When is Salmon Season in Alaska?
The long dark winters of Alaska all become worth it once the summer salmon season finally reaches the last frontier. But when is the salmon season exactly? When do all the different species of salmon migrate? And where do you go to fish salmon once you get here? These are all great questions to ask before planning your Alaskan fishing trip. Keep reading and we’ll help to make sense of one of the planet’s most complex and incredible life story: The Pacific Salmon.
Salmon in Alaska
There are 5 species of pacific salmon, and they all live here in Alaska. The Sockeye (Red salmon), the Silver Salmon (Coho), the King Salmon (Chinook), the Pink (humpy salmon), and the Chum (Dog salmon). Even though they all grow up and use Alaskan rivers to spawn, not every river has all 5 species. Some rivers may have only one of the five that swim up it each summer to spawn. Regardless of species, all Pacific salmon live their lives in the ocean and then come into the freshwater rivers of Alaska to spawn and then die.
The migration of salmon during the Alaskan summer, is a masterful symphony of nature. Each species has its own time to leave the ocean’s depths and “run” into our many rivers. Once in freshwater, they spread out and begin to locate the place of their birth. To make this all the more complicated, each river is unique in when this orchestra begins.
Where to Fish Salmon in Alaska
In order to make sense of this complex web of fin and tail, lets focus our efforts on the epicenter of most salmon fishing in Alaska, the famous Kenai Peninsula. Although run times still vary from river to river, we can pin down a few general patterns that will help you maximize your fishing adventures.
Summer’s first full month marks the beginning of the salmon migration. Kings and early sockeye are the first species to enter our rivers. Although runs of king salmon have declined in today’s fisheries, there are still a few hidden gems to explore, both on the road system, and from the float plane. The fishing only gets better as the month of June progresses. Each high tide brings fish in and the run counts continue to climb. Expect fewer locations to choose from that have these early runs of fish. Big River Lakes is our go to location for early season sockeye and the world famous Nushagak River is a fan favorite for kings.
With the onset of warmer weather, the Kenai Peninsula’s salmon fishing begins to really heat up. More salmon enter Alaskan rivers in July than any other month. Even the runs of King salmon don’t mature until July on the mighty Kenai River. Huge runs of sockeye build as the month progresses along with Chum and Pink salmon (pink salmon only run on even numbered years). July is magical in Alaska. Wildlife from every valley, descend on salmon streams and take full advantage of the bounty. This is also the busiest tourist month for the Kenai Peninsula so plan on booking your fishing trips and hotels early.
Although August marks the final month of the Alaskan summer, there is still plenty of fishing to be had. By now, the kings have dumped their eggs and given their bodies back to the river, in the exact same stretch of water that they were born in, some 5-7 years ago. With sockeye in full spawning regalia, the rivers seem alive with fish. From the headwaters to the ocean, there are salmon of one species or another in some various stage of their final weeks. Silvers are the last species to enter the rivers, so even though the sockeye are all but too old to eat, there’s fresh fish even in summer’s waning moments.
Even though September sure doesn’t seem like summer in Alaska, it still has some salmon fishing left for the hard core anglers. Late run fish and the final tides of the silver run still can be had throughout the first few weeks of autumn. The cold mornings and yellow birch trees let you know that the cycle of birth and death has come to a close on the Last Frontier’s salmon runs. The salmon fishing season in Alaska is complex and dynamic, so be flexible and enjoy just being a part of an age-old symphony.
Come explore Alaska, and let Adventure Outfitters be your guide. The amazing float planes allow us to fish several different, remote locations. We live and breathe salmon fishing on the Kenai Peninsula and beyond. So if you’re looking for a fishing adventure this summer, rest assured, Adventure Outfitters has a spot that will be the best option for any given week.
Check out our Alaska fishing locations page and feel free to contact us if you are thinking about booking a fishing trip!
I have loved the outdoors ever since I can remember. Building AOA has been a great journey for me and my family. Come see the real Alaska and let us be your guide.