Alaska Dolly Varden Fishing Spots

Dolly Varden are a delicate fish that are usually referred to as trout, but are actually in the char family. They typically spend some of their life in the ocean, although there are land-locked varieties. Here are some of the places you can make your catch:

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Dolly Varden Fishing Spots

This spot in Ster­ling — at mile­post 82.3 at the Isaak Wal­ton Camp­ground — is where the Moose Riv­er meets the Kenai Riv­er, and the two rivers’ dif­fer­ing paces are dras­tic. The Moose Riv­er is very slow and wide, with almost no cur­rent — so much so that it feels more like a lake. The Kenai Riv­er, on the oth­er hand, flows fair­ly swift­ly in com­par­i­son, and the con­flu­ence can play strange tricks on your tackle. 

Stop at Long Lake, at mile 45.2, to see a pop­u­lar spot for sock­eye salmon to spawn. Every year, 18,000 sock­eye salmon swim up the Chiti­na and Cop­per Rivers to spawn in Long Lake. This is a very unique run, salmon begin enter­ing the lake as late as Sep­tem­ber and spawn until April. 

This unique fish­ery, about 25 miles north of Anchor­age, is com­prised of a small, arti­fi­cial eddy of water that comes down from a pow­er plant and con­nects to the main stem, Knik Riv­er. The glacial-fed water looks murky and blue-gray, and there’s very lit­tle cur­rent. While you won’t find much soli­tude here, you can usu­al­ly find a spot to set up a lawn chair for some lazy fish­ing. There’s abun­dant park­ing, too, as well as restrooms. 

This fish-filled creek rush­es out from Far North Bicen­ten­ni­al Park and through the cen­ter of town. Cast for rain­bow trout, Dol­ly Var­den, or sil­ver salmon-all with­in walk­ing dis­tance of your car. Throw on a pair of hip-waders and head up the creek or angle from the shore­line trail. Direc­tions: Park at one of the lots on Camp­bell Airstrip Rd. to access the creek from Far North Bicen­ten­ni­al Park, or head west on 76th off of Old Seward to King…  ...more

This spot, just north of Ster­ling, is pri­mar­i­ly a boat launch, but it also offers excel­lent sock­eye fish­ing. It’s locat­ed at the end of Bing’s Land­ing Road: There’s a park­ing lot, but when the fish­ing is hot, you can expect to park along­side the road, up to half a mile away from the boat launch site. (Anoth­er rea­son you might park on the road: The lot near the boat launch has a fee.)

This con­flu­ence is one of the most pop­u­lar fish­eries in South Cen­tral Alas­ka. Locat­ed about 60 miles north of Anchor­age on the Parks High­way, it offers excel­lent fish­ing for four of the major salmon species: kings, sil­vers, chums and pinks. It also fea­tures big rain­bows (up to 30 inch­es) and Dol­ly Var­den, as well as Arc­tic Grayling. You’ll also find, in small num­bers, bur­bot and whitefish. 

Fish for Arc­tic Grayling and Dol­ly Varden. 

Locat­ed down Beaver Loop Road, just out­side of Kenai, Cun­ning­ham Park is a great, easy-access loca­tion for sock­eye and sil­ver salmon. The shore­line here is a mix of grav­el and mud, with the mud being more preva­lent below the tidal zone. That said, this spot is very tidal depen­dent, so you’ll have to con­tin­u­al­ly adjust your bait set­up as the water ris­es or falls. 

This spot is par­tic­u­lar­ly good for any­one who’s mobil­i­ty impaired, since you access the riv­er by a flat, met­al board­walk — and the actu­al fish­ing area is also from the board­walk. This makes Moose Mead­ows one of a very few places where anglers can fish for sock­eye with­out hav­ing to be in the water — you can do excel­lent even from a wheel chair. 

Run­ning through the heart of Gird­wood, Glac­i­er Creek is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion. You can fish, pack­raft, or sim­ply stop and admire the view on your walk through Gird­wood. You can also take the Gird­wood por­tion of the Idi­tar­od Nation­al His­tor­i­cal Trail along­side the creek. Most of the fish you’ll find in Glac­i­er Creek are Pink, Coho, and King Salmon. You might also find some Steel­head Trout and Dol­ly Varden.   ...more

Res­ur­rec­tion Creek right in down­town Hope offers some of the best pink salmon fish­ing in the region dur­ing the late sum­mer run. Known as a great spot for kids to hook their first salmon. 

