FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska -- Summertime in Alaska means fishing for many residents (and visitors). This state offers some world-class fishing opportunities. From huge lake trout and pike accessible only by float plane or all-terrain vehicle, to barn-door size halibut out of Seward or Valdez, to king salmon and grayling right in the Chena River which flows through Fort Wainwright, there is something here to suit everyone, expert and novice alike.Soldiers and Family members have pulled in 40-pound king salmon from the Chena River here on post. Others have caught 100-plus-pound halibut in Valdez or Homer or Seward.Before you put your rod in the car, be sure you are ready to fish. You will need a fishing license, and if you're fishing, hunting or recreating in any way on Army property, visit the Fort Wainwright's Environmental Division's outdoor recreation site. There you can read up on regulations for post and state, get a downloadable informational supplement, maps and get your Recreation Access Permit online. Visit them at http://www.wainwright.army.mil/env/Outdoor.html.Alaska requires that all nonresidents age 16 and older, and most residents from ages 16 to 59 have a license to fish in all Alaskan fresh and salt waters.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game website defines a resident as a person who, for the preceding 12 consecutive months, has maintained a home in Alaska with the intent to stay and who does not claim residency somewhere else.The ADF&G website is full of information to ensure you have everything you need, and then some. It also offers brochures on some of the stocked lakes in Interior Alaska.A military sport license, only for active duty members of military service permanently stationed in Alaska, or their dependents, costs $24. If you have guests visiting from the Lower 48, they may purchase a temporary license for one, three, seven or 14 days, ranging from $20 to $80. Stamps for king salmon add an additional fee to the total cost. The license is valid for one calendar year.Alaska resident disabled veterans (50 percent or greater) may apply for a lifetime hunting and fishing license. You can get application forms at ADF&G offices or by mail from the ADF&G Licensing Section at the address and phone numbers listed above.You can get a RAP at the visitors' centers near the main gates at forts Wainwright, Greely and Richardson. The cards are also available at Natural Resources Offices at Fort Greely and here and at the Fort Wainwright Outdoor Recreation Office. You will need it if you are 16 or older and want to participate in any recreational activity on US Army lands. It is free and is valid for two years from the date of issue.Now you've got the license and the RAP -- make sure you keep them with you the entire time you're out enjoying the fishing and be prepared to show them to wildlife enforcement officers who ask for them.Your next move is to decide where to fish. This decision may be influenced by whether or not you have a boat; how far you want to go; how much money you want to spend on rentals, gas or lodging and how much time you have. There are a lot of options for you to consider.The first is our Outdoor Recreation Center. They can provide you with all the equipment you will need, from rod and reel to waders to boats. You can rent a camper or tent and grill as well, and you can't beat their prices. Call them at 361-6349 or 361-6350.The hardest part may be picking a location. There are numerous streams and rivers in the area. Or you can head down the highway. The ADF&G website has downloadable brochures on stocked lakes, roadside fishing and more -- all of them within a several-hours drive from Fort Wainwright.A note to all fly fishermen: Footgear with absorbent felt, non-slip fiber soles are prohibited while sport fishing in the fresh waters of Alaska. The regulation was adopted to reduce the potential of introduction and spread of invasive organisms. Invasive organisms spread by contaminated waders and other gear can threaten resident fish stocks and fish habitat. For more updates and news releases pertaining to fishing in Alaska go to www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSportFishingInfo.R3516a5f4f04a001c217d29fbfba411dc966c26f51b58e7e0d23e56c5aab7c3c9682e4dd44f884f4aacbe0135f43e4ed9205a2cd33d0d491c552b74231a586cb19year=2012.Eielson Air Force Base is a 19,790-acre installation located about 25 miles southeast of Fairbanks. About 15,754 acres are forested. There are 12 lakes totaling 333.7 acres, 80 ponds totaling 226.1 acres, and 27.7 miles of fresh-water streams. In order to fish or hunt on the installation a permit is required.
The Eielson Natural Resources, Building 2215 offers permits on Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. or Fridays at 3 p.m. after a 15 to 20 minute brief covering areas to fish and hunt. Maps of accessible and restricted areas are available; give them a call at 377-5182 for more information.Eielson has a 51-acre recreation area on Birch Lake, 35 miles to the south and a campground in the 690-acre Chena River Annex, 12 miles to the north.
Seward Army Resort in Seward is a good day's drive from here, but well worth it. You can rent rooms or cabins, park your RV or set up a tent. They have four boats for deep-sea fishing trips, and can help you get set up for freshwater fishing trips if that is your preference. For more information, call them at 800-770-1858.Valdez is located on the north shore of Port Valdez, a deepwater fjord in Prince William Sound. Valdez offers some of the best fishing, hiking and terrific potential for whale sightings. It is the southern terminus of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Eielson maintains camping trailers on-site in Valdez.The trailers are equipped with electrical power and water. There are five you-drive boats available for fishing and sightseeing. The military recreation site is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, weather permitting. For reservation information, visit the web page at www.eielsonservices.com or call Outdoor Recreation at 377-1232 or 377-1317; offices are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.Also in Valdez is the Valdez Glacier Campground, 108 wooded campsites at the base of the majestic Chugach Mountains. Operated by the Fort Greely Outdoor Recreation Center, campers can watch mountain goats graze on the steep slopes overlooking the campground.Amenities include 87 standard camp sites with picnic tables and fire rings; 21 RV pads with 20/30amp hook-up; picnic tables; fire rings; potable water and dumpsite on location; six outhouses; shower/restroom facility and a day-use area with covered pavilion. Guided fishing trips from the Valdez harbor are affordable and can be reserved by calling 907-803-3695.For a unique experience, try your hand at dip-netting at Chitina, several hours southeast off the Richardson Highway. Check the ADF&G website for opening and closing times, sometimes by emergency order due to weather or fish counts. Research it before your first try to ensure you have the proper safety equipment for it and the knowledge of how it's done.In addition to the free brochures at ADF&G's website, there are a number of books, including the Milepost, that list pull-outs and lakes along Alaska's roads. Regulations for the Tanana River Drainage area both upper and lower areas can be found at www.adfg.alaska.gov.So get your license, your RAP and pack the vehicle. Make sure you have everything you need to ensure the safety of everyone in your group and be sure to let someone know where you plan to go fishing. Most of all, happy angling.