Ask the Pro's: Help planning our 2016 Trip

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  • A buddy and I are planning a trip. We live in Colorado and fish often locally. We would like to start planning a trip to Alaska for 2016. Where would you suggest flying into (what cities) and what rivers would you suggest. We are open for targeting steelhead, salmon, or big rainbows.

    - Mark H, Colorado

  • That's funny I started in the Rocky Mountains fly fishing and after a few years headed north to Alaska. Nine years later I am still very excited to come back to Alaska for the summer! When you fly into Alaska you will fly in to Anchorage. The best most accessible fishing is 100 miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.

    It's important to know the when and where to make your Alaskan fishing vacation one that you will remember. You can look at my website to see the timing of the Salmon Runs for the Kenai River. I strongly recommend to plan your trip from August 20th to September 20th.

    The second week of September is the best fishing of the year on the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai river has 80 miles of Big Magnum Rainbow Trout water and Silver Salmon up to 15+ pounds. If you travel down the peninsula to Deep Creek and Anchor river Steelhead fishing can be excellent. Techniques for all rivers and creeks are very basic once you figure it out.

    I would recommend hiring a guide one day to learn techniques, regulations and to ask your guide about where to fish the rest of the time if you are driven to do it yourself.

    Zack Walters - Head Guide at Alaska Clearwater Sportfishing
  • Without knowing more about your trip constraints (budget, how long, guided or unguided, road accessible or wilderness trip, etc.), I'd suggest the following as a first trip to Alaska: for a road accessible trip to catch Salmon, Rainbow Trout and Steelhead, try the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. Look into the Kenai, Russian, Kasilof and Anchor Rivers. Steelhead runs in this area usually occur in the fall - late September into October, so that will dictate your trip timing. But the good thing about fall fishing on the Kenai Peninsula is the crowds are generally minimal.

    If you drop the steelhead constraint, the many tributaries of the Susitna River north of Anchorage (along the George Parks Highway) offers numerous road accessible fishing options. And your trip timing window broadens from June through October.

    Kodiak Island offers good road accessible fishing options with fewer crowds.

    If you want to take your trip to next level, both fishing-wise and cost-wise, try southwest Alaska and the drainages of Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula. Endless options exist out of the towns of King Salmon and Dillingham.

    Rus Schwausch - Head Guide & Owner at Epic Angling & Adventure
  • If you want to drive to AK and catch Steelhead as well as big Rainbows, the road system has you covered. You would fly into Anchorage and head South to the Kenai side of the peninsula towards Homer. There are a few good steelhead rivers here, as well as the best big rainbow river on the road system, the Kenai River.

    As far as Rainbows go, this river will have to be floated in most places, so renting a raft or using a local guide is your best bet. October has the some huge rainbows in the river system, and I think steelhead are coming in to the rivers in the greater area as well. I will direct you to Mossy's Fly Shop in Anchorage for these questions since it is out of my circle of expertise. Here is there phone number, (907) 770-2666. If you want steelhead, then the fall is your time frame.

    Please fish the quartz creek for a day. Simple wading, good strong rainbows, and a lot of char. Very fun for sure and should be fished from the road by walking in. The fish should be in holes and flesh flies and beads will still work in October. The lighter colors of beads in the creamy orange should work of dead eggs in a milky brown hue should work.

    John Perry - Head Guide & Owner at Angler's Alibi
  • Anchorage is the main hub for Alaska with the best connections to the lower 48 states. I like Kodiak Island for steelhead, salmon and big rainbows. My friend Dave runs Saltery Lake Lodge which would meet all your requirements. It's tough to find a bad spot in Alaska. Good luck!

    John Gaedeke - Second Generation Brooks Range Guide and Manager at Iniakuk Lake Lodge
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