Written by Missy Johnston

Approaching the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord Alaska

Approaching the Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord Alaska

Summer cruising in Alaska starts in mid May, and ends in mid September. The interested Charterer always asks what the best dates are to choose for a charter in Alaska. The surprise answer is that your choice of what dates to pick for crewed yacht charter should depend more on what you want to see and do rather than on what the weather does. In online weather information, you might see that August and July are supposed to be drier than June. And, most people think that August will be warmer than June. In actuality, this all varies from summer to summer in Alaska, with no rhyme or reason. The dates you choose to book your crewed yacht charter in Alaska during the summer charter season should be based on the wild and marine life that you might want to see, and the activities you might want to do, as the migration patterns of wild and marine life is far more predictable than the weather.

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Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska
Weather in Alaska from mid May to mid September can change from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit at any time, and does so on a daily basis, not on a monthly basis. During the summer cruising season in Alaska it may be cooler, warmer, drier or wetter, all in the same day. And, your activity can create a weather change, such as if you are up under the calving face of a glacier, it may feel colder as the glacier ice slices through the air into the water below, sending a rush of cooler air and water your way. If you don’t like the current weather during your crewed yacht charter in Alaska, stick around 10 minutes and the weather will change.

What is more predictable than the weather in Alaska is the migration of the wild and marine life. Wild and marine life migration patterns should influence your charter date choice if you have particular wild or marine life that you want to see, or if you have particular activities you want to do. For the summer cruising season in Alaska, the wise person picks charter dates and charters around their interests, not the weather.

The summer salmon run in Alaska is famous. Salmon are anadromous, which means that they are birthed in fresh water, make their way to salt water to live and return to fresh water to spawn and die. At the end of their life span, salmon return from salt water to their natal stream, which is the stream in which they were born, to fight up that stream to spawn dozens of eggs for new life. Both males and females return to their natal stream, as the female carries the eggs, which the male fertilizes. This ritual marks the life span of each salmon, which is ended spawning in the natal stream from whence that salmon emerged.

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Seals On Ice

This ritual of returning up the natal stream for spawning follows a general summer schedule, which starts in the beginning of the summer cruising season, with the salmon gathering in the salt waters of Alaska. At this point, in May and June, there are plenty of salmon for salt water trolling for fishing, and the bears and sea lions that dine on this fish are frequently seen along the beaches and shorelines fishing for dinner. As the salmon enter their natal stream in July and August to fight upstream, the bears will move up stream with them inland, and away from the shoreline. If one of your purposes for charter in Alaska is to see bears, it is better to go in May and June, while the bears are along the coast.

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Bear Fishing

Fly fishing is a great sport in Alaska; however the species fished for in Alaska when fly fishing varies throughout the summer, based on the migration patterns of the fish. In June the Steelhead and Cutthroat Trout will pack the streams heading up river for excellent fly fishing, while in July and August, salmon pack the streams for fly fishing. Some trout species are able to survive this fight upstream for spawning and return again to salt water, however for salmon, this is the end of the line, and they show it. July and August are great for fly fishing for salmon, but those salmon caught, are not the best for eating, as they have begun to deteriorate pending the end of their lives. Catch salmon to eat in salt water as there are always salmon in the salt waters of Alaska in various stages of life.

For salt water fishing, there is no place better for Halibut fishing than Alaska, where catching a Barn Door Halibut, which is what the fish are called if over 200 pounds, is a real possibility. Halibut fishing is from April through October, however if your heart is set on catching a Barn Door Halibut, the best chance is in mid July.

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Flyfishing in Alaska

Even as the bears retreat up the stream banks inland to fish for salmon in July and August, the moose, wild goats, and deer come down from the mountains closer to shore as the ice and snow melt as summer progresses. In August, moose, wild goats and deer can more readily be seen closer to shore.

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Whales Bubble Feeding

Whales are back in Alaska beginning in mid May to June, and stay in Alaskan waters feeding throughout the summer, in pods, with a bubble net feeding pattern, that must be seen to be believed. If you want to see Grey Whales charter in May, as they can only be seen then passing through to their summer home in the Bering Sea. Humpback Whales begin to return to Alaska for the summer in May and can be seen throughout the summer. A good charter yacht captain will be keeping track of the various pods of Humpback Whales as they move, to be sure to cruise in whale areas for each charter.

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Humpback Whale
The famous American Bald Eagle returns to Alaska as early as April and stays around all summer nesting. There can be as many as 100 or more Bald Eagles in any given anchorage, and watching these magnificent birds fly is a treat.

And of course, no matter when during the summer season, you choose to charter, there are always virgin forests to visit, which are only a myth in most locations, and shoreside towns to visit, each with their history, culture, and gift shops.

So, whenever you do a crewed yacht charter in Alaska during the summer season, there is plenty to see and do. But, if you have a particular must do activity, time your charter, not for the weather, but for the migration and various activities of wild and marine life.

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Bald Eagle