2022 Ketchikan Alaska Fishing Forecast & 2021 Report
June 11, 2021

2021 Fishing Report

After a soggy boating season with Ketchikan’s record-setting rainfall in 2020, last summer the weather was amazing and the fishing was fantastic! The 2021 season started in June with halibut fishing and dungeness crabbing and ended strong in September with coho salmon fishing. Self-guided anglers hooked up king salmon, pink salmon, keta salmon, sockeye salmon, rockfish, cod and ling throughout the months in between.

“Five Salmon Species: king = chinook, coho = silver, pink = humpback, sockeye = red, keta = chum or dog salmon.”

By June 1st, self-guided anglers were fishing for kings on the south end of Revillagigedo Island in the Mountain Point terminal area. King salmon fishing on the north end opened a little later on June 15th due to wild chinook salmon stock concerns on the Unuk and Chickamin Rivers. The good news is, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s emergency king salmon closures that have occurred the past couple of years from May 1 to June 15 seem to be making a difference because the Chinook return was within the escapement goal for these rivers last summer.

When the chinook season opened in the waters of Knudson Cove, Clover Pass and Behm Canal last year, there were some nice fish caught in the mornings about 50-100 yards off Chinook Shores Lodge dock. The morning bite was typically good here and our crew enjoyed cheering on anglers trolling by the dock – which occurred daily through the end of June.

“PRO TIP: For successful king salmon fishing, troll or mooch with whole or cut plug herring.”

Some of the better fishing spots for chinook were Clover Pass, Vallenar Bay, Caamano Point and Skin Island. The typically productive southern Gravina Island shoreline seemed a little spotty last summer probably due to the presence of Orca in this area. Orco love to eat wild Alaska king salmon – don’t we all.

In July there were still a few kings around and anglers started catching huge bright pinks followed by the best silver salmon summer run we’ve seen in four years. The north end hotspots for self-guided fishing were Clover Pass, Caamano Pt., Valenar Bay, Guard Island and Ship Island. Anglers were also successful fishing for silvers across Clarence Straits on the eastern Prince of Wales shoreline from Skin Island to High Island and the Kasaan Peninsula.

In August, the silvers kept getting bigger and more abundant with self-guided anglers limiting out at Vallenar, Caamano and Bond Bay for the first time since 2017. The huge 2021 pink salmon run was also a welcome site and anglers enjoyed hooking up pinks in between the silver bite. Pink salmon this time of year were fat and fresh and great for smoking, they also made the best halibut bait so it’s what we called a double bonus fish.

By September self-guided anglers were catching silvers averaging in the 13-15lbs range. After a hot and dry June, July and August, the fish welcomed rain which filled up the rivers and spawning creek beds. Our crew welcomed the rain as well, after scrubbing dried blood off the decks of our rental boats all summer. But we never complain about bloody decks! The fall silver run at Chinook Shores lodge area was typical and the usual spots – Gravina Island, Vallenar, Clover Pass, Behm Canal and Caamano produced. Half of these fall silvers headed up Behm Canal to the Neets Bay Hatchery and the other half (wild fish) returned to the Unuk, Chikamin and all the smaller rivers and creeks along the way. The run was good with a sustained peak run over the first three weeks of September. The run tapered off by the last week of September and by October the rain and wind brought our self-guided sport fishing season to an end. In prior years silver fishing near Chinook Shores Lodge has been good through mid October, last year September rainfall pushed the fish up the rivers a little earlier.

2021 halibut fishing was pretty good although the fish were smaller in size than the prior year. While some anglers still caught larger fish up to 200lbs, the 7-10 pounders were more abundant and seemingly everywhere our rental boats went. These smaller halibut will continue to grow and fishing will continue to be good in these areas. By the way, Captain Jeff knows of hot spots that produced larger halibut, but if we published exactly where they are located on the Internet, they wouldn’t be there anymore. As usual the halibut fishing was good in June, peaked in July and by September halis were migrating away to deeper waters for the winter.

“PRO TIP: For successful halibut fishing use herring and squid bait in June and then switch to pink salmon bait in July and August.”

2022 Ketchikan Alaska Fishing Forecast

The Ketchikan Alaska 2022 fishing season is expected to be a good one. With an average Chinook return, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game expects the wild chinook returns to meet their escapement goals in the Unuk and Chikamin rivers – hopefully this will translate to fewer king salmon closures. Look for the pink salmon run to be fewer than 2021 yet average for an off-year in 2022. Halibut fishing should be good in 2022 as well, with last year’s abundance of 7-10 pounders, we think halibut fishing will be better because we’re hoping some of those smaller fish fattened up over the winter. The silver return should be up again and continue on an upward trend and as long as ocean conditions remain at cool temperatures with cold water upwellings. Sockeye predominantly eat krill so we don’t expect anglers to hook up too many of those in the salt water. What about the missing Keta salmon you ask (aka chums), we’ve been asking that question a lot as well. We saw a few nice Keta on the fish cleaning table last summer… maybe in 2022 they’ll finally show up in numbers as predicted.

No matter what the actual outcome while sport fishing in Ketchikan, one thing is certain: If you keep a positive attitude, get up early, rig your hooks properly, don’t tangle up too often and are in the company of good friends and family, you will be successful at having more fun during a great Alaska fishing trip at Chinook Shores Lodge.