Fishing has been a major food source in the Alaskan culture since the first peoples arrived here. Because of the short growing season, hunting and fishing have always been a food-source mainstay in the state. Even today, our small communities' ways of life revolve around fishing, from Southeast where the coastal boats go out every day to ply the ocean, to villages on the Yukon (River) whose rhythms of life follow the salmon runs. The abundance of fish here, both in the oceans and in freshwater sources, makes it easy and economical to integrate fish as a major part of our diet.
There are so many options for fishing here. It can be as easy as inexpensive and easy as pulling over at a stream and casting a line, as usual as taking a fishing tour, or as involved as chartering your own boat or plane to go to a remote camp or a fly-in lodge for the best angling locations. Some of our member inns area actually fly-in lodges offering great fishing and vacation experiences!
While it is said that the Alaskan waters are home to over 600 species of fish, you'll most likely be most interested in the 5 types of salmon, 5 types of trout, halibut, Dolly Varden, Grayling, Smelt, and Kokanee that inhabit our waters. Many of these species can weigh up to hundreds of pounds! While white King salmon are highly prized for their white flesh and mild flavor, halibut is actually the fish of choice for Alaskans for its buttery flaky taste and texture that just melts in your mouth. If you happen to find some halibut at your area grocery store, why not try the recipe for Halibut Olympia presented after this post?
So what's biting when? Prime fishing seasons are spring through fall. However ice fishing is an option during the winter months. Early summer is when King Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Saltwater Kings, and Halibut are plentiful. Summer months are perfect for catching Sockeye Salmon, Pink Salmon (in even years only), and Rainbow Trout. Fall is the best time to catch Silver Salmon. Winter ice fishing may produce landlocked King and Silver Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Arctic char, and Dolly Varden. Due to the hazards of ice fishing, we recommend a led trip with a guide who is familiar with the current ice thicknesses in the area.
If you aren't one to travel with your rod and reel in tow, there are plenty of places to purchase in almost every region. Your BBAA innkeeper can direct you to the best nearby locations for casual fishing. If you opt for a charter trip, most include all the equipment you'll need. Even better, many charter trips offer filleting, freezing, and shipping so that you can enjoy your catch when you return home! Another reason to take a guide, and it is THE reason we suggest it, is that state fishing regulations can be daunting. Those guidelines listed above? They are more than just suggestions. In some cases, the state regulates catching certain fish to specific months, and our sport fishing guides are the best resource for this knowledge! Also, emergency closures of tributaries or river systems to protect certain species can change with less than a day's notice, which is hard for anyone but those who are in the business to keep up on.
What do you need to fish in Alaska? Besides the usual gear, all residents and nonresidents age 16+ must purchase a sport fishing license before dropping a line in the water. If you are fishing for King Salmon, a stamp is also required. Nonresident licenses cost $20 for a single day, $35 for a 3-day license, $55 for a week-long option, and $80 for a two-week license. You can purchase your license online or visit area sporting goods stores or Fish and Game offices during your Alaska vacation.
There are also several large fishing derbies in the state that are important to their communities, and are popular activities for locals and visitors alike! Many of these give out some large monetary prizes, prompting thousands of visitors to come participate. Here is just a quick look at a couple of the more popular events.
- Homer's Halibut Derby is an annual event lasting from mid-May through mid-Sepetmber, and offers prized ranging from $125 through $5,000. Kids prizes are awarded, making this a great family activity! This year a tagged fish was released with a $10,000 incentive for catching that one fish! Sadly, this fish is still swimming in Alaskas waters today.
- Valdez offers a number of Fishing Derbies offering prizes up to $15,000 throughout the summer months. These include a Halibut Derby, Kids' Pink Salmon Derby, and two Silver Salmon derbies (one for women only).
- While Pike are great for eating, they are predatory fish erroneously introduced into our state's lakes. To help control their population, and hopefully someday eradicate this pest-fish, many communities offer Pike Derbies including Mat Su, Skwentna, Juneau, Houston, Soldotna, and more. These derbies happen both in the spring and summer, AND during the winter as ice-fishing event.
Whether your interest lies in casual angling or competition fishing, we have it all! Member inns of the Bed & Breakfast Association of Alaska look forward to hosting your fishing getaway!
Please note that during Salmon migration season, bear activity in rivers and streams increases. Be on the lookout when fishing!
While this dish seems very simple, it produces a luscious, creamy dish that Alaskans are crazy about!
2 lb filet of halibut
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Place halibut in the baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place rings of onion over the fish.
- Mix mayonnaise and sour cream together and thickly spread over fish and onions, using all of the mixture.
- Bake for 1 hour