Free Fishing Days in Alaska: Dates, Locations, and Tips for 2024

Alaska is renowned as an angler’s paradise, offering world-class fishing opportunities in its pristine lakes, rivers, and coastal waters. While fishing licenses are typically required, the state also designates special “Free Fishing Days” each year when residents and visitors can fish without a license. These days provide a perfect chance to introduce newcomers to the joys of fishing or for avid anglers to share their passion with friends and family. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of Alaska’s Free Fishing Days in 2024.

When are Alaska’s Free Fishing Days in 2024?

In 2024, Alaska’s Free Fishing Days will take place on:

June 8-9, 2024 (second weekend in June)

During these two days, anyone can fish in Alaska’s waters without needing to purchase a sport fishing license. It’s important to note that while a license is not required on Free Fishing Days, all other fishing regulations still apply, including bag limits, size restrictions, and gear requirements. You can find the latest regulations on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

Tip: While licenses are not required on Free Fishing Days, it’s still a good idea to obtain one for the rest of the year if you plan to fish frequently in Alaska. Fishing license fees support the state’s conservation efforts and help maintain healthy fish populations for future generations. You can easily purchase an Alaska fishing license online through teenfish.com.

Who Can Participate in Free Fishing Days?

Alaska’s Free Fishing Days are open to both residents and non-residents of all ages. This makes it an ideal opportunity for families, friends, or visitors to experience Alaska’s incredible fishing without the added cost of licenses.

However, it’s worth noting that some groups can fish for free year-round in Alaska:

  • Alaska residents aged 15 and under
  • Alaska residents aged 60 and over
  • Disabled veterans who are Alaska residents

Top Fishing Spots for Free Fishing Days

Alaska offers countless fishing spots across the state, from remote wilderness areas to easily accessible locations near major cities. Here are some top destinations to consider for Free Fishing Days:

Anchorage Area

  • Ship Creek: Located right in downtown Anchorage, Ship Creek is a popular spot for king and silver salmon fishing. The mouth of the creek near the bridge is a great place to cast a line.
  • Campbell Point Lake: Situated in Kincaid Park, Campbell Point Lake offers the chance to catch salmon, trout, and even arctic char.

Kenai Peninsula

  • Kenai River: The Kenai River is famous for its salmon runs, particularly kings and sockeye. There are many public access points along the river to fish from the bank, such as Swiftwater Park in Soldotna and Morgan’s Landing.
  • Homer Spit: The beaches around the Homer Spit, like Land’s End, are some of the few spots in Alaska where you might catch halibut right from shore.
  • Kasilof River: The Kasilof is another top salmon river on the Kenai Peninsula, known for its king salmon. It’s generally less crowded than the Kenai.

Mat-Su Valley

  • Little Susitna River: Affectionately known as the “Little Su,” this river in the Mat-Su Valley is a top spot for king and silver salmon as well as rainbow trout.
  • Eklutna Tailrace: Located near Palmer, the Eklutna Tailrace is stocked with salmon and is a popular destination for anglers, especially families and those new to fishing.

Interior Alaska

  • Chena River: Flowing through Fairbanks, the Chena River offers great fishing for arctic grayling as well as salmon.
  • Chena Lake: This lake just outside of Fairbanks is stocked with rainbow trout, arctic char, and arctic grayling, making it a fun and convenient spot to fish.

Of course, these are just a few of the many incredible fishing spots across Alaska. Be sure to also check with local bait shops or fishing guides for insider tips on the hottest bites during Free Fishing Days.

Tip: Many fishing guides and charters offer special deals or discounts during Free Fishing Days. Consider hiring a local guide, especially if you’re new to fishing in Alaska, to maximize your chances of success and learn the best techniques and spots.

What to Fish for on Free Fishing Days

Alaska is home to a wide variety of sport fish, many of which will be active and biting during the June Free Fishing Days. Some top targets include:

Salmon

June is prime time for salmon fishing in Alaska, with multiple species on the move:

  • King (Chinook) Salmon: The largest and most prized of the Pacific salmon, kings are known for their fight and their delicious meat. In June, they can be caught in many rivers across the state.
  • Sockeye (Red) Salmon: Sockeye are the second most abundant salmon species in Alaska and are prized for their bright red meat. Mid-June through July is peak season for sockeye in rivers like the Kenai and Kasilof.
  • Pink (Humpy) Salmon: The smallest of the Pacific salmon, pinks are known for their light-colored meat and tend to run in two-year cycles, with even years seeing the biggest numbers.
  • Chum (Dog) Salmon: Chum salmon are a popular target for their roe and are often smoked or canned. Like pinks, they tend to run more heavily in even years.

