Alaska Fishing: Sitka Management Area (Sitka Roadside Fishing)
The former capitol of Alaska, under Russian rule, modern Sitka is a small town of nearly 9,000 people, perched on the western edge of Baranof Island. It is served by the Alaska Marine Highway system, local commuter airlines, and daily jet service that puts you in either Anchorage or Seattle. Sitka receives about eleven feet of rain a year, most of which falls in the fall and winter months. Summers in Sitka can be incredibly beautiful.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Sitka Management Area includes Baranof and Yakobi islands, along with the west side of Chicagof Island, and includes all associated freshwater and saltwater areas in the vicinity.
How This Section is Organized
The Sitka Management Area offers diverse fishing opportunities over a very large area. To make the information manageable, we are separating it into three sections, linked below. This page deals with the roadside marine and freshwater fishery available in the Sitka area.
For information on remote freshwater fishing in the Sitka Management Area, including Baranof, Yakobi and Chicagof islands, check our Sitka Remote Fishing page. For information pertaining to the saltwater fishery in the Sitka Management Area, refer to our Sitka Saltwater Fishing page.
For information pertaining to specific species, including recommended gear and techniques to catch them, refer to our species pages, our fishing methods pages, and our fishing gear pages.
Sitka Roadside Fishing: What to Expect
Though the road system in the Sitka area is limited, it offers a wealth of accessible fishing opportunities. Saltwater anglers will be impressed to have opportunities for all five species of Pacific salmon, together with Dolly Varden, cutthroat trout and halibut, along with chances at rockfish in many areas. The freshwater opportunities on the road system include all five species of Pacific salmon, along with Dolly Varden, steelhead, rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout, grayling and even northern pike. It's a rich fishery, and there is something going on all year round.
Run Timing Charts
Sitka Roadside Freshwater Fishing Chart
Sitka Roadside Saltwater Fishing Chart
Fishing Sitka's Road System
The road system north and south of Sitka offers a number of marine fishing opportunities, with a variety of shoreline conditions ranging from sandy beaches to rocky areas that can make for good tide pool exploring. Surf casting is possible in many areas, which can be employed for a variety of species, using different methods. Rockfish, halibut, cod and other bottom fish can be caught with bait, fished on a slip-sinker rig on the bottom. Salmon, steelhead and Dolly Varden, together with sea-run cutthroat trout, can be caught with spinning tackle from shore in many areas. Freshwater opportunities north of town are somewhat limited, however there is some outstanding freshwater angling available in town and along the highway south of town.
Key to Amenities
Wheelchair / ADA Access
Halibut Point Road
Halibut Point Road extends north from the town of Sitka, for 7.8 miles, terminating at the Starrigavan Campground. A short road extends inland along Starrigavan Creek to a rifle range.
1. Starrigavin Creek. Species: Chum, coho, king and pink salmon (only kings and pinks may be retained), Dolly Varden, steelhead and rainbow trout. The steelhead run begins and peaks in May. Pinks arrive in July, followed by chum salmon. Coho salmon arrive in August, and by September and October the coho run is at full strength. Dolly Varden fishing is best in the spring during the salmon smolt out-migration. Good opportunities for Dollies are on the seaward side of the highway bridge, as well as in the estuary at high tide. Upriver fishing can be good, however the banks are very brushy and access is difficult. Access: Travel north from Sitka 7.8 miles to the end of the Halibut Point Road at the Starrigavin Campground.
2. Starrigavin Bay. Species: Chum, coho and pink salmon, Dolly Varden, cod, flounder, halibut, rockfish. Access: Travel north from Sitka 7.8 miles to the end of the Halibut Point Road at the Starrigavin Campground.
3. Halibut Point Recreation Area & Granite Creek. Species: Chum, coho and pink salmon, Dolly Varden, cod, flounder, halibut, rockfish. Nearby Granite Creek offers very limited fishing opportunities upstream of the highway bridge, due to low water. Dolly Varden fishing out on the flats at the river's mouth can be excellent during the smolt migration in spring and early summer. Bring waders to get to the best fishing. Access: Travel north on Halibut Point Road 4.4 miles from Sitka.
4. Swan Lake. Species: Cutthroat, rainbow and Dolly Varden. Swan Lake, a man-made lake, was formed during Russian rule as a source of income for Sitka. Ice was sawn from the lake during winter and hauled by sailing ship to towns in the south. The lake was populated with indigenous cutthroat trout, which resided in Wrinkleneck Creek prior to the lake's formation. The creek, flowing into one end of the lake, is closed to fishing. Swan Lake is stocked during the summer by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, with rainbow trout for a children's trout tournament. Access: Swan Lake is located in the center of the town of Sitka.
Sawmill Creek Road
The Sawmill Creek Road extends 7.4 miles south and east of Sitka, terminating at Herring Bay. The last two miles are unpaved. There is an access road continuing 6.5 miles to the Green Lake access, however this road is closed to public motor vehicle access. Hiking and bicycling are allowed on this road. At mile 5.4, a road turns inland to the left. This is the Blue Lake access road, and it takes you to the Blue Lake boat launch.
