There is still a little time left for successful salmon fishing trips in Alaska this year. Prime season starts again in May, but if you do not want to wait that long, you need good tips to make a big catch before the peak times end. This overview will address the best practices for catching salmon, whether you wish to make an attempt this winter or try again next year.
Ideal time to fish
Peak fishing times depend on the species of salmon you seek. Generally, the best season runs from May through September, with some types being available as late as November. King salmon, the largest and most prized, are normally restricted to May through September but silver salmon can be caught through November.
Even if you decide to bypass salmon until the next season, there are plenty of other trophy-sized species to pursue. Arctic grayling is one option, along with Dolly Varden and rainbow trout. The latter especially becomes super-sized in Alaska, so winter is not necessarily a time for disappointment. Northern pike, Arctic char, and burbot are available in many streams year round.
Best bait and flies
If you still feel up to pursuing salmon, first realize that they are one of the hardest species to catch. This is especially true of king salmon, as they swim in deeper portions of the river. However, if you are feeling ambitious and patient, you can still find the trophy you seek, even during off-peak times.
When pursuing king salmon, remember that brighter is better. For fly fishers, that means large bright flies that flow with the current. For spinners and casters, bright lures will bring them in. For bait, use herring or salmon roe. These are not easily spooked fish, and they will bite what interests them. They are very light biters, so if your fly or lure stops, set the hook before your catch escapes.
Silver salmon, which you are more likely to catch at this time of year, are spooky and will swim away from bright flies or lures. If there is bright sunlight, use darker fly or lure patterns. They also prefer clear water, which makes it easier for them to see you. Not only do you want your flies and lures to be understated, you must remain so, too—do not make a lot of noise or do anything else that draws attention. If they suspect your presence, they will not stick around.
Red or sockeye salmon are the most popular, but have a short peak time for being caught: mid-June through mid-August. They swim close to shore and are not aggressive biters. You will need to be more subtle with them, and that can require finesse, especially with fly fishing. Your best bet will be to hire a guide or join a fishing charter the first few times you pursue them, so you have more success when you try on your own.
When your next adventure includes salmon fishing trips in Alaska, contact Phantom Tri-River Charters. Contact us today to get in for one last chance to catch salmon this year.