The king salmon fishing on the Alagnak River is at times just about as good as any river in Alaska. The Alagnak River does not have an accurate way of counting king salmon so just how many kings come up and spawn in the river annually is a guess. I can tell you that we have weeks and days in most years where every customer is catching double digit numbers of kings daily, and for a 4 week period in July our king salmon fishing is amazingly consistent.
The Alagnak is one of the five major rivers of Bristol Bay Watershed. It has one of the most diverse runs for all 5 species of Pacific salmon. King fishing is still very strong there and despite all the negativity of king runs and the declines in Southeast Alaska and the famous Kenai River, we seem to be staying very steady with our runs on the Alagnak and we are doing all we can to keep it this way as sport anglers. We at Angler’s Alibi have not allowed a guest to keep a hen king salmon ever, and now do not let any guest keep any kings other than small jack kings. (Jack kings are 1-year return kings that are 20” in length or less) We now release all males as well in hopes of preserving the runs we are so fortunate to have. We do however harvest sockeye salmon during the king run in order to keep fish coolers full for a return flight home.
Alaska is the last place on the planet where one can catch all 5 species of Pacific salmon in abundance. The fishing is still stellar compared to other areas of the Pacific that once had amazing runs of salmon. Fortunately, Alaska is well managed and has been able to keep away from Dams that are and were one of the major reasons for the declines of salmon in the lower 48. Sure, there are other environmental issues that are in battle right now as I type that could possibly upset the last great runs of salmon but that is a whole other topic.
Alaska salmon coming from the Bering Sea side of the Peninsula are still pristine. The fact is that there are no hatcheries here to enhance the runs, just a pure biomass of salmon rearing rivers, estuaries, and of course the Bering Sea. King, Sockeye, Calico, Pink, and Coho salmon roam the rivers and are still in abundance supporting not only a thriving commercial fishery in July for sockeye salmon, but also an incredible sport fishing industry for all 5 species of salmon. The salmon supports all bonus species of Trout, Arctic Grayling, Arctic Char, and Dolly Varden as well.
To put it mildly, Mother Nature could not have been any tougher on us for our inaugural season on the Nushagak River. Alaska experienced the hottest summer in recorded history. With low water conditions to start the season, this was a recipe for one hell of a tough start. Warm water and salmon do not mix. Pacific salmon are coming out of the ocean on every tide to start their migration up river to spawn. When the salmon go from low 40-degree ocean temps to warm 60 to even 70-degree water, they kind of go into a survival mode and a lot of the king salmon will not bite anything. Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to find willing king salmon on a daily basis despite the less than desirable conditions throughout the entire season.
Alaska has hundreds of rivers that have king salmon runs. There are only a few that experience consistent runs with strong enough numbers that allow anglers a great chance to catch them on a daily basis throughout the season. When you mention king salmon fishing to most people, fishing the Kenai River comes to the forefront of conversation. The Kenai River at its prime was no doubt the best king salmon river in the world. It had not only the largest run of king salmon in the modern era, but also yielded the largest kings on the planet every year. Those fortunate enough to fish this river in its hay-day had a legitimate chance at landing kings on a daily basis over 60 lbs and some over 80 lbs!
Unfortunately, this river has gone through a major down swing in its fishing cycle to the point that they even closed it to sport fishing in past seasons trying to get its numbers back up to support sport fishing again.
The mighty king salmon are for sure the most sought after species of salmon in Alaska. While they are the largest, King Salmon are also the least numerous…but don’t let this fool you as far as how many king salmon you can catch in a day.
Sure, there are tough days and great days on every river in Alaska – consistency of fishing should be something to consider when looking at locations to target king salmon in Alaska.
The primary contributor, John Perry, is the owner and manager of the lodge. He'll offer fishing summaries and tips too...check back or sign up for the email news to get updates when posted.