Alaska – Fall

It’s no secret Alaska is unbelievably beautiful. Her vast mountainous landscapes, glacial views, abundant wildlife, and amazing fishing opportunities makes Alaska a dream destination for any outdoor enthusiast. Fall in Alaska is something special to witness. Viewers can expect to see snowcapped mountains decorated in red tundra and yellow birch, copious amounts of blueberries, and a potential aurora borealis sighting. 

During the summer, a wonderful and majestic event drives five species of salmon to school together and take to the rivers and creeks. Millions of fish traveling through endless obstacles, mostly humankind. Miles of gill nets, pelagic predators, urban expanses, and sport fishing. Stellar Sealions and other seals use their strength and agility to power up rivers and wreak havoc on schooling salmon. Finally, they make it to their spawning grounds where their life had begun and will soon end. 

Fall at its peak, red tundra mountains, huge glacier, yellow and orange birch.
Unknown mountain resembles an ocean swell pushing up from the blueberry covered tundra.
Moody fall mornings on the river.

Salmon undergo extreme transformations and morph into captivating spawning colors that are enough to wow any viewer. This is the phase of vibrant reds, elongated kypes, and radical physique changes. It enviably ends with decaying carcasses and millions of eggs flowing down stream. Navigating creeks and rivers can prove difficult at times because the locals aren’t keen to sharing fishing spots. Not just tight-lipped trout bum locals, but seasoned brown bears. In a state of hyperphagia, bears take advantage of salmon as they stage to lay the next generation.

Sockeye bucks battling for a spot to spawn.

During this morbid magical period of decay and post spawn, glutinous trout and dolly varden gorge on eggs and flesh and are now prime for football season. As the action-packed summer days in the Land of the Midnight Sun come to a bittersweet closure, fall and football season set in. No, not talking about throwing the ole pig skin, I’m talking about fat and feisty rainbows, dolly varden and grayling. 

Oliver Ancans’ wizardry.
Beautiful halo spots of a dolly varden indicate the spawn colors.
Oliver Ancans ends his evening with an Alaskan grayling.

Let the games begin! Swinging big streamers, hucking flesh, and drifting beads can yield huge scores to anglers if presented right. Flexing 6 weight Alaska Rod Co. rods and screaming 3tand reels, fighting trout make it abundantly clear that salmon carcass and eggs are on the menu. Matching the hatch isn’t entomology where you find the life cycle of terrestrials and flies. It’s a morbiwd protein pack and vitamin rich taphonomy of dying fish. 

Drifting a singular bead with the right hue of color that makes no sense sometimes can produce a fish of a lifetime. Hook sets can be met with the violent head shake of a large dolly varden that’s colored in exquisite reds and oranges with haloed spots, or the well know acrobatics of a rainbow trout plumped and gorged to the gills. Seasons change leaves anglers daydreaming all year for these special moments etched our memories. When the euphoric rapid-fire weeks of fall is interrupted by the poignant flakes of snow, the locals find their hold over spot and settle in for the long dark winter ahead.


The sun never sets here, so one last cast leads to another. Zach Seeland aims for another catch.
Many native Alaskans refer to August as the beginning of Aurora Season. What better way to give thanks than with the shed of an Alaskan caribou.

Fall in Alaska is something special to witness.

Contributed By

Tyler Schwab

Hello, I am Tyler, an avid outdoorsman that grew up in Murrells Inlet South Carolina with childhood spent on coastal waters and in the Great Smokey Mountains. Hunting and fishing have always been cornerstones in my life, and when my service in the Air Force took me to Alaska in 2009, I knew I would visit this wild place again. Alaska has been my home for the past five years, with flyfishing and hunting adventure at my doorstep. Photography has been a recent journey to capture and document my experiences through the lens. The goal is to capture nature in its glory and share it with others with hopes of having an impact on local conservation.   


From The Archives

Stay up to date with Catch Magazine

Sign up to be notified any time a new issue comes out!

No spam, ever.

Join our free newsletter to get instant access to this video