Whether it’s ice fishing, saltwater fishing, or freshwater fishing, Alaska offers some of the best fishing opportunities on the planet. It has over 40% of the United States’ water, including over three million lakes and twelve thousand rivers. So, I can cast my line anywhere and catch one of the many species in Alaska. Therefore, it’s no surprise because fishing in some of the most remote places in Alaska, such as the Kodiak Island Archipelago, has always been on my bucket list.
I have fished in some of the best waters in Alaska, like Bristol Bay and off the Coast of Homer, but before I fished in Alaska, there were several things I had to learn, like the rules and regulations of fishing in Alaska. But most importantly, you need a license to fish in Alaska; fortunately, the number of Alaska fishing licenses varies in duration and price. Some of the most common permits are:
- Resident annual sport fishing license: $20
- Non-resident yearly sport fishing license: $100
- Non-Resident 14-day sport fishing license: $75
- Non-resident 7-day sport fishing license: $45
- Non-resident 1-day sport fishing license: $15
Other than Hawaii, where anglers can fish for free all year long, Alaska doesn’t have a free fishing day for adult residents between 18 and 61 years old. Therefore, anyone between 18 to 61 years old needs a license to cast their license in Alaska. Fortunately, everyone under 16 and over 60 can fish for free all year round in Alaska. (source)
Generally, the state has no free fishing days for non-resident adults between 16 and 61; therefore, they need a license to fish in Alaska. Youths (under 16 years) from other states can fish for free in Alaska, but they will need a harvest record card to record the species they catch.
Fishing License Costs in Alaska
Before visiting Alaska, you need to understand that you need to purchase a fishing license and a harvest record card to fish in their beautiful waters. In fact, being caught without a license and a harvest card is considered illegal. You may get prosecuted in the worst cases scenario.
Alaska has three different license formats: a carbon copy license, an eSigned license, and an electric/printed license. Fortunately, the carbon copy license is harder and harder to come across, and only a few vendors offer carbon copy licenses.
Similarly, there are some special licenses of stamps that you will require to fish specific species, which face prohibition due to their numbers. Some of these unique cards that you may need to fish in Alaska include:
An annual fishing harvest record card is a must-have for non-residents and residents of all ages planning on fishing in Alaska. The Harvest record card is for recording all the sport-caught fish with a yearly limit. Even the DAV/PID license holders must have a harvest record card to fish in Alaska legally.
Anyone found fishing without a harvest record card can be issued a citation; plus, your fishing gear can be subjected to forfeiture as per this state’s statute. (source)
Anyone over 60 who meets the Game and Fish Residency definition can apply for a PID (senior Permanent Identification card). On the other hand, disabled veterans can apply for a DVL (disabled veteran license). Fortunately, the DIV and PID are issued without charges once you apply for them via the online store or at the Fish and Game offices. (source)
Any angler over 16 years (non-resident) and over 18 years (resident) who plans on fishing king salmon in All Alaska waters except the stocked lakes needs a king salmon stamp. The main folks exempted from the salmon stamp include persons with DVL, PID, and under 16 (non-residents)/under 18 (residents). You can purchase your King Salmon Stamp at the regional Fish and Game offices, at some of the local sporting goods stores, or online. (source)
Table of fishing license costs in Alaska (source)
|Annual sport fishing license||$20.00||$100.00|
|1-day sport fishing license||N/A||$15.00|
|3-day sport fishing license||N/A||$30.00|
|7-day sport fishing license||N/A||$45.00|
|14-day sport fishing license||N/A||$75.00|
Like most states, Alaska has allowed anglers to easily get their licenses by allowing several local outdoor gear retailers to sell their fishing licenses. Therefore, you can purchase your license from several fishing gear stores like the Mountain View Sports Center.
But suppose you need access to these local retailers. In that case, you should purchase an Alaska Fishing License through their online portal, which you can easily access from their official website. Unfortunately, if you need a printed license, you may have to print it before accessing any state-operated water body. Fortunately, an electronic license is legal in Alaska, and you don’t necessarily have to present a physical permit to fish.