The Nick Dudi­ak Fish­ing Lagoon (aka The Fish­ing Hole) is a pop­u­lar park with both locals and vis­i­tors. The lagoon is stocked with fry that grow up to pro­vide sport fish­ing. The fish­ing hole has a hand­i­capped acces­si­ble plat­form and ramp. King salmon return mid-May to ear­ly July fol­lowed by an ear­ly run of sil­vers mid-July to ear­ly August and a late run ear­ly August to mid-September.

Ever gone ice fish­ing? Cari­bou lake is a great place to enjoy this cold and unique expe­ri­ence. You can spend a qui­et day to your­self, fish­ing for Dol­ly Var­den and Koka­nee. Or if you’re feel­ing more com­pet­i­tive, you can par­tic­i­pate in the Sno­mad’s (Home­r’s snow machine club) annu­al ice fish­ing con­test. (Either way, dress in warm lay­ers and be pre­pared to sit or stand in the cold!)

King salmon enter Deep Creek dur­ing late May and ear­ly June and con­tin­ue to spawn into ear­ly July. Watch for their dark red bod­ies in the rif­fles and deep­er holes. A very lim­it­ed fish­ing sea­son is pro­vid­ed dur­ing the ear­ly sum­mer for kings and steelheads.

This trib­u­tary of the Kenai Riv­er flows along­side the Ster­ling High­way, just north of Coop­er Land­ing (from mile­post 40 – 45). There are plen­ty of des­ig­nat­ed pull-offs along the high­way — like Quartz Creek Road, which leads to Kenai Lake, as well as the pop­u­lar access point at the Quartz Creek Bridge.

King salmon enter dur­ing late-May and ear­ly-June and there are always some fish spawn­ing in areas near the high­way dur­ing ear­ly-July. Wear polar­ized glass­es if you have them and watch for dark red kings in the rif­fles and deep­er holes. A very lim­it­ed fish­ing sea­son is avail­able on these streams dur­ing the ear­ly sum­mer for both salmon and steelhead.

This is one of the few spots along the road sys­tem where you might catch hal­ibut from the shore. Check out the beach, which sur­rounds the Land’s End Hotel, on the Homer Spit. Here, you’ll find a small park­ing lot, and the water’s only about 100 feet away.

SE on N Eagle Riv­er, SE on Eagle

Mile­post 17.7, Seward High­wayKe­nai Lake offered a flat tree­less path to trav­el in win­ter. This trail was one of two over­land routes to Sun­rise and Hope. (The oth­er over­land route was through Portage Pass.) Min­ers trav­eled by dogsled from Seward to Snow Riv­er and on to Kenai Lake. At the oth­er end of the 17 mile lake, trav­el­ers would fol­low Quartz Creek north through Tur­na­gain Pass along Canyon Creek to the gold rush towns of Sun­rise and Hope.  ...more

This riv­er flows past a prim­i­tive camp­site (first-come basis, free) and emp­ties into the bay. Only three miles long, the riv­er is fed by Lake Rose Tead, which is a prime spawn­ing area for sock­eye salmon. The riv­er also has runs of pink, chum, and sil­ver salmon, as well as Dol­ly Var­den. Fly fish­er­men love the chal­lenge of fish­ing in the tidal­ly-influ­enced low­er stretch of the riv­er; but spin­ner or fly cast­er, you’ll find good game in this…  ...more

When sil­ver salmon are run­ning up Mon­tana Creek by the thou­sands, fish­er­men are run­ning up the Parks High­way by the hun­dreds to go com­bat fish­ing.” They stand elbow to elbow along the creek, cast­ing their lines and catch­ing every­thing from fish to coat sleeves. Up and down the creek, you can hear peo­ple holler Fish on!”

This qui­et lit­tle pull­out is next to a small bab­bling brook filled with Dol­ly Var­den and Arc­tic Grayling. Dur­ing win­ter, the thick cov­er of wil­low along the riv­er is an impor­tant con­cen­tra­tion and feed­ing area for wil­low ptarmigan.

This is a great spot to fish for Dol­ly Var­den begin­ning in August.

Thou­sands of pink salmon con­verge on Indi­an Creek each July and August, just about fill­ing this shal­low, easy-flow­ing stream south of Anchor­age along Tur­na­gain Arm from bank-to-bank. This amaz­ing nat­ur­al spec­ta­cle occurs in one of the eas­i­est places to view spawn­ing salmon in the region: No steep banks, crys­tal clear water and fish so close they could almost be touched.