What's the Secret to Catching Salmon in Alaska?
Juneau is an angler's heaven
When you're in the world's greatest fishing country, it's tempting to expect huge fish everywhere, all the time. And in Alaska, halibut fishing can certainly fill that bill in many instances. But Alaskan salmon are migratory species with very specific peak seasons.
In general, king salmon fishing begins in the spring and ends by mid-summer; sockeye, pink, and chum salmon follow. Silver salmon fishing happens during the late summer and fall. Halibut, other bottom fish, including lingcod and rockfish, and freshwater Dolly Varden trout are here during the summer, but change locations throughout the season.
For visitors apt to say, "We've been in Alaska five minutes already. Where are the fish?" fishing pros give this triple P advice: "Patience and persistence pay."
If you have limited time, hire a professional guide to pick the best option on any given day, and Juneau offers dozens of excellent fishing guide services. For do-it-yourselfers, local professionals recommend fishing deep. Go at least 90 to 100 feet, and fish tide rips using whole herring. Look for clouds of baitfish on the depth finder.
Big fish demand stout tackle. Most regulars use at least 25-pound test line for kings and 20-pound line for cohos. Halibut demand pool-cue-thick rods with 100-pound line.
Avid fishermen also say it's good to experiment. Record water temperatures, air temperature, depth, and tides when you catch a fish. Experiment with hoochies and bait. Silvers like a faster speed and herring that rolls more, while kings like a slow roll.
While most Juneau anglers fish by boat, shore-bound anglers can try their luck at the public fishing pier on Channel Drive, beside the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, or Montana Creek off Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei Trail.
During late summer, flyfishermen can find excellent shoreline action from Auke Bay to Berners Bay for pink and silver salmon. Salmon runs in any of the creeks can be incredible, offering world-class flyfishing action.
Sportfishing licenses and king salmon stamps can be purchased from licensed vendors or online at www.admin.adfg.state.ak.us/license.
The five species of Pacific salmonFive species of Pacific salmon return from the sea to Alaska's streams each summer to complete their life cycle. As they transform physically, they battle currents, leap waterfalls, and evade anglers and bears until they reach the gravel spawning beds where they were born. They spawn, and then, the cycle completed, they die.
Local LingoChums: Dog salmon, as in "the chums are running."
DIPAC (pronounced die-pack): Which stands for Douglas Island Pink and Chum. The fish hatchery now renamed the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery, where you can see chums, kings, coho, and sockeye.
Dollies: Dolly Varden trout.
ExtraTufs: Knee-high slip-on rubber boots. XtraTufs is a brand name, but this is a generic term for all Juneau Sneakers. They go with everything.