Fishing Small Alaska Lakes A Great Way To Escape Crowds
I was fortunate enough to live and work in Alaska for 20 years. Alaska has so many places to fish you could never fish them all in a lifetime. There are a few very popular spots either on the road system or others that are fly in locations that a lot of people charter a plane to get to. These places can get crowded at the peak of the fishing season in Alaska. Because of this I searched for ways to escape the crowds in Alaska when it came to fishing and I found fishing small lakes in Alaska was the ticket.
I like to relax when I’m fishing. I soon found myself venturing away from popular fishing spots in Alaska. Those labeled combat fishing spots. I fished a spot in Alaska for many years. It was easy to get to, right off the highway. This spot was far enough from Anchorage that in the beginning there might be 5 or 6 people show up to fish this spot in a day.
It wasn’t too many years and a campground was built. Before long I found myself setting the alarm for 2 am. We would hike down the bear infested trail in the dark. By 3:30 am just to get in our favorite spots on the creek at daylight. We did this to get there before the crowd showed up. By 6 am we usually had our limit. There would be at least 30 or 40 people crowding the small fishable area on this creek. It had become very crowded when I last fished there. The other day I was reading about Alaska fishing while researching another article. I saw a link titled Combat Fishing In Alaska. When I clicked the link it took me to a very familiar image. It was the spot mentioned above and it was slammed with anglers that were combat fishing.
Never fear though as there is still plenty of places to fish in Alaska that offers solitude and peaceful settings. You will have to work for it that is for sure. However, you might be surprised how little you have to work to get to some great fishing in Alaska. Half the battle is actually finding the spots. I am going to focus on lakes in Alaska in this article. There are 3,000,000 lakes in Alaska. While not all these lakes have fish in them, a lot of them do. There are lakes that are stocked with trout. Many of these lakes remain a secret to most and a favorite to locals.
These lakes are public and there is information out there to find them you just have to do some research. Some of these lakes have some giant rainbow trout. At least as far as small short season lakes go. These small lakes have a very short feeding season and the trout take it seriously. Very aggressive fish can mean some very fun fishing in these small Alaska lakes.
Fishing Ice Out
The winters can be harsh in Alaska, especially in the interior region. Southeast Alaska can get pretty cold and freeze small lakes, but overall southeast Alaska small lakes will melt off sooner than the interior making them the first Alaska lakes to consider for ice out fishing in Alaska. Ice out refers to the time when iced over lakes or streams melt and “open up” to the point where you can fish open water.
Ice out occurs at different times each year depending on the thickness of ice and length of winter. This can vary by several weeks either way every spring. To time the ice out period you have to track the temps and ice melt. If you are traveling to Alaska to fish during the ice out period social media and fishing reports can lend great information to plan your trip. The good news is that the ice out period can last a few weeks after the ice has melted.
Ice out is a great time to fish Alaska’s small lakes because with the ice gone the water begins to warm. The surface is open to the wind which will generate oxygen naturally creating the process that is the Alaskan food chain. This food chain is brief in Alaska when compared to milder areas. The fish know this. As the sun penetrates the water’s surface reaching the bottom of the lake many things happen. One of those is the hatching of many different chironomid, scuds and leeches.
The long winter without these forage items has the trout hungry and ready to eat. The activity that occurs after ice out generates and stimulates the trout’s instinctive impulse to feed. Instinctively these fish understand that the season is short and feast. This feeding frenzy is an angler’s dream. While the action may not be continuous every day, I have seen days that were. Those days are special and ice out is the best time to hit a day like that. When nearly every cast produces a strike and oftentimes a landed fish.
Float Tube Fishing The Alaska Spring
Rainbow trout and char devour these insects. The larvae that create these insects are a trout delicacy in the spring. However, in many of these small Alaska lakes another forage is available to the trout. The fingerling rainbow trout that are stocked in many of these small Alaska lakes makes them perfect for float tube fishing. The rainbow trout that live in these lakes take advantage of the absence of small fish. The resident trout love it when fingerling trout are released and gobble them up in a feast. The lakes that receive these fingerling trout in the stocking program tend to grow much larger rainbow trout. They often reach 30 inches in length. The holdover trout that make it through the winter welcome the small edible size trout when the stocking occurs.
The added protein and the easy meals after a long winter helps these rainbow trout, char and other fish to grow larger and healthier than where they don’t have this. Fingerling trout aren’t stocked in all small Alaska lakes, they are also stocked with larger trout too. These larger stocked trout are too big for a 14 inch trout to eat. Keep this in mind if big trout is your goal. This also will call for a minnow type fly or lure like a Clauser minnow or small minnow lure. My favorite fly was a marabou muddler. Tied on the muddler minnow recipe but using marabou in place of turkey feathers for the wings. The marabou helps the fly to stick in the trout’s teeth giving you a split second longer to set the hook.
Another great forage in these lakes throughout the year is the leech. When leeches are present a great fly to use is a black Matuka or a black egg sucking leech. Also a tandem hook rabbit fur strip left to undulate on the fall can be deadly on hungry feeding trout in the spring. I found out just how many leeches lived in one small lake after flipping my canoe after a short portage. I was covered with small leeches. It was a great discovery. I began to catch many more rainbow trout in that small Alaska lake.
Float Tube And Pontoon Fishing On Small Lakes In Alaska
You can fish small Alaska lakes using a canoe or other small boat. However, a float tube or inflatable pontoon wins out as certainly my choice for fishing small lakes in Alaska. A canoe works and I have used a canoe a few times. The problem is they are cumbersome. At least more cumbersome than a lightweight float tube or inflatable pontoon. These awesome fishing machines can be packed into remote lakes in Alaska. You can pump them up when you get there. They are also lightweight and easy to carry down to a lake that are often just off the road system but down a trail.
Float tubes and inflatable pontoon boats are also comfortable. I would argue that they are much more comfortable than a canoe or small boat. You’ll need waders to use them. But the ability to stretch out, even if kicking with flippers or rowing in a pontoon. Another thing I like about these is the ability to just kick, row or drift to a new spot. This lets you easily stand to cast until you have fished that area thoroughly. Then sit back down to move to a new spot.
The many pockets and storage options on float tubes and pontoons allow for plenty of snacks, tackle and extra layers. Extra layers can come in handy when fishing anytime in Alaska. It was often that I packed some summer sausage, chunks of cheese and some crackers along with a couple Alaskan Ambers and stay all day. The Alaska days are long. Packing some good snacks made it possible to stay all day. These storage pockets are also waterproof providing a place for a camera and cell phone. Another great bit of technology to consider now is a satellite SOS device. Many of these lakes are off the beaten path and this device can be a great thing to have for your piece of mind and maybe a loved one’s too.
Check Out Alaska Rainbow Trout