Fishing Report: Silver salmon season at Bird, Ship and Campbell Creeks

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 8:06 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It is that time of the fishing season where we say “so long” to king salmon with harvesting closing mid-July, and we greet with a “hello” silvers in the early stages of their run, and fishermen don’t have to venture too far from the Anchorage area to catch some coho.

“That is what we’re here for!” an excited Dustin Slinker said.

Slinker is the founder of The Bait Shack, which provides most everything needed to fish at the mouth of Ship Creek, and said coho salmon are running well.

“The cohos have finally showed up, it is a right of passage in the summertime,” he said. “Not only did the cohos show up, but so did the beautiful weather and the sunshine, so summer is finally here.”

It is about time summer is here as the state nears the end of July with the coho run just starting to make a splash.

“We’re just waiting for those silvers to really come in strong,” said Katelyn Zonneville with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Sport Fisheries in Anchorage. “Right now it’s time for silver season, kings are done. Sockeye down on the Kenai Peninsula are doing well, but as far as this area [Ship, Campbell and Bird], those are the only creeks open to salmon fishing right now and we’re really thinking about silvers.”

While anglers may be thinking silvers, many are catching and releasing the less favorable pinks, but that’s OK because it can still beat fishing in most other places.

“I live right on a river in Montana, and we only have trout, so it is kind of nice to catch bigger fish on the river like this,” one angler at Ship Creek said. “I didn’t expect it to be so busy though.”

However, it always seems to be busy at Ship Creek, the popular and productive fishery near the Port of Alaska, where many out-of-state visitors stop to watch Alaskan salmon fishing live in action right near Downtown Anchorage.

“It’s a spectator sport down here, these silvers this time of year. It’s is fun to sit up on the bridge and watch people point the schools of fish out, where to cast, how to reel — they get into it just as much as the anglers do down on the water,” Slinker added.

Remaining in town, Campbell Creek runs right through the heart of Anchorage but provides a different fishing experience.

“Campbell Creek is a special system in Anchorage — it’s only open for silver salmon or coho salmon fishing right now — and some trout fishing,” Zonneville said. “There is a great map in the regulations book that you’ll definitely want to check out before you head to Campbell, because there is some open area, some closed areas, some trout-only areas, some catch and release ... and that’s not tidally-effected but you’re going to want to watch the water levels; the cohos tend to come in when we get a little bit of rain.”

Map of Campbell Creek Drainage displays fishing regulations.
Map of Campbell Creek Drainage displays fishing regulations.(Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Venturing a little further towards Girdwood, Bird Creek is tidally-affected like Ship Creek, so timing the tides is an important aspect of finding success, and those times can find be found in various places online.

“Fishing that incoming tide is going to be your best bet, so waiting for about three hours before high tide, two to three hours, to make sure that you’re following those fish in,” Zonneville said.

Different creeks with different methods — whether drifting cured salmon eggs under a bobber, tossing spinners, or using pixie lures — no matter where or how you cast a line, you’ll likely run into some fish, as well as some families.

“Lots of folks down here, lots of families, lots of young kids down here bending rods, hookin’ fish and having fun,” Slinker said.