7 Alaska Fishing Trip Locations

Going to Alaska is a trip of a lifetime and fishing is often a top priority. Most people visit Alaska during the summer months when the weather nice and the days are long. The most sought-after fish are salmon and halibut. There are also over 100 types of rockfish, huge lingcod, rainbow trout, dolly varden, flounder, pollock, arctic char, and arctic grayling that can be caught in Alaska.

best fishing locations in alaska

Fishing can be done from a boat or from land near rivers and creeks. Fishing from a boat for salmon is done by trolling or mooching. When halibut fishing it is best to anchor up and place scented baits just off the bottom. Catching salmon for a boat is great as the salmon will be a bright chrome and perfect for eating. Salmon are the second fastest growing fish in the world and feed heavily before entering the streams. When salmon are feeding heavily before entering the stream is a great time to be fishing for them.

Here are Great Alaska Fishing Trip Locations

1. Sitka Alaska

sitka alaska fishing map

Average Boat Ride 20-30 miles
Kings Salmon Fishing Excellent, May-June
Silver Salmon Fishing Excellent, July-August
Halibut Fishing Excellent, 1 fish under 50 inches or over 72

Sitka Alaska is best known for its amazing salmon fishing from a boat. Based on Alaska Fish and Game harvest rate data Sitka has the highest catch rates for King salmon in the state. It also has excellent catch rates for coho salmon, halibut, and rockfish. The Average Harvest Rate (HPUE) is the number of fish caught and kept while sport fishing, per angler per day. In some cases, the catch rates might be higher but due to a limit caught, size of fish, or closed season the fish would be released. There are also lots of pink salmon caught in Sitka but these are typically released.

Based on 2019 catch rates the number of fish caught per angler per day in Sitka was .18 for king salmon, .72 for silver salmon, and .34 for halibut. This is the average number o fish caught per angler per day. Realize that king as silver salmon are only fished for about half the season. Also, not everyone has a permit to fish for halibut. These are actually great catch rates and will be compared to the other fishing locations.

Looking at the harvest rates is a great way to decide where and when to go fishing in Alaska. If you compare this data to other areas in Alaska you will see why Sitka is listed as the best fishing location. Sitka is actually the largest city in America per square area with over 4,800 square miles within city limits. However, it only has a population of around 10,000 people. It is common to fish within the Sitka Sound, outside of the sound in the Gulf of Alaska in what is called the cape, for Cape Edgecumbe, and all-around Kruzof Island.

Halibut Fishing

halibut fishing in sitka alaska

On charters in Sitka, only one halibut can be kept per angler per day and it has to be under 50 inches. The allowable size varies from season to season. If the halibut is over 72 inches it can be kept as well but it is not typical to catch ones this large. Halibut between 38 and 72 inches are commonly caught but have to be released. When halibut fishing it is common to start out catching smaller halibut and catch bigger ones as time passes. Almost all halibut over 45 inches are females and it is important to let them go to keep the halibut population high.

Most anglers will wait until they catch a halibut between 30-50 inches to keep. A 50-inch halibut weighs around 60 pounds, a 38-inch halibut weighs around 25 pounds, and a 30-inch halibut weighs around 12 pounds. So waiting for bigger fish allows the potential for more fish to be sent home. Halibut fishing is typically done in 100-400 feet of water depth. When a big halibut bites it can take 10-20 minutes to reel up. Halibut fishing has to be done outside of the Sitka sound on charters so you will be fishing in the unprotected waters of the Gulf of Alaska in the Pacific Ocean. In the summertime, it is almost always fishable from a weather standpoint.

The halibut catch rate of .34 per angler per day might look low but realize not every boat has a halibut fishing permit. Also, only one fish can be kept per day. So halibut catch rate looks low but is actually pretty consistent with good action when halibut fishing in Sitka.

Salmon Fishing

two large king salmon caught in alaska

Only one king salmon can be caught per angler per day with a max of around three per year. In May and June king salmon fishing is very good but the total number of salmon caught will be less than when fishing in July and August when silver salmon are around also. The total number of fish that can be caught are 1 king, 6 silver, 6 chum, 6 pinks, and 6 sockeyes per angler per day. In the summer when the salmon fishing is at its peak, it is not uncommon for an angler to catch 1, king, 6 silvers, and some pinks. King salmon season sometimes closes after July 1st for a while depending on the number of fish harvested.

There are not many salmon in the streams around Sitka. There is a large run of pinks, chum, and some hatchery kings. However, most of the salmon in Sitka are going to streams and rivers elsewhere. Sitka has a large amount of bait so salmon going to southeast Alaska, Canada, Washington, Orgon, and California all come to Sitka to feed before spawning. Some salmon stay for a day and some stay for a year. That is what makes Sitka such an amazing offshore fishery. It is the sheer number of heavily feeding salmon. For this reason, Sitka has a large commercial and sportfishing fleet of boats.

