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Fishing In Alaska: Steelhead

Fishing In Alaska: Steelhead

The Steelhead is a type of rainbow trout that can be found off the coast of Alaska and inland, depending on the time of year. The current steelhead record is 42 lbs – 3 oz, and was caught by David White at Bell Island in 1970.

If you choose to go steelhead fishing in Alaska, you will most likely find these powerful and athletic fish in coastal streams along the eastern panhandle, Alaska Peninsula and the Gulf of Alaska. You can fish successfully for steelhead in Alaska between spring and autumn, but location varies from offshore to inland rivers, depending on spawning runs.

One of the best times to fish for steelhead in Alaska is during the autumn. As the cold weather sets in, many of the rivers and lakes in Alaska begin to freeze over, and this leads to a sizeable number of fully grown steelhead migrating to a few small rivers, mostly located on the Southern Kenai Peninsula.

If you go steelhead fishing in Alaska at this time of year, it is these rivers that will provide you with the best sport fishing, with steelheads that are mature and aggressive.  The best rivers for steelhead fishing in Alaska, particularly in the autumn are Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, Anchor River, Crooked Creek and the Ninilchik River. Many of these creeks and rivers are quite shallow and you can wade across most of them. As far as width is concerned, some are less than 15 yards. Although the water is typically brown in colour, it is clear and the depth is usually no more than 4 feet.

However, this does not mean that it is easy to see or to catch steelheads in these creeks. There is considerable cover provided by rocks, deadfall and various plant life, and these fish are clever and quite strong. Fishing regulations mean that you are only permitted to use artificial lures and not bait. As the steelheads are mostly feeding on young salmon at this time of year, it is best to use an egg imitation lure. It is important to weight this lure properly, so that it perfectly imitates the movement of a floating egg. You may also choose to try imitation salmon flesh, as there are many salmon carcasses washed down through these creeks once the spawning period is over.

If you are steelhead fishing in Alaska, it is best to familiarise yourself with the local restrictions and regulations. The most important thing for a visiting angler to be aware of is that all steelhead fishing on any of the rivers on the Kenai Peninsula are strictly catch and release.