This swift, glacially-fed river delivers one of the top sports salmon fisheries in the Copper Basin, with productive bankside fishing for famed Copper River reds and decent opportunities to land a big king salmon. You’ll find good parking and direct access to public easements along the river in Copper Center. Many professional guides also operate in the community, usually doing trips upriver—highly recommended for anglers who want to max out chances of catching a king.
Watch this great video made by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game about how to fish the Klutina River.
Richardson Highway Bridge
Start by parking at the public boat launch area on the south side of the river, east side of the highway, about Mile 104.9. A pit toilet is usually present, with room for several dozen vehicles. An angler’s path goes upriver under the bridge and downriver toward the first of two private campgrounds. Depending upon the water level, you’ll find several excellent holes off gravel bars. Another more casual parking area can be found on the west side of the highway.
Old Richardson Highway Bridge
Inside the Copper Center community, anglers park along right-of-way on both sides of the bridge. An angler’s trail leads downriver along the south bank, eventually reaching the confluence of the Klutina with the Copper River. Wearing shin boots or waders will keep your feet dry while crossing feeder streams and pools. Be alert for bears.
Three Private Campgrounds
Two on south bank, one of north bank—hug the Klutina between the two highway bridges. Some of the most productive fishing holes—where you can work the river from dry ground in your hiking shoes—are limited to patrons staying in the respective campgrounds. Offshore gravel bars in mid-river will be open to the public but will require wading.
Go Upriver with a Guide
With many whitewater hazards, the Klutina River has a reputation as a challenging river to float or boat. The strong current can complicate finding and then landing a king salmon from the bank. Trying to travel up the Klutina Lake Trail to fishing holes is also complicated, with bankside access across private Ahtna Native Corp. land limited by geography or requiring a permit. As a result, most successful king anglers go upriver on a guided charter, often leaving at 4 am to 5 am and returning well before the sun grows high. Charters range from riding riverboats from Copper Center, to doing floats launched off the Klutina Lake Trail.