If you have an Alaskan Cruise planned, don’t pass up the opportunity to fly fish for a day or two. Or if you are coming to Southeast Alaska for work or play, schedule in a little fly fishing, too. Alaska’s Panhandle has something to fish for from May through the end of September and the streams and beaches are uncrowded and pristine.
Whether you are looking for a fully guided trip or a DIY adventure, here are your options in each town. And to help with what flies to use, there is a recommended gear list at the end of this article.
Ketchikan: Ketchikan offers some great fishing opportunities for trout and salmon. For the DIY angler, there is great fishing available via the road system. Just a short drive south of town (approx 8 miles) lies the Ward Creek system. Ward Creek flows from Ward Lake and there are numerous access points along the creek starting at the lake and ending in Ward Cove. Throughout the spring, summer and fall, there are opportunities to fish for salmon, trout and Dolly Varden. This system is easily accessible either by rental car or taxi cab.
If a guided trip is of interest, Ketchikan has a variety of options. These include road system walk & wade trips as well as all-inclusive fly out trips to Misty Fjords and other parts of the Tongass National Forest. The Hook Up Guide Service offers everything from gear rentals to fly out trips. For more info on the trips they offer check out The Hook Up Guide Service or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sitka: Sitka has some decent DIY access to roadside streams and estuaries. Depending on the season, there are opportunities to fish for salmon, trout, and Dolly Varden. Occasionally, rockfish can even be found off of the rocks in the salt. May and June will see most anglers fishing for trout and Dollies in the estuaries of Starrigavan Creek, Indian River and Sawmill Creek. Most streams along the road system are closed to salmon fishing. Fly fishing for salmon takes place along the beaches and estuaries of these same streams from July-September. During this time, angler’s seeking trout should look to fish egg patterns and beads behind spawning salmon in the streams that are open to fishing. It is a good idea to check the local regulations before venturing out freshwater fishing.
There are several guide services to choose from in Sitka. The two most notable are Classic Casting Adventures and Sitka Alaska Outfitters. Classic Casting Adventures offers both half and full day boat out trips and full day fly outs. This is an all inclusive trip so gear and waders are provided. Sitka Alaska Outfitters offer a roadside fishing trip in addition to the boat and fly out trips. Gear is also included. To check out these guide services visit Classic Casting Adventures, Sitka Alaska Outfitters and Sitka Fish.
Juneau: Juneau offers a wealth of DIY roadside fishing usually starting in May and running through mid to late September. Some of these fisheries are very easy to access while others will require renting a car for a day. Juneau doesn’t offer any freshwater roadside guiding, but fishing via DIY is quite straight forward and the fishing areas are easily accessed via rental car or taxi cab. There are no fly fishing gear rentals in Juneau so anglers will need to bring their own rod, reel and waders.
Car rentals are available right at the cruise ship dock. Avis, Budget and Enterprise all have rentals available near the terminal known as the AJ Dock. Once you have your rental, cruise on out to Alaska Fly Fishing Goods and we’ll help you come up with a plan for the day and get you the flies you need.
Another Juneau option that does not involve a rental car is fishing Sheep Creek. It is a very productive inter tidal creek that has Dolly Varden, chum salmon, a few pink salmon and big run of silver salmon. It is only 5 miles from the cruise ship docks and is an easy taxi ride away.
For a guided trip in Juneau checkout Bear Creek Outfitters. They offer all inclusive fly out trips in both half day and full day options. Bear Creek’s trips offer the opportunity for fish for salmon, trout or dolly varden, all depending on the season. Bear Creek also works closely with most of the cruise ship companies and their trips can often be booked as a shore excursion. If you are on a cruise, booking your trip before you leave home is a good way to make sure you have a seat reserved. For more info check out www.juneauflyfishing.com or email email@example.com.
Skagway/Haines: Unfortunately, Skagway offers little in the way of freshwater fishing. For the adventurous soul wanting to take a hike above town, the Dewey Lakes offer good DIY fishing for small resident Brook Trout.
For a guided trip you’ll need to make an easy commute over to the nearby town of Haines. Fly Guides of Haines offers guided walk & wade half day and full day excursions. Their trips include rods, waders, flies and tackle. To get to Haines from Skagway, there is a shuttle ferry that runs multiple times a day. The trip takes approximately 45 minutes and your guide will meet you at the ferry.
Good fishing for Dolly Varden in Haines starts in late April and continues throughout the summer and into the fall. Large number of sockeye and pink salmon start to return in late June and peak in mid to late July. Silver salmon start running in late August and really pick up in September and October.
In addition to the vehicle-based trips, Fly Guides offers a fly out trip via a cessna 180 equipped with Tundra Tires. This trip will take you to areas hardly ever seen or fished by anglers. For more information call (907) 209 0816 or visit Fly Guides - Haines, AK
Hoonah/Icy Strait Point: Hoonah is a relative newcomer to the cruise ship scene and is quickly gaining popularity as a destination for its beauty and authentic nature. Located on the northern end of Chichagof Island, Hoonah has access to some good beach fishing for Dolly Varden in May and June and then pink salmon along with Dolly Varden in July and August. Silvers arrive in September to round out the season.
For the angler looking to be guided, check out Game Creek Guides. Game Creek Guides takes anglers to nearby streams and estuaries to fish for coastal cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden as well as pink, chum, and silver salmon when in season. This is a great way to fish some of the best streams in Southeast Alaska without having to worry about bears! Game Creek Guides offers trips for anglers coming up on a cruise and for the non cruiser alike. Contact Lucas Clark (907) 321-9145 or go to www.gamecreekguides.net
Hoonah does have some really good stream fishing for the adventurous DIY anglers. Vehicles and boat rentals are available through Icy Strait Lodge. Two words of caution for DIY anglers. A sizable portion of the land in proximity to Hoonah is private native land and should not be trespassed on. Check with Huna Totem Corporation for details. Chichagof Island is also home to a sizable population of coastal brown bears and caution should be used when fishing the streams.
When your plans call for visiting S.E. Alaska, make sure to plan some fly fishing. Southeast Alaska abounds in great fishing and the streams are uncrowded. If you are interested in DIY fishing here are 3 Pro Tips.
- If at all possible, bring your own rod & reel and waders. A few towns have wader and gear rentals but it is more the exception than the norm. Having your own gear means you will be on the water quickly and get every possible minute of fishing in.
- Buy your fishing license ahead of time so you don’t spend valuable fishing time driving around looking for a license. Once again, more time fishing and less time wasted. Here is the Alaska Department of Fish & Games license page.
- Order your flies and leaders ahead and have them shipped to your home before your trip. It will save you time and Alaska Fly Fishing Goods in Juneau is the only fly fishing shop in S.E. Alaska. Here is what you will need:
DIY FLIES AND TACKLE