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The Aleutian Islands are located at the southern tip of Alaska. They are a chain of islands that separate the Bering Sea to the north from the Pacific Ocean to the South. The islands occupy an area of 6,821 square miles and extend in an arc from southwest to northwest for 1,100 miles from the tip of the Alaskan Peninsula.
The Aleutians comprise 14 large islands, more than 55 smaller islands, and numerous islets, most of which are part of Alaska. The major island groups from east to west are the Fox, Islands of the Four Mountains, Andreanof, Rat, and the Near Islands. The Komandor (Commander) Islands, near the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, are also geographically part of the Aleutians. The islands are also a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The islands represent a partially submerged continuation of the Aleutian Range in Alaska.
The first inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands were the Aleuts, who called themselves the Ulangan. After discovering the islands in 1741, Russian hunters and settlers almost drove the native Aleuts to extinction by forcibly relocating, slaughtering, or enslaving the natives. In 1867, the Russians sold the Aleutian and the rest of Alaska to the United States in the Alaska purchase. During World War 2, the Japanese invaded and occupied Attu and Kishka islands in June 1942. Fortunately, US troops were able to dislodge the Japanese from the islands in 1943.
Being located in Alaska, it’s no surprise that the Aleutians provide a wonderful fishing experience to anglers. Because of its location, there are only a few anglers who come here to cast their lines. This makes the islands a good place to relax and enjoy nature while fishing for delicious salmon and other gamefish.
A combination of good location, biodiversity, and of course, a large number of salmon makes fishing a prime economic and leisure activity in the Aleutian Islands. It is so important that a lot of the activities in the islands are related to fishing. Historically, the sockeye and coho salmon are the most harvested salmon in the area for subsistence purposes. The islands also serve as the site of the largest fishing port in the US, the Dutch harbor. That should give you a glimpse of how crucial fishing is on the Aleutians.
There are also plenty of fishing charters and lodges that offer their services to visiting anglers in the area. They provide assistance and guidance to people who are either new to the area or those who wish to find better fishing spots. So don’t be afraid to avail of their services if you want to make the most of your trip there. Speaking of trips, there are daily flights from Anchorage to allow anglers plenty of opportunities to reach the islands.
This bounty comes with a price though, as the islands are constantly battered by 50-foot waves and powerful winds. If you’re planning on going fishing here, make sure that you’re fully prepared for the environment. Ensure you check the weather forecast when planning your trip to the islands and plan the route you shall be taking to ensure you won’t get lost. You can ask the fishing charters you hired to advise you on when to head out in the waters to go fishing.
Of course, we couldn’t talk about Alaska without talking about the great salmon runs that happen here every year. King salmon, also known as the chinook salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon, chum salmon, and sockeye salmon are all common in the islands. These could be found in the islands’ rivers, bays, and other areas close to the ocean. During the famous “salmon run” in Alaska during the summer months of May to September. To make the most of your trip to the islands, make sure to schedule your trip during these months.
The most popular fishing techniques done in the islands are fly fishing, particularly if you’re fishing on the rivers or streams of the islands for salmon or trout. Trolling, jigging, and spinning are also popular if you want to catch salmon in the area. The first two are popular with those who want to fish in the open waters around the islands for salmon, the latter is popular for those who want to stick to the rivers and streams.
Jigging is also popularly used to catch lingcod, halibut, and robckfish if you’re not looking to catch salmon. Another thing to note is that when fishing in the Aleutians, there are some game fish that have a limit on what you can bring home with you. In that case, it is highly recommended to practice catch and return when fishing for halibut and lingcod.
Common places to go fishing in the islands include Dutch Harbor, Sand Point, Akutan Pass, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and False Pass, just to name a few. These areas provide anglers with plenty of fishing opportunities when they cast their lines in these waters. Not only are they prime fishing spots, but you can also admire the beauty of nature and relax once you’re finished fishing as well. Sand Point, in particular, offers excellent opportunities to catch halibut, salmon, pollock, and even cod if you cast your line in its waters.
Another fishing spot that you wouldn’t want to miss would be Akutan Pass, on the west side of the island of Akutan. The pass is famous for being a site where many of the largest halibut were caught. So if you’re looking for another trophy fish to capture in the Aleutians, you know where to look.
Looking for a more personal encounter with a lot of different wildlife? Then perhaps the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is more of your style. This 417,533acre state park is the perfect place to do bird watching and observing grizzly bears in Alaska. This is especially true for the latter because during the salmon run, there could be as much as six bears per mile in some of the streams. So if you want the extra challenge of beating grizzlies for salmon, this place is the way to go.
Up for some challenge? Alaska also offers a trophy certificate to the biggest chinook salmon caught by anglers fishing in Alaska. For your catch to be considered, it must weigh either 50 pounds or larger. So if you think you’ve got what it takes to catch a salmon in Alaska during your trip, then head out and test your luck in its salmon-rich waters.
Just like the rest of Alaska, fishing in the Aleutian Islands is an all-year-round affair. But, if you want to make the most out of your trip, you should schedule your fishing trip during the summer months of May to September. It is during these months that the famed salmon run happens. King salmon is first to arrive in May and lasts until August. The chum follow in June and start to diminish in August, while the sockeye come in September. Pink salmon and coho arrive later in July until the pink salmon begin to decrease in October, while the coho start to lessen by December. If you’re looking to go ice fishing, you will be greeted by pike trout, lake trout, rainbow trout, and halibut from November to December.
Because fishing is one of the primary sources of income for many in the Aleutians, there are plenty of fishing charters available for hire in the area. These charters offer services that will enhance your fishing experience and make sure it is an unforgettable one. Procuring their services shouldn’t cost too much, and they are ready to adjust their services depending on your needs.
Because its islands were the only territory within the US that a foreign enemy occupied during the Second World War, the Aleutian Islands still bear the scars and traces of the last World War. There are still many former barracks, concrete bunkers, and former gun emplacements around Dutch Port and the nearby settlements. The story behind the Aleutian Islands Campaign can be viewed from the Aleutian WW2 Visitor Center and the Museum of the Aleutians. You can also take a tour of the Aleutian WW2 National Historic Area and see firsthand the effects of the war on the islands.
Possessed by natural beauty, the Aleutian Islands offer many beautiful state parks and recreational areas for visitors in the area. Whether you want to visit Sand Point to do some beachcombing or to view grizzly bears firsthand in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, there’s plenty of things to see and do in the islands, aside from fishing. You can even visit the crater of one of the island’s many volcanoes in Acutan Island if you want to see the beauty and danger of a volcano in person.