5. Indian River. Species: Chum, coho, king, pink, and sockeye salmon, Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, steelhead. Indian River is arguably the most popular fishing river near Sitka. The huge run of pinks begins to materialize in July, and coho salmon follow in August, with the run peaking in September and October. Indian River receives a small number of wayward king salmon intended for the hatchery near Totem Park, as the hatchery uses water from the river. Retention of chum, coho and sockeye salmon is prohibited upstream of the Sawmill Creek Road bridge, however pinks and kings are legal. It is legal to fish for all salmon species below the ADF&G markers in the lower river. Access: East on Sawmill Creek Road to Indian River Road, left 1/4 mile to park.
6. Crescent Bay. Species: Chum, coho and pink salmon, Dolly Varden, cod, flounder, halibut, rockfish. This is a shore-based marine fishery. Park and fish on public land only! Some shore-based opportunities exist for king, silver and pink salmon, as well as halibut. Access: Park near the Sheldon Jackson College Science Center.
7. Thimbleberry Lake. Species: Brook trout. Fly-fishing is good, however the fish are mostly under 12" in size. Shoreline vegetation makes bank fishing a challenge. A packraft or float tube provides excellent access from the lake itself. Access: Drive four miles east of Sitka on Sawmill Creek Road. Drive across the Thimbleberry Creek bridge and park on the left. Take the trail 1/4 mile to Thimbleberry Lake.
8. Heart Lake. Species: Brook trout. Fish are fewer, however larger fish can be caught in this lake, compared to Thimbleberry. There's a fishing platform and a small boat available on a first-come, first-served basis, however shoreline access is better than on Thimbleberry. Access: Drive four miles east of Sitka on Sawmill Creek Road. Drive across the Thimbleberry Creek bridge and park on the left. Take the trail 1/4 mile to Thimbleberry Lake, and continue 3/4 mile to Heart Lake.
9. Sawmill Creek. Species: Chum, coho, king and pink salmon, Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, steelhead. The spring steelhead run begins the last week of April and continues through May. Pinks and chum salmon return in July, and coho begin to appear in late August, continuing into October. Dolly Varden follow the salmon runs upriver, so Dolly fishing is best during the salmon runs. Trout fishing is best in the upper river, near the Blue Lake Campground. Some wayward kings miss the hatchery at Silver Bay and come up Sawmill Creek. Access: Drive south and east of Sitka 5.7 miles on the Sawmill Creek Road. A primitive campground is available, operated by the Tongass National Forest.
10. Beaver Lake. Species: Grayling. The shoreline is overgrown with vegetation, however some access is possible in places, most notably the bridge at the opposite end of the lake, which crosses the small stream connecting a smaller pond with Beaver Lake. This pond also holds grayling. A float tube or packraft provides good access to this lake. Access: Drive south and east of Sitka 5.7 miles on the Sawmill Creek Road to the Sawmill Creek Campground. Continue on foot 3/4 mile via an established trail.
11. Blue Lake. Species: Rainbow trout. Fishing is good along the shoreline, particularly in the vicinity of tributary streams and in the shallower water near the head of the lake. Access: Starting at mile 5.4 of the Sawmill Creek Road, turn left on Blue Lake Road and continue 2.2 miles to Blue Lake. NOTE: The Blue Lake Hydroelectric Project was completed in 2014 and resulted in an increase in the depth of Blue Lake of over 80 feet. The lake is now substantially larger and is bordered by flooded timber, which was left standing as the lake filled up. This should result in improved water quality and habitat quality for the fishery. A new access road provides vastly improved access to the lake itself, for launching boats in order to access lake and stream fishing in remoter reaches of the lake.
NOTE: Blue Lake is the city of Sitka's fresh water supply. Please take extra caution in this area to avoid any possible contaminants of the lake water.
12. Green Lake. Species: Brook trout, landlocked king salmon. Green Lake holds some larger brook trout over 16". King salmon in this lake are escapees from hatchery pens, and can reach sizes in excess of 24". Shoreline fishing can be good, along with the tributary access at the opposite side of the lake. Access: Starting at mile 7.2 of the Sawmill Creek Road (the end of the public roadway), park and continue on foot or bike another 6.5 miles along the Green Lake Access Road to the Green Lake power plant.
NOTE: Blue Lake and Green Lake produce enough hydroelectric power to provide the city of Sitka with 100% renewable energy.
Alaska is bear country! Anglers must be aware of the possibility of encountering bears along any salmon stream. Revillagigedo Island has a robust black bear population and due to heavy vegetation in many areas, encounters can happen at close range. In recent years there have been reports of brown bears on the eastern side of the island. Take the following precautions:
- Make plenty of noise while hiking or fishing.
- Don’t give bears a reason to associate people with food! Keep food and your catch in a backpack on your back.
- Protect yourself! Bring a firearm or pepper spray to use as a deterrent.
Need More Information?
Check out our other Sitka Management Area fishing pages!
If you’re looking for other areas to fish in Southeast Alaska, check out our pages for the following areas:
If you’re interested in hunting opportunities in Southeast Alaska, check out our hunting pages at the following links:
Rules and Regulations
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is responsible for maintaining the sport fisheries across the state of Alaska. Their website provides a wealth of information about our sport fisheries as well as the regulations you need to know. Additionally, the Department issues Emergency Orders throughout the season, that have a direct bearing on last-minute changes in bag limits, openings and closings of seasons and much more. Fishermen are responsible for knowing the regulations, including these Emergency Orders. You can find all of that information and more at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website, or at the regional office in the area where you are fishing.ADF&G Sportfisheries DivisionSitka Office:
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
304 Lake Street, Room 103
Sitka, AK 99835
1 (907) 747-5355