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Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Fishing in Alaska

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The world of fishing can generally be split up into two broad types: Freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing. And while the primary difference between these two is evident in their names, there are also a number of other important differentiations between them to consider if you're planning a fishing trip.

At Pybus Point Lodge, we're happy to offer both these options to all our clients, from experienced anglers to first-time fishers. We offer both guided saltwater fishing tours and many options for fishing on freshwater streams and similar bodies near our lodge, including our halibut fishing program. What are some basic differences between these fishing types outside the simple presence of salt or lack thereof, and which is right for you and your group? Here's a primer.

Basics and Differences

The primary difference between freshwater and saltwater fishing is the presence of salt -- generally speaking, freshwater bodies are those that have under 0.05% salinity. These bodies include lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. Bodies like oceans and seas, on the other hand, which contain much greater salt quantities than this in most cases, are considered saltwater.

From a fishing perspective, another common difference is the way these bodies are accessed. Saltwater fishing is almost always done via a boat or some other type of vessel, while freshwater fishing is much more often done via means of foot, including walking in to reach a body of water or fishing the stream from your car.

These are the most common differences between freshwater and saltwater fishing, but there are also some other key differentiations that should be noted. Let's go over some of these.

Skill Level

While there's no rule against beginner fishers heading out onto saltwater, we often recommend freshwater as a starting point for those just getting into the sport. This is for a few reasons, including both the environment and the skill required.

For starters, fish in freshwater bodies are less likely to fight and struggle, as they don't usually know how to survive the experience of dealing with a line and lure. This is great for beginner fishers, who may not have mastered angling techniques or restraint yet.

Saltwater fishing is different in this respect, requiring more skill to land fish like rockfish. These are much smaller than many freshwater species (like steelhead or trout), but they're also much more fierce due to their knowledge of how to escape. Beginners may not yet be prepared for either the environment (especially in the case of saltwater) or for this increased level of skill.

Fish Species and Sizes

For both a diverse array of fish species and larger fish you're looking to catch, saltwater fishing is generally the way to go. While plenty of freshwater bodies contain large fish, these are usually exceptions rather than the rule. The primary reason for this is because most saltwater areas are constantly replenished with new marine life as part of their ecosystems, while freshwater environments tend to be stagnant in certain ways.

This results in different levels of fish diversity in each type of water. Saltwater fishing is almost always associated with multiples species being present, while freshwater only sometimes contains multiple species. The same can be said for size differences between these types of fish. Trout and other freshwater species are much smaller in comparison to saltwater fish. While there are always exceptions here, this is a general rule of thumb.


For those who prefer to fish in remote locations, away from other anglers and lines, saltwater fishing again is typically the preference. This is due to the simple size of saltwater bodies compared to freshwater; these types of fishing holes are much bigger and harder to reach, which adds to their exclusivity.

Freshwater bodies like streams or rivers can be remote, too, but they don't offer as much raw surface area as saltwater does.

Fish Taste

For those who are fishing with food in mind, this is another area where saltwater fishing once again comes out on top. Saltwater fish like salmon and other species typically contain more fat than freshwater fish, as well as a stronger taste. This means you can catch greater quantities of these fish without worrying about them going bad quickly; they'll take longer to spoil, staying good fishing food for longer periods of time.

Saltwater also tends to give off a stronger smell, which is great for luring in fish from a distance.

All About Your Fishing Goals

While we've gone over a number of elements where one of these types of fishing may hold a significant advantage over the other, this really comes down to your personal preferences and goals as a fisher. Some prefer to stay away from the crowd and fish in more remote locations, so if this is you, saltwater may be for you here.

Others may be looking for a relaxing, low-stress experience, in which case a freshwater fishing hole is more likely to give you that kind of experience.

And of course, when you visit Pybus Point Lodge, you don't have to choose between one or the other! You have the ability to fish for both within the same trip -- one day you can take a guided saltwater fishing tour out into Pybus Bay, and then another you can take a quick hike to one of the many freshwater streams located near our lodge.

For more on freshwater fishing compared to saltwater fishing in Alaska, or to learn about any of our inclusive fishing tours or other adventures, speak to the staff at Pybus Point Lodge today.

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Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, the 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 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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