May is the start of the downstream migration of the salmon fry, and where these abundant swimmers go, predators follow. Dolly Varden, lake trout, and rainbow trout often key in on lake outlet streams during the fry migration, and these locations provide an excellent fishing opportunity. Use minnow and fry-type flies such as the Alaskan Sockeye Fry , Clouser Deep Minnows , and Rainbow Minnows.
In the coastal regions, such as Southeast and Kodiak, these fish follow the salmon fry to the ocean. Salmon fry are the principal springtime food source for Dolly Varden and they feed with often reckless abandon during this season. There are many all-purpose minnow patterns (think Stinger Clouser Minnows , Epoxy Mini Minnows and Salmon Fry ) that are surefire producers for Dollies feeding on salmon fry. As the fry reach the saltwater, they tend to mass along the shoreline, lingering in the shallows to avoid predation. As the Dollies come into the skinny water looking for an easy meal, the estuary and saltwater beach fishing really heats up.
PLEASE CHECK YOUR REGULATIONS. ADF&G regulates opening and closing dates very tightly. Many systems have closed areas and prohibited species, especially during the Rainbow trout spawning season (May 1 - June 11). HELP PROTECT THE RESOURCE BY KNOWING THE LAW.
Spring also means steelhead in Southeast Alaska. Many salmon streams in the region get a small run of steelhead numbering perhaps 50 to 200 fish. With runs this small you have to time it just right to be there when the fish come in. Some of the larger runs occur on Price of Wales Island (POW) with runs numbering over 500 fish. The grand daddy of them all is the Situk River near the town of Yakutat. In recent years the run has numbered over 8000 steelhead! Flies such as the Pick Yer Pocket, the Karluk Shrimp, the Neon Shrimp, Dolly Llamas and the good old standby Garcia Glow Bug are good choices for these spring fighters.
NOTE: With a few exceptions, Alaska has no salmon runs in fresh water in April or May. If salmon fishing is in your plans, June, July, and August are the prime months.