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Early Season Fly Fishing in Alaska: Why Should You Go?

One of the most common misconceptions about fishing in Alaska is that August is the best time to go. As a result, anglers and tourists race to book those weeks in an effort to book what is perceived as “the only time to fish Alaska.” August is certainly a very special time for Alaska and if you’ve already booked your trip in August, then you’re in for a real treat – However, the early and late season months are often overlooked and can harbor some of Alaska most epic fishing. June and July offer a different but equally good experience for the avid angler.

While most rivers are vacant of spawning salmon during June and early July, anglers can find themselves focusing strictly on resident rainbow trout hungry after a long, cold winter. Anglers can experience a more intimate fishing setting where they can cast streamers, mice and an occasional dry to rising fish. September is also highly overlooked and deemed a brutal month due to cooler temperatures and moody weather patterns, however, September can be a fantastic time to target Alaska’s trophy rainbow trout, Arctic Char, Steelhead and the infamous Silver or Coho Salmon.

With the height of the season being late July on through August, most lodges are full almost a year in advance. These early and late months are typically wide open and have great availability to choose from. We’ve included a list below detailing various lodges that all have great availability for early and late season weeks.

 

April – May: 

While the mainland part of Alaska is still gripped in winter and closed to sport fishing, Southeast Alaska is beginning to gear up for its annual spring steelhead run which begins in early April and ends the second week of May.

Southeast Alaska is home to an incredible run of wild steelhead that accesses small creeks and streams in the Tongass National Forest providing anglers with a very unique and secluded experience. Like most steelhead fishing conditions, it’s likely to be raining with temperatures in the classic mid 40’s to low 50’s range with an occasional sunny day with temps in the 60’s.

Steelhead fishing in the Tongass is relatively demanding as anglers will do a lot of hiking to access different streams throughout the day and week. There are no roads that access these creeks so everything is done by boat and then by foot. It’s important for anglers to be in good physical shape in order for them to capitalize on their experience.

Studs and wading staffs are certainly recommended for this fishery. Throughout the week, anglers can expect to land anywhere between 4-10 steelhead per day depending on the conditions which are very uncharacteristic of steelhead fishing anywhere else in the world.

As the season progresses into May, the steelhead will have been in freshwater for a couple of weeks and will be much darker in color. So for those who wish to target chrome steelhead, then it’s recommended they target April dates. Kings will start to show up in the estuaries so for anyone wishing to catch a fresh king (trolling) this is a good time to do so.

June:

June is a great time to fly fish in Alaska if you are looking to target a diversity of species, and fish for trout with a variety of different fly patterns. Alaska’s trout and summer season opens in early June and can provide anglers with a great early season experience. During the month of June anglers can typically target rainbows on a variety of different fly patterns including streamers, nymphs, dry flies, and even skated mouse patterns!

As the trout species are coming off a long winter season where they have been lethargic and lay dormant, they begin to feed heavily and VERY aggressively to pack on the pounds before next winter.

Many of the rainbows will chase down almost ANY well-presented fly patterns, and you can see LOTS of action in a variety of different scenarios. You can also have great fishing opportunities for a variety of different salmon species as they move into the freshwater of Alaska.

King Salmon will show up in mid-late June depending on the area you will be fishing, and will be available to anglers throughout the month of July where they will spawn and decompose back into the system.

This is a great time to be in Alaska if you are looking for the chance to catch a bunch of different species and a very overlooked time by many anglers looking to experience Alaska.

Weather patterns this time of year can be cooler with temperatures in the mid-50’s and low 60’s. As with any destination, weather systems can move through at any time so always pack a rain jacket and understand that Alaska’s weather can change within minutes. June is typically known to be a buggy month so it’s always wise to pack some bug spray along!

+ Listen to this WAYPOINTS Podcast: CAMILLE EGDORF – Alaska Trip Planning and How to Do it Right

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