Area Sport Fishing Reports

May Season


King salmon begin to return to Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage in mid-May, and fishing picks up by the end of May. This early in the run, best success is usually at slack high tide, or 1-2 hours before and after high tide. Bait and treble hooks are allowed.

While most Ship Creek kings average 20-25 lbs., there are a few 50+ pounders available. Anglers harvest about 3,800 kings every year. The majority of the land around Ship Creek is owned by the Alaska Railroad, and is located in an industrial area. Please follow all posted signs, and be careful around heavy equipment.

Although a small portion of Eagle River is open to weekend-only king fishing beginning Memorial Day weekend, the river has not been stocked since 1994, and very few fish return. Bait and treble hooks are legal in Eagle River. Check the regulation booklet for the area open to king salmon fishing.

Once you harvest a king salmon 20 inches or more in length from a Cook Inlet drainage, you must immediately record that fish on the back of your license or on your Annual Harvest Record card. Kids under 16 and permanent license holders can get a harvest record card free from most major license vendors. The bag/possession limits for Chinook salmon are 1 per day, or 5 for the entire season. Also, in Ship Creek and Eagle River, once you have harvested a king salmon you may not fish in waters open to king salmon fishing for the remainder of the day.

All other streams in the Anchorage area are closed to king salmon sport fishing with the exception of a Youth only fishery on Campbell Creek that takes place on the last Saturday and Sunday in June each year. Be sure to check the regulation book for specific details on this fishery.

Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden — Flowing Waters

Once the spring melt-off is gone and the creeks clear up, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing in Chester and Campbell creeks can be excellent. A few rainbow trout are also available in the middle reaches of Ship Creek. Both Campbell and Chester Creeks are stocked with rainbow trout, and some natural reproduction of stocked rainbows also occurs. Both streams have native populations of Dolly Varden.

BE AWARE: different sections of the same Anchorage area stream may have different gear regulations as well as different bag/possession limits. Check the regulation booklet carefully and know exactly where you are fishing.


Hooligan return to Twentymile and Placer rivers in early to mid-May. Runs are often sporadic, with fish waiting for cool, high water to travel upstream.

ONLY ALASKAN RESIDENTS with a sport fishing license in their possession can dipnet for hooligan. A long-handled dip net fished at the mouth of Twentymile or Placer rivers or along the rocky beaches jutting out into the southern end of Turnagain Arm provides the best success. Dipping on the rising or flood tide usually produces the best results, and a tide of at least 25 feet as measured at Anchorage is recommended. Dip netting is allowed in saltwater through May 31 and in freshwater through June 15. Gillnets may not be used in Turnagain Arm. Use common sense while pursuing hooligan and do not venture out onto the mud flats.

Stocked Lakes

By mid- to late May, most Anchorage area lakes are ice free and have been stocked with hatchery-raised rainbow trout. These fish, as well as fish that have over-wintered provide an excellent spring fishing opportunity. A few Anchorage-area lakes receive hatchery-raised Arctic grayling, lake trout, or Arctic char. Check the stocking updates and lake maps on our webpage. Best success is early in the morning, or at dusk. Bait, spinners, and small flies are effective.

Every year we have numerous reports about anglers taking more than their legal limit of fish from area stocked lakes. These fish are easy to catch and provide local anglers, unable to venture into the field, with good fishing opportunity. Be aware of bag/possession limits, and do not harvest more than allowed to let more anglers share this bounty.

Northern Pike

May is an excellent time to fish for the Anchorage area's illegally-introduced northern pike, as they become voracious feeders after spawning. Your best bet is Lower Fire Lake as all other Anchorage area lakes have been eracdicated of pike.

This illegally introduced species is threatening our stocked lakes program and some wild salmon stocks. Please keep any pike you catch, but remember that "wanton waste" laws apply. There is no daily bag limit for pike and spears as well as bow and arrow are legal gear. The arrow must be barbed and attached to the bow. A free pamphlet with maps and Anchorage area lake information, along with pike cleaning and cooking tips is available at Department of Fish and Game offices or on the Department Internet pages.

Anyone with any information on these illegal-stocking activities is encouraged to contact Fish and Wildlife Safeguard at 1-800-478-3377 or State Troopers’ Fish and Wildlife Protection at (907) 269-5954 or 269-5541.