our favorite fishing around fort wainwright

fishing around fort wainwright

I’ve fished before in my life, but I can confidently say that I’ve never fished more than in our past (nearly) year living in Fairbanks, Alaska. We knew that, in moving here, hunting and fishing was more prevalent, and we’d hoped to partake in both, but we didn’t have the highest of hopes because we’re generally noobs at both. However, we ran down to the local Fred Meyer, got ourselves some rods and bait, and all of a sudden, we’re fishermen…in the loosest sense of the word, of course. Thankfully, we’ve fishing around Fort Wainwright is actually pretty good, so one of those everyday adventures we’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a lot!

Learning to Fish with Kids

Remember how we got to watch the Yukon Quest pass by in our literal backyard? That’s because the Chena River is about 25 yards from our front door, and it’s been an excellent beginner spot for us all to fish. Now, I should caveat this entire post with the fact that Porter enjoys fishing the most, followed by me, then Mieke, then Ryan, then Spencer.

We bought super basic push button reels, simple lines, and lures, and we were off. After a bunch YouTube videos, I was able to confidently tie a proper knot that stayed on the hook with bait, and we got started. On his first day fishing in the Chena River, Porter caught his first Arctic Grayling, and he’s loved fishing ever since. Dare I say, he’s…hooked?!

fishing around fort wainwright

july in alaska

summer '24 according to my iphone

Fishing Around Fort Wainwright

Alaska has the most lakes and ponds of any state with over 3,000,000 independent natural lakes and, out of those, only a few thousand are actually officially named. It’s easy to forget just how big this state is until you think about that. Needless to say though, there are dozens of nearby lakes and ponds for fishing around Fort Wainwright, and we’ve had a good time trying out a few during our first summer in Alaska.

Our favorite nearby fishing spots are chosen for their ease of access – especially for beginners, overall accessibility, and proximity to Fort Wainwright for quick trips

Chena River – The Chena runs through our yard, but it also runs through and along most of town, and there are multiple access points. We’ve caught Arctic Grayling here, though more towards the beginning of June. It’s been slim pickings lately!

Wainwright #6 – On the other side of the Chena on the backside of post by the Engineer Pit lies a really unassuming little pond/lake that is stocked with Rainbow Trout. We’ve had some good luck here, and we’ve seen some eagles and the resident beaver, too.

Chena Hot Springs Road #25 – Porter and I have gone here twice now, and it’s such a cute little backwoods lake. The mosquitoes are horrific, and there are leeches, but we’ve had good luck with Rainbow Trout here. There are also (supposedly) burbot here.

Delta Clearwater River – Just under two hours from Fort Wainwright is Delta Clearwater River, which is hailed as one of the last open water sport fisheries in the Interior. Catch Arctic Grayling throughout the summer or some of the last coho and silver salmon of the season in late September (but I wouldn’t recommend grilling them…they’re better for catch and release).

Monterey Lake – This is another Alaska Department of Fish & Game stocked lake on post that many active duty and dependents get to enjoy. There are trout, grayling, and more.

fishing around fort wainwright

fishing around fort wainwright

summer '24 according to my iphone

What You Need to Fish in Alaska

First and foremost, you need an Alaska fishing license. These are super easy to get online, and you simply pick the license that applies to you. We got our general nonresident military sport fishing licenses ($20 for the year), but people can also purchase individual permits and stamps for King Salmon, as well as hunting tags for waterfowl, ducks, and more.

Individuals under 18 have to fish with a permitted adult but are otherwise not obligated to obtain their own licenses. So, lucky for our kids, they fall under our licenses, so it’s been super easy! To fish on USAG land, we also needed to get our iSportsman Sikes Act Permits (SAP), which are just $10. Any time we fish on USAG land, we have to check in online or by phone for those specific areas. It sounds more complicated than it is, but once it’s done, it’s super easy to ensure we’re ready to go.

What We’ve Learned Thus Far

You don’t need the best gear to get started! We kind of just started from zero and went from there – and it’s been great. We’ve discovered they do check permits (good that we’re valid), and that sometimes we get totally skunked and catch nothing. Porter loves the chance of it all…the others? Less so.

Ultimately though, it’s been a lot of fun. We do catch and release on post because of the groundwater, but we’ve enjoyed trout from off post. We’re also super excited to go on our big fishing trip next month as a family! I don’t know if we’ll have a huge opportunity to do this all again so, when in Alaska, right?