Fishing and Hunting
The biggest challenge for visiting fishermen is the sheer number and variety of fishing opportunities available.
Hunting and fishing are popular sports in the North and a way of life for many residents. Both resident and nonresident sportfishermen and hunters must be aware of rules and regulations before going out in the field. Failure to comply with Fish & Game regulations can result in monetary fines and loss of trophies or property.
Regulation booklets are available from the government sources listed and linked below and may also be found at a variety of different outlets, including outdoor stores like Bass Pro Shops in Anchorage. Visitors will also find all the outdoor gear they need, from fishing poles to kayaks, guns and ammo.
A non-resident annual sport fishing license is $145. Nonresidents may also purchase 1-day sport fishing licenses ($20), 3-day licenses ($35), 7-day licenses ($55) and 14-day licenses ($80). To fish for king salmon, residents and nonresidents must also purchase a King Salmon Stamp. An annual resident king salmon stamp is $10. Nonresidents fees are: $10 for a 1-day stamp, $20 for 3 days, $30 for 7 days, $50 for 14 days, and $100 for an annual nonresident King Salmon Stamp.
Salmon are the most popular sport fish in Alaska, with all 5 species of Pacific salmon found here: king (chinook), silver (coho), pink (humpy), chum (dog) and red (sockeye). Other sport fish include halibut, rainbow and steelhead, Dolly Varden and arctic char, arctic grayling, cutthroat and brook trout, northern pike and lake trout.
Knowing the kind of fish and fishing you want may help plan your trip. For example, king salmon fishing in Southeast is restricted to salt water, but cutthroat are common on the mainland and every major island in Southeast. Alaska’s Interior has the largest arctic grayling fishery in North America. Northern pike is the most sought-after indigenous sport fish in Interior Alaska after the arctic grayling. These fish are the main sport fish species in the Tanana River drainage.
Excellent fishing is available north or south within a day’s drive of Anchorage. The Kenai Peninsula offers streams where king, red, silver, pink and chum salmon may be caught during the summer. Dolly Varden, steelhead and rainbow also run in Peninsula streams. Several lakes contain trout and landlocked salmon. In-season saltwater fishing for halibut, rockfish and several salmon species is excellent at many spots along the Peninsula and out of Whittier, Homer, Seward and Valdez. Because of the importance of fishing to Alaska, both commercially and for sport, regulations are updated yearly by the state and are strictly enforced, so it is wise to obtain a current regulations book. Go to the ADF&G home page, and click on Licenses & Permits at the bottom of the Fishing & Hunting category list.
Most fishing enthusiasts focus their trips between April and October, when the weather is milder, but anglers have great success during the colder months as well. The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game Sport Fish Division gives a run timing for all fisheries by region. Also check local newspapers for ADF&G regional fishing updates.
There is a long tradition of harvesting shellfish in Alaska. However, shellfish harvested in Alaska waters can contain the toxin causing PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning). This includes clams, mussels, oysters, cockles, geoducks and scallops. Crabmeat is not known to contain the toxin causing PSP, but crab viscera can contain unsafe levels of toxin and should be discarded.
According to the Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services, the toxin that causes PSP cannot be cooked, cleaned or frozen out of shellfish. Early signs of PSP include tingling of the lips and tongues, which may progress to tingling of fingers and toes, loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty breathing. PSP can be fatal in as little as 2 hours.
Alaska Fishing Reports by Management Area
Both resident and nonresident sport fishermen must be aware of rules and regulations before going out in the field. Failure to comply with Fish & Game regulations can result in monetary fines and loss of trophies or property. Regulation booklets are available online. Licenses and permits are also available online.
Game fish in northwestern Canada include arctic char and grayling, trout, burbot, Dolly Varden, lake trout, inconnu and pike. How and where to catch fish, lists of stocked lakes and details at the following sites:
Alberta Fish & Game: Sustainable Resource Development, Information Centre, phone 800-310-3773 or 780-944-0313 outside of North America; visit their website read regulations online or order a print copy.
British Columbia Fish & Game: Fish & Wildlife Branch, Ministry of Environment, P.O. Box 9391, Stn. Prov. Govt., Victoria, BC V8W 9M8; phone 1-877-855-3222; click Hunting information categories for information on hunting.
Hunting in Alaska
Nonresident hunters in Alaska must be accompanied by a registered guide or a close relative over 19 who is an Alaskan resident, when hunting brown bear, Dall sheep or mountain goats. A resident annual hunting licenses is $25. An annual non-resident hunting license is $85.
A combined annual hunting and sport fishing license is $48 for residents or a cost of $230 for nonresidents. Nonresidents may also purchase the combined license for 1-day ($105), 3 days ($120), 7 days ($140) and 14 days ($165).
There are 26 game management units in Alaska and a wide variation in both seasons and bag limits for various species. Check for special regulations in each unit.
Big game includes black and brown/grizzly bears, deer, elk, mountain goats, moose, wolves and wolverines, caribou, Dall sheep, musk-oxen and bison. Big game tags are required for residents hunting musk-ox and brown/grizzly bear and for nonresidents hunting any big game animal. These nonrefundable, nontransferable metal locking tags (valid for the calendar year) must be purchased prior to the taking of the animal. A tag may be used for any species for which the tag fee is of equal or lesser value. Examples of non-resident tag prices: brown/grizzly bear/$500, Dall sheep/$425, and mountain goat/$300.
Small game animals include grouse, ptarmigan and hares. Fur animals that may be hunted are the coyote, fox and lynx. Waterfowl are also abundant. There is no recreational hunting of polar bear, walrus or other marine animals.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation has an entire web section devoted to providing information for hunters/trappers. Go to and find Trapping in the Hunting subhead menu.