Photo by Joseph
Perching on a kayak in crystal-clear water is one of the most authentic ways to experience Alaska, and it’s also one of the most thrilling ways to catch a fish. Don’t just stand on the shore—paddle out stealthily and enjoy the peace and quiet while you reel in giant salmon or heavyweight halibut. Arctic cultures have used handmade kayaks for hunting for thousands of years, but today’s fishing-oriented sit-on-top designs are perfect for more stability and are kitted out with everything you could want for a day of fishing. Here are six of the best spots in Alaska to put in and start reeling them in.
The Kenai River is fed by fresh glacier melt and is one of the most popular fishing spots in Alaska. Kayak fishing instead of approaching from the shore is a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to fish this spot because human traffic along the banks has started to wear out valuable vegetation that fights erosion. Plus, a kayak opens up options for paddling away from any crowds you might find. In case you need any other convincing, the world record king salmon—weighing 97 pounds—was caught in the Kenai River in 1985.
In Resurrection Bay, where the city of Seward is tucked, you’d be hard pressed to want to take your eyes off the scenery to pay attention to your line. Snow-covered peaks surround the Bay in Kenai Fjords National Park and Chugach National Forest. Beautiful camping spots are all over, and whale and puffin sightings are common. If you get bored of fishing, paddle around to check out the tidewater glaciers.
This city’s known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” Need we say more? If you’re ready to get into the backcountry, take a seaplane into the Misty Fjords Wilderness, where you can spend days reeling in salmon, halibut, lingcod, and yelloweye rockfish. On your way back into “civilization,” check out the array of totem poles scattered around Ketchikan. It’s the largest collection of standing totem poles in the world.
Valdez is famous for its fishing charters and deep sea fishing, but a kayak is another way to experience this area—and maybe even save a few bucks on your trip. Prince William Sound is home to humpback and orca whales, as well as glaciers that reach from the tops of the Chugach Mountains all the way to the water.
If you’re experienced with kayak fishing and want to take your trip to the next level, look into putting in somewhere along the Cook Inlet. The king salmon and halibut fishing is excellent, but the paddling conditions require expertise. From high to low tide, the Cook Inlet waters rise and fall more than 30 vertical feet, and currents rush up to 5 knots. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment fishing, and not realize you’ve moved far from where you intended to stay. If you’re up for the challenge, the Cook Inlet delivers.
If Ketchikan is the home for salmon, Homer has made its name as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” Sport fishing, tourism, and commercial fishing are some of the biggest industries in Homer, and for good reason. It’s known for its deep-sea fishing, but it’s also popular for kayakers and fishing for flounder and rockfish. If you get bored with the fishing, Homer is a great place to explore with a kayak, ducking into narrow channels and under arches.
When it comes to fishing, a trip to Alaska seems like a no-brainer. But add in the kayaking angle and you’ve got a whole new world of adventure. Whether you’re aiming to reel in the heavyweights or just troll and enjoy the scenery, freshwater and saltwater options in Alaska are some of the most abundant and scenic you’ll find.