When people think of Alaskan trout fishing, the image that is often conjured is fishing beads under indicators to oversize fish that are stacked up behind spawning salmon. And to be fair, from late July through September this is a pretty accurate image of the trout fishing to be had in Southwest Alaska. The “egg drop” is an event that all serious trout anglers should experience, but if you ask me when my favorite time to fish Alaska for trout is, I would tell you June and early July.

5 Reasons to Fish Alaska during the Early Season

1. Weather

Alaska is known for its oftentimes volatile weather. It is not unusual at all to experience wind, rain, cold, and fog that hampers flying. This is part of the Alaskan experience. But in June and early July, it is not unusual to enjoy temperatures into the seventies, blue skies, and little wind. Oftentimes, one has to trade raincoats and puffy jackets for sun shirts.

The hooded, breathable shirts that have become popular in recent years from the likes of Simms, Patagonia, and Skwala are perfect as a base layer in these conditions.

2. Longer Days

Alaska is truly the “Land of the Midnight Sun” during June and early July. There is something magical about losing track of time, whether it is while fishing or over a cocktail reminiscing on the day’s fishing, and then checking the time and realizing that is the next day while still completely sunny. One of my most memorable experiences is watching the sunset turn into the sunrise while sitting around a campfire with guests on a float trip. At Royal Wolf Lodge you have the ability to walk down to the home river and literally fish as one day transitions to the next.

3. Hungry Fish

When the June 8th opener for trout finally comes around, the trout of Alaska have endured a long winter with little food. Additionally, they are just coming out of their spawning cycle. Needless to say, they have voracious appetites in June. To be fair, June trout are skinnier than their September counterparts, but the grabs and the fights are often so vicious that it hardly matters. It is also incredible how quickly those trout can put on the pounds. It is not uncommon to notice a difference in the girth of the trout that you catch from your first fishing day on Saturday to your final fishing day on Thursday. In a lot of ways, the feeding behavior of trout mimics that of the bears. During early season, the bears are chasing every thing that moves in the water with reckless abandon. They are lean, skinny, just out of hibernation, and are desperate for a decent meal. Later in the season the bears are fat, full, and barely willing to move for a fish. The trout are similar, and yes, September probably brings out the best in both the trout and the bears; both are fat and healthy, and feeling that same desperation to put on the last few calories before the food is gone, but the early season brings out a different desperation as they try to find their first meals of the year.

4. Before Bears

Speaking of bears, another advantage of fishing in June is that for the most part you don’t have to share the river with bears. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly think that sharing our rivers with the bears adds to the overall experience, but for the hardcore angler, there are definitely times when the bears can become a nuisance. Specifically, the Brooks River comes to mind. This is an iconic stream, and one that should be experienced by any hardcore fly fisher person coming to Alaska, but it can feel a little like playing frogger with the bears from July through September as the bears (and tourists) fill up the river. But in June, no such problem exists.

5. Technique

The four reasons listed above are certainly valid reasons to fish Southwest Alaska in June, but the number one reason I recommend fishing in June is the variety of techniques an angler gets to use. In a single week in June, one can fish dry flies, nymphs, dry-droppers, streamers, fry, and mice.

Dries, Nymphs, and Droppers

Being able to fish to rising trout is the pinnacle of trout fly fishing for many anglers. When thinking of Alaska, most anglers don’t envision using classic techniques. But on certain streams within Katmai National Park in June and early July, that is actually your best strategy. We see hatches of green and brown drakes, blue winged olives, stoneflies, and caddis. At times these hatches are prolific and bring large trout into feeding lanes just like on some of the most famous dry fly streams in the lower 48.

At other times, fishing a dry dropper setup is a great searching technique. Another fun option is to feed a nymph to a trout that you have spotted. I remember guiding a young angler on a side channel of a famous Katmai stream. We had a nice trout spotted in a depression under an overhanging tree. After trying to pull him out of his hole with a streamer and mouse, we tied on a size 16 Hare’s Ear without an indicator and fed him a nymph.


As much as I love dry fly fishing, at my core I am a steelhead fisherman who is addicted to the tight line grab of a swung fly. Early season in Alaska provides perhaps the best streamer fishing for large (summer steelhead sized) trout in the world. Fishing large streamers on a tight line produces one of two strikes; either an excruciating test of patience where the fish “tap-tap-tap-tappity-tap-taps” its way to the hook, or an absolutely arm wrenching grab where you couldn’t screw up the hookset if you tried. Both grabs are magical, and both grabs could come from a 14 inch trout or a monster in the 8-12 pound range.


I cut my teeth as a fly fishing guide on the Deschutes River in Oregon which was most famous for its dry line steelhead fishing. There is still nothing I enjoy more than casting a small (relatively) fly on a dry line and feeling that tight line grab. Fry fishing on our streams perfectly replicates that experience, but when the fry fishing is hot, instead of 1-3 fish a day, it is more like 10 fish in an hour before the fry move out of range. The timing of the fry run is very much water level and temperature dependent, and is difficult to predict, but if you hit it right you won’t soon forget the experience!


Catching a giant trout on a mouse is probably on every fly fisherman’s bucket list…and it should be! While mousing for trout is rarely the way to catch the most fish, odds are it is the most fun way! Watching a two foot trout chase down and slash at a giant piece of protein skittering on the surface is about as exciting as trout fishing gets! The only way to catch a trout on a mouse is to fish a mouse, and the best time is in June!


If chasing large trout with a variety of techniques appeals to you, a trip to Royal Wolf in June or July should definitely be on your list. Add in good weather, long days, and hungry trout, and you have the recipe for an incredible trout fishing trip in the great state of Alaska!

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