Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
May 2018

Get out and fish. Together.

By Ryan Ragan
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A family fishing trip to Symphony Lake. Photo by Ryan Ragan.

Alaska certainly doesn’t need any help selling itself as one of the world’s premier sport fishing destinations. It’s true. Trophy salmon – we’ve got them. 30 plus inch rainbow trout? Those too. Trophy grayling, Dolly Varden, lingcod, halibut, rockfish – the list goes on.

But as with all phantom records, if anglers take to the water only in search of a trophy that can be measured in length or pounds, then fishing itself becomes simply another form of human competition. A test of self against nature, or fish, as it were.

What then of the experience? Of the pursuit of fish? Of the time spent freed from the tangled hum of traffic lights and cell phones, office work and the superficial tedium of monetary gain. When the act of fishing becomes just another job we do, another self-proclaimed record we pursue, we’ve somehow missed the point.

Many anglers have probably heard Thoreau’s infamous quip: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Is that sentiment as true today as it was when Thoreau penned it? Maybe.

So why then do you fish?

Let us know. Here’s a challenge: keep your response to 200 words or less and send it to me in an email. My contact info will be at the bottom of this article. But beyond this correspondence, we want you to share your fishing story. If you fish, you have a story. True, false, maybe a bit exaggerated at points – when we fish, we create memories, and our memories are our story.

The Division of Sport Fish is expanding its social media presence. We have recently been given the go ahead to create an Instagram account @wefishak , and to further our presence on Facebook with the page ADF&G- wefishak. In addition, our division is working to target anglers with a specific message, “Get out and fish. Together.” We’re working to create new web and print resources aimed at providing more concise information for anglers who simply want to know where to go fishing.

We know fishing in Alaska can be somewhat daunting. Complex sport fishing regulations, emergency orders, sections of rivers where one thing is legal one day and not legal the next – it’s truly difficult to know at times if you’re on the right side of the law. But these factors should not keep you from heading to the water, rod and reel in hand. We’re here to help. If you have questions, get in touch with us. If you need help planning your next fishing trip, we’ll help. Need fishing gear? Many of our offices have fishing gear to loan, free of charge.

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Brook Lentfer with a nice salmon on a fly-in trip.

Get out and fish. Together.

Why wefishak

The first fish. The moment when we come to know the perpetuating draw of fin and scale. We remember our first fish like we remember our first love. Years go by and details of the encounter fall victim to the fog of memory. The memory of our first fish is most notably a memory shared with someone. Someone else was there when you caught it. Maybe a father, mother, uncle, troop leader, Park Ranger, some long forgotten stranger. Someone led you to the water, tied the hook on the line for you, probably even baited the hook. And when the bobber sank beneath the surface of the water, someone was there to tell you set the hook and reel.

We learn to fish by first fishing together. We continue to learn to be a better angler by fishing together. By talking to other anglers. By sharing the experience of fishing with others. The whole process of fishing involves time together, on the water.

The Division of Sport Fish’s newly developed outreach efforts branded as wefishak seeks to create opportunities that can bring groups of anglers together and get more people out on the water fishing. The effort seeks to target young or inexperienced anglers and to challenge the notion of what a “trophy” actually is when it comes to fishing. The trophy isn’t the fish. Rather, the real trophy is time spent together, with family or friends, learning from one another, sharing in the experience of fishing.

Fishing in Alaska doesn’t have to be a complex undertaking. There are close to 300 stocked lakes throughout the state. Most stocked lakes are located in the more urban communities of Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley and Fairbanks. And most stocked lakes are rather easy to get to. There are also remote lakes that offer great fishing to those who are up for a hike. Symphony Lake, located outside of Anchorage is one of those lakes. Symphony Lake is no longer stocked, but has very healthy self-sustaining populations of grayling. My family and I hiked back into Symphony Lake last year. It was amazing.


If you need fishing equipment, some of our offices have equipment to loan. We loan fly rods, ice fishing gear and spinning tackle. We have gear for various types of fishing situations such as fishing at a stocked lake or target any of the five species of salmon.

We offer various angler recognition program such as the Five Salmon Family Challenge, the Trophy Fish Program and the Stocked Waters Challenge. Grab your gear, invite friends or family and head out.

We encourage you to share your story on social media. You can follow us on Instagram @wefishak . We have a statewide Facebook page where you will find posts from Wildlife Conservation and Sport Fish. You can find that page on Facebook under Alaska Department of Fish and Game – Official. In addition, we are adding various regional Facebook pages such as our ADF&G – Sport Fishing Interior Alaska page and the ADF&G – Ship Creek Fisheries Center. We’re promoting the use of #wefishak on all forms of social media. It’s your fishing story. Share it with others.

For more information, please visit .

Send your response to the question of “why do you fish” to . We will compile a list of the responses and post them in a future issue of Fish and Wildlife News.

Ryan Ragan is a Program Coordinator with the Division of Sport Fish. He’s an avid angler, looking to explore Alaska with his family, fishing rod in everyone’s hands.

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