Fresh Water Resident Species
Upper Mat-Su Valley Rainbow
The Rainbow Trout has attracted many fishermen to Alaska. Much like their bigger cousins, they have silvery sides with a horizontal pinkish band that varies in intensity in different populations and locations. The back is bluish to greenish with black spots on the back and sides. September is prime time to target this fish as it is spending all of its time gorging on Eggs and Flesh from spawning salmon. The Rainbow Trout is revered for its strength and leaping abilities. Having one on the end of your line generally brings many screaming runs, as well as jumps, cartwheels, and broken tippets. Bringing one of these beauties to the net is often a feat in and of itself, this fish is smart as it finds every way to get off your line that one can think of. Rocks, Brush, and bad knots will prevent you from landing this resident species.
Steelhead from the Situk
Steelhead Trout, Alaska’s ultimate freshwater game fish, is one of the most sought after sport fish this state has to offer. A Steelhead Trout is essentially a Rainbow Trout that spends part of its life in the ocean. Steelheads are more slender and streamlined than resident rainbow, but like a rainbow, the coloration on the back is basically blue-green shading to olive with black, regularly spaced spots. Often the case in distinguishing the two species is the lack of spots below the lateral line, but this isn’t always the case. Unlike salmon, steelheads commonly spawn more than once, and fish over 28 inches are almost always repeat spawners. The ragged and spent spawners move slowly downstream to the sea, and the spawning, rainbow colors of spring return to a bright silvery hue once back into the ocean. These fish are sought after by many fishermen due to their large size and feisty attitudes.
Kenai River Dolly Varden
Dolly Varden are one of the most underappreciated fish in all Alaskan water systems. These fish are most often the “bycatch” while fishing for Rainbows. Dollies fight like brutes, most often staying down in the water column while on the end of your line. Dolly Varden belong to a group of fish called char.The back and sides are olive green or muddy gray, shading to white on the belly. The body has scattered pale yellow or pinkish-yellow spots. There are no black spots or wavy lines on the body or fins. Small red spots are often present on the lower sides. The light spots on their sides distinguish them from most trout and salmon which are usually black spotted or speckled. Despite their reputation as junk fish, fishing for this species will definitely make for a fun day on the water.
Huge Grayling from Nome
The Arctic Grayling, otherwise known as the sailfish of the north, is best known for its huge dorsal fin it grows as it gets bigger. For most sport fishers in America, the Arctic grayling is a rare freshwater game fish representative of the clear, cold streams of most of Alaska. A strikingly colored fish, the back is purple to blue-black or blue-grey with sides of a pinkish iridescence having a number of V-shaped or diamond shaped spots. One of the most voracious feeders, more often than not this fish can be caught regularly using dry flies of various hatches throughout all of Alaska. This fish can be found in many streams and drainages throughout Alaska. Due to its enormous appetite, it’s not uncommon that if you find yourself on a well populated Grayling stream, catching fish on virtually every cast is not unheard of.
Kozebue produces some sweet sheefish
The Sheefish (inconnu) is the largest member of the whitefish subfamily (family Salmonidae; subfamily Coregoninae). Sheefish are white or silvery in color without spots or other markings and have very large scales. The lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw and the mouth is full of small densely-packed teeth. They can grow to a large size. In the Selawik-Kobuk area of Alaska, sheefish may weigh up to 60 lbs and be over 42 inches in length. In other areas of Alaska, particularly in interior rivers, they tend to be much smaller.
Big toothy from Minto Flats
Northern Pike are known to bite off more than can chew. These voracious feeders strike fast, often using an ambush technique to attack your fly or lure. Often found in backwater sloughs and lakes, this fish often lays in waiting for its food to swim by. Northern pike are most often olive green, shading into yellow to white along the belly. Along with the light spots against its dark body, this fish carries some serious weapons, teeth. The teeth on this are so sharp; you most often need to use a steel leader to land them. Having such large teeth enable these fish to feed like carnivores, this gives this fish the nickname of Water Wolf and Slough Shark.
Costal Cutty near Yakutat
The coastal cutthroat trout also known as the sea run cutthroat, or harvest trout are a subspecies of cutthroat trout with an anadromous life history. Adults migrate from the ocean to spawn in fresh water. Juveniles migrate to the sea where they feed and become sexually mature before returning to fresh water to overwinter and spawn. Unlike steelhead and other pacific salmon, coastal cutthroat do not make lengthy migrations out to sea. they will remain in or near estuarine waters, usually within 5–10 mi of their natal stream. Some cutthroats, however, have been shown to move as far as 70 mi into the open ocean.
Laker from the Interior Region
Lake trout hold the title of being Alaska's largest freshwater fish. They belong to the char family of fish. Two close relatives of lake trout, which can also inhabit the same waters, are Dolly Varden and Arctic char. We target these fish primarly during the winter months for our ice fishing season. Lake Lousie and Harding Lake both provide a great opportunity for a lunker fish. Try using white tube jigs or cut bait herring (when allowed) The use of fish finders or portable electronic transducers greatly enhances your abilities in catching fish in the deeper depths.
Burbot (Lota Lota) are a fresh water cod which can be found in both rivers and lakes. Fish typically average in size from two to six pounds, however the Alaska state record is almost 25 pounds. The fish can easily be targeted at night in shallow depths since that is the prime time for movement to feed and forage. Their lobster like tasty flesh has them often referred to by anglers as "poor man's lobster". Popular set lining or set pole techniques for subsistence fishing is widely practiced in the Interior region.
In Alaska, all known populations of Arctic char appear to spend their entire lives in lakes and do not migrate. Anadromous populations of Arctic char have not been observed in Alaska. In Alaska, Arctic char are often confused with a closely-related species, Dolly Varden, since Dolly Varden have similar coloration and inhabit the same locations as Arctic char. In many cases, definitively distinguishing Arctic char from a Dolly Varden requires close examination of several body structures. Generally speaking however, Arctic char tend to have fewer and larger spots, a more deeply-forked tail, and a narrower caudal peduncle (the area before the tail fin) than Dolly Varden. They can be targeted in lakes using the same techniques fishing for other trout species.