A common attribute of some of the best fishing guides on the planet is their ability to think like a fish. They understand their target species well enough that they can accurately predict how the fish will react in various situations. When fishing, there are many variables out of your control but knowing as much as you can about the fish you are chasing will undoubtedly help you appreciate the fish more and be more successful in catching them. We are going to be running a new series where we review some of our favorite fish to chase and what makes them so special. First up is the Oncorhynchus tshawytscha or the Chinook Salmon.
Commonly referred to as the King Salmon, Chinooks are the largest species of Pacific Salmon. They are native to the waters of the North Pacific Ocean, from California through Alaska and Northern Japan through Russia and Siberia. They have also been introduced to other parts of the world including the Great Lakes, Patagonia, and New Zealand. They are an anadromous fish which means they migrate from saltwater into fresh to spawn. They are a popular fish both with sport fishermen and commercial fishermen for their delicious and nutritional flesh.
Chinook Salmon typically live in the ocean for three or four years before venturing back to their home rivers to spawn. Some larger Kings have been found to spend as many as 8 years in the ocean before starting their spawning migration. The world record sport caught King Salmon was from Alaska on the Kenai River in 1985 and weighed an incredible 97 pounds! A commercial fishing boat in British Columbia in the 1970’s caught one weighed at 126 pounds! For populations of King Salmon to thrive, they need both healthy ocean and spawning habitats. Overfishing and habitat destruction (like Dam construction hindering spawning runs) have led to the disappearance of King Salmon in almost 40% of their historic range outside of Alaska.
At Deneki, we are fortunate to have access to some of the best King Salmon fishing in the planet. Three of our lodges, Rapids Camp, Alaska West, and BC West are located on or near rivers that experience large King Salmon runs. We target them through a range of methods but our favorite is swinging flies from the banks of the Lower Kanektok at Alaska West. Starting around the 2nd week of June, chrome fish are in the rivers just a few miles from the salt, ready to chomp the feathers at the end of our two handers. Want to give King Salmon fishing at Alaska West at try? Drop us a note here.
Have some free time this offseason waiting for your local fishery to thaw out? Check out our top 10 previous posts on King Salmon to further your knowledge of one of our favorite target species.