Best Alaska fishing is a tough designation to have to make. For many the short answer is, “It depends.” But it is a certainty that if we’re talking about the best Alaska saltwater fishing, the answer for many is Sitka.
Sitka lies on the protected east side of Sitka Sound and is roughly 15 miles from the open Pacific Ocean. Fishing is possible in the Sitka area year-round, but the period that is most productive in is from May through September. One of the great things about Sitka is there is a lot of protected water if the weather takes a turn for the worst. There is almost always an option, regardless of what the weather is doing.
Huge numbers of all five species of Pacific salmon native to North America pass by Cape Edgecumbe on their way south to spawning streams in southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. If you look at a map of southeast Alaska, you’ll see that Cape Edgecumbe sticks out into the Pacific a little farther than the rest of the coastline, and this structure funnels and concentrates both baitfish and salmon. Sitka is smack-dab in the middle of the West Coast’s salmon superhighway. This geographical location is a big reason why Sitka is considered by many to be the best Alaska fishing location there is. It’s not too far north, and not too far south along the salmon’s migration route. There is a reason so many commercial salmon fisherman base out of Sitka.
Chinook are present all year in various age-classes. They tend to stick around the Sitka area because of the attractive structure and baitfish that are present. Pinks and coho begin to show up in catches in July. By mid-August, pinks, coho and chums are plentiful. Coho fishing continues into September. What’s more, there is a six-fish-per-day limit for salmon other than Chinook. It is not uncommon to hook Chinook, coho, pinks and chums on the same day in August while fishing Sitka saltwater.
Of course, to deserve the label of best Alaska fishing, there has to be more than just fantastic salmon fishing. Sitka has excellent angling for halibut, lingcod, sablefish (black cod), and numerous rockfish species. If one of your goals is to load up a couple fish boxes to take home, Sitka is one of the best Alaska ports at which to do it. Anglers fishing from charter boats are allowed one halibut per day up to 50 inches long, or one over 72 inches long. A 50-inch halibut weighs about 60 pounds. Typical yield from a fish this size is about 40 pounds of fillets. Both inside and outside of Sitka sound are numerous humps, flats, pinnacles and ledges providing outstanding bottomfish habitat.
If you’re looking for a scenic saltwater port with outstanding fishing for salmon, halibut and other bottomfish, Sitka should be at the top of your list.