The iconic backdrop of Mt. Denali makes for incredible views while fishing near Alaska’s most popular national park. The national park is a must see attraction for those visiting Alaska, and the Denali fishing trips in the area should not be missed. After all, fishing is the easiest way to get hands-on with some of Alaska’s spectacular wildlife species!
Denali National Park itself is limited in fishing opportunities. Most of the rivers inside the park are fed by silty glaciers that create ‘dirty’ water. This dirty water is not ideal for fish habitat. However, the areas around the park provide opportunities for all five species of pacific salmon, rainbow trout, and arctic grayling.
Denali Fly Fishing Guided Trips
Outside of the park, there are a handful of charter services for fishing trips. Most of the fishing near the park entrance is focused on the elegant arctic grayling. While catching grayling on conventional gear is fun, this species is made for fly fishing! Grayling are extremely easy to catch on the fly, so if you’ve ever wanted to try fly fishing, this is the spot!
Further away from the Denali National Park entrance rainbow trout and various salmon species can be caught. For these species, focus your time closer to the Talkeetna area as salmon and trout populations are stronger in this region.
Denali Fly Fishing Guides
Based out of the Cantwell area, Denali Fly Fishing Guides specializes in day trips for arctic grayling. Their small headquarters are located directly on the bank of the Nenana River giving them access to untouched tributaries in the area. Without a doubt, this area is the most gorgeous area to catch grayling on the fly!
Offering a variety of fly fishing packages to build into your trip’s itinerary, this opportunity should not be missed! Packages they offer: 4.5 hour, 6 hour, 8.5 hour (full day) and even multi-day exploration trips!
Denali Fly Fishing Guides happily supplies lightweight fly-rods, tackle and hip waders. If you have your own gear, bring it! Additionally, a fishing license is required to fish in the state of Alaska!
Owned and operated by long-time Alaska resident, George Rogers, the Denali Angler offers a comprehensive day of both fishing and local knowledge. George is a teacher by trade, so naturally, his patience transfers into his guiding style.
The Denali Angler fishes around the Cantwell area and offers 4 hour, 6 hour and 8 hour (full day) trips. Gear, rods, and tackle are all provided. Any gear you want to bring is great! The Denali Angler is 100% catch and release based.
Denali Adventure Tours
Since 2003 Denali Adventure Tours has been operating various tourist attractions and tours around the park. This includes fly fishing! Offering various packages from half-days to full-days, Denali Adventure Tours will supply all gear.
Fly-fishing packages are offered from June 1 through Sept 1.
Denali Fishing Trips – What to Bring
If you plan to fish around Denali we recommend hiring one of the above mentioned guides for the day! For the DIY angler, the Cantwell area is a great jumping off point to access a plethora of clearwater streams and lakes.
License: Make sure to purchase a valid Alaska Fishing License. These licenses can be purchased online at ADFG. For a nonresident a license runs around $15/day – a weekly license is worth it if you plan to fish for a few days.
Fishing gear: Arctic Grayling fly fishing is pretty simple. They are not picky fish, and eat most dry flies – so bring a fly box or two. Fly rods rigs in the 3 – 5 weights are recommended. Waders are nice for the cold water and bug-proofing!
Bugs: Mosquitos can be prevalent in early summer, so bring clothes to keep your skin covered the best you can! Bug spray is recommended for hands and face – everything else should be covered!
Rain gear: As it is the mountains, rain can happen any time! Not only for the rain, but raincoats make great wind-stoppers.
Fish Species in Denali National Park
Inside the Denali National Park boundaries there are several prominent fish species. Most notably, is the arctic grayling that thrives in the pure headwaters in the park. Grayling are found in the clearest and coldest waters they can find – which are often inaccessible from the park’s roads. Other species that can be found within the park include rainbow trout, pike, and whitefish.
Most of the water inside the park is very silty and not ideal fish habitat. To find fish, look for clear water streams. While a few lakes inside the park hold trout and pike, it’s best to concentrate your fishing efforts outside the park. To the south, areas around Talkeetna can offer great salmon fishing with views of Mt. Denali.
While fishing opportunities inside Denali National Park are slim, you can find fish! We recommend anglers spend their time fishing outside the park. Several guides and outfitters can be booked by the park entrance or town of Cantwell. For anglers looking to fish, make sure to buy a license, bring bug spray, and whatever fly fishing gear you have!