What to Wear Fishing in Alaska
You planned an amazing trip to Alaska. You narrowed it down to the best Alaska fishing lodge with the best reviews; you timed your dates with the heat of the salmon season in Bristol Bay. You even bought your airline tickets well in advance; now you’re sitting on the river soaking wet and wondering what to do. Getting wet and cold can be easily avoided with some proper, prior planning and the right waterproof jacket and waterproof pants. Here is a list of what to wear in Alaska from your head to your toes.
Hats for Alaska
In addition to providing safety from flying hooks and lead weight, hats protect skin from the sun’s UV rays and they are a must-have item to stay warm. Your personal style may call for a ball cap, or a fedora, a stetson, or a sombrero—really any hat with a brim will be useful on your Alaska fishing trip. The best hat for Alaska is a waterproof hat with a brim, preferably one with ear flaps that fold down for warmth and help keep your hat on your head when the boat gets on step. If you do not own headgear with ear flaps, you’ll be fine with a ball cap for your chapeau. Just make sure your rain jacket is completely waterproof and hooded.
While not for warmth, polarized sunglasses are a necessity for Alaska fishing. Polarized sunglasses help cut the glare off water making it easier to see fish and for vision in general. An amber lens is the most universal lens color for Alaska water conditions. We have an affinity to Costa Del Mar sunglasses for their fit and optics quality, but any polarized sunglasses made from a polycarbonate or another non-shattering material will provide safety from flying lead, hooks, bugs and debris. We recommend you bring a spare pair with you when you come fishing with us on the Nushagak River.
If you tend to run cold you may prefer an added layer of warmth at the neck. Neck gaiters are made in a variety of fabrics from a silk weight with UV protection to a thick fleece version. Neck warmers are made by a variety of brands and are a handy item to throw in your day pack. Some people wear their neck tubes doubled as headwear.
Base Layer Top and Bottom
Warmth starts with your base layer. A silk layer next of skin is preferred, or wool if it does not make you itchy. Just remember cotton is never a good choice. In any remote, outdoor fishing scenario, you are best off with breathable, quick-drying fabrics for layering pieces. A good base layer set is a staple in what to wear fishing in Alaska.
Mid Layer Top and Bottom
For the middle layer we prefer a medium weight fleece that provides some wind resistance. It is easier to take clothes off if you are too warm than to add clothes to get warm. A bunch of brands make base layers, from light to heavy. Everyone has preferences based on fit and quality. Consider these made by Grundens. (https://shop.grundens.com/shop/mid-layer-fleece-sport-fishing/gage-fogbow-poly-tech-hooded-sweatshirts/)
Rain Jacket / Rain Pants
It rains on The Nushagak River in Alaska, even more so in July and August. We advocate GORE-TEX® at Nushagak River Adventures Lodge which is why our crew is outfitted in GILL’s Insulated Tournament jacket and bibs. Completely waterproof, these rain suits are also windproof and warm, which means we are never cold when we are out fishing. Whatever rain jacket and rain pants you buy, please make sure they are the highest quality you can afford and that they are waterproof, not water resistant. Rubber or GORE-TEX® rain suits should be selected for what to wear fishing.
A couple pairs of waterproof gloves are a must-have for all anglers. You lose dexterity with neoprene gloves, but your guide has you covered baiting hooks and handling fish, so all you need to operate is your rod and reel. A trick we use on The Nush is to keep a couple pairs of heavy duty rubber gloves in our pockets for a waterproof glove liner on cold days. If your outer layer gloves are not waterproof, bring spares.
A smart sock system is elementary in keeping feet warm, but is often overlooked. You want wool socks for fishing, but go a step further and purchase a couple pairs of liner socks for a base layer. Keep your feet warm by letting air circulate between layers; don’t wear your socks too tight and keep lots of wiggle room in your toes. Throw a couple sets of toe warmers (like Hot Hands for feet) in your waterproof day pack.
Boots for Alaska
Insulated rubber boots like those made by XTRATUF or Grundens are the best footwear for your fishing trip in Alaska. Keep feet warm and dry, plus protect them from hooks and other sharp objects. Choose insulated versions of the boots; Alaska temperatures are commonly in the fifties and sixties in the summer on The Nush.
We have all the creature comforts at the lodge and will do everything to ensure your safety, warmth, and comfort. Still, avoiding cold and wet is the best option. Choose a good GORE-TEX® rain suit as a critical starting point. For the most comfortable and enjoyable fishing experience, purchase gear that meets the criteria above. It’s Murphy’s law that when you are prepared with the gear you need to keep warm and dry, the sun will shine—and that is just fine by us!
To get ready for your trip, download our custom, 5-day Alaska packing list. See you on The Nush.