Steelhead fishing on the Karluk River is an experience that any serious angler dreams about, and is boasted by some fly fisherman as the best Steelhead River in Alaska. The Karluk River contains the largest populations of Steelhead on Kodiak Island, with average annual returns of around 8,000 fish. In the past years, returns have been as low as 4,000 and as high as 11,000. Karluk steelhead spawning populations tend to be cyclic and variable. Steelhead trout returning to the Karluk River are fall-run fish which begin entering the Lagoon and lower river in mid-August and may continue immigration through the winter months.
The peak of the run typically occurs in late October, which is normally the best time for fishing. Research previously conducted on the Karluk has shown that, normally, only about 10% of the return has entered the river by September 25. Majority of spawning occurs April through late May.
Adult Karluk Steelhead are typically found in fast rapid currents and deep running water. In most places the river is not more than 100 yards wide and is mostly comprised of fast ripples and the water level can range from knee to waist deep. Stretching for approximately 22 miles the Karluk has small islands, rocks, and a few log jams which offer prime steelhead fishing locations.
The Karluk is the place for those who truly want to get off the beaten path and enjoy the best Steelhead fishing in Alaska. The Emerald Isle’s legendary river is one of Alaska’s premier fly fishing destinations.