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Alaska: Fishing for King Salmon

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Posted by David S on
Alaska King Salmon

King Salmon are also known as Chinook salmon. They are  giants, and are the largest species of Salmon within the Pacific Ocean. Their size is one of the primary reasons that sports fisherman find so much pleasure in fishing for King salmon. Salmon, by nature, are excellent fighters and that ups the sports level for fisherman. Unlike Marlin, King salmon keep their fight contained below the water. Don't expect jumping and breaching from King salmon. They are crafty, stealthy fighters that you must tire out to defeat. King salmon easily average 30 pounds or more. Imagine being the fisherman who landed the record 126 pound nearly 6 foot long fish. That is why sports fisherman flock to Alaska every year. These fish offer a tremendous challenge and thrill. Alaska Fishing Lodges are here to make your adventure memorable. Throughout this article, you will find links to various lodges and Alaska Fishing Guides. Those links will help you plan a successful fishing trip to Alaska.

Where to Stay: Larsen Bay Lodge in Southwest Alaska, The Orca Lodge in South Central Alaska, or the Koksetna Wilderness Lodge in South West Alaska are three places to start. Here is the Full list of Alaska Fishing Lodges that specialize in King Salmon charters and/or lodging. 

Where To Find King Salmon:

Alaska has some of the best King Salmon fishing and they can be fished in freshwater or in salt water. These magnificent fish are found all throughout the Alaskan fishing waters.  There are different runs for each aquatic habitat. The best month to fish King Salmon in Alaska freshwater is July. The run peaks in all areas where these fish are found. The longest run is in the Bristol Bay and Kodiak Island area as it peaks for June, July and August. The shortest run peak is in the Tanana area where the run peaks only in July. Each location offers a completely different perspective on fishing for Alaska King Salmon. At the end of this article are Fishing Calendars for Freshwater and Salt Water King Salmon Runs. Use those to help you plan your Alaska Fishing Trip.

Where to Stay: For the Interior region which would include lodges near Tanana River try the Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodger or the KingFisher's Perch. For lodges in the Bristol Bay area try lodges located in the Southwest of Alaska. Crystal Creek Lodge, Quartz Creek Lodge, or The Kodiak Sportsman's Lodge are three choices.

Using a guide is very beneficial. Guides know the local area and fish well. They can help you determine what bait or lures are working. They usually have the best equipment available, and they often know the regulations inside and out. In short, using a guide is a great way to kick start a successful fishing trip. 

Life Cycle of Alaska King Salmon

The Lifecycle of the Alaska King Salmon begins and ends in freshwater. As soon as spawning has occurred both adult male and female King Salmon die. When the eggs hatch the fry and young salmon spend the first year of their lives in the rivers where they were hatched. They then  make their way to the Pacific Ocean where they live remain for up to seven years. When they are ready to spawn they return to their place of hatching and spawn before, they too die. 

For Alaska Sport Fishermen, the spawning adults are what become the target for freshwater fishing. As adult salmon migrate upstream they do not feed. Many times the Alaska Department of Fish and Game places emergency orders in place to protect the King Salmon fisheries. It is important that sports fisherman check those orders frequently as they can often change. The link to do so is Sports Fishing Emergency Orders. Many times these orders will limit bait or lure selection. Salmon Roe has always been the standard bait, but adult salmon are known to strike at flies or bait that resemble roe, aquatic insects and smaller fish. For saltwater fishing, flashers and lures work well. A huge benefit to all Alaska Sports Fishermen is the use of a guide. The guides know what the local population of King salmon are striking. They work with these fish nearly every day. If you want to improve your fishing adventures use Alaska Fishing Guides. Most of the Alaska Fishing Lodges have their own guides, but if you are only planning on a single day charter, there are plenty of good Alaska Fishing Guides available. Full Alaska Fishing Guides List.

Habits of King Salmon and what they eat

Salmon are predatory fish that in salt water feed on smaller fish such as herring and smelt. Both herring and smelt are silver in color, which is why flashers work well. Trawling boats can attract adult salmon with silver lures. When the salmon are still in the ocean, they have a single goal. That goal is to eat and fatten up because the spawning trips can be extensive. Upper Yukon King salmon may travel upwards of 1000-2000 miles in the span of two months simply to spawn. Such traveling requires a huge store of fat. To gain wait, adult salmon near spawning age gorge to gain as much weight as quickly as possible. For River fishing aggression plays a role in why non-feeding salmon strike lures. Males are also very territorial, especially if there is a female nearby. Every organism's biological role is to reproduce. That drive may explain why salmon who have entered freshwater are so attracted to fish eggs. By consuming other salmon roe, the fish give their own roe a better change at the limited resources that a river habitat can produce. Salmon roe and egg shaped lures are excellent bribes to get salmon to strike. Egg lures, flies that resemble stonefly naiads, and flies that are streamers (usually in red) work really well to get non-eating adult salmon to strike. Understanding these magnificent fish and their behaviors will help you be more successful into coercing an Alaskan King Salmon to strike. After the Strike that is where the fun and challenge of landing these giants begin. Any of the Alaska Fishing Guides or Charters will be able to help you successfully land a King Salmon. TIP: When setting up your rod, set the lure or bait to remain near the bottom of the river. Adult salmon in freshwater do not strike near the top of the water. They are looking for roe in the rivers bottom. 

Alaska King Salmon Fishing Calendar and Runs

The information is based on data from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the valuable data that is collected each fishing season.

Seasonal Change: Each year fish runs may be offset by a week or two. Climate plays a large role in when fish spawn. Check with the Alaska Fishing Lodges or Alaska Fishing Guides for the best accurate fishing conditions. The professionals know best what the fish are doing.

Freshwater King Salmon Fishing Calendar

As you can see below the best freshwater fishing for Alaska King Salmon is generally June, July and August with July being the peak month for freshwater Alaska King Salmon fishing.

Alaska King Salmon Freshwater Fishing Calendar

Saltwater King Salmon Fishing Calendar

Alaska King Salmon Saltwater Fishing Calendar
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