The most common question I get asked is, “When’s the best time to come fishing in Alaska”.
And my answer is always, “Anytime from June through September“. It just depends on what kind of fish you want to catch and where you want to fish. Remember Ketchikan is at the southern end of the southeast panhandle and we are about 1,000 miles away from the Kenai River and our salmon runs have nothing in common other than the species.
I won’t pretend to know a thing about when to fish the Kenai, Prince William Sound or Yakutat. But I can tell you a lot about fishing in Ketchikan and when the best time to fish at our Alaska fishing lodge is.
King Salmon (Chinook): Mid May – Mid August. Kings or Chinook salmon can be found in Ketchikan year round but the spawning run begins showing up in mid May with the bulk of the local fish passing through in the last half of June and the first week of July. These locally spawning salmon average about 20 lbs. The remainder of July and August we still get Kings, bound for other rivers as well as feeder kings. I’ve had days in August when the King salmon fishing was fantastic, you just never know. Our feeder king salmon average about 14 lbs but I’ve caught them over 30.
Silver Salmon (Coho): Late June – October. In Ketchikan we get a unique summer run of silvers that start showing up the last week of June and continue through August. The early run of silvers average about 8 lbs when they first show up in June and grow to about a 10 lb average by August with a few 15 pound coho starting to show up. The biggest and most abundant run of silvers in Ketchikan is the Fall run. The fall coho start to show up the last week of August and run clear into October. These salmon average from 12 to 14 lbs in September with coho up to 20 lbs available.
Pink Salmon (Humpies): July – August. Pinks are the most abundant and the smallest of the Alaskan salmon but they can put up a pretty good fight and eat well when they’re bright.
Chum Salmon (Keta): July – August. Chums are the second largest of the Pacific salmon species. Alaskan chums are a very important commercial fish but are a great fight on a salmon rod too. Chums will fight similar to a king salmon by taking deep dives and long heavy runs. Bright ocean chum salmon is delicious eating and should not be confused with a spawning dog salmon.
Sockeye Salmon (Reds): July-August. There are several Sockeye rivers near Ketchikan. Sockeye are not easily taken in the salt water but if you can find them schooled up in a lake or river flossing them with flies is a sportsmen’s fantasy.
Halibut: June – August. Halibut come into the shallow inland waters to feed on herring, salmon, cod and other fish also making the summer journey through the waters of SE Alaska.
Rockfish: Year round. Rockfish are local inhabitants that typically stay within a 5 mile radius.