Fish Alaska’s Kobuk River Valley for Trophy Sheefish, the Tarpon of the North

Kiana is located on the Kobuk River in Northwestern Alaska, approximately 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in “The Land of the Midnight Sun.” This is home to the Sheefish (Inconnu), or “The Tarpon of the North”, known only to the native residents and a few satisfied anglers.

This is where you can find the best Sheefishing in the world. The Sheefish may be caught by recognized methods: spinning, casting, trolling or fly fishing. From mid-March through the first of May Sheefish are caught by jigging through the ice on Selawik Lake of Hotham Inlet. Regardless of the time or method used, this is an excellent place to get your Trophy Sheefish.

The waters we fish vary in size from very large rivers to small streams and sloughs. The Kobuk River Valley also offers fishing for Arctic Char, Chum Salmon, Northern Pike, Whitefish and Burbot.

We begin our season in early June and close for the winter in late September. While fishing in the uninhabited frontier, it is likely you will see caribou, moose brown/black bear and untold amounts of wild birds and animals. You cannot imagine what it is like to be fishing under the Midnight Sun until you have experienced such an event!


The following is a list of tackle to fish our waters:

Light spin rod, 4-6 lb. test line
Medium spin rod, 10-15 lb test line
We use spoons and spinners in our waters. Some favorites are Daredevils, Krocodiles, Hot Rods, Vibrax and Pixies.
Fly rod from 3wt to 9wt and from 5 ft. to 9 ft. in length. Fly fishing for Sheefish is a challenge. The best setup is a 9wt rod with a fast sinking line. A red and white streamer has been known to be a Sheefish favorite.
Grayling and Char will take nymphs and steamers. Fly fishing for Northern Pike can also be exciting with floating line and weedless bass files.


We own and operate two aluminum river jet boats, both equipped with inboard engines. One boat is 30’ and the other is 20’. For larger parties, other boats and guides are available as needed. All guides and equipment are Coast Guard licensed. Fly-outs are available at your own expense from a local charter operator.

Our jet boats assure a safe and successful trip. Both our boats are equipped with radios and we’re prepared for emergencies or any unexpected breakdown. Our trips operation are geared toward small groups so we can offer lots of personal attention. We normally book a maximum of six anglers but often will accommodate a party of two.

For the person who likes to travel and is looking for an exciting adventure, a visit to Kiana Lodge may be just what you are looking for. We offer comfortable lodging, superb scenery, excellent fishing and hunting and friendly hosts whose aim is to make your vacation unforgettable.

Choose your dates for travel and let us plan a custom trip for you and your friends.


Referred to by the Inupiat of the Kobuk River as Sii and by Arctic explorers as inconnu (meaning “unknown” in French), the sheefish is found only in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of North America and Siberia. In Alaska, sheefish is found in abundance on the Kobuk and Selawik (Siilavik, Inupiaq for “the place of the sheefish”) Rivers.

Ken Alt retired Biologist from the Alaska State Dept. of Fish & Game gives a general description of the sheefish as, “a member of the whitefish family but distinguishable from the more common whitefish by the strong extended lower jaw”. It often displays a phosphorescent purple sheen when taken from the water. The female sheefish lives longer and attains a greater size. Sheefish in the Selawik and Kobuk area can weigh up to 60 pounds, while in Interior Alaska they seldom exceed 25 pounds. The average shee fish weighs between 15 and 20 pounds.


The sheefish is the only predatory whitefish on the North American continent and is sleek and streamlined. The average shee fish will surface and tail walk as depicted in some of my photos, about three times and then sound.

The sheefish will put up a good fight, so a nine weight fly rod is highly recommended. I recommend bringing a spare rod for its not uncommon for a rod to fail, regardless of the brand. Reels should be of the large arbor with a well working smooth drag. A large streamer resembling a smelt or herring with a fast sinking line and a brisk receive is recommended. The trick to success in fishing for the elusive shee fish is being at the right place at the right time of year. Chest waders are recommended.

Shee fish are excellent eating when properly prepared. Many have said that shee fish is similar in taste to halibut but that is for you to decide. Some prefer to eat it deep fried, a Kiana Lodge special. Otherwise, Nellie can prepare it another way if requested.

Kiana Lodge