0 Comments K'Dee Miller
Alaska King salmon, also called Chinook, are the Pacific’s largest of salmons. A netted King in Alaska was once was recorded over 100 pounds and sport caught fish have reached 80 pounds plus. Kings have five to six-year class which means some return to spawn in just one year (commonly called Jacks) then there are two year, three year, four and so forth up to six years and maybe a year more in some cases. Whatever makes kings return to fresh water on different age classes is a mystery, but it’s great for survival of the species. If for some reason the spawning waters take a beating due to flooding, we don’t loose an entire run of fish. As you can figure, the older the salmon the larger it is when returning to spawn.
King Salmon Population and Sustainability
Alaskan Kings are normally first in line when it comes to spawning times. June and early July are normal arrival months followed by four other Pacific salmon species. King salmon populations have been declining in the past eight to ten years – why, no one really has a handle on the problem. Pollock netting in the Bering sea take many kings, warming waters both in the sea and fresh water spawning rivers, too many hatchery fish released which can compete with food, evasive species of fish introduced into rivers (pike), even sport fishing can deplete runs. A combination of all these problems can effect king runs. The good news is Alaskan waters are pure and in great shape. Back in the 60’s the king salmon runs were very poor, then through management their populations ballooned, so my prediction is numbers of returning king salmon will bounce back again. Unlike Canada and the western US, Alaska doesn’t allow fish farming. Fish farms in BC have been known to harm wild fisheries. Alaska’s waters are still pure and natural allowing returning salmon great spawning habitat. Other Alaskan salmon populations are flourishing.
King salmon have some of the highest fat content of any of the salmons which allow them to live in fresh water for up to a couple months and not eat…just concentrate on returning to the same waters they came from to spawn. King salmon spawning in the Yukon River drainages may have to swim 1500 miles in 30 days….that’s 50 miles a day!
King Fishing At Talaheim Lodge
People from all over the world come to Alaska to catch kings. Our Talaheim Lodge specializes in wading into and site fishing for these large salmon. Our waters are perfect for the angler that wants to cast a #10 weight or swing double handed rods to holding kings. You need a lot of stick (fly rod) to land king salmon. Average king salmon in our rivers run 20 pounds and we’ve caught them upwards of 60.
For the past 18 years I’ve been flying Alaska Fish and Game personal in our helicopters counting king salmon in about 10 drainages on the west side of Cook Inlet. Our home river, the Talachulitna, we’ve seen runs as high as 10,000 and as low as 1200. Minimum escapement goal is around 2500 which we’ve reached for the past two out of three years. Restricting commercial netting last year saw many more kings up our rivers, but not the higher numbers we’ve seen ten years ago.
Most of the lodges in Alaska practice hook and release on king salmon. If we do all our part we can count on the shores of Alaska to preserve these salmon, find out what’s happening out to sea, then we can once again see the great numbers of returning king salmon to our Alaskan rivers.