Why the Early Season is so Much Fun – a Guide’s Perspective

Chef Megan – got out of the kitchen to fish for some early season Chum Salmon

We invited the staff to join The Alaska’s Anvik River Lodge Blog. Many of our guides have been with us for well over five seasons and they can’t wait to get back up to the lodge every spring. The following is some insight by guide extraordinaire Justin Doucet (J.D. to everyone that knows him). ENJOY!!


The early season (June 25- July 15) at the Anvik River lodge consist of the largest salmon run of the year, highly aggressive pike, acrobatic grayling and ravenously hungry arctic char. This combination makes for some of the best fishing opportunities on the Anvik.

The Anvik River is home to one of the largest Chum salmon runs in Alaska, averaging 400,000- 700,000 fish, at times exceeding 1.2 million fish. This amount of fish in a crystal clear river is truly a remarkable site to witness. The chum salmon range from 7 to 15lbs and fight like hell trying to elude the net. Some of my best days on the river have exceeded over 100 chum a day between 2 anglers, that’s basically reeling in 700 to 1500lbs of salmon a day per boat – that’s a work out. The number of fish that are available during the first few weeks of the season is tough to beat.

Slammin’ Chum Salmon on the Anvik River.
What a catch!! A beautiful summer Chum Salmon on the Anvik River.

Fishing for Chum is exciting, most of the time you see the aggressive takes. One minute your lure is working its way through the water then all of the sudden you see this 10+lb fish, (swimming so fast you might miss it if you blink) slam your lure. You set your hook perfectly and your rod is dubbed over and your guide is PUMPED! You get that fish landed for the grip and grin – proof positive that you are a skilled angler.

WHAT THESE FISH LIKE TO GO AFTER – The Chum love spinners like the #3 black Vibrax with silver sparkles commonly known as the Micheal Jackson. They also love the natural swing of the fly hitting voodoo leeches, intruders, and popsicles.

PIKE FISHING GALORE! On top of the spectacular Chum Salmon fishing; the PIKE fishing is phenomenal. The northern pike are just coming out of their spawning season and are eager to hit anything. The guides love to rig up a top water lure this time of year. Pike are a prehistoric, mean looking toothy monsters and when they hit top water lures it is a thrilling experience. As you reel in and work the lure the still water begins to move and suddenly comes alive, at times seeing 3 to 4 different fish creating a wake as they speed toward your lure, the fastest pike wins and a huge explosion erupts. BOOM a huge pike is fighting you with all his might head shaking & water thrashing. As you reel it in several more pike are hoping for a quick meal. If the excitement of top water isn’t your thing a spoon or a jig would work just as well. This is one of the best times of the year to fish for these aggressive predators of the north.

Nothin’ like catching an Anvik River northern pike on the fly!
Plentiful and exuberant the Anvik River grayling can’t be beat – spin or fly it’s all exciting.

If you’ve had your fill of catching salmon and pike the Grayling and Char are in the same kind of feeding frenzy. The water is finally warming up the river is free from all ice and dirt, and they need to get as much food as possible before winter sets in again. This is the time Grayling are most likely to hit on dry flies, the grayling will come clear out of the water like acrobats flipping and twisting to grab your fly. Although rare it’s also the best time to catch Char on a dry fly as long as you are up to the challenge, you could be part of the elite group that catches one. If you’re not a fan of fly fishing, don’t worry as they are just as eager to hit spoons and spinners with vicious strikes. They both put up fights that will have you begging for more. Whether you’re a seasoned vet, beginner fly fisherman/women or one that loves to fish with ultralight gear fun can be had by all.

This is a great example of the beautiful char you’ll catch on the Anvik River.

If you’re planning your next or your first trip to Alaska consider the early season. The salmon are plentiful and will give you a workout. The pike explode the water and get your adrenalin pumping. When the pike and salmon fishing wears out the Grayling and Char will fill in the gaps for an exciting fun filled fishing vacation, all at an incredible value that should not be overlooked.