Area Sport Fishing Reports
August 4, 2020
* Just a reminder to all of our anglers - please do your part to help slow the spread of Covid-19 by following and reviewing the State of Alaska Health Mandates currently in effect. As indicated in Health Alert 010, please wear a face covering and practice social distancing while sport and personal use fishing, and while shopping for fishing supplies from your local store.
Please see the 2020 Northern Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for a complete summary of the sport fisheries regulations for the Northwestern and North Slope Management Areas (NW/NSMA).
Please review the Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip.
There are currently no Emergency Orders for the NW/NSMA. However, due to the potential for COVID-19 transmission most villages in the NW/NSMA have placed restrictions on travel, and most village travel is limited to those providing essential services and critical infrastructure. Please contact the Emergency Services office or City Council of the village you wish to visit prior to arranging travel.
Reports from the village of Unalakleet indicate that fishing for king salmon was very good in both marine and freshwaters but the run ends around August 1. Chum and pink salmon have entered the river in decent numbers, and a few coho salmon are being caught as well. Peak coho salmon fishing in the Unalakleet River drainage is usually mid-August. Due to travel restrictions, the two fishing lodges on the Unalakleet River are closed for the season.
In northern Norton Sound, counting projects indicate that the chum salmon runs are well below recent averages in most rivers. However, the escapement goals for chum salmon on the Nome and Eldorado rivers has been met. Large numbers of pink salmon have discouraged many anglers from fishing, but that will change when the coho salmon start to build near the mouths of the Nome, Snake, and Niukluk rivers. Cured salmon eggs fished under a bobber, as well as spoons and spinners, are the most popular gear types used.
Fishing for Dolly Varden and Arctic grayling should be good throughout the Northwestern Management Area, particularly with egg imitation flies and small spoons and jigs. Arctic grayling aggressively attack topwater flies as well. Watch the ADF&G video, "How to Fish for Arctic Grayling” for helpful tips on technique and gear.
Sheefish have entered the Kobuk and Selawik rivers on their way to spawning areas upstream. On the Kobuk River, sheefish have been caught as far upstream as the village of Shungnak. Sheefish spawn in late-September, and upon completion, travel back down to Hotham Inlet to overwinter. Chum salmon have also entered the Noatak and Kobuk rivers; however, runs are smaller than anticipated and restrictions to the commercial fishery in Kotzebue are anticipated.
Dolly Varden fishing in the Noatak River tributaries should be good throughout the summer, while fishing for very large Dolly Varden on the Wulik River does not pick up until mid-August when they begin to enter the Wulik to overwinter. Peak fishing for Dolly Varden in the Wulik River is usually mid-September just before freeze-up.
On the North Slope, lakes such as Galbraith, Toolik, Chandler, and Itkillik lakes are open. Fishing for lake trout should be good in deep water and lake outlets. Arctic char and Arctic grayling can be caught on the same tackle as well, though Arctic grayling try to avoid lake trout whenever possible. Fishing the Fog lakes along the Dalton Highway, north of the Kuparuk River, can be good for smaller, landlocked Arctic char. Small wooly worms and scuds work best. Fishing for Dolly Varden should be picking up as spawning fish enter the rivers to spawn, and spawning generally does not begin until late-August. The largest populations of Dolly Varden are found in the Anaktuvuk, Ivishak, Canning, Hulahula, and Kongakut rivers. All but the Ivishak are fly-in only, and the Ivishak access is by boat from the Sagavanirktok River along the Dalton Highway.
Don’t forget to bring your 2020 sport fishing license. Help maximize social distancing by purchasing your sport fishing license at the ADF&G Online Store. You can print your license from the comfort of your home. Also, be sure to review Emergency Orders and the 2020 Northern Sport Fishing Regulations Summary Booklet for the area you are fishing before you head out.
For additional information, please contact the ADF&G Fairbanks Office at (907) 459-7200.