If you’re looking for a great location to experience world-class Alaska salmon fishing, then look no further than Kodiak Island, Alaska. In this blog article, we’ll have a look at the many freshwater salmon fishing opportunities on Kodiak and what to expect. Kodiak Island offers anglers some of the finest freshwater and salt-water fishing in all of Alaska. Whether you’re a fly fisherman or spin fisherman, and no matter what you’re experience and skill level may be, anglers can enjoy a wide variety of fishing opportunities on Kodiak, both on the road system, and more so, in the remote areas of the island. While high pressure, “combat fishing” can occur somewhat on certain rivers at certain times of the year, the crowds and competition on Kodiak waters are a mere fraction as compared to popular fishing locations on the mainland of Alaska. And, with an experienced guide or a trip to a remote location, you can get away from the crowds completely and experience a great deal of solitude while enjoying some of the best salmon fishing in the world.
Even though the Kodiak Island road system is rather small and limited, there are still ten primary rivers and drainages and several adjoining lakes that support healthy runs of salmon, with some rivers having runs of all five species of Pacific salmon. Another great fishing opportunity on Kodiak, although it technically classifies as salt-water fishing, is pursuing salmon along the many beaches near the river mouths.
With a few exceptions, the road system rivers are easily accessible, and under normal water conditions, they’re easy to wade and don’t require long, complicated casting or specialized gear. A quality set of hip or chest waders will get you into some great locations with very little competition as compared to the rivers of the mainland of Alaska.
Off of the road system, there are dozens of rivers and drainages all around the island that likewise support healthy runs of all five species of Pacific salmon, including the legendary Karluk and Ayakulik Rivers. There are many remote lodges around the island, as well as public use cabins, where fishermen can experience the spectacular wilderness of Kodiak while again enjoying world-class fishing. If you’re interested in a single day trip out to a remote river or lake, there are many different air taxi services and fishing guides who offer half or full-day fishing adventures.
As far as what time of year to plan your fishing adventure on Kodiak Island, it all depends on what species of salmon you’d like to pursue. Below is an overview of what time of year the different species of salmon typically begin their spawning runs into the freshwater rivers and creeks around the island. Keep in mind though, this can vary somewhat from year to year depending on weather, water levels, and other environmental factors. Also, keep in mind that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will sometimes completely close certain rivers to sport fishing, or greatly reduce or increase daily limits, depending on how strong the run of fish is. So be sure to check with the Kodiak Island Fish and Game Office to stay up to date with any changes that may affect your proposed fishing adventure.
The only two rivers on Kodiak that have naturally occurring runs of king salmon are the Karluk and Ayakulik rivers on the far south end of the island. Unfortunately, due to low numbers of king returns in recent years, as is the case all over Alaska, these rivers are mostly closed to king fishing. In 1999 a king salmon stocking project was initiated on the Kodiak road system, primarily for the Olds and American Rivers and Monshaka Creek. But again, unfortunately, these king fisheries also have greatly declined in recent years. Nonetheless, when kings do make their way into these rivers, and they are open to fishing, they typically can be caught from June through early July. Fishermen must possess a king salmon stamp if planning to pursue and possess king salmon.
There are several opportunities to catch sockeye or “red” salmon both on and off the road system. Reds typically start showing up in the rivers from late May and the run peaks in mid-July.
Pinks are the most abundant salmon species in Kodiak and can be caught all around the island primarily from mid to late July through mid-August.
The chum salmon run on Kodiak generally occurs at about the same time as the pink salmon, though just a little earlier in some rivers, with the peak of the run lasting between mid to late July through August.
The silver salmon is the last to enter the rivers throughout Kodiak and spectacular silver fishing can be experienced all around the island from mid to late August through mid-October.
Additional Freshwater Fishing Opportunities
Along with world-class salmon fishing opportunities around Kodiak, one can also purse Dolly varden on most rivers, as well as rainbow trout and even fantastic steelhead fishing on select rivers such as the Ayakulik and Karluk. Lots more information can be found at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website, or by contacting the Kodiak Fish and Game office directly. I’ve also made many videos about Kodiak fishing which you can check out at the Wild Revelation Youtube channel.
What to Expect
As I mentioned earlier, the fishing on Kodiak is generally much more relaxed and way less crowded compared to the combat fishing chaos that occurs on the many big, popular rivers of the mainland of Alaska. However, there are still many challenges and factors to be aware of, most especially the weather. Those beautiful, bluebird days of an Alaska summer that everyone enjoys and looks forward to are quite often hard to come by on Kodiak. What makes the “Emerald Isle” of Kodiak so emerald green is rain…and lots of it! And make no mistake, we get it…sometimes for days and weeks on end, which can make fishing quite miserable, or even next to impossible due to flooding.
Having to face torrential downpours and 50 mph winds while fishing a Kodiak river is not uncommon at all. However, as we say in Alaska, “There’s no such thing as a bad day, just bad gear.” So please note that high-quality rain and wind gear, and a healthy, adventurous attitude are a must for getting the most out of time spent fishing in a place like Kodiak Island.
Along with the weather sabotaging a fishing trip on Kodiak, the bugs can also make things a little challenging at times. So be sure to bring along a fine mesh head net, wear quality clothing, and use the appropriate bug repellant. And finally, along with the tiny pests that can ruin a day on the water, you also need to be aware of the big, furry critters that can become an issue. Kodiak Island is of course famous for the Kodiak bear, the largest brown bear in the world, who just like human fishermen, spend lots of time along the rivers pursuing salmon. So being “bear aware” at all times and practicing proper bear safety measures are a must while fishing on Kodiak. These are all topics that I’ve made many videos about and again, you can learn more at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.
So there you have it my friends, that’s a quick overview of freshwater salmon fishing on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Check out the video below to see and learn more…