Trout & Char

June is also a great time to fish for Alaska’s prized trout and char species:

  • Rainbow Trout: Alaska is famous for its huge, hard-fighting rainbow trout. June is a good time to target them in lakes and rivers across the state.
  • Dolly Varden: A close relative of brook trout, Dolly Varden are a beautiful and delicious fish found in Alaska’s coastal waters and streams.
  • Arctic Char: Closely related to Dolly Varden and trout, arctic char are a popular target in Alaska’s far north and interior regions.

Other Species

While salmon, trout, and char may be the most popular and well-known targets, there are plenty of other fish to catch on Free Fishing Days:

  • Halibut: Alaska is world-famous for its massive halibut, and while they are most commonly caught from boats, there are a few spots (like the Homer Spit) where you can catch them from shore.
  • Rockfish: Several species of rockfish inhabit Alaska’s coastal waters, and they are known for their mild, delicate meat.
  • Lingcod: These large, predatory fish are found in rocky areas and kelp beds and are prized for their firm, white meat.
  • Arctic Grayling: A unique and beautiful fish, arctic grayling are a popular fly fishing target in Alaska’s interior and arctic regions.

Tips for Fishing on Free Fishing Days

To make the most of your Free Fishing Days experience, keep these tips in mind:

Know the Regulations

While you don’t need a license on Free Fishing Days, all other regulations still apply. Be sure to check the Alaska Department of Fish & Game website for the latest rules on bag limits, size restrictions, closed areas, and gear requirements.

Use the Right Gear

Using appropriate gear for the species and location you’re targeting can make a big difference in your success. If you’re new to fishing, consider visiting a local bait and tackle shop for advice on the best setup for your needs. Some basic gear to consider includes:

  • Rods & Reels: A medium-weight spinning rod and reel combo is versatile for many Alaska species. For salmon and trout, consider a 7-8 foot rod with a matching reel spooled with 10-20 pound test line.
  • Terminal Tackle: Hooks, weights, swivels, and other terminal tackle are essential. For salmon, common rigs include drift rigs with a weight, swivel, leader, and hook, or back-bouncing rigs with a weight below a hook. For trout and char, small spinners, spoons, and flies are effective.
  • Bait & Lures: Salmon roe, herring, and artificial lures like spinners and plugs are top choices for salmon. For trout and char, try salmon eggs, power bait, or small lures like spinners and spoons. Fly anglers can use egg patterns, streamers, and nymphs.
  • Waders & Boots: If you plan to fish from shore or wade in rivers, a pair of chest waders and wading boots will keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Landing Net: A large, long-handled net is essential for landing big fish safely.

Practice Proper Fish Handling

If you plan to release your catch, it’s important to handle the fish carefully to maximize its chances of survival:

  • Use barbless hooks or crimp down the barbs for easier removal.
  • Keep the fish in the water as much as possible while unhooking it.
  • Use wet hands or gloves to avoid removing the protective slime coat on the fish’s skin.
  • If you must take a photo, cradle the fish horizontally and support its weight.
  • Revive the fish by gently moving it back and forth in the water until it swims away on its own.

If you plan to keep your catch, dispatch it quickly with a sharp blow to the head and bleed it out in a bucket of water. Then, get it on ice as soon as possible to preserve its quality.

Be Bear Aware

Alaska is bear country, and it’s important to take precautions to avoid dangerous encounters, especially when fishing:

  • Make noise as you move through the area to avoid surprising a bear.
  • Keep a clean camp and dispose of fish waste properly, away from your fishing spot and campsite.
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it.
  • If you encounter a bear, stay calm, don’t run, and slowly back away while facing the bear.

For more detailed bear safety tips, check out this guide from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Hire a Guide

If you’re new to fishing in Alaska or want to maximize your chances of success, consider hiring a local fishing guide. Guides have the knowledge, gear, and experience to put you on fish and teach you the ropes. Many guides offer special deals or discounts for Free Fishing Days.

Conclusion

Alaska’s Free Fishing Days provide an incredible opportunity for residents and visitors alike to experience the state’s world-class fishing without the need for a license. By following regulations, using appropriate gear, practicing proper fish handling techniques, being bear aware, and possibly hiring a guide, anglers of all skill levels can enjoy a memorable day on the water. So mark your calendar for June 8-9, 2024, and get ready to wet a line in the Last Frontier!

Don’t forget: While you don’t need a license on Free Fishing Days, it’s still a good idea to purchase an Alaska fishing license for the rest of the year if you plan to fish frequently. Fishing licenses support conservation efforts and help maintain healthy fish populations for future generations.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top