Salmon Fishing in Alaska: Kasilof River Kings

salmon fishing in alaska

When one thinks about salmon fishing in Alaska inevitably they think about King Salmon. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. You may have heard the Kenai River is closed to king fishing this year for conservation purposes. We  are glad to see this effort and equally as thankful there is an alternative for anglers to fish and retain king salmon in our backyard. With so many rivers to choose from when planning a salmon fishing trip to Alaska, it can be daunting. Between the sheer size of Alaska and the consistent changes in fishing regulations it can be confusing and overwhelming to plan and book a trip to Alaska for salmon fishing, especially King Salmon. I can say with full confidence that you should plan your trip to the Kenai Peninsula to visit a  similar river to the Kenai called the Kasilof River. Planning a trip to the Kasilof not only saves money versus paying for a pricey fly-out excursion, it also offers a more  consistent king salmon fishery. Anglers can almost always retain 1-2 king salmon. 

An often overlooked river system, the Kasilof river provides all the same salmon fishing in Alaska than its bigger brother, the Kenai. The biggest difference now days is our King Salmon run on the Kenai River is currently shut down due to the low abundance. Although this is a huge let down don’t let that lessen your hopes for salmon fishing in Alaska. The Kasilof has been productive for Kings just as long as the Kenai but with the added benefit of a hatchery. The hatchery run on the Kasilof provides retention opportunity since you can keep two hatchery fish daily, while releasing any wild fish you may incidentally hook into. On most years you will also be able to fish with bait which adds to a more successful outcome. 

Folks spend thousands of dollars booking remote fly out lodges that may still be able to fish for Kings. That  can be money well spent for anglers appreciating the “All inclusive nature” and added float plane aspect. We think you will be pleasantly surprised to find the Kenai Peninsula is just as scenic and beautiful as the rest of Alaska, if not more so. Stunning lodging options and a healthy, strong King fishery are right at our disposal. The Kasilof King fishery will not face the threat of becoming closed due to an emergency order from fish and game. The worst that can happen on the Kasilof is the restriction of bait but I have not seen that for a number of years now. Even without bait you can still hook into a King or two on any given day during peak time.

The Kasilof river King salmon fishery typically picks up by the last weekend in May and offers good to great fishing on most days up until about the 3rd week of June. Having Kings available to fish for is awesome but equally as awesome is how early in the summer this occurs. While you’re planning a King salmon fishing in Alaska vacation you’ll find more options for accommodations and anything else you may be interested in booking during this early season opportunity. Generally speaking the Kasilof will stay open for catch and release fishing for Kings during July. Although you cannot retain kings during this time you can catch your limit of Sockeye Salmon before making a handful of drifts for the larger “trophy” late run Kings in July. I’ve had plenty of great days releasing these behemoth salmon in July after a limit of Sockeye has been taken. Salmon fishing for multiple species is spectacular fun.

It has been at least a few years since I’ve fished much in July for Kings on the Kasilof as our calendar fills up quickly for Sockeye on the Kenai river that sees an amazing run. If you want to take on the challenge of fishing for a large King later in the season, then I suggest calling to reserve a date as early as possible so I am available to share that with you. Experiencing the thrill of a large, fresh-from-the-ocean King salmon is something you’ll remember for many years to come.