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Alaska: Kobuk River Fishing for Sheefish

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Posted by David S on

Jump To: Where to Stay on the Kobuk River?

Alaska's Kobuk River
Alaska's Kobuk River as it flows through Kobuk Valley National Park

In the Northern reaches of Alaska is the Kobuk River. There in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the Kobuk River Drainage System begins it journey within the majestical Gates of the Arctic National Park.  The river stretches for 174 miles over different fishing habitats that range from the Upper & Lower Kobuk Canyon, and West along the Brook Range and out to the Hotham Inlet. It is here that the Sheefish lurks in the clear water flows, ponds, lakes and streams. These aquatic habitats are where your Alaska Fishing adventure begins. and the Kobuk River is the hottest fishing grounds in Alaska for the Sheefish. The Sheefish is a fighter. A cousin of the salmon, it reaches a yard in length. It is an aggressive fish to hunt. It strikes with force and speed. If you are not on your game, it may rip the pole right out of your hand. Your Opportunity for Sheefish Alaska fishing trip begins in June with the start of the Sheefish season and runs through September when the season ends. Peak months are July and August. Alaska fishing guides offer the best knowledge of how and where to catch these exhilarating fish.  


Whitefish is in the taxonomical family of Salmonidae along with trout, salmon, dolly Varden, arctic char and arctic graylings. Whitefish are the family to which Sheefish belong. Sheefish is the largest of the whitefish and make excellent fish for sportsmen. These are primarily silver fish in color and unlike trout or Dolly Varden they are without spots. They are a lean, long fish which means excellent fight. The adults can weigh upwards of 60 pounds and reach a length of 42 inches. These are predatory fish that feed on primarily on juvenile fish, even other whitefish. The size range for Sheefish is 30 pounds and up, those mark the trophy sized fish. The Kobuc River is famous for its exceptional population of Sheefish. 

Getting ready to release a large Alaskan Sheefish
Getting ready to release a large Alaskan Sheefish

Why Fish Sheefish?

If you have fished for salmon then expect the Sheefish to strike like a salmon, unlike salmon the Sheefish is outstandingly aggressive. It is not uncommon for one to simply yank the pole from your grip when they strike. You can expect the fight to play out over 15 minutes to half an hour. The ideal pole setup in a stiff rod with the drag set on a lighter setting. The record Sheefish catch weighed 53 pounds. Imagine something that hits you like a moving vehicle and is capable of yanking your pole right out of your hands. The picture that comes to mind is the same as fishing for Tarpon. These are great food fish and make some of the best fish n chips. 

How To fish For Sheefish:

The adult Sheefish are found in clear water tributaries, and also in the main channel of the Kobuk River. The best place to find adults is along the Selawik-Kobuk area within Alaska. We are talking North of the Arctic Circle for the bigger fish. This is deep into the unpopulated areas of Alaska, and using an Alaska Fishing Guide is highly advised. 

Sheefish can be hooked using lures or bait. The typical line weight ranges from 20-30 pound test. Some use wire, most use monofilament fishing line. Spinners in colors of red and white One of the great things about using an Alaska Fishing Guide is that they usually have all of the equipment that you need to experience the thrill of fishing in Alaska. 

Where to Stay

Iniakuk Lake Lodge
Incredible lodging, fishing and adventures await at Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge located on the edge of Gates of the Artic National Park.

This is a place of adventure. Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge sits on the banks of Iniakuk Lake, and you can fish from the front porch of the main lodge. Located 60 miles inside the Arctic Circle this is a place of solitude and quiet. It is also a remarkable location for wildlife. Fishing here is a specialty. Guests can fish on the lake or opt for a flight-fishing trip to one of the nearby hidden fishing holes. Sheefish is a plentiful species. This lodge pairs each guest with a guide and as such your time here is specialized to increase positive benefits of your stay.

The Kobuk River Lodge sits amid the Kobuk River Valley and the Kobuk Valley National Park. The lodge specializes in day trips as well as camping expeditions within the  Kobuk Valley National Park. The area offers exceptional fishing, wildlife viewing and hiking. Kobuk River Lodge offers exceptional Alaska Fishing Guides for Sheefish. All guides are licensed by the US Coast Guard for watercraft. Sheefish run from Early July through the middle of September for the summer spawning run.

Guides and Adventures

The Kobuk River Rafting Trip and River Adventure periodically offers a rafting adventure down the Kubuk River. This is an excellent trip for Sheefish fishing as well an a opportunity to see the wilds of Alaska. The focus of Arctic Wild is as guides. They are based out of Fairbanks Alaska and guide guests on 1-3 week adventures into the backcountry of Alaska. Groups range from 1-8, and you should expect to learn about the wild places and the unique culture that is found in those places less traveled. This is an excellent place to find yourself as well as the adventure amid the beauty and splendor that is Alaska.

This adventure company is based out of Nome Alaska as a helicopter fly-out fly fishing specialty company. They specialize in many of the salmonid species including Sheefish, Dolly Varden and Arctic Grayling. Twin-Peaks Adventures is an outstanding organization for both professionals and first-time fishers. Their guides provide personalized attention and will even teach you how to cast, set up your pole and fish for Sheefish and other fish species within the river. 

The arctic region of Alaska is an amazing place. It is the "Land of the Midnight Sun" The mountains and endless forests are only out-done by the rivers, and both come together to make some of the most beautiful scenery that the world has to offer. Pure, rugged, and breathtaking, Alaska will steal your heart. Alaska Fishing Lodges and Alaska Fishing Guides is the place to begin your adventure into the Arctic Circle. Come enjoy the thrill of catching the Tarpon of the North...the Sheefish.

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