Area Sport Fishing Reports
Prince William Sound

September Season


Halibut fishing typically slows down in September. Many of the adult fish have started their offshore migration, and many anglers turn their attentions to silver salmon during this time, but those who persist may have success. Anglers can expect to catch mostly small halibut inside the Sound, with better fishing in outside waters.


Silver salmon usually provide plenty of shore-based action through the third week of September. There are large hatchery returns to Valdez shorelines (Allison Point and the Valdez city dock), to Esther Island, to Fleming Spit in Cordova, and to Whittier/Passage Canal. Boat anglers head toward Mineral or Gold creeks in Valdez Arm.

There are small wild runs of silvers throughout the Sound. Anglers typically target Port Wells, the Dutch Group islands, and Perry Island. Whittier anglers target Wells Passage, Pigot Bay, Culross Passage, and Decision Point. Cordova anglers head toward the Eyak River and Ibeck Creek.

Although snagging is a legal method in the majority of Prince William Sound salt waters, most silver anglers will be casting medium to heavy spoons or spinners, such as Pixees ™, Vibrax ™, and Tee-Spoons ™. Anglers also like to add a gob of fresh or preserved salmon roe, or a chunk of herring as an extra enticement. Portions of Orca Inlet, and portions of Eshamy Lagoon are closed to snagging: check the regulation booklet closely.

Salmon "Terminal Harvest Areas":

Except in 5 areas, salmon bag limits are 6 per day and 12 in possession, of which only 3 per day/3 in possession can be silvers in all marine and fresh waters of Prince William Sound. The 5 areas with different regulations are:

  • Shelter Bay: 6 per day/12 in possession, only 1 silver salmon allowed
  • Cordova area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers
  • Whittier area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers
  • Valdez area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers
  • Chenega area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers

Before you throw a line in the water, check the Southcentral regulations for an exact description of these waters and which areas are open to the larger bag limits.

Sockeye (red), pink, and chum salmon runs are pretty much over by early September. Now's the time to start planning next year's trip.

A few feeder king salmon can be picked up around Cordova and Whittier. Try using downriggers fishing 60 feet or deeper.

Other Saltwater Fishing Opportunities

Lingcod fishing remains open, and special restrictions remain in effect. The limit in Prince William Sound waters east of Cape Fairfield is two fish daily (four in possession). All lingcod must be at least 35 inches in total length, or 28 inches with the head removed. Gaffs cannot be used to land fish that are released.

Rockfish fishing remains good in September, when boats can brave the weather and leave port. Until Sept. 15, the limit is 4 rockfish per day/ 8 in possession, of which no more than 2 per day/ 2 in possession may be non-pelagic species. After Sept. 15, the daily limit is 8 per day/8 in possession, of which no more than 2 per day/2 in possession may be non-pelagic species.

Anglers must keep the first two non-pelagic rockfish they catch. Additional protection is needed for non-pelagic species because of their extreme longevity, low productivity, and their general inability to successfully submerge to depth. Anglers are encouraged to use deepwater release mechanisms to release rockfish once their limit has been reached. Halibut anglers are strongly encouraged to fish with a single large hook (size 16 or larger) and avoid rocky areas to minimize their unintentional rockfish catch. Anglers targeting rockfish are encouraged to fish for black or dusky rockfish in waters less than 10 fathoms (60 feet) to minimize mortality of released fish.

Some sharks, particularly spiny dogfish, are likely to be caught throughout September. The daily bag limit for sharks is one fish of any species, and the annual limit is two sharks of any species. The exception is spiny dogfish. The daily bag/possession limit for spiny dogfish is 5 fish and there is no annual limit. Sleeper sharks are generally considered inedible and should be released. All harvested sharks must be recorded immediately upon capture on your license or harvest record. All sharks have high urea content, and are inedible unless handled properly. Bleed your shark immediately upon capture by cutting the underside of the tail, and let the bleeding continue until the heart stops. Then gut the fish with a single cut from the anus to the gills and remove all entrails to enhance the quality of the meat.

The Division of Sport Fish collects data from the recreational bottomfish fishery in the Whittier and Valdez boat harbors only through the first week of September. Information collected through catch sampling will be summarized in reports for the Alaska Board of Fisheries, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Contact Barbi Failor in Homer (235-1731) for additional information.

Freshwater Fishing Opportunities

Fishing for cutthroat trout should be good throughout the Sound. The bag limit for the Sound is 2 per day and 2 in possession. The bag limit for trout in all waters is 2 trout per day, 2 in possession of which only one per day and in possession may greater than 20 inches in length. All trout over 20 inches retained must be recorded immediately and only 2 fish over 20 inches per year may be retained.

September opportunities for Dolly Varden are good throughout Prince William, with hungry Dollies following spawning salmon. Try targeting Dollies by presenting them with a dry fly at the water's edge, dead-drifting an egg pattern, or casting a lure with some silver flash to imitate salmon fry and smolt.

Some nice stocked rainbow trout in the 6-8" range are caught from Blueberry Lake, Thompson Lake, and Ruth Pond in Valdez. Grayling were historically stocked in Thompson Lake near Valdez. Both these aggressive feeders will go after small spinners or flies. Try an egg-sucking leech, Royal Coachman, or bead-headed Prince Nymph.


The shrimp season closes Sept. 15 for the rest of the year. Remember to submit your catch reports at the end of the season.

Subsistence Tanner and king crab fisheries are now allowed in winter months. See Prince William Sound subsistence regulation books for these fishery regulations.