Fishing in Alaska – The Great Land

Some factors to consider in deciding where should you fish.


Alaska is so large and has so much to offer. 

How do you narrow down what exactly you want to do in the time you are there? How much are you willing to invest to get the Alaska fishing experience you seek?  The mere fact you are looking at the Alagnak Lodge web site means you are interested in fishing in Alaska, so we will take that as a starting point.


Saltwater or freshwater fishing?

If Saltwater sports fishing is your priority, then the Alaska Panhandle, Kenai Peninsula or the various islands along the South and Southeast portions of Alaska will fit the bill. Saltwater opportunities are very limited throughout all of Bristol Bay located in Western Alaska.

Freshwater sport fishing is available throughout all of Alaska.  Almost all lands and waters are fully public accessible.  Native stream fish are in most fresh waters.  Salmon spawn in very specific locations, so you need to fish for them on the routes to their spawning beds and when they are in those waters.  

Road Accessible or Wilderness Fishing?

A great deal of the Kenai Penninsula and interior of Alaska is accessible by road.  This results in reduced costs but much higher demand and use.  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is using fish hatcheries to help meet commercial, subsistence and sport fishing demands in these areas.  These hatchery fish are competing with and interbreeding with the wild salmon in these waters.

Most of Western Alaska is wilderness fishing.  Even the minor population centers along the coast have little effect on the spawning grounds and the areas where the salmon mature before leaving for the bays and oceans. All the salmon in Bristol Bay are 100% wild, there has been no degradation of their DNA.  These are truly wild fish in a true wilderness.  There are very few locations in the world where these conditions are so easily accessible. 



Fish near the lodge or fly out?


Flying to fish allows for a variety of fishing experiences and varied fishing opportunities. If catching is difficult where you are at the moment, you may well have catching success elsewhere.

Flying to fish is expensive, both in terms of paying for the flights and in the time involved in getting to and from the alternative fishing sites.

Often you cannot land exactly where the fishing is, you have to hike in and out.  Fly-out fishing often requires personal fitness and durability.  

These small planes use visual flight rules, if you are not assured you have good visibility through all the flight, you do not fly.

Fishing near the lodge is a lower-cost opportunity, both in terms of dollar cost and time and effort cost.  It is hard to catch a fish if your line is not in the water.  If the lodge is where the fish are, this can be a very good option with a high return for your investment.

Which location on the river is best for the desired fishing experience?

Fishing at the mouth of a river gives you the first shot at the freshest fish. A salmon just in from the saltwater gives the best fight and is the best to eat. They ride in on the tides so we have some idea where they will be and when they will be there. They may linger a bit to assimilate, but they need to push upriver to be on the spawning beds at the right time.

Fishing in the middle sections of rivers often gives a steady supply of fish. If you are in a section where the river fans out and braids, sight fishing becomes easier. The current is also stronger as the slope gradient increases and the water narrows.


The salmon will be starting to deteriorate higher up in the river as they prepare to spawn, but that is a function of how long it has been since they entered the freshwater and the energy they have expended.  

Fishing on spawning beds offers an opportunity to catch the native stream fish as they are on a feeding frenzy. If you are fishing on spawning beds you need to ensure you are not disturbing reeds.  Obviously, the salmon are too far deteriorated to be retained.  There also will be a lot of wildlife present.  At times, these destinations are crowded as there is limited access to the upriver spawning beds.

Do you want the lowest cost, best value or highest cost experience?

Many prefer the do it yourself experience. 

The time spent doing the research and planning is part of the adventure and often makes the experience more enjoyable.  The ability to tailor fit the trip to your exact specifications can add to the enjoyment.  You are free to spend your money where you feel it benefits you the most.  If you do it right and enough goes as planned, it is a great way to travel. Float trips and remote cabins require a great deal of effort and are often uncomfortable but are often rewarding.  

Often the lowest cost option necessitates fishing near the more accessible and more congested locations.  Recently these locations have been subject to frequent unplanned closures to preserve fish for the future. Even planned closures are frequent and limit available fishing opportunities.  Another ongoing issue is the degradation of the watersheds in the forests of Alaska due to beetle infestations, fires and global warming.  

At the other end of the spectrum is the high-end experience.

This option is offered by several fly-out lodges in Alaska.  You can come to them, and they take care of all the rest.  The accommodations and food service are deluxe.  They aim for the five-star experience and often deliver. The fishing is still fishing but they can offer a wide variety of locations to partake in it.  The time to make these flights eats into the time you can spend actively fishing and you are limited to the destinations that accommodate the plane. They may have boats a their fishing destination, but you may be limited to the waters to accessible by hiking and wading.

Operating planes is expensive, and that is reflected in the higher price of these lodges. You may not be able to fly out at times due to weather events, but at least you are comfortable at the lodge.

In the middle of these options is the Alagnak Lodge.

This is a true best value destination.

At the Alagnak Lodge, you can be comfortable while enjoying the wilderness and outstanding fishing within minutes of the lodge. The fish and wildlife come to you, so little time is wasted in getting there and back. Getting to and from the lodge is not physically difficult, and you are definitely not roughing it, but nonetheless, this is a true wilderness experience.  Our staff and guides are doing most of the work, so you are able to spend your time relaxing and enjoying the experience.  With a flexible schedule and only two clients assigned to each guide and boat, our clients can get the experience they desire.  We will provide any fishing related gear you may need, so this holds down your associated costs of owning and transporting these items. We offer all that most sportsmen seek and cut out the expensive frills.

“My son and I have been talking about this trip for 10 years.  It met more than any of our expectations and will leave some wonderful memories.” 

Alan S TX 8/4/18 
Seal in river

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