Though many private boaters enjoy Resurrection Bay and the surrounding waters, Seward has a lot to offer those who prefer charter fishing and other commercial services. There are several water taxi services available that can take you to various hotspots in the area. You can rent kayaks and get dropped off in remote locations where you can camp on the beach and fish on your own. Or perhaps overnight in any of several public or private cabins, some of which provide great fishing opportunties, wildlife viewing and tidepool walks. Finish up the day with a campfire on the beach, and fall asleep to the sound of waves lapping gently on the gravel beach.
Resurrection Bay often has a day breeze that comes up in mid-morning, that can cause whitecaps on the bay. Generally speaking, smaller boats will have an easier go of it in early morning or late evening, weather permitting. It’s not uncommon to have rough water in the bay, and calm water out toward Rugged Island and beyond. Check the weather reports and know where to go for shelter, should conditions change quickly.
The sportfish limit for most species is different inside the bay from the waters outside the bay. Bag limits in one area carry over to other areas, and you could end up unintentionally violating the law. For example, the silver salmon limit inside the bay is six fish, but outside the bay it drops to two. It is illegal to fish for salmon outside the bay if you have already limited out inside the bay.
The Derby is, by far, the largest fishing attraction of the entire summer season in Seward. Billing itself as "one of the oldest and longest derbies in the state", there is no question of the popularity of the Seward Silver Salmon Derby. The derby takes place in August. Every day anxious anglers hurry in from the fishing grounds with their catch, knowing that every ounce lost is a potential loss of a big money fish. They gather around the scales to hear the day's winners announced, and scan the leaderboards to size up the competition. It's great fun, and anyone who tosses a line in the bay has a chance. Visit the derby website for specific dates, the ongoing leaderboard, as well as current and past photos of anglers and their catch. HERE IS THE LINK.
If you like to view wildlife while you're fishing, Seward has it all! Humpback whales and orcas ply the bay, along with Steller sea lions, which weigh over a ton. Farther out toward Rugged Island you see goats up high in the rocks, along with black bears. Seabirds are in abundance everywhere, from several species of gulls, to murres, to several types of puffins, shearwaters and many others.
Alaska's marine environment provides an excellent playground for outdoors enthusiasts, whether you're cruising, kayaking, sailing or power boating. But it can get ugly in a hurry, with strong currents, ferocious weather, and bone-chilling icy waters. This is no place to make mistakes! ALWAYS check the weather before leaving port, and make sure your boat is in sound mechanical condition. The Alaska Office of Boating Safety posts the following checklist for boaters in Alaska's waters:
You can download and print this document AT THIS LINK.
NOTE: The Alaska Department of Natural Resources produces a handbook specifically on Resurrection Bay and the surrounding area. It's recommended that you read it through if you intend to boat these waters, as the supplement provides a lot of details pertaining to safe boating in this area, including recommended anchorages. You can view it AT THIS LINK.
There are four ways to fish Resurrection Bay, as follows:
If you have your own boat, you can launch at the Seward Small Boat Harbor, fuel up, and head out for the day either on the bay itself, or to the outer reaches of the bay toward Aialik Cape or on the east side near Cape Resurrection. There are many places to fish in this area, and the long Alaska summer days give you the time you need to hit many places.
If you're charter fishing, most trips are all day, leaving the dock between 6am and 7am and returning in the afternoon. Many halibut charters travel two or more hours, taking them outside the bay to remote areas. Remember that on these trips, you will lose some fishing time because of the travel necessary to reach the better places. If conditions are rough outside the bay, you will be forced to fish the bay. Not a bad compromise if you're salmon fishing, as the limits in the bay are much more liberal than those outside the bay.
There are many place to anchor for the night, and this gives you the opportunity not only to prospect more locations, but you can also double your catch. Overnight trips are often the best way to maximize your haul, if you are stocking up the freezer.
Some charters offer overnight trips, however most of these are traveling to very remote locations outside the bay.
