unforgiving, and if you aren’t prepared for the worst you can find yourself in some
sticky situations. Be safe while you’re out there and be smart when you wade. Also, be sure to pick up some bear spray
when you arrive, because bears like to have spice on their food too.
Christopher Tobias is a transplanted Alaskan who’s waders never get a chance to dry as he works towards becoming a
professional wannabe trout bum. He does have an Alaska guides license, although talking to yourself while fishing doesn’t
count as guiding. When he’s not holding a rod in his hand chasing trout or salmon some where between Fairbanks and
Homer, it’s probably because he is driving his boat so his lovely wife can hook into a monster. For weekly picture updates
of Christopher’s excursions, check him out on Instagram @ CTobiasfishing.
The big rainbow below measured 26” x 15” and was caught on the Kenai River.
Christopher Tobias with a huge rainbow