Just steps from downtown and the Alaska Railroad depot, Ship Creek in Anchorage attracts locals and visitors hoping to land a trophy-size Chinook salmon, otherwise known as king salmon. A unique location, Ship Creek offers anglers the opportunity to catch a 20-30 pound king salmon right in town. Discover a few helpful hints for reeling one in.

Know the Rules

  • King salmon can be caught at Ship Creek from January 1 through July 13, with the run starting in the middle of May and peaking in June.

  • King salmon with a length of 20 inches or longer are limited to one per day (in possession) with a combined annual limit of five, plus you may not fish for any species of fish that same day in waters open to king salmon sport fishing. King salmon with a length less than 20 inches are limited to 10 per day (in possession). See current sport fish regulations from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

  • When releasing fish, you must not remove it from the water before releasing it.

  • Any retained fish must be recorded on your Sport Fishing Annual Harvest Record Card immediately (bring a pen).

Be Prepared

Plan a successful fishing trip with the right essentials. A stop in Big Ray’s or 6th Avenue Outfitters downtown will help travelers find the right gear. The Bait Shack, located on the banks of Ship Creek, rents fly rods, spinning rods, and casting rods as well as waders, bait, and tackle. Resident and non-resident fishing licenses are also available.


Cook Inlet has the second-highest tidal range in North America, and Ship Creek flows from it, so timing when fishing is everything. You don’t need two or three days to catch a king salmon, you just need just three hours at the right time of day. “The best chance at catching a king is to be flexible,” said Dustin Slinker, owner of The Bait Shack. Slinker suggests calling ahead to find out what the fish run looks like, as the tides can change quickly. 

Plan a visit in June to participate in the salmon derby, hosted by The Bait Shack.

Once you’ve caught your king salmon, you’ll find several local businesses offering freeze, pack, and ship services. More info >

Learn more about the types of Alaska salmon and their life cycles with a visit to the William Jack Hernandez Fish Hatchery.