Different Types of Fish You Can Catch on an Alaskan Fishing Vacation

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When you book a trip to Alaska during the summer, you probably have one specific thing on your mind: fishing. There’s a good reason for it too, because Alaska is the premier destination for to catch all types of freshwater and saltwater fish (and some that can go between the two marine environments). Most people are aware that you can find some of the best salmon fishing in Alaska, but that’s definitely not the only species of fish you will catch. Here’s an overview of the most common ones you will find (including several salmon species).

Pacific Halibut

The Pacific halibut is a flatfish, native to the Pacific Ocean, and one often caught by both commercial and recreational fishermen. The largest can reach lengths of more than eight feet, and weigh in at as much as 600 pounds. They generally swim sideways after they reach maturity (six months or older), when their eyes migrate from the sides of their body to the top of their head.

A significant benefit of the Pacific halibut is that they are not overfished, according to the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s 2018 report. The population has steadily increased since 2013 after a significant decline in the 1990s and early 2000s. Female halibut start reproducing around age 12, while their male counterparts are mature by eight years of age. Their spawning grounds cover much of the Alaskan coast, going as far north as the Bering Sea and as far south as British Columbia.

Salmon

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) identifies five different species of salmon that you can find in the waters off the Alaskan coast:

  • Chum (Dog) salmon
  • Sockeye (Keta) salmon
  • King (Chinook) salmon
  • Silver (Coho) salmon
  • Pink (Humpy) salmon

All of the Alaskan salmon begin their lives in a freshwater stream. Adults return to their original birthing ground to lay their eggs, and process called spawning that is probably best known for the visual of salmon trying to swim upstream to get to the place where they will lay their own eggs. It’s an arduous journey, and one that most salmon will not survive. We don’t know how, exactly, an adult salmon finds the stream where it was born, but they may use magnetic fields in the earth to locate it after several years out at sea.

Once they hatch, alevin (as the young hatchlings are called) stay in the gravelly bottom of the stream to avoid predators. As their mouths develop they enter the fry stage and leave the gravel to find food. King, sockeye, and silver salmon stay in the freshwater for one to two years, while pink and chum salmon only stay there for a few weeks before migrating out to sea.

Different species of salmon reach maturity at different ages, anywhere between about two and eight years. At that time they begin the journey back to their freshwater spawning ground. Different species also begin their spawning journey at different times, so the time of year that you go to Alaska will determine what type of salmon you are most likely to catch. King salmon show up first in May, followed by keta salmon in early June, pink salmon in late June, and Coho salmon in late July or early August.

The salmon that reach fresh water undergo a physical transformation to a different color and develop other physical characteristics, like a hump on their back. After mating and laying eggs, they die.

Cod

Pacific cod are often grouped by the NOAA Fisheries and North Pacific Fishery Management Council into four different “stocks” based on their location—in the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and off the Pacific coast. These fish are usually gray or brown in color, helping them to blend in with the gravel and sand near the ocean floor. They can live as long as 20 years, and grow up to six feet in length, but most females reproduce by the time they are four or five years old and less than two feet long.

A female can lay as many as one million eggs, and usually spawn between January and May, moving from deep ocean waters to the upper continental shelf area to spawn in the late winter and early spring.

There is a second species of cod that you can find in the Alaskan waters called lingcod. These fish are actually greenlings (not cod species) that can grow to five feet and weigh as much as 80 pounds. They are predators with sharp teeth and a large mouth, and frequent the waters around Alaska.

Rockfish

Rockfish go by several names, including rock cod, red snapper, and Pacific snapper. It’s one of the most common fish near the shores of the North American West Coast, with more than 70 species that roam the waters of the Pacific Ocean. You can find rockfish as small as just a pound and as large as 40 pounds, in a wide variety of colors.

They are also some of the longest-living vertebrates on earth, with some that are estimated to be 200 years old or more. Unlike other fish species, rockfish don’t start reproducing until they are about 15 years old, and they give birth to live young. That means the young rockfish live with their mothers until they are old enough to go out on their own.

The fish are extremely popular for meals, since they have a very mild flavor and a lean texture. You can include them in almost any type of recipe and they’re included in a variety of cultural cuisines.

Join us at Pybus Point Lodge to catch all these fish species and learn all about the abundant marine life in Alaska’s Inside Passage.

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REVIEWS

65% OF OUR GUESTS ARE RETURN CUSTOMERS

Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, Pybus Point Lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable all-inclusive fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery.    I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.

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