How To Catch King Salmon (Chinook) in Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

How to catch King Salmon in Alaska – the best way to catch king salmon is to know about the fish. Here we have lots of information about how to catch King Salmon.


  • Found in Freshwater: May-July
  • Found in Saltwater: April-October
How to identify King Salmon or Chinook

King Salmon or Chinook

How to Identify King Salmon:

  • Blue Gray back with silvery sides
  • Small irregularly-shaped spots on back, dorsal fin, and on both lobes of the tail
  • Black Gum Line
  • Spawning adults take on maroon to olive color

King Salmon Information & Description:

World Record King Salmon, 97.25lbs - Kenai River

World Record King Salmon, 97.25lbs – Kenai River

The King Salmon, or majestic Chinook, as the locals call it, is the largest species of Pacific Salmon. The present Alaska state sport fishing record is 97 pounds and 4 ounces, caught right here on the Kenai River. If you can’t distinguish this monster fish by its massive size, it’s livid back, black gum line, small irregular shaped spots on its tail, dorsal fin, and for the adults, a maroon olive color should alert you to the fantastic catch of your day.

The Best Way to Catch King Salmon:

To catch one of these behemoths your best bet is to use a professional fishing guide. Luckily, Alaska Discount Vacations provides one with each fishing package. Before turning away at the sight of a sales pitch, check out the statistics at Alaska’s State Department of Fish and Games, which shows that an unguided angler will spend nearly 40 hours fishing before hooking an King Salmon. We here at Alaska Discount Vacations want to make sure you have a good time, and catch the fish you set out to catch, so we provide the most reliable guides so that you can bring that king salmon home and in the pan within a few hours. Our guides provide the know-how and the best equipment. You bring the desire to catch the best fish in Kenai. Not tempting enough to reel you in? Out of the top 10 King Salmon record holders, 9 fished off the Kenai. With the help of a trained guide, the next record holder could be you. Most of these beauties come in around 50lb, so even if you aren’t holding a record, you’ve got plenty of fish to take home.

Trolling for King Salmon:

In the Kenai saltwater, most fishing for king salmon is done by trolling cut herring or herring attractors. Trolling weights, divers, diving lures are directly related to the run of the 30 foot tides in Cook Inlet, speed of the troll and the depth at which the salmon or their feed are spotted. Downriggers set at various depths increase the chances of success. T-spoons, Kwikfish, flashers , are all used by experienced guides. On the Kenai River and the Kasilof River guided anglers in drift and power boats enjoy success by back trolling a Jet-planer with Kwikfish, Flatfish, Magnum Wiggle Worts, Tadpollys, Spin-n-Glos, and salmon egg clusters. Back bouncing with an appropriate lead weight instead of a jet planer is also extremely effective for guided anglers. The Alaska fishing guide’s knowledge of boat handling and the water is of utmost importance.

Bank Fishing for King Salmon:

Bank fisherman on the Kasilof, Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchick river as well as the Kenai are successful using a weight and casting a Kenai Special with a single hook or casting and bouncing large spoons such as the Pixie Spoon off the bottom rocks is a successful tactic as is casting #6 Vibrax upstream and reeling in as the lure bounces off the rocks. Fly fishermen using attractor flies like the coho or Alaskabou have had their share of hook ups. Bank fisherman beware: no matter what Kenai water you are fishing, be prepared to run when you hook that king salmon!

If you’re determined to hike it out alone, please make sure to continue reading to find out exactly how our guides go about hunting down these fish. You’ll also want to stop by our tackle section and maps section before leaving the website.