Alaska King Salmon Fishing

Alaska king salmon fishing

Alaska king salmon fishing on the Kasilof river is a relaxing experience.

It’s probably the most laid back fishing style during our fishing season. Reason being is that its a “drift fishery” meaning fishing is only allowed from a drift boat without the aid of a motor like on the Kenai River. We love fishing for Alaska king salmon in June on the Kasilof River. There are two distinct runs, much like the famous Kenai River. I love it so much, I was recently asked to write a blog about fishing for Kasilof Kings for Fish Alaska Magazine.

Alaska King Salmon

The biggest of the Pacific salmon, kings begin entering Kenai Peninsula streams around mid may. This salmon stays in the ocean for up to 5 years before returning to its spawning grounds. Although the Kenai river boasts the world record king salmon caught back in 1985, we predominantly focus our efforts on the Kasilof River because the Kenai is closed to king fishing. The Kasilof is a “drift only” fishery and it makes for a great early season fishing trip. Kasilof kings average from 12 to 25 pounds and current regulations allow a bag limit of 2 fish per day. This fishing season is unique with the added benefit of a small hatchery sustained run. Opening day is May 16th and kings typically run through the third week of June. This fishing trip is a must if you’re planning a trip to Alaska in June. We primarily fish from the drift boat and “back troll”  with crank baits (plugs) or Spin ‘n glos with bait when regulations allow. Bait casting rods are placed in rod holders while your guide rows you down the river.

Kasilof King Fishing Details

We start our day by meeting at the sterling Highway bridge launch. Our start time always depends on the tide. Typically we start during the early morning. I mean really early like between 3:30 and 5 am in order to meet the incoming tide. You can sleep later! It’s time to catch kings. The anticipation is high as we load gear onto our 20-foot Willie drift boat. You’ll hop on board, listen to the safety briefing, and begin our initial float through these magnificent glacier glue waters. This is when you’ll really start to relax, listening to my oars as they cut through the turquoise river. You might enjoy a song from a local bald eagle in his nest while we meander along, holding a hot cup of coffee in your hand. Before you know it we’ve arrived at our first fishing spot.

When you are Alaska king salmon fishing we always have to be “live” and ready for a bite. I’ll bait all of your rods with eggs or sardines. Once we are all baited up I’ll run you through the steps to get your line out and placed into the rod holder. That’s how you typically fish for kings.

We’ll row and fish through all the good spots before reaching what we call “tide water”. At any moment you could see your rod start to twitch and bend. Wait for it, you have to let them take the bait. It’s my job to put you in the right spot on the river with good bait and good presentation then it’s your task to calmly reel that catch of a lifetime to the boat. Basically we are both players on our fishing team at this point. Welcome to the King team! There will be plenty of verbal coaching once you get a bite from a fiery fresh Chinook. Until then we just continue to relax and tell stories as we watch the beautiful Alaskan sunrise.

Landing Alaska King Salmon

You’ll grab the rod out of the holder and it’s fish on! There’s nothing more exciting than hooking a dime-bright Alaska king salmon, hearing that drag screaming and watching your fish jump all while drifting down the river. I’ll be on the net awaiting your fish. One thing is for sure, Alaska king salmon fishing isn’t easy. You’ll want to follow my tips as you’re landing your fish as these mighty kings do not give up easily.

Along the way, we will continue to stop in various spots within the tide water. At times we may even row back upstream to fish a hole again. We will fish hard to capitalize on opportunities. It’s ton of fun and I look forward to being your Alaska king salmon fishing guide. Give me a shout to book your Kasilof king trip.