Essential Regulations Anglers Must Follow in Alaska

Ketchikan fishing charters want their clients to have a good time but understand there are rules they must follow

When you’re on vacation, the rules are probably the farthest thing from you mind. Although you may think there are no rules for fishing and hunting the expansive wilderness of Alaska, nothing could be farther from the truth.

No, while movies and folklore may lead you to believe you can do anything in Alaska, there are rules all anglers and fishing charters around Ketchikan must follow to ensure adequate numbers of salmon and other fish are maintained.

These rules are developed and enforced by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Many of them apply to the entire State of Alaska, but some only apply to the waters around Ketchikan along the state’s southeast coast. Also, fishing charters have specific rules they must follow.

Continue reading for a brief breakdown of regulations that will pertain to anglers aboard Ketchikan fishing charters or a private vessel.

General regulations all anglers (fishing charters or private) in Alaska must follow…

Licensing is probably the biggest statewide regulation anglers have to adhere to, even patrons aboard one of many fishing charters around Ketchikan.

Anglers over the age of 16, regardless of residency, must have a sport fishing license. Understandably, residents of Alaska will not pay as much for their license as a visitor will. Any Alaska residents over the age of 60 can apply for a free identification card that will serve as their license. Anyone falling into this category must record their catch with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG).

If you’re visiting from out of state, you can purchase a license for just one-day up to one year. A one-day license for a non-resident is $20 while a full-year is $145.

In addition to a general fishing license, anglers will also need to purchase a King Salmon stamp unless they plan on throwing back any King Salmon they catch.

Like the general license, the King Salmon stamp is available for just one day or an entire year and ranges in price from $10 to $100.

Most fishing charters around Ketchikan and throughout Alaska can sell you a license on board or you can purchase one online or even at a store selling bait and other fishing supplies.

 Fishing Regulations that apply to anglers around Ketchikan

As we explained above, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game divides the state into several regions and has regulations specific to that area. Ketchikan falls within the southeast region.


Courtesy of Alaska Dept of Fish & Game

In this region, any King Salmon must be at least 28 inches long in order for you to keep them. If you’re from out of state, you will be required to complete a harvest record.

Regulations for Coho, Chum, Pink and Sockeye Salmon are a bit more confusing.

If the fish are longer than 16 inches, you may possess 6 of each daily or 12 of each for your entire trip. If they are shorter than 16 inches, you may keep 10 of each daily or 10 of each for your entire trip.

There are also additional rules for certain areas, including:

  • In the northern part of the Behm Canal region, you cannot keep any salmon at all.
  • The southern part of the Behm Canal region is only open to salmon fishing between August 15 and April 30.
  • If you’re in Neets Bay, the season for all types of salmon is only open between November 16 and June 14.
  • In Nichols Pass in the months of June and July, you may only possess 6 King salmon.

Any regulations for Halibut, another popular target for fishing charters around Ketchikan, are developed at the federal level in coordination with Canadian authorities.

Regulations fishing charters in Ketchikan and throughout Alaska must follow…

Besides rules for individual anglers, fishing charters have their own rules they must follow. Before offering guided trips, a business must first have an occupational license issued by the Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development. Once they have this license, the guide will then need to register as a sport fishing business owner with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

Oasis charters

All guides and crewmembers must also have an individual fishing license as explained above.

Also, any guides and crewmembers may NOT keep any King salmon when paying customers are aboard.

The vessel must conform to all U.S. Coast Guard regulations and also be registered with the State of Alaska as such.

If this seems confusing, that’s okay. All fishing guides must be well familiar with applicable regulations before taking customers out fishing around Ketchikan.

We at Oasis Alaska Charters take these rules very seriously and will not allow patrons to keep more fish than allowed or ones that are too small. We are also well familiar with any areas around Ketchikan that are off limits to fishing and avoid them.

If you’re looking for a reputable fishing charter around Ketchikan who takes special care to ensure the resource is protected, visit, call or email us with any questions or visit our reservations page for available dates today.

Cover image courtesy of Stuart Miles via


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