There are many beach locations that offer excellent camping, whether on an island or in a sheltered bay. These places are ideal for kayakers who may be dropped off on an overnight trip by any of several charter outfits in Seward. Note that some beach locations do not offer fresh water, so you may need to haul your own. That said, few things can be as relaxing as camping on a remote beach and warming yourself near a beach fire as the sun goes down.
Resurrection Bay offers several public and private cabins for rent, and this may be the best choice for some. A cabin provides a warm, dry shelter, complete with a wood stove and a nice porch that looks out over the bay. Public cabins require you to bring your own bedding, food, and kitchen, but the private cabins are usually catered and the guests pampered with all the comforts of home.
Here is a listing of the popular fisheries in Resurrection Bay, and in the immediate vicinity outside the bay:
1. Lowell Point. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut. There’s a private campground at Lowell Point, so if you’re bringing your own boat, this could be the ideal place to hole up between runs. Miller’s Landing offers boat rentals here, but they will limit you on how far you are allowed to go. Basically anything out to a line between Caine’s Head and the northern part of Fox Island. This could be perfect if you’re after silvers during the peak of the run in mid-June. Distance from Seward Harbor: 3 miles.
Amenities (Miller's Landing private campground):
Amenities (Lowell Point State Recreation Site):
2. Tonsina Creek. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut. Tonsina Creek offers offshore trolling opportunities for silvers during peak season. Chum and pink salmon school off the river mouth before making their spawning run up the creek. The water is shallow, due to the alluvial fan at the mouth, so troll offshore for the best results. Snagging is legal in saltwater here, so that’s another option. Distance from Seward harbor: 4.8 miles.
3. Derby Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. This area can be very good during the silver run. Try trolling parallel to the shoreline. Halibut fishing is better toward the Tonsina Creek side. There's a pinnacle about halfway across the bay from Derby Cove, that rises from depths of over 900 feet, and it offers good fishing for rockfish and greenling. The top of the pinnacle is roughly 80 feet down, with a somewhat gradual slope both north and south. Distance from Seward harbor: 5.6 miles.
4. Caine's Head. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. The water off Caine’s Head descends rapidly into depths in excess of 900 feet. Troll near the point for silvers, or motor just around the south end of the point to try your luck for black rockfish. Divers have reported that the bottom structure here is very rocky, with large boulders that have rolled down from the slopes above. Rockfish will hide in the spaces beneath and between these boulders, so time your trip to coincide with the tides, when they come out to feed. Try your luck for halibut in deeper water out to 300’ or so. Distance from Seward harbor: 9.1 miles.
5. Calisto Head. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Five miles south of Caine’s Head, you come to Calisto Head, which offers similar conditions to those found at Caines. The exception is the runoff from Bear Glacier, which reduces salinity and gives the water an opaque color. The plume of glacial meltwater can be easily seen in the photograph of Resurrection Bay on this page, which was taken during the outgoing tide. Concentrate your trolling and bottomfishing efforts during the outgoing tide, when the plume of glacial melt streams out of the bay. Fish the point on the outgoing tide. On the incoming tide, the glacial plume sometimes pours around the point and success will drop off somewhat. Halibut can be found in the area, but you need to get away from those large boulders near the point. A word of caution is in order concerning the area directly in front of Bear Glacier, extending south toward Cheval Island; this area is known for high winds that surge off of the glacier and the Harding Ice Field beyond. The water here can become quite rough, to the point that smaller boats under 20’ cannot cross safely. As always, check the forecast before boating in this area, and watch the weather to help ensure a safe return to Seward. Distance from Seward harbor: 15.1 miles.
6. Thumb Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Thumb Cove Marine Park is a popular summertime destination for boaters and fishermen, and fishing for silvers can be quite good at times. There are some halibut around, along with rockfish, however the area is fished a lot and you would do better elsewhere. The head of the cove has a long gravel beach which is ideal for shore-based fishing and camping, and there’s a freshwater (glacial) stream nearby, to replenish your water supply (be sure to boil, filter or treat your water). Two public-use cabins are available here, but owing to their popularity, make reservations well in advance. Bring your reservation paperwork with you to prove your claim, in case an unauthorized party is there during your reserved dates. Check availability and make your reservations AT THIS LINK
There are also three designated campsites in the cove, and if you're tent camping it is recommended that you use one of these sites, in order to minimize the human impact on this popular area. Tent camping is not allowed within 400' of either cabin. The cove provides shelter from the sometimes rough water out in the bay, and some boaters haul a kayak or two along, for a relaxed paddle in sheltered waters. Note that Miller’s Landing drops off recreational kayakers in the cove during the summer, so expect some activity in the area. Distance from Seward harbor: 8.5 miles.
