fishing in Sitka

Fishing in Sitka

Fishing in Sitka can be extraordinary, with slab-sided king salmon, powerful halibut, fearsome lingcod, abundant rockfish and aggressive silver salmon on the menu throughout the fishing season. With our location in close proximity to the Gulf of Alaska, roughly mid-way up the Alaska panhandle, Sitka is smack in the middle of the west coast salmon highway for many runs of migrating salmon. With ample food in the area, both salmon and bottomfish stocks are healthy and thriving.

The season for fishing in Sitka kicks off in May with the arrival of migrating king salmon. As halibut move in from their deep-water wintering locales, they begin to enter the area in search of food. By late May halibut can be found in catchable numbers in the area. 

June means primetime fishing for king salmon and halibut, with rockfish and lingcod angling also on the menu. Typical trips include trolling for king salmon within Sitka Sound at popular locations like Vitskari Rocks, St. Lazaria Islands, and Biorka Island, or mooching for kings outside the Sound off Cape Edgecumbe, followed by a trip into open water outside of Sitka Sound to fish for halibut, lingcod and various species of rockfish. Nonpelagic rockfish species including yelloweye, quillback, copper, tiger, and China are not allowed to be retained. Pelagic rockfish species including black and dusky are commonly caught and legal for retention. For those willing to fish in deepwater, black cod (also known as sablefish) can be targeted during this time, as well as the “slope rockfish” species such as Shortraker rockfish.

fishing in SitkaBy mid-July, coho salmon begin to arrive and take the prime salmon stage. Feeder kings, those which have yet to reach sexual maturity, remain in the mix. Lingcod, rockfish and halibut fisheries all remain strong during July.

With each passing week coho salmon get larger as they gorge on the baitfish in the area including herring and candlefish. Sometime in August coho numbers peak, and an epic day on the saltwater can include halibut, lingcod, rockfish, mature coho salmon and feeder king salmon, with pink and chum salmon possible as well. 

Fishing in Sitka wraps up in September, as bottomfish species (halibut, rockfish, and lingcod) move to deeper water, and spawning coho vacate the area to go find their spawning rivers. Feeder kings are available all year long, but increasingly worsening weather conditions usually indicate it’s a good time to wrap it up until next year.

It’s the combination of options and species that makes fishing in Sitka an extraordinary experience. From May through September, anglers visiting Sitka can expect a plethora of opportunities, plenty of willing participants to bend a rod and typically successful days bringing epic fish catches back to port.