Affordable Alaska Fishing Trip - Article 23 of 31
Where to fish in Alaska
Wow, we’ve come a long way. Next, we're going to disclose where to fish in Alaska. I’m so glad you have made it this far. I truly want to help you fulfill your dreams of taking you affordable fishing trip to Alaska. With that in mind, it is now time to discover those locations where you can catch some fish…and a lot of them.
The choices here are really quite simple when determining where to fish in Alaska. From Anchorage, you’re either going to head north on Route 1 which is also called Glenn Highway or you can head south on Route 1 which is also called Seward Highway. The northern route offers some very good fishing with only moderate traffic while the southern route (ending up on the Kenai Peninsula) offers many excellent fishing opportunities but it is also quite congested. So, if your goal is to catch lots of fish while maintaining your sanity and solitude, you’ll want to head north. If your goal is to catch lots of fish no matter how many people you encounter, then you’ll probably want to head south. If you have at least 7 days available to fish, I’d recommend trying both for the full experience.
For each of the rivers listed below, I’ve included charts of the timing of the salmon runs as well. These charts will help you determine where to fish in Alaska by telling you which fish will be in each stream, the timing of the run and the quality of the fishing.
North on the Glenn and Parks Highways
Run Timing Chart for Parks Highway
First we’ll talk about the area north of Anchorage. This fishery is located in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley better known as the Mat-Su Valley. To get there you will take Route 1/Glenn Highway north out of Anchorage for about 35 miles where you will turn left onto Route 3/Parks Highway.
This area is most well known for its view of Mt McKinley which is the tallest peak in North America at 20,320 feet. As you are traveling, if you have a clear day, look to the NNW for a breathtaking view of this beautiful snow capped mountain. Also, if you have the time and if you are in a sight-seeing mood…on your return trip, at MM 71.2 look for Hatcher Pass Road (also known as Fishhook-Willow Road). This picturesque, 49 mile trek dumps you out at Palmer, on the Glenn Highway. Consult The Milepost 2008
or 2009 Milepost - 61st Edition
for an excellent description of the sites you’ll see along the way.
Map of the Northern Cook Inlet Fisheries
OK, let’s get fishing…At mile marker 57 (from here on out, mile marker will be referred to as MM), we reach our first fishing opportunity when you reach the Little Susitna River. This is an easy access area in a nice park setting which seldom sees any real fishing pressure. This is a great opportunity to fish in a fairly quiet setting.
Continuing north we come to the next fishery at MM 70.8. Here you’ll go left on Willow Creek Parkway for 3.7 miles to the Willow Creek State Recreation Area. Pull in here and park and hike a short ¼ mile to the confluence of the Susitna River and Willow Creek. Generally speaking, there will always be more fish where two rivers join but with more fish usually comes added fishing pressure as well so be prepared. According to the ADF&G, Willow Creek is the fourth busiest king salmon fishery in the state.
Your second easy access to Willow Creek is at MM 71.4 at the Willow Creek bridge. Use this access only if you believe the first one at Willow Creek State Recreation Area is too crowded as the number of fish is less here than at the confluence.
Moving up Route 3 another 3 miles to MM 74.6 we come to the Little Willow Creek Bridge. This beautiful, clear stream can be a good fishery if the timing is right or will be a bit more challenging if not. Easy access to the stream is on the north end of the bridge and to the east side of the road.
I recommend skipping the next two creeks, Kashwitna and Grey’s Creek. Although both hold some salmon and trout, they are not as well known for great fishing.
Next is Caswell Creek at MM 84. Turn left on gravel turnout and travel about ½ mile. Park and hike in to confluence of Caswell Creek and Susitna rivers. Good fishing for all salmon species and rainbow trout as well.
At MM 86 Resolute Drive, turn left for 1 mile to a large gravel parking lot to fish the Sheep Creek Slough. This is an easy, wheelchair accessible trail to the mouth of the creek. Salmon species are the same. Just north (.1 to .2 mile) you will come to the Sheep Creek bridge which is another easy access to this fishery as well.
Isn’t it amazing that you can travel such short distances and be greeted with river after river of fertile salmon and trout rivers and streams? I don’t think you can find such a concentration of beautiful fisheries like this any place else on earth.
Ok, I’m going to recommend two more rivers before we turn around and head south again. They are Goose Creek and Montana Creek.