Spruce Glacier Cabin: This cabin is located at the far east end of the gravel beach. The cabin is 12'x14', sleeps eight on provided bunks (bring your own bedding), and is wheelchair-accessible. Includes table, benches, countertops and a woodstove (driftwood may be available for firewood, but you should bring your own saw and axe). Advance reservations recommended AT THIS LINK.
Porcupine Glacier Cabin: Cabin is located at the west end of the beach. 12'x14', sleeps eight on provided bunks (bring your own bedding). Includes table, wood stove (driftwood may be available for firewood, but you should bring your own saw and axe). Advance reservations recommended AT THIS LINK.
7. Humpy Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. This emerald green cove offers shelter from the bay, and opportunities for silvers and pink salmon. Later in the summer the pinks are found at the head of the bay, making their run to spawn in the creek that runs into the southern arm of the bay. Private cabins are available for rent on Orca Island, in Humpy Cove, and they provide sea kayaks that can be used to access fishing areas. One bright spot in the area is the “Iron Door” area, on the headland just north of Humpy Cove (see photo on the right). The “Iron Door” is the remains of a searchlight installation that was put there during WWII, as part of Seward’s defense system. At any rate, there’s a pretty good drop-off in this area that offers trolling opportunities, along with rockfish. Don’t miss hiking the river in the southern arm of the bay; it takes you up to a beautiful waterfall. Be mindful of potential black bear encounters in the area, especially in late summer when the pinks are running the creek. Distance from Seward harbor: 11 miles.
8. Fox Island. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Some rockfish and the occasional halibut are caught from shore here, and silvers can be caught in season from the gravel spit. Fox Island was once a sleepy little stop at the entrance to El Dorado Narrows, but those days are gone. It’s fairly busy during summer months. A lodge and some associated guest cabins are located near the sand spit on Fox Island. Cruise boats service the lodge and it’s guests on a daily basis, and boats will be seen cruising the area for wildlife tours and such. Sea Kayak trips are also possible in this area on a day-trip basis, out of Miller’s Landing, near Seward. If you need to find a sheltered anchorage in rough water, there are a couple of coves on the west side of Fox Island, backed by gravel beaches on the inside. Sunny Cove is the southernmost of the two, and is known as a place to prospect for silvers and halibut. If you don’t have any luck inside the cove itself, try drifting off the mouth in deeper water for halibut. Sunny Cove is also a good anchorage where you can hole up if the seas in Resurrection Bay are rough. It has a nice gravel beach for camping as well. Distance from Seward harbor: 13 miles (to the spit).
9. El Dorado Narrows. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Just past the spit at Fox Island, you enter El Dorado Narrows. The water in this three-mile stretch can be very rough at times, especially when the incoming swell is surging against the outgoing tide. But there can be some good angling in this area for rockfish. Lingcod live in the area, but lingcod fishing is closed in Resurrection Bay, from a line extending from Cape Resurrection to Aialik Cape. If you accidentally catch a ling, use special care in releasing it. Lings may be released only by landing net or by hand, and intentionally targeting them for catch and release fishing is illegal. Halibut fishing in El Dorado Narrows is worth a try. Casting for silvers during slack water can be productive as well. Distance from Seward harbor: 13.8 miles
10. Hive Island. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Try fishing for halibut around hive, at around 200-300 feet or so. Sometimes there are large schools of Pacific cod (P-cod) here, to form an additional diversion, and trolling for silvers or kings can be productive as well. Distance from Seward harbor: 15.8 miles.
