Alaska Fishing: Using Anchorage as a Base Camp
Anchorage's location lends itself to serving as a base camp for fishing adventures of all kinds. The road-bound angler or RV camper has excellent options both north and south of town, and the fly-out adventures are nearly endless. Here's an overview.
Because it is the largest city in the state, and because it is located in a place that offers easy access to a variety of fishing opportunities, Anchorage is the ideal place from which to launch your fishing adventures. For those with only a few hours to spare, there are numerous fly-out options that get you into prime fishing away from the crowds. If you have a little more time, there are many great places within a two-hour's drive from town. And of course there are many more opportunities available; this page is your gateway to just a few of the many options.
For information pertaining to specific species, including recommended gear and techniques to catch them, refer to our species pages, our fishing methods pages, and our fishing gear pages.
Anchorage Fishing: What to Expect
Many anglers come to Alaska with a mixed agenda. Perhaps some members of your group want to take in some flight-seeing or hiking, or perhaps an ATV trip. As a result, some groups opt to divide their activities on certain days, regrouping later to compare notes. This is a great idea that can provide you with opportunities everyone will enjoy. Anchorage makes an excellent place to connect everyone with an adventure that suits them.
Anchorage Management Area Fish Run Chart
Fishing Opportunities Beyond Anchorage
Anchorage offers many fishing opportunities that, in their own right, stack up favorably against local fishing opportunities in just about any other city in the country. Where else can you catch a 30-pound king salmon from shore, within casting distance of the downtown area? Where else can you take the kids in a canoe for an afternoon on a quiet lake and catch grayling and rainbow trout? What other towns have streams bordered with natural vegetation flowing through the heart of town? There are probably a few competitors out there, but it's safe to say that probably none of them have brown bears fishing for salmon along those streams. But Anchorage offers even more. Much more.
Anchorage is at the center of a hub of diverse fishing opportunities. Set your GPS for just about any point of the compass from Anchorage, and you'll find fishing opportunities to keep even the most die-hard angler busy for weeks. But if you find yourself looking to the horizon for additional prospects or if you want to get away from the crowded areas, you might consider some creative options available to you right from Anchorage. Many anglers use Anchorage as a base of operations, from which they can launch out on any of several different adventures by car, boat or airplane.
Option #1: The Highway North
Fishing opportunities north of Anchorage that still lie within the Anchorage Management Area are listed on our "Anchorage: Just out of Town" page in this section. But farther north you'll find a gold mine of fishing opportunities for almost every freshwater species available in Alaska. Take the Parks Highway north to Wasilla, Willow, and on to Cantwell and you'll discover many streams and lakes accessible from the highway. The Parks Highway also gives you access to Talkeetna, the base camp for several air charters offering flightseeing tours of Denali. Another popular destination is Denali National Park itself, just north of Cantwell. Day shuttle trips are available into the park, for wildlife viewing purposes, and numerous other recreational activities are available in the area. Finally, you could consider an RV trip north to Cantwell, and then east over the Denali Highway (gravel and dirt) to the Richardson Highway. There are some outstanding fishing opportunities along the way. We cover these in much greater detail in our Interior Fishing pages.
Option #2: The Glenn Highway East
North of Anchorage lies the little farming town of Palmer, and continuing east past Palmer you'll find yourself on the Glenn Highway, a winding, two-lane road that connects South-Central Alaska with the Interior. There are many fishing opportunities along the Glenn, including a number of clear rocky streams and numerous lakes. The Glenn Highway is a popular return route for highway anglers driving north on the Parks Highway and east on the Denali Highway. You can make the whole loop in three days, and you won't see the same areas twice. We discuss these options in greater detail in our Interior Fishing pages.
Option #3: Whittier, the Gateway to Prince William Sound
A short 40-minute drive south of Anchorage, along the Seward Highway, takes you to the end of the Turnagain Arm and the Portage area. Turn off the highway for a drive up the beautiful Portage Valley, with its numerous hanging glaciers, and drive through the railroad tunnel to Whittier. A number of charter services are available in Whittier, that can get you into excellent marine fishing for salmon, halibut and rockfish. This area is also a very popular location for setting shrimp pots; the deep, cold fjords out of Whittier provide excellent habitat for sidestripe, coonstripe and spot prawns. Whittier offers limited shore-based saltwater fishing for salmon, and there is also an opportunity to catch herring from shore as well. This area is covered in greater detail in our Kenai Peninsula Fishing pages, which include a detailed section on Prince William Sound angling opportunities.
