Fishing and hunting are popular sports in the North and a way of life for many residents. Fishing is by far the most popular activity for visitors. The biggest challenge for visiting fishermen is the sheer number and variety of fishing opportunities available. Fishing streams accessible from the road system in Alaska and northwestern Canada are listed in The MILEPOST®.
Knowing the kind of fish and fishing you want may help plan your trip. Salmon are the most popular sport fish in Alaska, with all 5 species of Pacific salmon found: king (Chinook), silver (coho), pink (humpy), chum (dog) and red (sockeye). King salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska is restricted to salt water, but the Kenai Peninsula offers streams where all 5 species of Pacific salmon are found. In-season saltwater fishing for several salmon species, as well as halibut, rockfish and several salmon species is excellent at many spots along the Peninsula and out of Whittier, Homer, Seward and Valdez.
Alaska’s Interior has the largest arctic grayling fishery in North America. Northern pike is the most sought-after indigenous sport fish in Interior Alaska after the arctic grayling. These fish are the main sport fish species in the Tanana River drainage.
Most fishing enthusiasts focus their trips between April and October, when the weather is milder, but anglers have great success during the colder months as well.
Where to fish is probably the most difficult choice, with the huge number of fishing destinations available. You can fish any body of water with fish in it as long as it is legal, but local knowledge greatly increases chances for success. Many fishing guides and charter operators.
The Alaska Sport Fish Division has a wide variety of brochures about different sport fishing opportunities available in each region of Alaska: what fish are available, when to go, where to go, and what to use when you get there. For regional fishing information, run timing, fishing forecasts etc., click on Sport Fish Publication listed under Publications and then click on the Regional Sport Fishing Brochures for the area you are interested in.
Alaska Fishing Reports by Management Area
Both resident and nonresident sport fishermen must be aware of rules and regulations before going out in the field. Failure to comply with Fish & Game regulations can result in monetary fines and loss of trophies or property. Regulation booklets are available online (under Regulations click on Sportfishing Regs). Licenses and permits are also available online.
Game fish in northwestern Canada include Arctic char and grayling, trout, burbot, Dolly Varden, lake trout, inconnu and pike. How and where to catch fish, lists of stocked lakes and details on fishing regulations and licenses in Yukon are available (click on Fishing). A sport fishing guide for Northwest Territories is available (see guide under Permits and Licences drop-down menu). Click here for details and regulations on sport fishing in British Columbia. For details and regulations on sport fishing in Alberta, open the Fish and Wildlife tab.
Nonresident hunters in Alaska must be accompanied by a registered guide or a close relative over 19 who is an Alaska resident, when hunting brown bear, Dall sheep or mountain goats. There are 26 game management units in Alaska and a wide variation in both seasons and bag limits for various species. Check for special regulations in each unit.
Big game includes black and brown/grizzly bears, deer, elk, mountain goats, moose, wolves and wolverines, caribou, Dall sheep, musk-oxen and bison. Big game tags are required for residents hunting musk-ox and brown/grizzly bear and for nonresidents hunting any big game animal. These nonrefundable, nontransferable metal locking tags (valid for the calendar year) must be purchased prior to the taking of the animal. A tag may be used for any species for which the tag fee is of equal or lesser value.
Small game animals include grouse, ptarmigan and hares. Fur animals that may be hunted are the coyote, fox and lynx. Waterfowl are also abundant. There is no recreational hunting of polar bear, walrus or other marine animals.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation website has Hunting & Trapping information and regulations, educational subjects, licenses and permits, and other wildlife-related subjects.