11. Rugged Island. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. The area between Fox, Hive, and Rugged Islands offers some rockfish and halibut opportunties, along with trolling or mooching for silvers and kings. Fishing these channels is susceptible to tidal flow, so you’re your efforts accordingly. Rugged Island itself can be rewarding for halibut or rockfish, particularly inside Marys Bay, or along the shelf that extends southwest from the northern peninsula at the entrance of Marys Bay. This bench is much shallower than the surrounding waters, and halibut occasionally come up from the depths to feed in this area. You will also find cod in this area, along with the occasional rockfish. The edges of this shelf can be productive trolling areas for silvers and king salmon as well. Marys Bay is also a decent anchorage for those days when it's rough in the bay, however there is no beach on which to camp. Distance from Seward harbor: 17.3 miles.
12. Emerald Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. The last cove on your right before you come to Cape Resurrection, Emerald Cove, is often overlooked as a trolling destination for silvers, and like many local hotspots, the bite is on and off during the season. A great place to remember if you’re out prospecting. Distance from Seward harbor: 17.6 miles.
13. Cape Resurrection. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod. Cape Resurrection hosts a large puffin rookery in the cliffs above, and it’s not unusual to see hundreds of seabirds in this area. This is also the eastern boundary of Resurrection Bay. The cape is a great place to troll for kings and silvers, and halibut and rockfish can be caught in this area as well. The photo at the right shows Cape Resurrection on a calm day, but these days are rare; it's possible to have severe confused seas in this area on an outgoing tide with strong winds out of Prince William Sound. Proceed with extreme caution. The photo above the Cape Resurrection image is Barwell Island, just outside Cape Resurrection. Barwell offers rockfish as well, and trolling in the area can produce silvers or king salmon. Distance from Seward: 18 miles.
14. Day Harbor. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. There’s a lot to do in the Day Harbor area, with many protected coves and inlets to choose from. The waters offer halibut, rockfish, lingcod, and king and silver salmon. There is some shoreline camping in the area, but there are also private parcels of land and private cabins. Be cautious and respectful of private property in this area. Distance from Seward harbor: 30 miles.
15. Agnes Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. This area is popular during the Seward Silver Salmon Derby, and it provides a sheltered anchorage for anglers fishing Cheval Narrows or points beyond. If you wish to spend the night onboard your boat, simply tuck around the corner from Cheval Narrows, and into the quiet waters of Agnes Cove. Distance from Seward harbor: 25.5 miles.
16. Cheval Narrows. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. The narrows is a popular location to troll for silvers and king salmon, along with offering opportunities for rockfish and an outside chance at halibut. The bottom structure in this area is mostly rocky, so use caution if you're running a down rigger; many anglers have lost down rigger balls in this area, as they become snagged in the rocks. Make a practice of reeling the down rigger up immediately after hooking a fish. Distance from Seward harbor: 24.5 miles.
17. Pony Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Pony Cove is one of the most popular fishing locations in Resurrection Bay, particularly during the silver run. Expect crowded conditions and arrive early for the best anchorages. Troll the cove or nearby Cheval Narrows. Distance from Seward harbor: 26.8 miles.
18. Pilot Rock. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Pilot Rock offers deepwater fishing for rockfish, and trolling opportunities for silvers and kings. The water on the north side of the rock is relatively shallow, and this is where you might encounter lingcod. Fish the edges of this shelf for yelloweye. The location is very exposed, however, so it's not always fishable. Distance from Seward harbor: 26.7 miles.
19. Aialik Cape. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. The Aialik Cape area offers excellent rockfish opportunities, including yelloweye. It's also a good place to troll for silvers and kings, but keep in mind that the salmon limit on the Resurrection Bay side is six silvers, but on the Aialik Bay side it is reduced to three. You'll have to limit your catch if you intend to round the cape into Aialik Bay. Additionally, lingcod fishing is closed in the bay, so you'll have to round the cape in order to fish for lings. Look for drop-offs and rocky areas for rockfish, and sandy beach areas for halibut. Fishing in this area is very weather-dependent, however if the wind comes up suddenly and waves start to build, there are several sheltered coves not far away. Depending on which direction the waves are running, you could sneak around the cape to Chat Cove, or go the other direction into the bay and into Pony Cove. Distance from Seward harbor: 29.3 miles.