Walmart sells several state fly fishing licenses, and the Alaskan fishing license is no exception. Therefore, you can visit the local Walmart store and purchase your resident sport fishing license for between $11 and $40. The price will depend on the duration and type, but you should be ready to pay more for non-resident annual fishing licenses.
As aforementioned, every state has some fishing rules and regulations that every angler must follow, and Alaska is no exception. In fact, breaking any of the rules and regulations can result in some hefty penalties, and in some cases, you may lose your fishing license for a couple of years.
Fortunately, Alaska’s Fish and Game department has made it easier for anyone to access their rules and regulations by uploading them to their official website. The following link allows access to this state’s fishing rules and regulations. (source) Their official website has divided the state into four regions, each having different laws.
You must pick the region or place you plan to fish and get the exact regulations you must follow when fishing in a specific area. For instance, to access the fishing rules and regulations of the northern part of Alaska, you can follow this link. (source).
Remember, some North Alaska regulations don’t apply to other parts of Alaska.
What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for Alaska?
Generally, fishing in Alaska is open to everyone, irrespective of your age; fortunately, seniors and youth don’t have to purchase a license. All non-residents younger than 16 years or residents below 18 don’t need a license to fish on all state-owned waters in Alaska. But if you fall between 16- 60 (non-residents) and 18-60 (residents), you must purchase a sport fishing license.
You must also purchase a king salmon stamp if fishing in marine and fresh waters. On the other hand, anyone over 60 years and all disabled Alaskan veterans can also participate in all the fishing sports within the state with no license. Fortunately, everyone over 60 and the youth can get the harvest record card for free. (source)
All fishing licenses in Alaska expire annually on December 31. Therefore, even if you purchase your annual license mid-year, it will only be effective until the end of the current calendar year. The only exceptions are the short-term non-resident licenses and the trapping licenses, which have a set expiry date. (source)
The trapping license lasts from the start date to the end of September of the following year. The short-term non-resident permits are valid for specific days, which in most cases include 14, 7, 3, and 1 day. (source)
Unlike most American states, Alaska doesn’t have a free fishing day when everyone can fish without a license, irrespective of age. Therefore, adults between 16 (non-resident)/ 18 (residents) can never fish for free on state-owned waters. But the youth and seniors over 60 can fish without a license all year round in Alaska.
Therefore, if you want free fishing days, you should avoid Alaska. Still, if you’re under 16 or over 60 (residents), Alaska can be a great place to live and fish daily.
Generally, you don’t need a fishing license to fish on privately owned ponds in most states, and Alaska is no exception. In fact, the only thing you need to fish on private property is the owner’s permission; after all, trespassing is illegal. Therefore, make sure you talk to the owner or the caretaker and ask for permission before getting into their property to fish.
Fishing without a license is considered a misdemeanor in most American states, and Alaska is no exception. In fact, if caught fishing without a license, you will have to pay a cash bail of about $200. (source) You can also be fined for not carrying your harvest record card or not recording your catch correctly. Therefore, you must learn more about Alaska’s fishing rules and regulations and adhere to them.
The Fish and Game Department has divided Alaska’s drainage system into four regions, each with unique rules. Therefore, some have different fishing seasons, while others are open all year round. Proper planning means knowing when the region you plan to fish is open to the public. So, let’s breakdown the fishing seasons in these four regions into details:
As aforementioned, Alaska is home to millions of water bodies; therefore, the northern region further splits into several drainages, including:
This region includes all the waters on the River Kuskokwim drainage, Kuskokwim Bay, and the Bering Sea. Fortunately, all the drainages in this region are open to anglers all year round, including Kisarali river drainage, Holitna river drainage, and Anlak River drainage. Unfortunately, the King Salmon season is open between May 1 and July 25 at the Kuskokwim River drainage. (source)
At the Kanektok River, drainage anglers can only retain the rainbow trout between June 8 and October 31. (source)
At the North Slope, fishing to the different species is open all year round unless otherwise. Unfortunately, salmon fishing is closed all year round at the Trans-Alaska pipeline corridor.