Option #4: The Kenai Peninsula
Continuing south on the Seward Highway, you enter the Kenai Peninsula. This area is, by far, the most popular fishing area in all of South-Central Alaska, with numerous road-based options. Saltwater fishermen will want to check out Seward, Kenai, Ninilchik or Homer for boat-based charters, or take advantage of shore fishing options in those locations and along the beaches from Deep Creek to Anchor Point. Some shore-based halibut fishing is available in late summer in many of these areas. Freshwater fishermen have seemingly endless opportunities, with dozens of rivers and lakes available from the road system. There is also a fly-out fishery available in the area. All of this and more is discussed in our Kenai Peninsula Fishing pages.
Option #5: The Kodiak-Afognak Archipelago
Anchorage offers daily jet service to Kodiak, which puts some excellent road-based, charterboat and fly-out options at your fingertips. You can also get to Kodiak on the ferry out of Homer, so if you want to bring your own rig (and boat), you can do that and save tons of cash for lodging when you get there, and to sample Kodiak's fine dining opportunities. You'll still have plenty left over for bait and tackle! Some anglers might opt for a quick over-and-back trip, flying over in the morning, charter fishing for the day, and catching an evening hop back to Anchorage. You get more fishing time than you do out of Seward or Homer, because the prime fishing areas on Kodiak are only minutes away from the harbor. Read all about it in our Kodiak Fishing pages.
Option #6: Fly-Out Options out West
Anchorage hosts the world's largest floatplane base, Lake Hood and Lake Spenard, and it sits within walking distance from Anchorage International Airport and the local hotel strip. Choose from dozens of commercial air charters who can fly you out for an afternoon of pike fishing, or escort you to the river of your dreams, for a week-long expedition float trip for beautiful leopard rainbow trout, mighty king salmon or acrobatic silvers. It all starts right in Anchorage. You can read more about these options in our Alaska Peninsula Fishing pages.
Alaska is bear country! Anglers must be aware of the possibility of encountering bears along any salmon stream. In fact, brown / grizzly bears may be encountered anywhere in South-Central Alaska. In almost all cases, bears are as apprehensive of you as you are of them. The key to avoiding trouble is having the awareness that bears can be literally anywhere. Take the following precautions:
- Make plenty of noise while hiking or fishing.
- Don’t give bears a reason to associate people with food! Keep food and your catch in a backpack on your back.
- Protect yourself! Bring a pepper spray to use as a deterrent. The discharge of firearms within city limits is prohibited, though you are allowed to carry a firearm with you. Alaska's firearms laws are very liberal, though there are some places in town where you are prohibited from carrying a gun. Check the local regulations or contact the Anchorage Police Department for clarification. If you choose to use a firearm as a primary bear defense weapon in town, first consider the risks of discharging a weapon in circumstances where brush and vegetation may obscure the area near or behind the charging bear, creating a risk of injury to others in the area.
Elsewhere in this Section
We've broken the Anchorage Management Area into smaller pieces, so you can focus on your particular area of interest. Here's an overview:
This section deals with some of the basic information you need to know about this area; a brief history of the area, the layout of the area, safety concerns (including dealing with the local wildlife), and available services.
This page deals with fishing opportunities in Anchorage itself, and JBER, the military base just north of town.
There are a lot of places to fish on the road system north and south of Anchorage. This page lists them in detail, along with available species and amenities.
The Seward Highway South to Ingram Creek
Beginning at Potter Marsh, a popular wildlife viewing area on the south end of Anchorage, the Seward Highway extends southward along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, to Portage and on to the Kenai Peninsula. The highway forms a narrow border between the steep, rugged Chugach Mountains and the treacherous tidal flats of the Turnagain Arm. There are several good fishing areas in this zone, which are covered in our "Anchorage: Just out of Town" page.
The Parks Highway North to Eklutna
The George Parks Highway begins at the north end of Anchorage, and extends northward 350 miles to Fairbanks. But the Anchorage Management Area extends only to the Ekutna River, which is covered in our "Anchorage: Just out of Town" page. Check it out!
Anchorage as a Base Camp (this page)
Lots of people base their fishing adventures out of Anchorage, either driving or flying out to adventures in other parts of South-Central Alaska or beyond. This page will get you started!
Classic Alaska Charters offers excellent overnight custom cruises aboard the “Saltery C”, their fully-outfitted 40’ live-aboard Bayliner Explorer Motoryacht. Each trip is an adventure customized to your requirements. Meals prepared by the onboard chef are unequalled in the business, and include healthy entrees such as fresh Alaska seafood and delicious desserts. Activities include fishing (freshwater and saltwater), kayaking, wildlife viewing, photography, crabbing & shrimping, hiking and just relaxing along the spectacular waterways of Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island and Misty Fjords National Monument.
Need More Information?
Check out our other Anchorage Management Area fishing pages!
If you’re looking for other areas to fish in Southcentral Alaska, check out our pages for the following areas:
If you’re interested in hunting opportunities in Southcentral Alaska, check out our hunting pages at the following links:
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 DivisionAnchorage Office:
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, AK 99518
1 (907) 267-2186