Thinking about Alaska salmon fishing?
Have you heard the one about the 220,000 30-pounder Chinooks swimming past a camp site...?
Actually it isn't a joke - it happened for real in 2004 on the Nushagak river in the Bristol Bay area in Alaska - and in 2005 even more were expected to make the journey!
Admittedly no one knows how many were 30-pounders and how many smaller or bigger, but it is not uncommon for King Salmon (as Chinooks are known in Alaska) to weigh in at over 30 pounds. Many tip the scale at 70 pounds and some even weigh much more.
The Bristol Bay area offers many rivers suitable for fishing King Salmon, including the Togiak, Alagnak and Naknek.
However, the 275 miles long Nushagak river with its numerous tributaries, spectacular scenery and impressive diversity of river characteristics is considered the king of King Salmon rivers.
While you will find nearly every fish species of the Bristol Bay area in the Nushagak river, it is for the huge but short King Salmon run during June and July that anglers from all over the world visit this waterway for Alaska salmon fishing.
Anglers can expect to catch a dozen or more King Salmon per day, and some catch far more than 100 per week.
With 19 hours of daylight during the Alaska salmon fishing season, and many contests between you and a 30-pound salmon determined to get away, you are likely to give out long before there's nothing more to catch!
How successful you will be of course depends on many factors, not all of them entirely predictable. It usually helps to set yourself up with a guide who knows the area, and who is familiar with the King Salmon's habits.
If you were to ask your guide about the King Salmon's movements during your Alaska salmon fishing trip, you will likely be told that the mature King Salmon return from the Pacific to their home streams.
How they locate the right stream is quite a mystery, but King Salmon are known to have a highly developed sense of smell. They can detect one drop of water from their home stream in 250 gallons of sea water!
They will then often lurk for a while at tributary mouths until conditions are just right to move further upstream.
Of course, if you visit the Nushagak river for your Alaska salmon fishing, you won't be restricted to King Salmon!
Silver Salmon, Pink Salmon, and large schools of Sockeye Salmon can also be found on this river, and many anglers seem to have the best salmon fishing experience when catching the aggressive and acrobatic Silver Salmon!
So, if this convinces you to aim for the Bristol Bay area next season for your Alaska salmon fishing, be sure to book timely as most camps fill up early!