Fishing Report  
  Brendan Scanlon, Area Management Biologist
(907) 459-7268,

Area Sport Fishing Reports

August 9, 2023

This report is intended for both the Northwest and the North Slope Management Areas.

Sport Fishing

Resident Species

Heavy rains and high water in 2023 have made for challenging fishing in rivers throughout the Northwest (NW) and North Slope Management Area (NSMA).

  • Fishing for Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden should pick up in Norton and Kotzebue Sound streams as the water drops, and grayling are feeding on the surface now. Small spinners and smolt imitation flies will catch both species, and Arctic grayling can be caught on topwater flies and salmon egg imitations as well.
  • Fishing for northern pike in the Pilgrim, Kuzitrin, Kobuk, and Selawik Rivers had been great until the water came up. Big spoons and soft baits work well for northern pike, as do large topwater lures and flies.
  • North Slope rivers are high but dropping in most places and fishing for Arctic grayling should improve. The occasional large burbot can be caught in most rivers as well. Fishing for Arctic char, lake trout, and Arctic grayling in North Slope lakes has been good, and one angler reported catching and releasing 13 lake trout in one day from Toolik Lake recently.

Anadromous Species

  • Salmon counting projects in Southern Norton Sound have been hampered by high water all summer, and only the Pilgrim and Kwinuk River projects have remained fishtight all season. In 2023, the Nome and Snake River weirs have only been fishtight for 6 and 9 days, respectively.
  • King, chum, and pink salmon have entered streams in the Norton Sound, and most counts are well below averages. Few coho salmon have been counted so far, but it is still early.
  • Sheefish have begun their upstream migration to the spawning grounds in the Kobuk and Selawik Rivers, and fish have been caught near the Kobuk River villages of Ambler and Shungnak.
  • Spawning runs of Dolly Varden have begun upstream migrations in Northwestern and North Slope rivers, and fishing in the Wulik and Kivalina Rivers, as well as the Noatak River tributaries, picked up this week. The Noatak and Wulik Rivers are the most popular spots for large Dolly Varden, with fish over 12 pounds possible in both drainages.

Emergency Orders

Please review the Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip:

  • Emergency Order 3-KS-W-05-23 closes sport fishing for king salmon in all freshwaters from Bald Head to Point Romanof. This closure includes, but is not limited to, the Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Ungalik, Inglutalik, and Golsovia river drainages. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used in these drainages. All king salmon caught incidentally in the waters described above while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Additional Tips

  • Because fish typically grow and reproduce more slowly at high latitudes and elevations, please use proper techniques when engaging in catch-and-release in order to ensure the survival of the released fish such as:
    • Use lures with a single hook and crimp down the barb. Do not use bait.
    • Land the fish with a soft net and keep the fish in the water when removing the hook.
    • To release the fish, hold it gently facing into the current or in water without a current gently cradle the fish and move it slowly back and forth until it swims away under its own power.

ADF&G News

For More Information

Call Northwest and North Slope Area Management Biologist Brendan Scanlon at (907) 459-7268.


Northwest Area Archives for:
Aug 09, 2023 Jul 06, 2023

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