20. Aialik Bay. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod. Aialik Bay is a popular destination for drop-off sea kayakers, many of whom are also fishing the area. There are several coves in this area that offer shelter and even shore-based camping. Silver fishing can be very good here, and halibut fishing is often good as well. Concentrate your efforts on sloping sandy beaches for the best halibut fishing. Rockfish can be found in abundance in this area as well, and this area is open for lingcod. Distance from Seward harbor: 33 miles.
21. Chat Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod. Chat Cove offers fair halibut fishing in deep water. Some anglers report having to prospect as deep as 300 feet here, but you won't find those depths in the cove itself; you need to fish closer to Chat Island. The deepest part of the cove is along the cliffs on the southern portion of Chat Cove. You'll find rockfish (including yelloweye) and lingcod along the rocky coastline here. Distance from Seward harbor: 32.5 miles.
22. Cliff Bay. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod. Cliff Bay offers depths considerably deeper than Chat Cove, with depths near the entrance in excess of 400'. That's too deep for most halibut fishermen, however if you venture farther into the bay you might be able to scratch out a fish or two. Expect rockfish and lingcod along the points on both sides of the bay, and along the inside edges. Some yelloweye can be found here as well, and you might pick up a greenling or two in shallower water. Troll the entrance of the bay for salmon. Distance from Seward harbor: 33.8 miles.
23. Three Hole Bay. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish, lingcod. The end of the northernmost arm here offers a sandy bottom in places; this is your best shot for halibut here, though you might encounter them elsewhere in the area. The rocky shoreline offers opportunities for rockfish and greenling, but your best bet for lingcod is to concentrate on the points on either side of the entrance. The entrance of the bay also offers good trolling opportunities for salmon. Distance from Seward harbor: 36.8 miles.
24. Paradise Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Paradise Cove is the southernmost arm of Three Hole Bay, and offers a protective anchorage. The area offers opportunities for rockfish, with the possibility of halibut, particularly along the southern portions of the cove where the bottom composition is gravel and clay. Distance from Seward harbor: 39 miles.
25. Bear Cove. Species: King salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, silver salmon, halibut, rockfish. Bear Cove offers a good anchorage, and fishing can be good there for rockfish and halibut. Your best bet for salmon is to troll the entrance, where tidal currents carry baitfish. Distance from Seward harbor: 38.8 miles.
Whether you're bringing your own boat, renting a boat locally, or chartering, there's nothing like bringing your own tackle along. Here's a start on some of the things you'll want to have along for your Seward saltwater fishing trip. Note that not all charter operators have this gear aboard, but it has all been proven season after season to work for Alaska's saltwater species. Also note that most charter operators have no objections at all to you using your own tackle. It's cheaper for them when you lose something!
If you plan to fish anywhere on the Kenai Peninsula, you need a copy of Dave Atcheson's "Fishing the Kenai Peninsula" in your rig. If you're new to the area, a copy of The Milepost will help you plan your trip, providing maps and detailed information on the locations of campgrounds, cabins, places to eat, fuel stops and much more. While you're in the bookstore, you might also check out our maps of Kachemak Bay State Park, Kenai River (includes only the middle and lower sections of the river, from Skilak Lake to the mouth), and the Northwestern Kenai Peninsula map, which includes only the areas around Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, Kasilof, and Nikiski. These are road maps, but they also show campgrounds, fishing areas and available species. Finally, check out Scott Haugen's excellent book, "Bank Fishing for Steelhead and Salmon" for excellent tips that will work on the Kenai River, Deep Creek and other places on the Kenai Peninsula.
Click on the following links to review angling opportunities in the various areas of the Kenai Peninsula.
Kenai Peninsula Fishing Intro | Upper Kenai Peninsula Fishing | Central Kenai Peninsula Fishing | Lower Kenai Peninsula Fishing | Kenai Peninsula Marine Fishery | Kenai Peninsula Clamming | Seward Saltwater Fishing | Seldovia Fishing