As we get closer to winter and the weather begins to drop, we can start preparing for the ice fishing season. In Alaska, you don’t have to wait long for the season to start – lakes will start freezing over in late October. So, for those looking to get out there and start ice fishing sooner rather than later, Alaska is an excellent place to start of the season.
Alaska is also great because many of the lakes here are perfect for beginners and experienced ice fishers alike. Alaska fishing is known for huge salmon and halibut. Today we are going to break down some of the best lakes and different types of fish that you can find in the beautiful state of Alaska.
Best Places for Ice Fishing in Alaska:
- Birch Lake
- Quartz Lake
- Harding Lake
- Scout Lake
- Jewel Lake
Birch Lake, only 59 miles south of Fairbanks, is a great lake for both experienced and new ice fishers alike. While it may not be home to the largest fish you will find, you won’t have a problem catching something because of the abundance of fish to catch. There are many different species of fish living in Birch Lake, like rainbow trout, coho salmon, chinook salmon, arctic char, and arctic grayling. While the size of the fish in this lake won’t be of monstrous proportions you can still catch modest sized fish and a great variety of those to boot. Making it great for beginners too.
Quartz Lake is further up the Richardson Highway from Birch Lake and offers many of the same species of fish. However, if you are looking for larger rainbow trout then Quartz Lake is going to be the lake for you. Finding and reeling in trout that are larger than 20 inches is no easy task, but at Quartz Lake you will get the opportunity over the smaller Birch Lake. While rainbow trout may be your target, do not fret if you can’t find one, as there are many other species of fish in this lake as well. You can find Coho Salmon, chinook salmon, and arctic char as well, and in plentiful numbers.
If you are looking for a true monster of a fish then Harding Lake is a great choice, but only for experienced fisherman. While other lakes may have an abundance of fish to catch, this lake doesn’t have that many options for what you are going to catch, and you may be sitting for hours without even a nibble. Then out of nowhere you may be able to hook a monster fish. Lake Trout and Arctic Char can be found in this lake at great sizes, growing anywhere from 20-33 inches. You may need to bring specialized equipment to be able to find your desired fish, but once you hook the monster you’ve been searching for you won’t regret going to Harding Lake.
Located on the beautiful Kenai peninsula, Scout Lake is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a fun family get away. Located in Sterling, and only a short drive from Soldotna, you will get beautiful mountain views as well as great ice fishing and other winter recreational sports. This lake is teeming with landlocked Coho salmon and other fish, so you won’t go long without a bite. This is a great neighborhood lake to try out if you are looking for good ice fishing or somewhere with something to do for the whole family.
Every year the Jewel Lake Ice Fishing Jamboree is held early in February and is a great time to have your kids learn about and do some ice fishing of their own. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game holds this event every year to try and introduce ice fishing to the children of the area. Here your kids can learn how to properly set up their equipment and how to reel in their fish. This event is a lot of fun and can help introduce the next generation to the fun of ice fishing.
Alaska Ice Fishing: What to Catch
Rainbow Trout are a beautiful and bountiful game fish found in Alaska. Most people are drawn to them because of their coloration and how abundant they are throughout the state. While you can find smaller ones in most lakes, there is no better feeling than catching a large rainbow trout. They are exciting fish to have on your reel, and while the smaller ones range anywhere from 10-14 inches, you can find ones that are up to 20-30 inches in some lakes that will give you the ride of your life. Using the right trout lures can help you make a killer catch!
King or Chinook Salmon are a great fish for beginners to go after. Landlocked salmon can grow on average to be 8-12 inches and are a great way to introduce your kids to ice fishing. They are found throughout Alaska, so you won’t have a hard time finding this game fish.
Arctic Char look a lot like salmon and trout, but are hardier fish. Their bright orange flesh is beautiful and makes for a great trophy or fillet. The methods used to catch these are different from salmon and trout, as they prefer open water more than weeds and plant beds. They also live in larger schools than the other types of fish. Arctic char can grow to great sizes in more fertile lakes, making them one of the best game fish in Alaska.
Northern Pike are indigenous to the waters of Alaska. Over the years they have been introduced into South central waterways, however, making them an invasive species. They are cunning and voracious predators that love to eat trout and salmon. Pike can grow to be 16-22 inches, but there have been cases where they have grown to be larger. They make for excellent game fish in their natural habitat, but when introduced into other waterways can become quite troublesome on sport fishing.
Final Thoughts on Ice Fishing in Alaska
Alaska is a beautiful state that starts getting cold very early in the year. It is a great destination for anyone looking for ice fishing, up there with known ice fishing states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and others. While you are planning your trip to Alaska, just make sure that you brush up on the ADF&G’s regulations on ice fishing, so your following the law.
We hope that this guide to ice fishing in Alaska was helpful. For more suggestions on where to plan a trip to or more fishing tips, check out Fishmasters.