Alaskan Stream Stalker series
Dolly Varden trout

Alaska's Spotted "Steelhead"

by Gary Barnes

Every fly fisher, whether old or young, man or woman, expert or beginner, has their own definition of an ideal fishery. Some aging anglers may find that waters providing easy access and comfortable wading/walking are at the top of the list. Others may regard the setting, the scenery, wildlife and camping opportunities part of their ideal fishing experience. Those who are complete perfectionists with a high level of expertise may find fish with PhDs and high IQs as the electricity that gets their juices flowing. And what of the younger set, or those just entering the sport....of course catching fish! But perhaps the one ingredient common on everyone's list....a fishery that is consistent and has perpetual longevity.

With little effort, I could list dozens of fisheries in Alaska's 586,000 square miles that would meet every angler's qualifications. Yet 99% of those waters will be found in the remote areas of state where transportation to the location is either by air or boat/raft, or perhaps a combination of the two. Whenever those components are entered into the equation the costs involved in experiencing those fisheries skyrockets....and puts the majority of these waters out of the typical angler's reach. Yes, we all may save up for that one Dream Trip some day, but for the most part our hobby and love requires much more gratification than a once in a lifetime experience.

Surprisingly, Alaska does have a lot of fisheries that provide some very good fly fishing along the road systems of Southcentral, Kodiak, and Interior Alaska. And indeed, there are a few of those which provide a sustainable high quality experience inspite of increasing pressures, often associated with magazine articles or tv fishing shows. I guess AFO is guilty as charged. But hopefully, as we share some of our most treasured accessible fisheries, you will treat them with a high degree of respect, practice Catch and Release as much as possible and leave them in better shape than you found it.

Which brings us back to the focus of this article.....the Kenai Peninsula's Anchor River. I'll categorize this small clearwater stream as one of Alaska's all 'round fisheries, providing opportunities for a multitude of species from the end of May to December 31.

Beginning on Memorial Day Weekend, five 3-day weekends through the month of June provide anglers the opportunity to fish for king salmon that have reached as much as 50 pounds although typically they average in the 20's. Then in mid-summer the Dolly Varden arrive to fill the gap between kings and the late summer & fall fisheries. From August through December this stream is host to silver salmon, a few pinks, even a chum or two, and lastly one of Alaska's northernmost steelhead populations which is a success story in its own right.

Reaching the Anchor River is a piece of cake. It is located 12 miles north of Homer on the Kenai Peninsula, or if you are driving down from Soldotna its about a 68 mile, hour and fifteen minute trip on a highway that parallels Cook Inlet and provides majestic views of Redoubt and Illiamna volcanos across the water. HINT: The drainages of Ninilchik River and Deep Creek which you cross also support summer-run Dolly Varden fisheries similar to the Anchor River but not quite in as large of numbers. Yet often these two streams may produce the largest fish, with some reaching 3 to 5 lbs. So the lessons you learn here can be applied to other waters too. And with the close proximity of all these streams, you can fish each one in a single long day if you start early enough.

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