Alaska Fishing: Ketchikan Management Area (Remote Freshwater Fishing)Ketchikan fishing map

Imagine yourself knee-deep in a crystal-clear remote Alaska lake without a single human in sight. The golden mist rises from the water as your elk-hair caddis gently touches down onto the surface film. A brook trout with flame-orange fins quickens his pace just inches below the surface. He's about to strike. Ketchikan offers fly-out fishermen tremendous freshwater fishing opportunities. There are an amazing variety of species, ranging from Alaska’s “usual suspects”; anadromous species such as salmon, Dolly Varden and steelhead, but it also extends to pristine fishing for brook trout, grayling, cutthroat and rainbow trout. The fish are as gorgeous to look at as their surroundings.

 

Southeast Alaska Brook Trout

When is the Best Time to Go?

Whenever you find yourself in this area, you are sure to find something of interest. But there are prime times to be here. Spring is the time to check the outlets and inlets of freshwater lakes. Fish congregate in these areas, sometimes to spawn, but they always seek out these areas as the ice melts and insects begin to hatch. It’s been a long winter, they've been trapped under the ice with a very limited food supply and they're voracious. Spring is also a great time to intercept that first run of steelhead that begin to show in some river systems. And then as the summer progresses, salmon show up in their appointed time slots; Kings are first, then sockeye, and then by mid-June the first silvers trickle in, soon to become a flood by late summer. They are followed by the chums and pinks, with the second run of steelhead materializing by October or so.

Refer to the chart for general run timing, but keep in mind that specific rivers or lakes may play out differently. Check with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s office in Ketchikan for specifics on certain locations.

Ketchikan freshwater fishing run chart

Where to Go?

The Ketchikan Management Area is laced with streams and dotted with lakes, each of which offers something different in different seasons of the year. Let’s look at some of the highlights; use this list as the beginning of your planning process.

Ketchikan remote freshwater fisheries

Revillagigedo Island Area

1. Orchard Lake. Species: Cutthroat trout, kokanee. Access: Floatplane or boat 32 miles north from Ketchikan. If you go by boat, it’s a 3/8 mile hike in to the lake.
2. Margaret Lake. Species: sockeye, pink, and silver salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 24 miles north from Ketchikan. If you go by boat, it’s a one-mile hike in to the lake, on a good trail.
3. Naha River. Species: sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, grayling. Access: Floatplane or boat 20 miles north from Ketchikan. This access gets you in the vicinity of several other nearby lakes that offer good fishing. The trail from the mouth is 5.4 miles long and extends from the head of Naha Bay and ends at Heckman Lake. The Naha could be floated in a small inflatable canoe or kayak, but be advised that there are logjams on this river. Scout it from shore or portage around the jams.
4. Leask Lakes (1&2). Species: sockeye and silver salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 20 miles northeast from Ketchikan. If by boat, plan on a three-mile hike to the lake.
5. Salt Chuck Lake. Species: sockeye, pink, and silver salmon, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 15 miles southeast from Ketchikan. If by boat, hike two miles from the boat drop-off to the lake.
6. Mahoney Lake. Species: sockeye, silver and chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane 15 miles southeast from Ketchikan.

Gravina Island Area

7. Bostwick Creek and Lakes. Species: sockeye, pink, silver salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 10 miles southwest from Ketchikan, or by gravel road 4.8 miles inland from the Ketchikan International Airport. If you go by boat, the head of the inlet is shallow, ending in a mud flat with the river channel on the west side. Save yourself a mile or so of walking by beaching your boat on the full high tide, then fish until high tide returns. Alternatively, plan on walking a mile or so upriver until you come to the river mouth. The lower 1.8 miles offer excellent walking, with numerous pools and overhanging vegetation and ample gravel bars for walking. This brings you to a fork in the creek; the left fork is a substantial stream that originates as runoff in the interior of the island, and offers the best walking. The right fork is the outflow stream of Bostwick Lake, and will contain the bulk of the sockeye run, as the fish return to the lakes to spawn.

Cleveland Peninsula Area

8. Reflection Lake. Species: Pink, silver and chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, and kokanee. Access: Floatplane 50 miles north from Ketchikan.
9. Lake McDonald. Species: sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane 43 miles north from Ketchikan (also provides access to Wolverine and Hatchery Creeks).
10. Wasta Lake. Species: sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane 50 miles north from Ketchikan.
11. Helm Lake. Species: sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 23 miles northwest from Ketchikan. If you go by boat, it’s a half-mile hike in to the lake.
12. Rainbow Lake. Species: Rainbow trout. Access: Floatplane or boat 28 miles northwest from Ketchikan. If you go by boat, expect a 2.5 mile hike from the coast.
13. Smugglers Cove Lakes. Species: cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden,and kokanee. Access: Floatplane or boat 29 miles northwest from Ketchikan. If you go by boat, expect a one-mile hike from the ocean.

