Alaska: a fly fishing paradise

Home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, the impressive landscape that is Alaska offers breathtaking views, no matter where you begin your exploration. Whether your first look at Alaska is in a major city such as Anchorage or Fairbanks, or if you come ashore in a smaller town or outpost and begin a trek inland, a visit to this northernmost state in the Union promises a generous helping of pristine nature and once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Hikers, backpackers and nature trekkers love to journey through the passes and valleys of Alaska as well as the many natural parks and preserves, leaving little behind but their footprints and the awe that this impressive terrain inspires. Wildlife enthusiasts and sportsmen also come to the state to pursue large animals such as caribou and moose. For fishermen, the rivers and streams of Alaska offer a true paradise for fishing. In fact, the fly fishing available in Alaska is considered by many to be among the best in the world.

Fly fishing in Alaska
Alaska is an extremely popular destination for fly fishing, with avid fishermen traveling from around the world to more than 3,000 rivers and waterways every year, making the importance of proper planning even more important. While the winter months can be cold in the extreme, the late spring, summer and early fall months are warm, averaging between 50 and 70 degrees, with occasional windy and rainy days. Factor in the geography of the land and waterways, including extensive rivers and tributaries, watershed areas and bays that become veritable nurseries for giant rainbow trout and salmon, and it is easy to see why Alaska is a paradise for fishing, especially fly fishing.

Fly fishingOnce you have decided to experience fly-fishing in Alaska, you’ll want to begin planning when to go, where to go and what you need to take. Begin your research online and in books and periodicals dedicated to fly-fishing. These sources will provide a lot of information and practical advice about preparing for a fly fishing trip as well as offering tips from experienced fishermen. They will also provide a variety of advertisements for fishing lodges and bait shops near the best fishing areas. Unless you are already experienced at fly fishing in this great state, seeking out one of the many friendly fly fishing guides available at local bait shops or through a fishing lodge is most definitely a good idea. Using a fly fishing guide can be very beneficial; their familiarity with the weather, geography and the habits and lifecycle of the fish in the area will help you to enjoy the experience more and be more efficient.

Fly fishing season, particularly for the rainbow trout and various species of salmon, runs from May through October. In the early spring and late fall parts of the seasons, packing for cold weather will be required. In addition to the fishing gear needed, such as vests, wader boots and numerous accouterments for fishing, it is wise to pack clothing that can be added or removed in layers. Thermal undergarments, absorbent socks and clothing made from natural fibers are excellent choices, allowing layering while remaining breathable. Sunblock and sunglasses are also important as the glare off the water can lead to severe sunburn and sun-blindness, even on cool days.

Rainbow troutAlaska is teeming with locations for fly fishing, ranging from quiet angling sites in remote locations to busy streams and rivers packed with amateur and experienced fishermen alike. Your fly fishing guide will be able to help you choose the best spot to accomplish your fishing goals as well as the best places for scenery and just plain enjoyment of nature. One of the most well known spots for catching salmon is the Kenai River, though the king salmon is more often found in the mosquito-riddled Togiak River. The Bristol Bay area is rich with many varieties of salmon, including silver or coho salmon as well as giant rainbow trout.

If fly-fishing and trout are synonymous in your mind, then the freshwater streams and rivers of the state are the place to go. June is the beginning of trout season on the Kvichak River, and many fly fishermen believe that the rainbow trout here are the most challenging to catch. A unique fish related to the trout is preferred by some fly fishermen: this fish, the arctic grayling, bears some resemblance to a sailfish and can be found in the Jack River, Nenana River and other waters in the Denali Highway area.

Alaska’s natural beauty and wealth of wildlife offer so much opportunity to visitors for exploration and adventure. Fishing, particularly fly fishing, is at its best here and, with the proper preparation beforehand and the assistance of an experienced guide, you can have an exciting and memorable experience catching salmon and trout in the Great North.

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