With monster Kings weighing well over 50 pounds and mile after mile of perfect fishing grounds, the Salmon fishing Ketchikan has access to is some of the best on the planet. Chinook (King) Salmon are Alaska’s most important game fish, and this maze of bays, straits, and inlets is the perfect breeding ground for King Salmon worthy of the crown.
Local anglers have a long history of catching these incredible fish. The Ketchikan King Salmon Derby has been running for over 70 years, drawing competitive sportfishers every May for three weekends of incredible fishing. Even in the lowest of the low season, you can still find big Chinook lurking in secluded inlets, waiting for an easy meal to come their way.
Chinook Salmon are around every month of the year in the waters around Ketchikan. They hit their best as spring turns to summer, and you can experience three solid months of rod-bending action from May onwards. If you’re not so fussy about species, you can also find four other Salmon here. Coho, Sockeye, Pink, and Chum Salmon all crowd in as the summer spawning season starts, meaning you’ll never be bored. It also gives you a chance to score an IGFA Salmon Fantasy Slam if you visit in July!
There are three main techniques on Ketchikan Salmon fishing charters - trolling, fly fishing, and mooching. Trolling trips comb the coastline looking for fish in the deep, dropping live or cut Herring on downriggers when they spot them on the screen. Fly fishing can be productive along the coast, but really comes into its own when fishing the local creeks and rivers. A sturdy 10-weight single-hand rod will balance action and power, with large, brightly-colored flies to tempt in these keen-eyed predators.
Mooching is a favorite of many local Salmon fishers. Trail your lines over tight-schooled fish, pulling plug-cut Herring on eight-foot mooching rods with a good 300 yards of line. It’s pretty much the same thing as drifting, but don’t say that too loudly in local tackle shops unless you want an hour-long debate.
Need to Know
You’ll need a fishing license (freshwater or saltwater, depending on where you go) and a King Salmon stamp before you can target these awesome predators. The local islands may look inviting at low tide, but head out without a guide and you could be stuck overnight! Always fish with someone who knows the area to avoid a long, cold trudge through waist-high water.