Goose Creek is a small fishery at MM 93.5 with about the same opportunities as Sheep Creek.
The final destination on this highway system will be Montana Creek at MM 96.5 and rightfully so. Here, you’ll visit the Montana Creek Campground (both sides of the road) which offers significant access to Montana Creek. There is a store to stock up on food items and any needed fishing gear. There is a public access trail which leads to the confluence of the Susitna River. There will be more people here but I recommend trying it. There are more people there for a reason…more fish. The Montana has it all. Along with salmon, it also boasts runs of arctic grayling, dolly varden and trout.
There are definitely some decent fisheries further north but I’m approaching this as having limited time and I’m confident that you will have caught your fill of salmon at the other streams and rivers along the way and there’s just no sense heading further away from Anchorage.
South on the Seward Highway
Run Timing Chart for Seward Highway
Next, we’re going to head south out of Anchorage on Route 1 South, also known as the Seward Highway. On Seward Highway, I’m only going to talk about 3 rivers that are worth your while to start out with. They are Bird Creek, Six Mile Creek and Resurrection Creek.
Our first stop on this trek will be at the bridge at Bird Creek at MM 101.2. This is a very popular area due to its close proximity to Anchorage and its easy access. This is a tidal creek so be especially careful at high tide as the creek will be much higher. At low tide remember to keep your feet moving. Standing still in this silty mud will cause you to get stuck and that’s not a good position to be in when the tide begins to rise. Be alert here. You’ll have a nice concentration of Pinks and Silvers when the runs are on.
Next, we’ll travel about 44 miles down around the Turnagain Arm where you’ll come to the Hope Cutoff at MM 56.3. Turn onto Hope Highway which runs parallel with Six Mile Creek until reaching the Turnagain Arm again. Along this first stretch of the Hope Highway you will see several short, dirt/gravel turnouts to the east heading toward Six Mile Creek. Each will end in a short hike to the creek. At Hope Highway MM 8.5 try the turnout to the east just past Angle 45 Adventures. This too will be a short drive and then finished off by a short hike down to the creek. Here, you’ll have runs similar to that of Bird Creek.
Once you’re finished here, continue down the Hope Highway to the little town of Hope and to Resurrection Creek. This fishery offers up excellent Pink runs and good Silver salmon runs during their respective runs. There is a good chance that you will not see a lot of fishing pressure here. Enjoy the peace and quiet as our next jaunt down the Sterling Highway will be nothing like you’ve ever seen before. If you have some extra time, spend it in Hope. It is a tiny but quaint, old gold mining town with buildings from the late 1800’s still in use today.
When you’ve spent your time here, head back to the Seward Highway to continue on your adventure south toward the Kenai Peninsula.
West and South on the Sterling Highway
Run Timing Chart for Sterling Highway
You will find the Sterling Highway 90 miles south of Anchorage. It is along this highway that you will likely see the most fishing pressure of your entire trip. The reason for this is that it is here that you will find the Kenai River which is arguably the most popular king salmon fishery in the world. You’ll also find the Russian River here which is the most popular Alaskan river for Sockeye or Red salmon. Many of these rivers also boast very strong runs of Silver and Pink salmon and also rainbow and steelhead trout and dolly varden. You can find it all along the Sterling Highway. It’s no wonder people flock here in search of salmon.
Your first stop can be at MM 52.6, the turnoff to the world famous Russian River campground. The campground offers you the best opportunity to fish the Russian River. Day use parking is around $5. If you are heading here for Reds, I hope you planned ahead. The fishing pressure will be like nothing you’ve seen before. The site is amazing and has been given the term combat fishing. People are literally lined up as close as five feet apart as far as you can see. This requires extra patience so be prepared. Once you reach the campground, you can either hike the trail to the confluence of the Kenai River (20 – 30 minutes depending on your pace) or you can head upstream toward Lower Russian Lake where you can watch the salmon jumping at the Russian River Falls. You’ll be glad you did. Consult your regulations as this is a fly fishing only section for part of the summer.
The next good fishing opportunity is at 54.8 at the Russian River Ferry. This is yet another way to fish the Russian River confluence. You’ll park your car for $6, then board the 28-person ferry for $5 round-trip. The ferry will transport you across the Kenai River and then back again when you are ready to return. If you really have your heart set on fishing here, this convenience will be well worth it.