Lingcod Fishing

lingcod caught on fishing charter in alaska

Huge lingcod are often caught while halibut fishing and keeper size lingcod are caught while salmon fishing. In order to be kept in Sitka the lingcod need to between 30 and 35 inches or greater than 55 inches. Most lingcod caught are not in these size slots. It is not uncommon to catch monster lingcod that are over 48 inches long. These fish can be pulled from the water for a quick picture and then released. The fish are pretty hardy and swim away good even when caught in 200 feet of water.

Rockfish Fishing

There are over 130 types of rockfish. The two categories are pelagic and non-pelagic. Only one pelagic can be kept per day. An example of that would be the yelloweye rockfish and some years it is closed for yelloweye. Only one yelloweye can be kept per angler per year when they can be kept. Three pelagic rockfish can be kept per angler per day. Examples of these are black rockfish and dusky rockfish. Rockfish are not typically targeted but are caught while salmon and halibut fishing.

If you are in Sitka here is a video I made with lots the things to do in Sitka Alaska.

2. Seward Alaska

seward fishing map

Average Boat Ride 65-75 miles
Kings Salmon Fishing Average, All Summer
Silver Salmon Fishing Good, July – August
Halibut Fishing Excellent, 2 fish, one under 28 inches

Based on 2019 catch rates the number of fish caught per angler per day was .05 for king salmon, .52 for silver salmon, and .47 for halibut. This makes Seward an excellent fishing location based on the data. The king salmon catch rate is low but these are not typically targeted out of Seward. It is a good place to catch silver salmon. Overall catch rates for halibut are lower than one might expect as Seward is famous for halibut fishing. A large number of fishing trips stay within resurrection bay which has decent but lower halibut catch rates than outside the bay. For the longer-range halibut trips to Price William sound, the catch rate is around .73 per anglers per day which is the second-highest in the state. Seward is about a 2.5-hour drive from Anchorage.

For large halibut, the popular place to fish is off Montague Island which is a 65 to 75 mile run from the port of Seward. This is shown on the map above. There are closer places to fish but if the weather is nice this is a preferred fishing location. It does take about 2.5 hours to get there so expect a 5-hour boat ride. As long as it is not windy with rough seas this is an enjoyable boat ride. On bad weather days, it is best to stay within resurrection bay or hide behind land for calm seas based on the wind direction.

People commonly ask, should I fish in Seward or Homer? Both are similar fisheries but Seward has more protected waters to fish on rough days. Also, the long boat ride is more scenic out of Seward. For these reasons, I would say Seward has the edge but both places are great options for being able to keep large halibut. Homer does have a shorter boat ride to get to the prime halibut fishing grounds.

3. Homer Alaska

homer alaska fishing map

Average Boat Ride 45-60 miles
Kings Salmon Fishing Good, All Summer
Silver Salmon Fishing Average, July-August
Halibut Fishing Excellent, 2 fish, one under 28 inches

Homer is about a 4-hour drive from Anchorage. Target fishing destinations out of homer are Chugiak Islands a 45-mile trip or the Barren Islands a 60-mile trip. This does mean a 2-3 hour boat ride to the fishing destination. It is a long boat ride but homer is known as the halibut fishing capital of the world for a reason. The terrain around homer is flatter than areas near Seward and the Kenai Fjords. The four-hour drive from Anchorage is easy and scenic as the road runs right along the coast.

Based on 2019 catch rates the number of fish caught per angler per day was .12 for king salmon, .13 for silver salmon, and 1.27 for halibut. This shows that homer has the highest catch rates for all of Alaska for any major fishing port. This location is often compared to Seward which has lower halibut and king salmon catch rates but higher silver salmon catch rates.

4. Elfin Cove and Pelican Alaska

elfin cove map

Average Boat Ride 15-30 miles
Kings Salmon Fishing Average, May-June
Silver Salmon Fishing Excellent, July – August
Halibut Fishing Excellent, 2 fish, one under 32 inches

Based on 2019 catch rates the number of fish caught per angler per day was .07 for king salmon, .66 for silver salmon, and .57 for halibut. The boat ride to good fishing locations is less than one hour away. This area does have awesome catch rates for halibut and silver salmon.

If you are looking for a remote lodge fishing experience fishing in this area is a great option. There are several well-known lodges in the area. This is a remote fishing experience in most cases where you arrive via float plane from Juneau Alaska. That could be seen and a positive or negative depending on what you are looking for in a fishing trip. The fishing in this area for silver salmon and halibut is very good.

5. Kodiak Alaska

kodiak island map

Average Boat Ride 5-30 miles
Kings Salmon Fishing Excellent, All Summer
Silver Salmon Fishing Good, Late July – Early September
Halibut Fishing Excellent, 2 fish, one under 28 inches

Based on 2019 catch rates the number of fish caught per angler per day in Kodiak was .17 for king salmon, .41 for silver salmon, and .39 for halibut. This is another great destination for a remote fishing experience. The catch rates for king salmon are the second-best in the state and the halibut and silver fishing is good as well.

This summary gives an idea of the number of salmon in the streams when fishing from land. This large remote island is well known for its halibut fishing and two halibut can be caught per angler per day. One has to be under 28 inches and one can be any size. Most years there is an annual limit of around four halibut per year. For this reason, some anglers just keep one large halibut per day on trips longer than two days.

