Alaskan salmon don't just jump, they explode from the rivers, showering water in every direction. Catching one can make for the most fun-and delicious-day you've ever spent. Most anglers stalk them as they swim upriver to spawn in "runs" of up to millions of fish, which occur throughout the summer.
So where do you go to find them? Here are your four most popular and convenient options from Anchorage:
Fly-In Fishing From Anchorage
Fast and convenient • Best fishing • Wilderness experience • Scenic flight
Just minutes from Anchorage on a scenic float plane flight, fly-ins offer world-class fishing and more of a wilderness experience. While you sometimes encounter other fly-in anglers, fly-ins take you beyond the reach of roads and offer you the best chance of catching lots of fish. Professional guides lead you to the day's hot fishing holes, where you can cast for prized Alaskan king salmon, ferocious silvers, world-class lake trout and more. Pick up will be at your Anchorage hotel.
$550+ for a full-day guided fly-in
Kenai River Salmon Charter
World's biggest salmon • Close to Anchorage • All 5 species • See eagles and moose
The Kenai has many appeals: It's one of the world's few rivers which support all five Pacific salmon species. The world's biggest salmon are caught here-including a record 97-pound king. Its emerald-blue waters flow through canyons and forests filled with eagles. The area offers has great hiking and scenery. And it's only a 2 hour drive to Cooper Landing where most charters launch. You'll float lazily on driftboats. The only drawback is you won't have the river to yourself.
$175+ half day guided | $295 full-day guided charter
Drive 2 hrs. south on the Seward Highway to the Sterling Highway. Continue to Mile Point 48, Cooper Landing.
Talkeetna Salmon Charter
Catch more fish though smaller • Day trip by car or train • On the way to Denali • Views of Denali (Mt. McKinley)
Talkeetna is a pioneer town half way from Anchorage to Denali. The salmon aren't as big as on the Kenai-here they're 30-50 pounders-but there are more of them. You'll fish wide braided rivers that flow off Denali's south-facing glaciers. Bears, moose, and eagle are sometimes seen on the riverbanks. Talkeetna has character, lots to do, and good lodging. A motorboat takes you upriver and drops you off where the fish are biting. The main drawback is that other anglers also congregate there-so the boat ride in is a wilderness experience but the fishing sometimes isn't.
$190+ for a half-day | $240+ for a full day of guided fishing.
By car: Drive the Glenn Highway 2.5 hrs. north to Parks Highway until the end of Talkeetna Spur Rd.
By rail: 3 hours, 10 minutes, depart Anchorage 8:15am, return leaves Talkeetna 4:40pm.
Seward Ocean Charter
Ocean/saltwater fishing • Day trip by car or train • Multi-species charters available • Lots to do in the town
If your cruise disembarks in Seward, or if you're going there for a glacier cruise or other sightseeing, then this is a good choice. Ocean boats are more spacious than river boats. The flip side is you stay on the boat the whole time. You probably won't mind since the scenery on the ocean is majestic: huge mountains and glaciers in the background; whales, porpoises, sea otters and other marine wildlife in the foreground.
$225+ for a half-day | $350+ for a full day of guided fishing.
By car: Drive south 2.5 hrs. on the Seward Highway to the end (126 miles).
By rail: 4 hr, 20 min., depart Anchorage 6:45am, arrive Seward 11:05am. Return leaves Seward 6:00pm.
Homer Ocean Charter
While Homer offers year-round saltwater salmon fishing, it's too far from Anchorage to go for salmon fishing alone.
Fly-in From Anchorage
Convenient, more solitude, better fishing
35 min floatplane ride
Kenai River Charter
Drift downriver, fish from the boat or riverbank
Popular river, but guides take you to less crowded areas
2.5 hr. drive south
Talkeetna River Charter
Motorboat ride upriver to fishing holes
Smaller salmon than the Kenai
2.5 hr. drive north, 3 hr. train, 40 min flight
Seward Ocean Charter
Fish from enclosed oceangoing motorboats
Slight risk of seasickness
2.5 hr. drive south