Ask the Pro's: Fishing Under the Midnight Sun

Posted by Pro's on to Ask the Pros
  • My teenage son and I are headed near Lake Clark in the middle of June and were planning on fly fishing for some salmon, rainbows & grayling. This will be my first visit and I've heard that during certain times of the summer there's a midnight sun and it's light almost all day long.

    We're from Montana and here we plan out when to go based on sunrise & sunset...so we were curious how that effects the fishing if there is really barely any sunrise/sunset. Are there still peak times? Do people actually fish at midnight if it's light out?

    Thanks!

    - Billy

  • The true midnight sun, when the sun does not drop below the horizon at night, occurs in latitudes further north of the Lake Clark region. However, that time of year around Lake Clark, the sun will likely be setting around 11:30pm and rising around 5:00am, effectively giving you 18+ hours of fishing daylight (assuming there is not heavy cloud cover). So, yes, you can fish at midnight!

    And, by the way, the long daylight hours can make it hard to sleep at night, especially on cloudless nights. Take a sleeping mask or soft beanie cap that you can pull over your eyes when you're trying to sleep.

    Regarding peak times, like anywhere else, the fishing can certainly be impacted by many factors… water levels, barometric and temperature changes, moon phase, etc. My advice is don't worry too much about these factors too much… just get out and fish and have fun!

    Rus Schwausch - Head Guide & Owner at Epic Angling & Adventure
  • Glad to hear that you and your son are going to head to Alaska to the beautiful Lake Clark area to fish. Yes, it is possible to encounter the "land of the mid-night sun", when you can fish all night if you want to. It occurs around the summer solstice in late June. You don't say exactly when in June you will be fishing, but I hope it will be at that time. Just keep in mind that people play a midnight baseball game without any lights at midnight on the summer solstice in Fairbanks which isn't all that far (as things go in AK) from Lake Clark.

    Good Luck! Pudge

    Cecilia "Pudge" Kleinkauf - The owner of Women's Flyfishing®, a Trout Unlimited Endorsed business, "Pudge" Kleinkauf, is Alaska's leading woman fly fishing instructor, fly tier and guide.
  • Hello Billy,

    The sun has little affect on the fish. Salmon do not like bright sun but can be caught all day long up there as long as there is light.

    The trout are on the feed 24/7 basically so little affect from sun. I prefer to fish trout on sunny days and target salmon on the cloudy or rainy days.

    I hope this helps? Salmom run times are most important of you want to target salmon. They are only there in an edible state for a short window.

    Let me know if you need any more help, glad to!

    John Perry - Head Guide & Owner at Angler's Alibi
  • You may not believe this, but people actually fish all night and sometimes overnight on a lot of waterways in Alaska! I know it sounds a little nuts, but Alaskans specifically, get a little fishing craze during the summer because we've been living in what seems like complete darkness all winter (I call it sockeye fever!).

    As far as how the time of day affects the fishing: to me, everything revolves around the cycle of the salmon as more and more are present. Tides can have an influence, but if the salmon are in the river and coming up in good numbers consistently, they will be constantly moving to their staging areas where they will begin to hold up in anticipation for the big spawn later in the summer. The key with salmon is to find the best spots to intercept them during their migration. If you're fishing with a guide, they will get you set up in a prime location and success is largely dependent upon whether or not the fish feel like moving during the time you're fishing there. Since salmon are migratory, you basically have to wait for them to swim by, but when they're moving in good numbers, hold on, because you'll be worn out in a half hour to an hour! Sockeye especially are extremely powerful for their size!

    When it comes to trout and grayling, I find that the early summer can reward more traditional fly fishing methods. This time of year, if the salmon are in the river, they can displace the trout a bit, but they can be found in spots that look "trouty", on seams and in/around structure. Believe it or not, streamers, nymphs, mouse patterns and dry flies can all be extremely effective on Alaskan waterways when the salmon aren't spawning and dying. Some days, I'll fish with the goal of trying to catch trout as many ways as I can. I'll try to get them czech nymphing, using a mouse, a dry fly, swinging a streamer and perhaps a bead or flesh pattern. The trout are hungry and aggressive and a lot more active with rising water temperatures this time of year.

    My only caution with fishing later in the evenings and super early in the mornings is that those seem to be the heaviest bear activity time frames. Just be loud and aware so you don't surprise them and they don't surprise you!

    Best of luck in Alaska and I hope this helps you and your son have an epic vacation!

    Dave Lisi - Owner/Guide for Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC located in the small mountain town of Cooper Landing, Alaska where he is a year-round resident, guide, carpenter and trout bum. On any given day, you will most likely find Dave on the banks of the Kenai swinging for trout with his best friend and future wife, Jackie. Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC was built in early 2017 with the goal of sharing the love and passion Dave and Jackie have for the Kenai Peninsula and the fish that live there.
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