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The Backstage Pass

Why Should You Experience Fly Fishing in Alaska?

May 03, 23

Alaska encompasses 371 million acres and has more landmass than Montana, California, and Texas combined. The sheer size of the 49th state is immense and in terms of fishable waters is even more staggering. It’s difficult to convey the caliber of just how good the fishing is in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Why would anyone travel to fly fish in Alaska when there’s the U.S. Rockies? Isn’t it a long way to travel for a week of fishing?

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Hopefully, by the end of this article, it’ll be easy to understand why Alaska is one of the world’s premier trout fisheries and why you should begin planning your trip today!

The Last Frontier

In a lot of ways, Alaska is the epitome of America’s last frontier. Alaska has more than half of America’s national parkland and more than 80% of America’s national wildlife refuge land. For a state that is the United States’ largest, it has a little over 700,000 residents and even has homesteads still up for claim. Let that sink in for a minute!

There are so few people in Alaska the government is still paying people to live there. What that means for you, the angler is that it’s entirely possible to go the whole week without seeing another soul – heck, you could probably go for an entire year without seeing anyone if you really wanted. If you’re hoping to escape the fast pace of society then there may not be a better place to do so than Alaska. So now that we’ve established that crowds are virtually nonexistent, let’s paint a picture of rainbow trout fishing.

Want to fly fish for Rainbow Trout?

The trout fishing is good, but let’s make sure to have a reality check; it’s still fishing. Some days can be great, epic, even legendary – and other days can be downright no good outright miserable if you have a weather system move in. However, on whatever phantasmal scale by which we judge “how good” the fishing is, Alaska falls on the far side, and we’d even go so far to say it’s exceptional.

If catching good-sized rainbows, and lots of them, is your definition of good fishing then no need to look further than Alaska- the rainbow trout fishing is second to none. But don’t limit yourself to just rainbows, Alaska boasts an array of other species to target as well.

Diversity of Species

Salmon are synonymous with Alaska and the Bristol Bay area alone is the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Salmon are a cornerstone species in Alaska’s ecology providing essential nutrients and biomass to river systems and landscapes- from microorganisms to the largest grizzly bears, salmon provide an invaluable food source. And when these salmon return to the freshwater rivers to spawn anglers can target them just as they would any fish.

Depending on where you go to Alaska, you can target all five species of Pacific Salmon. For whatever reason salmon sort of “fly below the radar”, but don’t be fooled, there have been more than a few anglers who were surprised by just how much fun salmon fishing can be. On top of salmon and rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, steelhead, and Northern pike are also found in Alaska.

There is no lack of diversity in Alaska which makes it a great place for both beginners and experts alike. The absence of crowds, the terrific rainbow trout fishing, and the variety of species all lead to Alaska being one of our favorite destinations- not to mention that the only way to get around is by hopping into a small plane with pontoons for wheels!


Fly on a Float Plane

The floatplane is Alaska’s workhorse. If you’re an Alaskan native, odds are you have your pilot’s license and have already logged hundreds of hours flying the backcountry. Since so much of Alaska is untouched with no roads connecting towns and villages, lodges have adapted to utilizing small aircraft to access fisheries that normally would be inaccessible. Flying anglers to and from remote fisheries, and floatplanes are what make the Alaskan experience so unique.

Every morning, lodges across Alaska load up their planes with excited anglers and fly to new remote and productive fisheries. Leave out the fantastic fishing and you’re still left with a plane ride across some of America’s most breathtaking landscapes. You may need help keeping your jaw up as you gape out the window at snow-covered peaks, glaciers, meandering rivers, and the seemingly endless expanse of wilderness that you don’t have to ask permission to explore. And if you’re lucky enough maybe you’ll even see a bear or moose waltzing around on the tundra below.

As John Muir stated, “To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” We couldn’t agree more! Alaska is a place every angler, no matter their skill level, should experience at least once. With flights to Alaska’s Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC) flight logistics are relatively easy and don’t require multiple days of travel. The fishing, the diversity of species, and the thrill of floatplanes are just a couple of the many reasons why we love Alaska. We’ll leave it up to you to understand the rest.

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

+ View the Alaska Fly Fishing Gear Guide: Everything You Need

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