Most of the rivers in this region are open all year round except for chum salmon fishing which is closed in places like the Cripple River, salmon lake, and the Penny River. Arctic grayling fishing is shut in the Solomon River and the Nome River.
The waters are open to fishing all year round at the Yukon River drainage. Therefore, you can fish all the different species in the region except the shellfish, which have no open season.
In the Tanana River area, most fishing spots are open all year round. For instance, you can fish every species in Chatanika River all year round except for the northern pike. Northern pike fishing is available between June 1 and October 14. Plus, part of the Chatanika River, particularly near the edge of Elliott Highway Bridge, is closed to salmon fishing.
Lake trout and burbot fishing are usually closed in September at Fielding Lake. On the other hand, Northern pike fishing at the Tolovana River drainage opens between June 1 and October 14. (source)
The Southwest Alaska region divides into Kodiak Island Fresh Waters, Bristol Bay Salt and fresh waters, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands, and Kodiak Island salt waters and AK peninsula the Aleutian Islands. Most of the waters in Southwest Alaska are open to anglers all year round, except for a few. For instance, the Wood River drainage is open to salmon fishing from May 1 to July 31. (source)
At the Koktuli River drainage and Mulchatna river drainage, king salmon fishing is open between May 1 and July 24. Other places open to salmon fishing around this time include the Nuyakuk River, Stuyahok River, and Tikchik River drainages.
Kvichak River drainage is closed to all sport fishing between April 10 and June 7. Fishing is open between June 8 and April 9 at the Tazimina River, Copper River drainage, and Gibraltar River drainage. For more details on fishing seasons in Southwest Alaska, please follow the following link. (source)
The Southcentral area has ten drainage areas, each with unique regulations and open seasons. Fortunately, general fishing is available in this region all year round for most species. Sport fishing is usually closed on Sundays and Mondays except during Memorial Day between May 1 and July 31 from the Skilak Lake outlet downstream. (source)
Some waters are open all year round but with a few regulations; for instance, Kasilof River Gillnet Fishery is open to fishing between 6 AM and 11 PM from June 15 and June 24. Fishing at the Kasilof river dipnet fishery is available between June 25 and August 7.
In most waters, King Salmon fishing is open between January 1 and June 30. The fishing season for the other salmon starts on January 1 and ends on September 30.
General fishing is open all year round in Southeast Alaska except for some places like Ophir Creek,
where sport fishing is closed all year round. The fishing season at the Lost River is open between January 1 and August 14 every year. Fishing at the Chilkat Lake is between July 1 and March 31. (source) at Pullen Creek, the fishing season is open from the start of December and September 14.
The fishing season at places like One Mile Creek and Sawmill Creek started on July 1 and ended on March 31.
|Fish species||Opening date||Closing date|
|General fishing||January 1||December 31|
|King Salmon||May 1||July 31|
|Rainbow trout||November 1||October 31|
|Largemouth and smallmouth bass||June 16||March 5|
|Northern pike||May 7||March 5|
|Walleye||May 7||March 5|
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Visiting Alaska can be a dream come true for anglers thanks to its many beautiful fishing spots. It is one of the few places to enjoy ice, saltwater, and freshwater fishing. Some of the best fishing destinations with a lot to offer in Alaska include the Kasilof River, Kenai River, and Bristol Bay. Please follow the link for more details on Alaska’s best places to fish.
Fishing is open 365 days, seven days a week, and 24 hours a day in Alaska. That is, except for some fishing sports open between 6 AM and 11 PM in Kasilof River Gillnet Fishery at a specific time of year.
In Alaska, you can use up to one set of fishing gear. For example, if you’re fly fishing, you can use only a single rod. But when ice fishing, you can use two lines; therefore, you must use at most two rods when ice fishing.
In Alaska, residents over 60 years old don’t require a sport fishing license to operate. You need a harvest record card, and you’re good to go.
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