Guided Fishing in Alaska – How to get the best experience.

The best way to experience fishing in Alaska

When I headed out on June 1st to guide for this fishing lodge in Western Alaska, we had about seven days of set up before our first guests would arrive. The entire staff piled bags and gear for the 130 day season into one of three Beavers and two 180 float planes. Of course the flight over was incredible as all of the remote country West of Anchorage is. I was excited to show our clients how incredible guided fishing in Alaska can be.

Guided fishing in Alaska starts in June.

The best time for guided fishing in Alaska is all about timing. It depends on the fishing experience you’re after and what you want to catch. I personally really enjoy June fishing in Alaska due to the large variety in rivers and fishing techniques used at this time.

Start out the season floating the Copper River, or one of the several small rivers around the lodge.

Lacey with a nice Alaska rainbow.
Lacey with a nice Alaska rainbow.

In recent years, the Copper River has lacked the fishing quality as compared to some other local rivers. However the adventure here is what had me excited, and still has it pinned as my number one favorite trip I guided all summer. The several mile float requires two portages, one being a 30 foot waterfall.

The creeks around the lodge are loaded with large grayling.

These waters have the biggest grayling I have ever caught, and the pools were shared by many willing Dolly Varden. Some days you could leave here with 40-50 fish per rod.

On one particular day my two clients landed over 100 fish together on a mouse! That’s guided fishing in Alaska at it’s best.

There’s a great braided section of the Alagnak River that’s just a 10 minute flight from the lodge.

On the Alagnak River we got into many nice rainbows on streamers and mice. I also fished the Kvichak River a few times in June which allowed for some really nice rainbows as well as the start of the sockeye salmon fishery.

In July, the salmon fishing starts to get hot.

July is a fun time to come if you want to take some salmon home, and also experience the variety that June fishing offers.

I spent many days fishing for Sockeye salmon, Chum salmon and some King salmon.

The best time to fish in Alaska is all about timing. It depends on the fishing experience you’re after and what you want to catch. Bristol Bay has a great sockeye run that starts in July.
Bristol Bay has a great sockeye run that starts in July. Here’s Patrick with a big ‘ole male.

I’m not a salmon fishing guide, so the main King fisheries are left to our other guides. I took my clients out for Rainbows, Dolly Varden and grayling on many different rivers.

I had many fun days floating from rafts and fishing streamers to aggressive rainbows at this time.

Dry flies and nymphs for grayling was also fun after a limit of salmon was caught.

In August the fishing began to heat up for bigger rainbows.

We experienced unusual hot and dry weather in July which made many rivers run low and fish differently in August, yet we were still able to find plenty of big rainbows.

In order to show my clients how good guided fishing in Alaska can be, I mainly floated the famous Moraine Creek. It’s famous for a reason… You can catch 10-50 rainbows from 20-26”+ in a day,  and see just as many brown bears. The bears really add to the adventure.

Alaska wilderness trip
Patrick and his anglers floating Moraine Creek.

The Silver salmon run starts in August.

One of my favorite August trips, and a guest favorite is “The Coast”.

It’s about an hour flight from the lodge depending on weather.

The flight is incredibly scenic over many glaciers and rivers. You often see seals and otters near the mouth of these coastal rivers. Fox and bears are ever present along the banks of those rivers.

Of course the fishing is good and you can almost expect to bring back your limit of Silver salmon. Usually you have caught enough before lunch, and with sore arms will enjoy a fresh caught silver fillet over a fire! Be sure to take some home and make some smoked salmon.

The Kvichak starts to fish good in August as well.

Once the Chums start spawning in the Kvichak River, the big rainbows drop down out of Lake Iliamna to feed on the fresh eggs.

September is my favorite time to be fishing in Alaska.

Anyone who has ever fished during this month in Alaska knows why it is a favorite. If you are a serious rainbow fisherman fall is the time to come fish Alaska to target trophy trout! As September begins fall is here and the cold nights and sometimes frosty mornings are here.

In September we find the rainbows have put on some serious weight.

That’s because since June they’ve been eating heavily on salmon eggs and flesh to put on weight for the winter. They become professional feeders and are without doubt the hardest fighting rainbows in the world. Again working with a fly out lodge I fished several different rivers in September to target rainbows and silvers.

The bears tend to be very concentrated on the rivers.

Weather you’re searching for a luxury Alaska fishing lodge for the entire family or a week long float trip down a remote river system with some buddies or maybe its a do-it-yourself adventure you are looking for, Alaska has it!
These Alaska Rainbows fight incredibly hard.

They are feasting on the last of the Sockeye salmon before hibernating. You will fish among the bears on the smaller rivers and creeks, but it is not something to worry about. Your guide is trained and prepared to deal with them, and both us and the bears have a mutual respect for one another.

If you are hoping for a 30”+ Rainbow, September is where it’s at.

The Kvichak and Naknek Rivers are where you’ll want to be fishing. Long leaders and indicators with beads or flesh flies might land you a chance at one of these giants!

However, even though they’re there, never come to Alaska and expect one of these giant Rainbows. They have a way of taking even veteran anglers to “school” once they are hooked.

A true 24”+ rainbow is a great fish anywhere, and I promise you the ones in Alaska fight harder than the lower 48 trout.

Lastly, October starts getting cold, and weather can be a factor, but the fishing can be amazing.

You will see less quantity but quality of fish rises above the rest of the season. In October, we will target Arctic char, and these fall days often provide excellent fishing.

One particular day I guided for them we had multiple fish over 28” and two char went over 30”. We also had a wolf run along the beach near us and a bull moose cross the river right in front of us! Alaska is wild and I love it!

Summing up my Alaska Fishing Season.

In my season I fished at least 18 different rivers, and as a lodge we fished at least 30 rivers.

The lodge has the ability, and permits to fish up to 40 different rivers in the span of the season. With so many options, we always have somewhere to fish, even if the weather or some other circumstances prevent us from fishing a certain river.

It is especially nice as a guide to fly over a river and decide to not fish it for any reason. That could be water level, other anglers, not seeing fish from the air etc.

As a guest it’s nice to know your guide and pilot have the best interest for you. Your experience is our highest priority, and we won’t just drop you on an unproductive stretch of river.

Are you ready to experience guided fishing in Alaska for yourself?

In my opinion the best way to experience all that Alaska has to offer is to go with one of the premier fly out lodges. The variety of fishing and what you will experience here in a week is unrivaled. You will be planning your return as soon as your schedule allows. I guarantee it!

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