How to Catch a Salmon a Short Walk From an Anchorage Hotel
Five species of salmon run in Anchorage rivers and streams in the summer. And while there are plenty of remote spots to cast, one of the best is surprisingly close. Wet a line without getting in a vehicle. There's a big spot for salmon just a short walk away, if you plan it right.
Pick a hotel
There are many salmon streams in Anchorage, and Ship Creek is the most accessible. The creek is downtown just north of First Avenue. There are many convenient places to stay in the downtown neighborhood. You'll have inns, hotels and B&Bs to choose from; approximately 40 percent of the city's available rooms are in the neighborhood.
Get a license
There are two main species of salmon in Ship Creek: king salmon (also known as chinook) in mid-May and June and silver salmon (also called coho) from mid-July to September. On even-numbered years, pink salmon return to Ship Creek as well. If you’re fishing for silvers or pinks, all you need is a one-day license. If you’re fishing for kings, you’ll need to purchase a king stamp as well. Three, seven, and 14-day licenses are also available if you plan to fish more during the trip. Most outdoor stores, and even many gas stations and grocery stores sell licenses.
Rent fishing gear
If you didn't bring your own rod and tackle, don't worry. Rentals are available at Ship Creek from the Bait Shack. Alaska Outdoor Gear Rental also delivers outdoor gear rentals to Anchorage hotels. For Ship Creek you'll want a spinning rod, not a fly rod. A pair of waterproof rubber boots is enough to fish from the bank, get hip or chest waders if you want to move farther out. Ask the shop for tackle recommendations; Vibrax spinners and Pixees are popular choices, sometimes with fresh salmon roe. A tide table booklet comes in handy too...
Know the tides
Most Ship Creek salmon are caught about two hours before high tide, or an hour after high tide. Plan to be on the creek as the tide comes in and immediately after for the best chances. There are about 13 hours between high tides.
Find a spot
Start at King's Landing, the pavilion near the Ulu Factory. Ship Creek is open to salmon fishing from the mouth to the creek to the viewing platform upstream. If you pass by a bridge with green metal railing, you are too far upstream. Once you've started casting, you'll realize just how close to the city you are.
"Fish on!" is the universal announcement that you've hooked a fish. It helps nearby anglers know you've got one on the line and avoid crossing lines as the fish fights.
Document your catch
If it's a king, mark your license as soon as you land the fish. Time to take a bow, you've earned it! There are plenty of people that come to Ship Creek just to watch the action. If the derby is on, take your king up to the plaza to be weighed. Salmon in Ship Creek average around 20 pounds, but some tip the scales at close to 40. You could have a contender.
Clean and ship
You caught one! Now what?!? There are cleaning tables over the creek to clean and gut, or you can take it to a seafood shop and let the pros clean and package everything for you. They can even ship the catch home.
There are plenty of chefs making the most of Alaska’s bounty. Bridge Seafood spans the creek and specializes in local fish and crab. Dine and watch your new fishing buddies at the same time. Many other seafood restaurants and sushi spots feature fresh Alaska salmon too.