Monday, April 20, 2015

Cordova, Alaska: DIY Fly Fishing Salmon

I have done several DIY fishing trips to Alaska. I have yet to do a DIY fly-in/fly-out in Alaksa, but I have fished from Prudhoe Bay to Homer; and from Anchorage to the border of Canada (Yukon). Based on my experience, the most popular DIY fishing destination is the Kenai Peninsula; it's also the most crowded.  If you are looking for a less crowded DIY experience, and if you are targeting Sockeye and Coho Salmon, I would highly recommend visiting Cordova, Alaska.

100% Cordova DIY Silver. Be ready for EPIC battles!

Skip the Crowds: Why DIY Cordova?

1.  As popular as it is, Cordova will always be less crowded because it is only accessible by sea and air. Alaskan airlines operates out of the main airport in Anchorage.  It's a short 45 - 60 minute flight. The ferry service operates out of Whittier Harbor, which is about 1.5 hours drive time from Anchorage. The ferry services both passengers and autos.  The auto service is key for those traveling in campers/RV's.  The passage takes about 3 hours. For more information, please visit the following links:

2.  There are +/- 2,000 people living in Cordova; it's a small coastal community with lots of history and charm. You'll have plenty of lodging options and a very small handful of restaurants.  In other words, you'll be comfortable in town, but you are only minutes away from very wild land and water.

3. Fishing!  Within minutes of town, you can DIY fish Lake Eyak, Eyak River, Ibeck Creek, Alaganik Slough, and Fleming Lagoon.  On the Eyak (lake & river), you can rent boats or hire a guide boat. If you like ocean sport fishing, you can charter a boat and target salmon, halibut, and more.

NOTE:  I targeted Ibeck Creek because the coho run was HOT.  I checked out the other areas mentioned above, but the fishing was slow/poor.  FYI:  I only write about water that I personally fish.

What a day...What a Creek!

Ibeck Creek Facts    

  • Length:  The creek is splintered.  It's hard to determine the exact miles of the creek.  I think it's fair to say the creek is several miles long, in either direction.  
  • Origin: Copper River System Drainage.
  • Termination: Pacific Ocean.
  • Location: 7 mile bridge. Take highway 10 (Copper River Highway). It's impossible to get lost. In the Cordova area, seven mile bridge is the most accessible fishing spot (it gets busy). 
  • Fishing Season: Fishing is available year round, but please review regulations at
  • Floating: No.
  • Dangerous Animals:  Be prepared to encounter BEARS!
  • Walk-Wade Difficulty:  Easy. Water is very cold. 
  • Weather:  Cordova is known for rain.  Come prepared!
  • Fly Rods: Single Hand 7wt - 10wt.  Two handed rods (switch-spey) 6wt - 9wt.
  • Fly Lines: Floating and Sinking Tips.
  • Fishing Tips:  If you fish the bridge, be prepared for people.  If you want the creek to yourself, walk  +/- 30-60 minutes up or down the creek.  Simply explore and you'll find fish. 
  • Leaders-Tippets:  We don't use tapered leaders.  10lbs - 20lbs monofilament, about 4ft long, tied to sink tips (if you are targeting large King Salmon, you may need 40lbs monofilament line and a 10wt rod).
  • Coho Flies:  Coho will take both streamers and top-water flies.  Focus on various articulated leach patterns, with/out dumbbell eyes; large-long buggers; Popper Wogs; Gurglers.
  • Special Note: The creek is usually 100% crystal clear water (other waters in Cordova are glacial color).  This means you can see the Coho salmon.  It also means they can see you.  You can stalk/target fish and watch the fish strike your fly, with either streamers or top water flies. Some Coho's are very aggressive and will follow your fly, before attacking it. My point, typically Pacific Salmon fishing is all about snagging fish, but not with Coho's.  This is 100% fun, and the most technical salmon fishing possible on this great earth.  

Anadromous Runs

  • June - July : King Salmon.  Peak = June - July
  • June - August: Sockeye Salmon.  PEAK =  June - July
  • June - August: Pink Salmon.  PEAK =  June - July
  • June - August: Chum Salmon. PEAK = June -  July
  • August - September: Coho Salmon. PEAK =  Mid August thru Mid September
  • Year Round: Dolly Varden.  PEAK = June - July
  • Year Round: Rainbow Trout.  PEAK =  June - August
  • Year Round: Cutthroat.  PEAK =  May - June.

NOTE: The Cordova area has King Salmon fishing, but that is usually done in the ocean.  The majority of the King Salmon spawn in the Copper River, not the rivers in Cordova.

DIY Global Fishing Trips

At FCFF, I am running a business, but sometimes I love DIY fishing with friends. If you want to fish with me on one of my personal DIY trips, let's talk.

Smoked Candy Salmon 
Salmon Pizza

Final Word

In just four days of fishing, I caught, processed and packed 50lbs of wild Coho Salmon.  From Anchorage, I shipped my fish to New Hampshire, overnight, for $275.00 USD.  For the next several months, each time I ate salmon, I reflected on my DIY experience in Cordova.  Deep personal satisfaction does not even begin to describe my feelings. One thing is true, I am extremely thankful for this experience, and I highly recommend it to all my fellow DIY anglers.

Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading.