The king or chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, is among the most coveted game fish we catch on fishing charters in Seward.
The king salmon is also one of the most important sport fish on the Pacific coast. It is the largest Pacific salmon, commonly exceeding 30 pounds. The 126-pound King salmon taken commercially in 1949 is the largest on record. The largest sport caught King salmon was a 97-pound fish taken in the Kenai River in 1986.
In Seward, Alaska only a few charter boats target local feeder king salmon. These fish can prove elusive and catching one will provide a battle you wont soon forget on our light tackle. We have found that spring and fall are the best times to fish for resident feeder king salmon in Seward. May through June provide an opportunity at catching our run of returning kings. Although good catches are made year round, the lack of light and unpredictable weather during the heart of winter shortens the fishing days.
In the ocean, kings are thick bodied laterally compressed fish. Chrome bright is the how there coloration is often described. The fish have a blue greenish back with black spots. Freshly caught kings often have a purplish coloration along their lateral lines.
Like all species of Pacific salmon, king salmon are anadromous. They begin life in fresh water, spend part of their life in the ocean, and then return spawn in the stream system where their life began. Chinook salmon may become sexually mature from their second through seventh year, this makes the size range of any spawning run of fish have a large size range. A 4 year-old will probably weigh less than 8 pounds, while a 7-year-old may exceed 50 pounds. The fish we catch in Seward range from 10 to over 50 pounds. Salmon grow rapidly in the saltwater and can gain up to a pound a week during the summer season.
Kings are wiley and can be finicky until they get ready to feed. When that time comes, it can get fast and exciting. We have found the most productive method of catching the kings is trolling using downriggers. Both our boats are equipped with four electric downriggers and custom tackle built for exactly this kind of fishing.
On our full day fishing charters, we typically troll near the coastline of the many islands that lie within 20 miles of Seward. We often catch other species of salmon when trolling for kings. Silver salmon in the fall and Keta and sockeye salmon in the spring. Rockfish and lingcod are also caught as well as an occasional halibut.
On our long range fishing expeditions we have found several areas well outside the range of day charters that have large populations of resident feeder kings. The fishing in these areas can be phenomenal, especially in early summer.
King salmon fishing in Seward requires patience, persistence and the coordination of the crew and fishermen. The results are well worth the effort.