Misty Fjords National Monument Area

14. Gene’s Lake. Species: King, sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane 62 miles north from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument, or by boat to and up the Unuk River.
15. Lake Creek. Species: King, sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane 63 miles north from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument, or by boat to and up the Unuk River.
16. Sak’s Lake. Species: Cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane 50 miles northeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
17. LeDuc River. Species: Rainbow trout. Access: Floatplane 50 miles northeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
18. Walker Lake. Species: Rainbow trout. Access: Floatplane 50 miles northeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
19. Manzoni Lake System. Species: Grayling. Access: Floatplane 40 miles northeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
20. Swan Lake. Species: Dolly Varden, brook trout and kokanee. Access: Floatplane or boat 21 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If by boat, plan on a one-mile hike from the shore to the lake.
21. Manzanita Lake. Species: cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, brook trout and kokanee. Access: Floatplane or boat 25 miles southeast from Ketchikan. If you go by boat, it’s a three-mile hike to the lake.
22. Punchbowl Lake. Species: rainbow trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 35 miles northeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If by boat, hike the trail 5/8 mile to the lake.
23. Wilson Lake. Species: cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden and kokanee. Access: Floatplane 25 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
24. Ella Lake. Species: cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden and kokanee. Access: Floatplane 25 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
25. Checats Lake. Species: steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane 32 miles east from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
26. Winstanley Lakes. Species:, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 32 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If you go by boat, hike 1.5 miles inland to the lake.
27. Fish Creek (Thorne Arm). Species: sockeye, silver, pink salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and kokanee. Access: Floatplane or boat 20 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If you go by boat, hike along the creek between a half-mile to three miles. This area also gives you access to Basin Lake and Big Lake.
28. Bakewell Lake. Species: sockeye, silver salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and kokanee. Access: Floatplane or boat 28 miles southeast from Ketchikan. If you go by boat, it’s a half-mile hike from the beach to the lake.
29. Badger Lake. Species: cutthroat trout and kokanee. Access: Floatplane 27 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument.
30. Hugh Smith Lake. Species: sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 40 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If you go by boat, it’s only a short hike to the lake.
31. Humpback Lake. Species: cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden and kokanee. Access: Floatplane or boat 42 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If by boat, plan on a three-mile hike to the lake.
32. Hidden Inlet. Species: cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 50 miles southeast from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If you go by boat, it’s a half-mile hike to the lake.
33. Nakat Lake. Species: sockeye, pink, silver and chum salmon, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden. Access: Floatplane or boat 46 miles southwest from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords National Monument. If you go by boat, it’s a one-mile hike to the lake.

Hyder Area

34. Texas Lake. Species: Silver salmon, Dolly Varden, brook trout. Access: Floatplane northeast 60 miles (about eight miles from Hyder).


Be Bear-Aware!Bear danger sign in Alaska

Alaska is bear country! Anglers must be aware of the possibility of encountering bears along any salmon stream. Revillagigedo Island has a robust black bear population and due to heavy vegetation in many areas, encounters can happen at close range. In recent years there have been reports of brown bears on the eastern side of the island. Take the following precautions:

  1. Make plenty of noise while hiking or fishing.
  2. Don’t give bears a reason to associate people with food! Keep food and your catch in a backpack on your back.
  3. Protect yourself! Bring a firearm or pepper spray to use as a deterrent.

Area SponsorClassic Alaska Charters Logo

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Need More Information?

Check out our other Ketchikan Management Area fishing pages!

Ketchikan Road System Fishing | Ketchikan Remote Freshwater Fishing | Ketchikan Saltwater Fishing

If you’re looking for other areas to fish in Southeast Alaska, check out our pages for the following areas:

Haines / Skagway | Juneau | Ketchikan | Petersburg | Prince of Wales | Sitka | Wrangell | Yakutat

If you’re interested in hunting opportunities in Southeast Alaska, check out our hunting pages at the following links:

Juneau | Ketchikan | Petersburg | Sitka


Rules and Regulations

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is responsible for maintaining the sport fisheries across the state of Alaska. Their website provides a wealth of information about our sport fisheries as well as the regulations you need to know. Additionally, the Department issues Emergency Orders throughout the season, that have a direct bearing on last-minute changes in bag limits, openings and closings of seasons and much more. Fishermen are responsible for knowing the regulations, including these Emergency Orders. You can find all of that information and more at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website, or at the regional office in the area where you are fishing.

ADF&G Sportfisheries Division
Ketchikan Office:
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
2030 Sea Level Drive
Ketchikan, AK 99901
1 (907) 225-2859
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