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:
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.
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
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!)
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.
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!”
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.