King Salmon Fishing


King Salmon, often known as Chinook Salmon, start to arrive on the Talachulitna and in our neighboring tributaries at the end of June through early July. Similar to the other salmon species, once they enter fresh water they’re on a spawning run and thus stop feeding. So “matching the hatch” does not apply to these species. Rather, in order to catch them bright colored streamers or spinners are used to evoke a response, such as territorial aggression, or a habitual biting reaction.

Unlike the other salmon species that have fairly consistent lifecycles, King Salmon can range in age. As juveniles they spend two years in the Tal before becoming silver smolt, at which point they start to migrate toward salt water. A king that comes back after only one year in the ocean is known as a “Jack” and can range between 12-16 inches and 2-3 pounds.

Kings that stay in the ocean for 2-3 years can be around 7-10 pounds when entering the Tal, whereas kings that stay upwards of 5 years come back weighing 30-40 pounds. These “monster” kings are common to the Talachulitna and its surrounding tributaries.

Over the years there has been a decline in king salmon spawning runs throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska territories, thus Fish and Game has started to regulate their season. Be sure to check in with us for the latest Fish and Game requirements should you be interested in this specific species.

If you’re a skilled fly caster, fly fishing for kings can be very effective and fun – they’re an aggressive species and when they bite, they bite! The Tal has perfect conditions for this species: a combination of runs and pools. Often times kings can be spotted holding in the current and it’s very exciting to see what you’re fishing for. We suggest 12 to 14 foot double handed rods and skagit lines to swing big marabou or intruder-style flies.

If you’re a spin caster we tend to steer you away from this particular salmon species, since often times when they bite a lure it’s deep and renders them dead. Allowing this species to carry on and do what they’ve come to do – spawn and recreate – is one of our top priorities and one of the main reasons we still see so many “monster” kings in our waters.

Underwater King




We caught a 49-incher that weighted approximately 50 pounds. That was the biggest one caught until Doc’s guest caught a 54-incher.
Look between their fins! Ha! Okay, we’re kidding. Male king salmon can be distinguished from the females by the shape of their head. Males develop a kype, or a lengthening of the lower jaw, whereas females retain a blunter shaped head.
Ocean caught king salmon bring a very high price and they are good to eat. But once they run all the way to our our waters they’re only a few weeks away from spawning and dying, so no. They’re not good to eat. We catch and release these beauties so they can spawn and do their part in continuing this amazing species.


A ‘mega trip’ – you should’ve seen my smile after the 43 pounder. Sincere hospitality, good food, great country. Going home is going to suck. They’ll have to horse me back!
Mark, Michael, Colin, Emily, Andrew & Victoria
Amazing fishing and nature. Can’t say enough about that. But the most outstanding thing about Talaheim is the people! Each guide is outstanding with his own personality and love for the sport. Professional all the way. The staff, each and every member of the team couldn’t have done more to make us welcome. Mark has built a well tuned group that work together to make Talaheim a place to remember – and maybe a place to return.
Tom, Casey, Rob Cromer
Florida & NYC