The next decent place to fish the Kenai will be to turn onto Skilak Lake Loop Road at MM 58. Within the first two miles of this road there are numerous turnouts to trails leading to the Kenai River. Each of these is a short .2 to .3 mile walk. Consult the Milepost for more information on this area.
Skilak Lake Loop Road runs for 19 miles where it rejoins the Sterling Highway at MM 75.3 just before Sterling, AK. Continue through Sterling to MM 82 for your next potential stop. This is the bridge at Moose River. The Moose offers up a myriad of opportunities including king, red, silver and pink salmon, along with dolly varden and rainbow trout. Consult your regulations as this is a fly fishing only section for part of the summer.
The last section I recommend bank fishing the Kenai River is at Swiftwater Park. At MM 94.1, turn onto East Redoubt Avenue and follow signs. Again, consult the Milepost for more information. Swiftwater Park has an extensive boardwalk allowing access to the Kenai River. Again, there is a day-use fee of around $5 to park there.
There are many more places to fish in this area including the Kenai Spur Highway and the Funny River Road but I’ll stop here as I’ve given you a good number of areas to fish the Kenai. If you wish to seek out additional locations, consult the Milepost for more information.
As you leave Swiftwater Park, you’ll pass through Soldotna next. Soldotna is a small town just buzzing with activity during the summer months. It is the hub for all fishing activities on the Kenai River. This town depends on the large fishing crowds that flock there every summer.
Now we’ll leave the mighty Kenai River behind and head south another 15 miles or so to MM 111 where we’ll head west on Cohoe Loop Road for 1.8 miles to Crooked Creek State Recreation Site. This is another camping/day-use area where you can pay $10 to camp or $5 for day-use. From here it is a short hike to the confluence of Crooked Creek and the Kasilof River. This is one of the most productive king salmon fisheries and is also very popular for silver salmon later in the season.
The next two rivers are only two miles apart from each other. They are the Ninilchick River and Deep Creek. The Ninilchick River can be accessed a few different places from the Ninilchick River Campground at MM 134.5 to Mission Avenue (beach access road) at MM 135.1 heading west. Deep Creek can be accessed at MM 137.3 heading west for ½ mile to the Deep Creek State Recreational Area. Both of these waters offer good amounts of pink salmon and silver salmon and a few king salmon and steelhead trout.
At MM 150.8 you’ll cross the bridge over Stariski Creek. If you have time and you want to fish it, by all means, go for it. It offers pretty much the same fishing as the last two rivers only in lesser amounts.
The last river stop on this journey down the Kenai Peninsula is at Anchor River at MM 156.9. Turn off the Sterling Highway onto the Old Sterling Highway. You’ll cross over the Anchor River and then turn onto Anchor River (Beach) Road. This is a 1.2 mile road leading to the Anchor River Recreation Area. The Anchor River is a much talked about river that boasts king, pink and silver salmon and also dolly varden and rainbow and steelhead trout.
Since you’re here, continue on another 23 miles to Homer. It will be well worth it. This is a very picturesque town that is home to many artists and craftsmen. Homer is the unofficial Halibut Capital of the World. There are no rivers to fish here but since you’re in Alaska to fish, why not try your hand at “The Fishing Hole” in Homer. It is located at MM 178 about ¾ the way out the Homer Spit on the northern side. It is a large hole in the spit that supports a large run of hatchery produced king and silver salmon. Some returning kings are up to 40 lbs. Be sure you have your camera here. You’ll be glad you did.
As was the case when you traveled north out of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway and then to the Parks Highway to fish, you’ll now need to turn around and head back toward Anchorage. Depending on how much time you have left, you’ll either be heading straight back as quickly as possible to catch your flight or you’ll be hitting a few fishing spots again and possibly stopping off to take in some sites that you didn’t take the time to view on the way down the Sterling Highway.
To help you plan your short jaunts between fisheries better, I'm including a mileage chart for the Kenai Peninsula for you to utilize as well.
Mileage Chart for the Kenai Peninsula
Well, you are now armed with the most important fishing information, where to fish. There’s nothing stopping you now. As I mentioned before, even though I mention that there are fish in the streams and rivers, consult the fishing regulations for that river prior to fishing it just to be on the safe side. For instance, in some areas you can only fish for kings during the weekends in June, some places are fly fishing only, some places you are not allowed to use bait, etc. Arm yourself with knowledge. Also, keep an eye on emergency closures as they can occur at any time. Tight lines!
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