Whether fresh or saltwater fishing, southeast Alaska is a sometimes overlooked outdoorsman’s paradise.
My childhood in southeast Alaska was probably the greatest gift my parents could have given me. I have been hunting, fishing, and exploring this magical part of the state since before I could walk. Some people ask me why I live all the way up here, but there aren’t words for it: no matter how far I go, I am always pulled back, and these are just a few of the reasons.
1. There is a distinct lack of people.
This is a big one for me. I have fished on a few rivers up on the Kenai Peninsula and almost felt claustrophobic. Having other fishermen within ten feet of me on either side took some of the fun out of it. While I did catch fish, all I could think was that I could be alone on some stream back home having the same success.
It is not uncommon to not be within 500 yards of another fisherman in southeast Alaska. I have walked whole streams from the lake to the beach without seeing another person.
2. You have a good chance of catching virgin fish.
You have a real possibility in southeast Alaska of catching fish that have never been touched by a person. This is especially true if you’re fishing for trout. When I was fishing up north, almost every fish I caught had scarred lips, indicating it had been released multiple times.
In southeast, even if you are in a popular spot, you can at least catch fish that haven’t been caught that year. The Alexander Archipelago is made up of around 1100 islands, many of which have streams, rivers, lakes, or beaver ponds that hold trout. If you have access to a boat, you could spend the day island hopping and possibly find a pocket of fish that may not have been fished for years.
3. You can get away from the ocean when fishing saltwater.
This can be really nice if you are susceptible to seasickness. Even on nice days, there is always a ground swell on the ocean. That can make you sick if you aren’t used to a rocking boat.
Although there are charters that fish on the ocean near towns like Sitka or Craig, you can find calm waters when leaving from places like Petersburg or Wrangell. The fishing can be just as good as the outside and in the summer the water can be as calm as a lake. Fishing around places like Seward or Valdez you will be on the ocean and could be affected by rougher weather.
4. The scenery is unmatched.
Seriously. I have been to a lot of places, but I have never been anywhere as beautiful as southeast Alaska. From the mountains to the sea, the views around here are breathtaking. Watching a sunset from the top of a mountain or sitting by a fire on the beach can be surreal in this part of the world.
I have lived here all my life, and I’m still blown away by the scenery.
5. There is always a place to camp.
Every island that has a town on it has maintained campgrounds. Many of these are close to prime fishing areas, making them great choices for anglers. Although the campgrounds are rarely full or crowded, some anglers may want to be more secluded. Since there is virtually no private land outside of city limits, just find a spot and pitch a tent.
If you don’t feel like tent camping, there are many Forest Service cabins located around southeast Alaska. Most are only accessible on the saltwater by boat or float plane, but they are 100% worth the trip. These cabins are especially nice if you want to go camping with young children.
Images from Cody Wegener