The Alaska King Salmon is the official state fish and ultimate prize for any fisherman looking for the excitement of landing a big one. King Salmon in the world famous Kenai River are plentiful and huge. Sport fishermen in the Kenai have caught trophy salmon weighing nearly 100-pounds, and it’s not unusual for anglers to haul in 40 and 50 pounders. Thousands of people travel to the Kenai River and, with a licensed river guide, pursue its most prized bounty– the King.
What do you use for bait? There are a few types of rigs that are best for attracting Alaska King Salmon. Spin-N-Glows, Vibrex Spinners, and plugs are three effective lures that usually provide optimum results. Two common fishing techniques used on guide boats on the Kenai are back trolling and drifting; while a third and relatively new method called back bouncing is also proving to be effective.
Back trolling usually incorporates Spin-N-Glows and salmon eggs or plugs. Some other effective lures for back trolling are Magnum Wiggle Worts, Flashtrap Spinners, Tadpollys, Kwikfish and Flatfish. In addition to the lure, you may also, depending upon the current, depth of the water, and location on the river, utilize divers, trolling weights, and diving lures. Baits that move erratically and rotate, especially those that create the illusion of a water creature in distress, will help attract salmon.
When back trolling, the guide has the boat work against the current, running the motor at the same speed or a bit slower than the river. This helps hold the boat in the same position on or to move slowly down the river. The boat should be moving downstream slower than the current while the lures are downstream ahead of the boat. Usually the bait moves close to the bottom of the river with a diver or weight attached 18 inches away from it to allow for proper depth. You’ll know you’ve got a King Salmon on your line when the rod goes down and stays down.
Drifting is similar to back trolling except the bait is allowed to gently bounce off the bottom of the river while the boat drifts with the current. Weights are used to keep the line at the correct depth. This technique is difficult to master since it’s not necessarily east to differentiate between a fish taking the bait and your line hitting off the bottom. A pause in the movement of the line often indicates a hit.
With back bouncing, the bait is bounced off the bottom as the boat is slowly backed over a hole. Sink-N-Glows, a Vibrex spinner or similar lures when properly weighted often yield good results. When fishing, if you feel a tug set the hook chances are there is a salmon there.
If using a plug, you’ll want to utilize K-15’s or K-16’s – you need something large. Divers work well to get the plug to the right depth and colorful, gaudy colors are recommended due to their ability to attract attention.
If you’re planning on fishing the Kenai River and can’t locate the right type of lure at home, don’t worry. Some of these items may not be accessible in your region of the country but bait and tackle shops throughout the Kenai have no lack of Spin-N-Glows, Vibrex spinners, Tadpollys, Kwikfish and more.
If you elect to book your fishing trip through a licensed guide, you’ll find that their knowledge, skill, and supplies will result in a less stressful and a more productive trip. When you go fishing for the Alaska King Salmon you want to exploit every opportunity you have to make your limit, enjoying some of the best fishing on this earth.