Welcome to the interior of Alaska. While you may be picturing igloos and dog mushing trails with snow over your head, Alaska's interior in summer is quite a different picture. The Fairbanks area is a beautiful location to fish, especially if you are the DIY type of fisher. There are many rivers here, but the focus on fishing is mostly on tributaries. You are also in the heart of the Parks Highway and have access to many fishing spots that do not require a guide. Keep reading as we walk you through a visit to the general area of Fairbanks.
Getting to Fairbanks is easy. Most people fly there, and the rest drive along the Parks Highway. Fairbanks has an International Airport, so flying has many options, including facilities to rent cars or RVs.
Why Visit Fairbanks and the Surrounding Area?
Fairbanks is a reasonably large city with a population of 35,500 people. It is 261 miles from Anchorage and drivable along the Parks Highway. The journey takes you past Denali National Park, campgrounds, small towns, and rivers all primed for fishing.
There is an array of lodging options here too. You can find campgrounds and RV parks in the general area; there are cabin rentals - some are remote. You can book a B&B or vacation rental or stay at one of the few fishing lodges around. There are many options for buying groceries or finding a place to eat.
There are many things to do in Fairbanks. They have a very cool antique car museum, Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, which is fantastic for families. You can also take a river rafting trip, take in many of the cultural attractions and parks. You can DIY fish, hire a guide, or take a helicopter tour of the Fairbanks area. Local businesses offer many types of guided tours, including night-time aurora viewing tours, to see the Northern Lights. The area is open year-round, and during the colder months of the year, you can experience dog mushing, ice fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling.
With so much to see and do, Fairbanks makes a beautiful vacation spot. The larger city life means you are closer to more amenities and its interior location also means that you can discover the rugged beauty and wildlife of Alaska. It is a life-changing event to listen to the wolves howl while watching the northern lights.
Fishing near Fairbanks
One of the most spectacular aspects of Fairbanks is that the Chena River flows right through the city. There are several DIY fishing options in Birch Lake Recreation Area. Birch Lake is a stocked lake and prime for Rainbow Trout, King Salmon and Silver Salmon, Arctic Grayling, and Arctic Char. In summer, you share the lake with water skiers, and there is a boat launch and timed docked (about 20-minutes), so you can bring your boat.
The Chena River State Recreation Area is right in down-town Fairbanks and is home to some 60 camping spots. Be sure not to mix this place up with the Chena River State Recreation SITE - the park is a small 29-acre area in Fairbanks; the SITE is some 30-miles away.
The Upper Chena River is the place to go for fantastic Arctic Grayling fly fishing. A guide is helpful, but there are places here where you can DIY fish. Be sure to take a buddy with you as the wildlife in this area also includes bears. Guided fishing and guided float fishing are also excellent ways to experience the Chena River. You can target Chena Salmon - Kings and Silvers, Trophy Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, and the delightful Grayling. Another option for fishing is Chena Lakes, where you can target all of the above and big, fat, Lake Trout. The Nenana River is just an hour away and is also excellent for fishing. A guide here is almost a necessity, but there are a few roadside spots where you can DIY fish. You can target Grayling, King Salmon, Silver Salmon, Chum Salmon, and Char on the Nenana. Fly-out fishing options are available, and many choose to fly out to some of the smaller tributaries or remote lakes to target Salmon, Trophy Trout, or Northern Pike. It is possible to hit a lake where nobody else has fished that year.
Overall, fishing around Fairbanks is fantastic. You don't have the high-pressure fishing you might experience on some coastal rivers such as the Kenai, but there is ample opportunity to go slow and enjoy a fishing trip of a lifetime.
Top Rated Fishing Guides & Trips
Other Fishing Destinations To Consider
Denali National Park
Located 240 miles north of Anchorage - Easy access thanks to the Alaska Park Highway or by train from Anchorage. While not known as a fishing destination it does offer some excellent Arctic Grayling fishing for those visitors interested in doing some fish
Alaska Parks Highway
A 358-mile adventure from Anchorage to Fairbanks - There are many fishing spots along the Parks Highway...most are smaller walk & wade streams but there are also some small lakes as well.
Stay in the Shadows of Denali - Talkeetna is a fantastic location to base your Denali National Park adventure. In addition to all the Denali has to offer the Talkeetna area offers plenty of outdoor activities, sights & fishing.
Fishing in the greater Willow area is the closest consistent good fishing near Anchorage - It boasts many different creeks, rivers, and lakes to fish that receive far less pressure than most systems in Alaska.
The Kenai Peninsula provides easy access to world-class freshwater & saltwater fishing, fantastic outdoor adventures, friendly and welcoming communities…all within a couple hours drive of Anchorage.