Alaska-bound fly-fishing fanatics or those who just daydream of such angling exploits will appreciate Alaska’s more than 3 million lakes and 3,000 rivers teaming with five species of beastly salmon and a healthy population of hard-hitting trophy rainbow trout. With 99 times more inland water than the whole state of Texas, Alaska is the obvious choice for your next fishing trip.
Although Alaska conjures up images of icy panoramas and fur-lined wardrobes, the best fly-fishing begins in the spring months and wraps up just before the first major snow storms usher in the winter. By the time spring rolls in, the still waters have been iced over for nearly six months. Warmer temperatures in April and May thaw lake ice and allow anglers access to a crowd of ravenous rainbow and lake trout, pike, grayling and Dolly Varden.
Alaska summers start with the return of the sockeye salmon, fully clad in their red spawning-phase coloration. Fish the Kenai River for a chance at a 60-pound king salmon as they begin to make their way upstream during the warmer days of June. July is the heaviest month for sockeye and king salmon runs throughout the state, and by late July the rivers and streams of southeast Alaska are full of pink and chum salmon. And where salmon are spawning, trout and Dolly Vardens are sure to follow eagerly awaiting the sweet taste of salmon eggs.
By August, the sockeye are no longer an option, but the late-arriving king salmon still offer a solid prospect for a big catch. But don’t scoff the late summer: August is known as the best time for pink salmon, and most locals will tell you this breed offers the novice angler the greatest opportunity for a bountiful trip.
Get the full wilderness experience with Dave Jones and his Ayakulik Outpost (theflyshop.com), a rustic but comfortable tent camp operation on the shores of the Ayakulik River on Kodiak Island. For something just a little more plush without losing that wilderness connection, visit Bob and Lula at Cusack’s Alaska Lodge (cusacksalaskalodge.com) on the shores of Lake Iliamna or Wilderness Place Lodge at the junction of Lake Creek and the Yentna River. Tackle the Alaskan wilderness in style with a full range of accommodations and amenities at Royal Coachman (royalcoachmanlodge.com) in Bristol Bay or the uniquely situated Royal Wolf Lodge (royalwolf.com) in the heart of Katmai National Park. Most outfitters large and small offer all the necessary transportation, including floatplanes and boats, to nearby waters, knowledgeable guides for the increased success, and ample cuisine to keep you casting.