Bristol bay Alaska fishing

Alaska has the largest salmon run in the world

Fall spawning for Sockeye Salmon starts earlier in Alaska than the rest of their distribution. Winter, for much of Alaska starts in August with summer being more ‘fall like’. The exception is the coast of Alaska that dips into British Columbia which has a much more temperate climate.


With that being said the Sockeye Salmon spawning begins as early as May, but continues right up until September.


Why focus on Alaska for your fishing trips at this time of year when much of their spawning occurs in spring and summer?

  1. The techniques used to catch sockeye salmon during the May through September spawning run are the same techniques used to catch Sockeye Salmon in the rest of their distribution in the fall.
  2. Alaska is home to the largest Salmon run in the world.

Bristol Bay Fishing

Close to 40 million Sockeye Salmon have been known to spawn in Bristol Bay which is located in southwestern Alaska. Although most seasons see between 10 to 30 million. It’s such a stunning sight to see endless masses of salmon swimming by.


However despite the large numbers of Sockeye Salmon and other salmon species that spawn in Bristol Bay, there are catch limits in place to prevent the populations from being decimated.


In 2011, Bristol Bay saw a run of 30.3 million sockeye salmon and a catch of 21.9 million, well below the preseason run forecast of 38.5 million sockeye and catch forecast of 28.5 million fish. However this staggering number of spawning salmon is only 14th out of the last 20 years.

Bristol Bay Geography and

Bristol Bay is located in the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea, and is 400 km/250 miles.


Good rivers for fishing for Sockeye Salmon include the Egegik, Igushik, Kvichak, Meshik, Nushagak, Naknek, Togiak, and Ugashik rivers.


The bay is also known for having the eight highest tides in the world, rising as much as 30 feet from low tide to high tide.

Sockeye Fishing Tips

Baits and Lures

  • For bait fishing, use herring, anchovies or squid. Herring should be the easiest to locate.
  • For fishing with lures, spoons work very well and both baits and lures should be cast to run alongside the spawning salmon to get them to strike out of anger because you’re getting too close.

Plan, plan, plan. Alaska is a remote wilderness. While it’s firmly attached to North America, it functions more like a remote Arctic Island. Many fishing locations can only reached by boat and float plane.


When planning a fishing trip to Alaska our biggest tip is to book your trip with a well known lodge that has its own boats and access to a sea plane.


You should check to see if they’re able to provide you with all the gear as you’ll be limited as to how much gear you will be able to bring along on the plane.


These are basic necessities you’ll need to take

  1. Waders or boots that have an excellent grip or spikes. You’ll find it can be slippery when wading over rocks
  2. Life jacket and wader belt – you should put these on while fishing
  3. Polarized sunglasses – wear these to help see the fish and underwater hazards

Exercise caution as these fishing conditions can be hazardous.