The most plentiful salmon species in Bristol Bay is Sockeye salmon. In fact, this salmon fishery holds approximately 46 per cent of the world’s wild Sockeye salmon. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the annual average inshore run of Sockeye in this region was approximately 37.5 million fish between 1990 and 2010. Half of this salmon fishery is from the Nushagak River and Kvichak River watersheds. Both of these rivers are accessible through Alaska fishing lodges.

All five species of salmon can be found on a salt water fishing charter, but most Alaska fishing resorts offer fly fishing opportunities. Your fishing guide can take you to the most productive fishing grounds, depending on the season of your fishing vacation.

If you want to land a trophy King salmon, visit from mid-June to mid-July. Chum salmon arrive earlier in June and can be caught through July. This is the best time to fish for Sockeye and Pink salmon as well. Silver salmon arrives a little later in July, but can be caught well into the fall.

The legendary rivers of Bristol Bay also offer rainbow trout, arctic char, grayling and Dolly Varden, though some Alaska fly fishing lodges practice catch and release for these species. It is best to ask about this when you book your Alaska fishing vacation. Salmon, on the other hand, can be caught up to your legal limits, processed, packed and shipped home at your request.

A Natural Treasure to Preserve

Vibrant blue inlets, fish-rich rivers and thick green forests lie before a dramatic, mountainous backdrop. The scenery at Bristol Bay will take your breath away.

Preserving this remarkable wilderness is an important part of the culture here. Bristol Bay is home to Wood-Tikchik State Park, the largest and most remote state park in the United States. The purpose of this 1.6-million-acre park is to protect the area’s fish and wildlife breeding and support systems. Doing this helps preserve the continued use of the area for recreational activities, like sustainable Alaska salmon fishing.

Wood-Tikchik State Park has over 12 lakes that take up over 1,000 acres, rivers up to 60 miles long and mountains reaching over 5,000 feet above sea level. Wood-Tikchik offers some of the finest sport fishing in Alaska among other outdoor activities including canoeing, kayaking, hiking and snowmobiling in the winter.

Katmai National Park and Preserve is also located in the area. This park is named after Mount Katmai, a volcano located in the park’s centre, and was established to protect this volcanically devastated region. Katmai National Park and Preserve is home to 18 volcanos, seven of which have been active since 1900, and the famous Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. The park also protects important habitat for salmon and thousands of Alaska brown bears.


See the Bristol Bay Explore page for our picks for the best fishing vacations in the region.