King Salmon (Chinook)
King Salmon fishing on the Kenai River is world renown and for good reason.The Kenai has the impressive distinction of producing the world’s largest sport-caught king salmon at 97lbs! Every year these mammoth salmon tip the scales at 70, 80, and even 90 pounds. Their sheer strength is unmatched and those that have done battle with these big fish will tell you the experience is not soon forgotten. Due to ever changing conditions this fishery requires mobility and refined technique. Statistics have shown that 10% of the guides catch 90% of the King salmon taken on the Kenai River. Fishing with an experienced guide greatly increases your chances of landing one of these monster Kenai kings.
Two Kenai River Runs:
Two runs of wild Kenai River King salmon combine to support the largest recreational fishery for this species in Alaska. The first run of Kings enter the river from mid-May through June. The late run starts the first of July and ends when the season closes on July 31st. The early Kenai River run starting in May averages about 10,000 fish and the late run that begins on July 1 averages about 30,000 fish.
Kasilof River Runs:
Both Hatchery and wild king salmon return to the Kasilof River. The Kasilof has two runs of king salmon, the early run starting in May consisting of both hatchery fish and naturally produced fish, and the second run starting in July. The second or late run is entirely native kings.
Mark Glassmaker hosts guided fishing on the Kasilof early in May before the large Kings begin entering the Kenai River. Fishing the Kasilof is a different experience than fishing the Kenai because motors are not allowed on this river during king salmon season. Consequently, drift boats are required, making a trip down the Kasilof a very quiet yet exciting journey. It isn’t unusual to catch and release a steelhead or a few dolly varden during a drift down the Kasilof.
King Season: May 1 – July 31
Average Size & Records:
•Kenai Kings average 20-40lbs, however it is not unusual to catch fish well over 50lbs.
•Early run Kasilof kings average 20 lbs and late run fish can be over 50 lbs.
•The record Kenai King weighed in at 97 lbs., 4 oz., and was caught in 1985.
Fishing Gear & Methods:
•Drifting, Backtrolling, Back-bouncing.