Kodiak Island is around 100 miles long and has several harbors and lodges including, Larson Bay Lodge, Old Harbor, Near Island, and Kodiak. The distance to the fishing grounds will vary based on the location being fishing from. Most fish is done from a boat. However, if you are located by a stream with a large run of salmon that is a great option as well. The population of Kodiak Alaska is around 6,00 people. Kodiak Island also has Kodiak bears, blacktail deer, caribou, and mountain goats.

6. Ketchikan Alaska

ketchikan alaska map

Average Boat Ride 15-25 miles
Kings Salmon Fishing Average, All Summer
Silver Salmon Fishing Good, Late July – Early September
Halibut Fishing Average, 1 fish, one under 38 inches

Based on 2019 catch rates the number of fish caught per angler per day was .06 for king salmon, .46 for silver salmon, and .16 for halibut. The average boat ride is about 45 minutes to get to halibut and salmon grounds. In Ketchikan, it is possible to catch salmon very close to the harbors.

Ketchikan is a popular location to fish from a cruise ship. Fishing is done in protected waters where it is usually pretty calm. A popular fishing trip in Ketchikan is a rock fishing trip where they cook the fish immediately afterward. I would not recommend fishing here in May or June for king salmon. Starting in July though the silver salmon fishing is decent.

7. Juneau Alaska

juneau alaska map

Average Boat Ride 5-20 miles
Kings Salmon Fishing Poor, All Summer
Silver Salmon Fishing Good, Late August – September
Halibut Fishing Average, 1 fish, one under 38 inches

Based on 2019 catch rates the number of fish caught per angler per day was .04 for king salmon, .30 for silver salmon, and .16 for halibut. Juneau is a popular place to fish coming off cruise ships. This means people come and fish a half-day four-hour long trips. This makes the catch rates lower than many other areas where full-day trips are common.

I would not recommend booking a king salmon trip in May-July because the catch rates are so low. One person out of 25 catching a salmon does not seem like a charter worthy trip. There are some nice kings in Juneau but in the early summer, you would be better off booking a bottom fishing trip out of Juneau, in my opinion.

Bottom fishing trips catch lots of rockfish and there are some halibut in the area. If you are in Juneau in August or September the silver salmon fishing is decent and they are typically very large silver salmon. The nice thing about fishing here is that it is done on the intercostal and the waves are typically not very rough. This can be a good place to fish if you get seasick. It is a very pretty area that is generally calm and you often see whales while fishing as well.

If you are a hardcore fisherman that does not get seasick, fishing out of Sitka, Seward, or Homer is great. If you want to be on calm water and relax while fishing Ketchikan or Juneau are good locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best month to fish in Alaska?

The best month to fish in Alaska is mid-July to mid-August. During this time there is the largest number of salmon in most areas. This is true for fishing from a boat or when salmon fishing in a stream. That halibut fishing this time of year is also phenomenal. Another great thing about these moths is the weather is warm and less rainy than spring and early summer months. The only downside is this is the busy season so it might be hard to get the best charters and lodging accommodations. For this reason, it is best to plan the trip in advance.

How much does a fishing trip to Alaska cost?

For a full-day fishing trip, typically costs are between $300-$450 per angler per day. Half-day trips are around $200 per angler per day. Often times you can get lodging separate or through a charter company. A fishing license also has to be purchased which costs around $15 per day and $15 per day additional for the king stamp. Another cost people often overlook is fish processing and shipping. It cost about $4 a pound for processing and around $10 a pound for shipping. So if you are mailing 100 pounds of fish home this could cost another $1400. Bringing the fish back as a checked bag results in significant cost savings.

When planning the trip airfare, lodging, and rental car should also be factored into the costs. Some lodges do a full-service package which includes the airport shuttle, lodging, meals, fishing, and fish processing.

Where is the best halibut fishing in Alaska?

The highest halibut catch rates are out of Homer Alaska. Seaward also has really great catch rates. A good thing about these two locations is that two fish can be kept per angler per day. One fish over 28 inches and one under 28 inches. The only downside to these destinations is the best fishing grounds are a 45 mile to a 75-mile boat ride away. This means around 5 hours of boat travel per day. Large halibut can be caught in other locations but not as consistently as these locations. Sitka also has a great halibut fishery but only one fish under 50 inches can be kept per angler per day. All year round you can catch artic grayling and trout in Alaska.

How many halibut can I catch in Alaska?

This varies from year to year. In most areas, guided anglers from out of state can keep 4 halibut per year. Some charters do purchase GAF permits to keep more but that is not typical. Just buying a sport fishing halibut permit for a charter vessel is super expensive, around $100,000 per boat. This is because there is a limited number of permits.

The size of halibut and the number that can be caught per day also varies by location. For unguided anglers, it is two halibut any size per day. For guided anglers on charters, it depends on the area. Two halibut can be kept for most of Alaska on charters, with one halibut being under 28 inches and one halibut being any size. In southeast Alaska for 2021, it is one halibut under 50 inches or one halibut over 72 inches. Always check the local regulations before fishing.

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