Thanks to a rather prominent television show, you’d be forgiven for thinking that fishing within the cold Alaskan waters entails only catching king crab. While they are a staple, they are far from the only underwater denizen—there are bigger fish to try your hand at catching, especially in the port town of Sitka. Should you charter a trip out to sea for a day of Sitka fishing—or just find yourself wondering what’s the freshest option on a local menu—keep an eye out for the following.
Pacific Halibut is a big deal—literally. After spawning at depths of 1,500 feet in the winter months, most adults eventually grow to be an average of 25 to 30 pounds. However, as the largest of the flat fish, some can grow to be 600 pounds in weight—affectionately earning the moniker “Barn Door” and the designation of a sport fish. The Alaskan record for a Pacific Halibut caught is only 459 pounds; a much more manageable goal for you to strive for. Spotting Halibut in the water before you’ve hooked them can be tricky, as they tend to benefit from evolutionary camouflage—their underside is white, their topside is sea-bottom brown and their body shape is a near-pancake oval. Your best bet is a knowledgeable guide who can deftly bait a hook and trawl the lure with a cannonball weight.
The prototypical icon of Alaska’s waters, wild salmon have been the focus of much conversation in recent years. On the one hand you’ll find the culinary world writing raving op-eds on the flavorful merits of wild salmon, while on the other you’ll find conservation efforts quick to highlight dwindling populations due to rising temperatures and commercial fishing. Luckily enough, catch-and-release makes for a guilt-free day of fishing in Sitka.
Wild salmon is just a blanket term—King, Sockeye, Coho, Chum and Pink are the individual species you may find at the other end of your hook. Salmon season stretches from May to September, with the different species migrating to freshwater to spawn in different months. King salmon typically weigh in the heaviest at somewhere between 20 to 60 pounds, but any fisherman worth their salt will tell you the one to hook is Coho—it puts up the most fight. For catch-and-release, the size of the story matters more than the fish itself.
If you are in Sitka fishing for either of the above, chances are good you’ll reel in a rockfish more than once—the waters surrounding Sitka possess a wealth of rockfish species. With three dozen species found throughout the state, a general characterization for most is the presence of spines in the head and gill plates—as well as the fact that they’ll fight tooth and nail when being reeled in. Anglers often seek out the black rockfish: found in schools of several hundred or in small pods atop rocky reefs, black rockfish prove to be a surprise delight for those sport fishing in Sitka.
Eager to charter a trip to the Last Frontier for a chance to try your hand at the state’s fabled sportfish? Give one of our travel agents a call first. Not only can their encyclopedic knowledge of the travel industry provide promising insights to your vacation, but also they can secure exclusive perks and amenities with leading travel companies through their industry connections. Picture it: an Alaska adventure for you and your family on board a Holland America Cruise Line, with an all-day salmon and halibut fishing trip covered through onboard spending credit—a prized catch indeed.