Glacier Bay Fishing

glacier bay fishing for king salmon

A man in love with his King Salmon caught in Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay fishing offers great saltwater fishing with hard-hitting salmon and barn door size halibut.  There is also freshwater fishing in secluded streams for a variety of salmon, Dolly Varden, Cutthroat, and Rainbow Trout.  This is a unique location for many reasons and you can experience active fishing, spectacular wildlife, calving glaciers, and world-class bear viewing just to name a few activities our experiential travelers typically travel to multiple locations to enjoy.  Reading “Glacier Bay Alaska Like No Place Else on Earth” describes the abundance of experiences that await you there.  Who would guess that we also have a luxury lodge in such a remote and exotic area?

One reason the fishing is so great is Glacier Bay fishing grounds are uniquely positioned at the northern entrance to the Inside Passage and the Icy Strait.  Salmon and halibut migrate from the Gulf of Alaska to the coastal waters, rivers and lakes to feed and spawn.  Fresh water fishing is excellent as well for steelhead, sockeye, and other salmon species migrating up river. We have more information for planning your Glacier Bay fishing vacation below including traveling to Glacier Bay, other activities in Glacier Bay, the geography and history of Glacier Bay.  Most importantly, there is the Glacier Bay fishing!

The chart below shows the most popular Alaska fish species and the months they are running.  Each location may have different times and not all fish may be available at every lodge.

Glacier-Bay-Fishing-species-chart

A Glacier Bay Fishing vacation is a wonderful place for people wanting many activities in addition to great fishing.  The geological history is as amazing as the location itself.  In 1750, a single glacier thousands of feet thick from the Little Ice Age that began about 4,000 years ago filled the 65-mile long fjord that is Glacier Bay.  There are eight categories of landscape at Glacier Bay and a menagerie of plants from those emerging right now from under the glaciers to landscapes that emerged 300 years ago.  There are a variety of land mammals and over 280 species of birds in Glacier Bay National Park.  The water is home to sea otters, harbor seals, whales, sea lions and over 200 species of fish.  Of course, Glacier Bay fishing is why we go.   The National Park Service has an excellent booklet, “Anadromous Fish Identification, Abundance, Distribution, & Run Timing” about the fish in the waters near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.  Our article “What is Your Favorite Alaska Fish Species?  A Difficult Decision” adds our personal views about our favorite fish to catch and course for our menu.

Glacier-Bay-Alaska-Map

Image from lonelyplanet.com

How to Get to Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay fishing is remote but is also reasonably accessible.  Alaska Airlines as well as Delta fly direct from Seattle to Juneau and there are also connections through Anchorage.  Our article “Flying In Alaska Is a Way of Life” explains how to plan flights and contains information to make your trip comfortable and worry free.  Gustavus is near the entrance of Glacier Bay and is a short flight from Juneau.  Alaska Airlines operates an afternoon round trip flight that will be the most economical way to Gustavus.  There are other options available through smaller, regional carriers.  The flight is a wonderful part of the experience.  There is no road access to Juneau, the state capital, or to Gustavus. and only 20 miles of roads on the peninsula where Gustavus lies.

Glacier Bay fishing is an opportunity to practice your packing skills.  Pack as lightly as you can and bring only a carry-on bag if at all possible.  Your will have plenty of baggage on your return–50 pound boxes of frozen fish as checked luggage.  Alaska fishing vacations do not require a passport or any other additional documents.  The same identification document needed for airline travel (e.g. your driver’s license) is all you need to travel to Alaska.  Frequently asked questions include what do we need to bring, will my cell phone work, is there Wi Fi, etc. on Glacier Bay fishing vacations?  For your convenience, we answer many of these questions on our Glacier Bay FAQ page.

Glacier Bay fishing requires a sports fishing license if you are over sixteen and the license is easy to obtain.  Licenses may be purchase online, obtained at local sporting goods stores or at Alaska Fish and Game locations.  Your lodge package may include licensing so always check prior to purchasing. We recommend travel insurance for trips to Alaska.  Typical airline travel insurance is limited in its coverage.  A quote for a comprehensive policy including coverage of cancellation fees is easy to obtain.  I buy travel insurance for every trip so I can travel with the peace of mind.

Alaska-Inside-Passage-Map

Image from Petersburg.Alaska.com

Glacier Bay Fishing

The Inside Passage map shows why Glacier Bay fishing is some of the best in the world and one reason is the ridiculous amount of bait fish.  Glacier Bay and the Icy Strait flow to the sea through Cross Sound which is the northern entrance to the Inside Passage.  Over 200 hundred species of fish live in these waters including herring and many bait fish.  Salmon swim back from the Gulf of Alaska to spawn in the rivers and lakes accessed through the Inside Passage.  Some of the largest halibut spawn in the Gulf of Alaska and then return to these coastal waters to feed in the summer.  Cross Sound and the Icy Strait are the waterways migrating fish return through the Inland Passage.  You can choose to saltwater fish for salmon, halibut, yellow eye and other saltwater varieties or we can send you out with a guide for stream fishing.

fishing-in-alaska-with-whales

Glacier Bay Other Activities

There are so many activities to choose from that this location is great for a many days of  adventure.  We can book make all of your reservations before you arrive for a completely stress-free experience.  You may also make those reservations yourself. Glacier Bay activities start with the National Park and Preserve.  The National Park Service (NPS) conducts the only daily tour allowed in the Park.  I have taken the tour which is on a heated catamaran.  The tour goes past major tidewater glaciers which are calving and simply majestic. You may get a close up view of sea otters, whales, and many birds including bald eagles which thrive here with the abundance of fish to eat.  Glacier Bay fishing is supported by all of this ecosystem which is protected.   If making your own reservations you should make advance reservations with the National Park Service for the tour as space is limited.
We have also kayaked in the Icy Strait area close to humpback whales.  There are several smaller outfitters that provide guide kayak tours in the area.  There are ½ day or full day excursions or simply rent a kayak.

There are a variety of flight seeing tours in Glacier Bay.  There are also private whale watching and boat tours outside of the Park in the Icy Strait.   There are also many walking and hiking trails, photo tours, and even a nine hole golf course.

There is also a private whale watching tour that WOWs every traveler we have sent to Glacier Bay and it can’t be missed.

kayaking-in-glacier-bay-national-park

  • Glacier Trips
  • Whale Watching
  • Historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad
  • Flight Seeing
  • Kayaking
  • Kayaking with Whales
  • Bear Viewing
  • Private Day Boat Tours
  • Outer Coast Adventures
  • Hot Springs
  • Mt. Fairweather Golf Course

 

Glacier Bay Geography and History

Glacier Bay National Park is approximately 3.3 million acres of permanently protected land and water ecosystems including mountains, temperate rain forests, glaciers and thousands of miles of coastlines.  The area is at the northern end of the southeast Alaska Inside Passage.  Glacier Bay is included in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is an active earthquake area.  The southern part of Glacier Bay is more temperate while the northern portion is colder with more snow.  The dominate native people were the Tlingt.

George Vancouver visited the area on H.M.S Discovery in 1794.  Glacier Bay was fill with one massive glacier that has receded back since that time revealing the landscape we see today.  The most recent glacial activity was caused by the “Little Ice Age”, a period from around 1300 to the late 1800s where the northern hemispheres experienced much colder temperatures than we see today.

There have been a series of Federal government actions to protect the area starting with Calvin Coolidge’s designating of a Glacier Bay National Monument in February, 1925 to President Jimmy Carter signing a law establishing Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in December of 1980.