Where to Fish in Alaska This Fall, According to Local Anglers

Alaska is renowned for its summer salmon runs, attracting fishermen and grizzly bears alike to the rivers for red salmon and the elusive king salmon. While summer salmon fishing is a must-do, fall fishing in Alaska offers a unique adventure with abundant fish, stunning fall foliage, and fewer crowds at prime fishing spots.

By September, the salmon runs on major rivers like the Russian, Kenai, and Copper are winding down. However, Alaska’s vast landscape provides numerous opportunities to target different species. After consulting with local anglers, here’s a list of the best places to fish in Alaska this fall, including silver and steelhead fishing on the Kenai Peninsula, halibut and rockfish fishing in Homer, lake fishing in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and rainbow trout fishing in the Bristol Bay drainage. Plan for early fall and pack warm clothes and fishing gear to make the most of these top destinations.

Kenai Peninsula: Silvers and Steelheads

River fishing enthusiasts should head to the numerous rivers on the Kenai Peninsula for a fall fishing trip. The Kenai Peninsula, especially Cooper Landing, offers excellent opportunities for catching silvers and steelheads even as most salmon runs dry up by fall. Silver salmon run the rivers from late September to mid-October, and steelhead start entering the rivers in early September, running into November.

The Kasilof River, known for its spring king salmon runs, also has a decent steelhead fishery. Farther south, Deep Creek is a well-known spot for steelhead and silver runs. The Anchor River, another popular steelhead stream, offers catches of silver salmon and Dolly Varden during this time of year.

Homer: Halibut, Rockfish, and More

Homer, often called the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World, lives up to its name. The Homer Spit, a narrow land finger jutting into Kachemak Bay, is packed with boat harbors and fish processors. Halibut over 100 pounds are common catches, with some reaching over 300 pounds. Halibut are known for their aggressive nature and distinctive head shake when hooked.

For variety, rockfish remain active into October and are fun and tasty to catch. Ocean-run king salmon, particularly “feeder” king salmon, can also be targeted by booking a trolling-equipped boat.

After fishing, visit The Salty Dawg Saloon, a historic bar in Homer known for its unique decor and strong margaritas.

Mat-Su Valley: Grayling, Arctic Char, Trout, and More

The Matanuska-Susitna Valley, located an hour north of Anchorage, is home to over 90 lakes stocked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. As temperatures drop in the fall, the valley’s lakes offer excellent fishing as fish become more active and feed in shallower water. Depending on the lake, anglers can catch stocked arctic char, chinook salmon, rainbow trout, arctic grayling, blackfish, and northern pike.

For river fishing, the Susitna River and its clearwater tributaries such as the Deshka, Little Susitna, and Talkeetna-area rivers provide fantastic trout and grayling fishing.

The Mat-Su Valley is easily accessible from Anchorage, with plenty of accommodation options in Talkeetna, Palmer, and Wasilla. Combine fishing with a moose hunt if fortunate enough to get a moose tag.

Bristol Bay Drainage: Rainbow Trout

Alaska’s rainbow trout, often measuring 25 to 30 inches with a substantial girth, are famous for their size and striking leopard spots. Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest red salmon fishery, offers exceptional rainbow trout fishing in the fall.

Rivers like the Kvichak, Alagnak, and Iliamna are known for some of the world’s largest wild rainbow trout. Anglers should pack flesh flies and beads, as the trout feed on salmon eggs and flesh all summer.

Bristol Bay is a remote area, requiring a flight from Anchorage to King Salmon. Due to its vast expanse, thorough planning is essential. Consider using a guiding outfitter or staying at a fishing lodge to ensure a successful trip.

Fall fishing in Alaska offers a unique and rewarding experience. From the scenic rivers of the Kenai Peninsula to the bountiful waters of Homer, the Mat-Su Valley, and Bristol Bay, there are endless opportunities for anglers. Plan a trip early in the fall, prepare for the cold, and enjoy the thrill of fishing in one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse environments.

Image/Source: WideOpenSpaces

This entry was posted in Seasonal and Location-Based Strategies and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.