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Primer on King Salmon Presence and Fishing in Alaska

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There are several highly desirable species of salmon found in the waters of Alaska, and perhaps the single most well-known is the king salmon. Also called the Chinook salmon, this species is found throughout the state, but is particularly common in various saltwater fishing spots and is considered a top prize for many fishers.

At Pybus Point Lodge, salmon fishing tours are among our specialties, and we've assisted numerous clients with their pursuit of numerous different salmon varieties. What is the king salmon, why is it such a prize, and what are some general tactics for saltwater king salmon fishing you should consider? Here are some basics to keep in mind.

King Salmon Basics

The king salmon, known scientifically as onchorhynchus tshawytsccha, is one of the most common and popular fish types found throughout North America, including in Alaska. They're found throughout the state, with species present from southeast Alaska all the way to Bristol Bay.

King salmon are desirable for anglers due to both the exhilaration of the chase and their excellent nutrition. They're a large, powerful fish that makes for an exciting fishing experience, and they provide numerous benefits to human health, as well. These are some of the highest-valued fish types in all of Alaska fishing, and are coveted by anglers for their size and strength.

King salmon are aggressive feeders, especially along the coast of Alaska. There are a few different methods used to catch them in saltwater settings -- let's go over these.


A common technique that's used for not just king salmon but also several other salmon and fish varieties is known as mooching. Mooching involves securing bait to a single or double-hook rig, then lowering it to a predetermined depth -- at which point it drifts along with the boat. This is a slow-acting method, but it's also one of the most effective ways to catch many types of fish.

For king salmon, the recommended depth for this type of approach is anywhere between three and eight feet beneath the surface. Make sure your bait is secured properly beforehand -- king salmon will often strip such items free and make quick work of them. The most common bait used here is herring, which can be either whole or plug-cut. The herring should roll slowly as it drags through the water, creating a scent king salmon can't ignore.


Trolling, on the other hand, allows you to cover more ground while fishing for king salmon. This technique involves using a motor to slowly pull lines at a set depth, usually in the range of three-to-four feet. A variety of artificial lures are used here, ranging from spoons to plugs to spinners and even flies.

If you use natural bait instead, it needs to be attached firmly -- king salmon don't really care if the bait is alive or dead, and will often try to strip it loose. This can be a tricky method for novice anglers; if you're targeting king salmon in saltwater settings, we recommend using artificial lures instead. When using live bait such as herring, keep them on ice so they don't spoil while awaiting a bite!

There are a few different rig methods for rolling, from those that are pretty similar to mooching to those that use divers instead of a weight. These diver methods are often effective because of the fact that king salmon dun deeper than other salmon types. Certain trolling methods even allow for staggered depths during the process, which increases your chances of finding fish.

Shore Fishing

While there are only limited opportunities for shore-based saltwater king salmon fishing in Alaska, those that are present are excellent. The most common method here is simple bait fishing using herring as bait, plus heavy spoons and plugs for casting. Longer rods are often effective here -- plan on using anything from a 9-foot pole upwards to reach fish.

If there's an area covered with kelp, you may spot king salmon schooling underneath it. This makes for some excellent shore fishing opportunities just by casting into the right spots. However, they're often wary of people and boats, so be careful when approaching the water.

If you spot a school of king salmon, take note of the coloration so you can target the right species -- there are several different varieties that stay in Alaska's waters. It's also important to understand their migration patterns and behavior to ensure you have the best possible chance of catching them.

For more on king salmon and how to catch them, or to learn about any of our Alaskan fishing trips, wildlife tours or other adventures, speak to the staff at Pybus Point Lodge today.

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Alaska is one of the top dream destinations for anglers around the world, and it’s no surprise why! Our waters are home to a wide variety of fish species that are good to eat and a blast to catch.




Discover why people like you can’t stop talking about Pybus Point Lodge. More than 30 years ago, the lodge opened as a simple fishing camp, drawing a devoted following in spite of basic accommodations. With new owners and experienced captains and crew, our corner of Alaska has become an unbeatable fishing and eco-tourism resort.

Andrea Tate

Incredible Experience!

Pybus Point Lodge has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. I mean absolutely breathtaking! In addition to the amazing fishing, I hiked to a beautiful secluded lake, soaked in some hot pots, saw several waterfalls, went whale watching, saw bears and all kinds of wildlife and marine life. As a photographer, photographing a wedding under a waterfall will remain a highlight of my life.

Shirley Johnson

Pybus Point Lodge - WOW!

We had the best time! This was our first visit to Pybus, but it definitely will not be our last. The stunning scenery, amazing fishing experience, and the joy of meeting new friends – all outstanding! We did not want to leave!!! If you are thinking about this trip – don’t think any more, just book it. You will not regret it!!!

Sharon Hedding

Trip of a Lifetime!

We had such an amazing time the staff was so wonderful and the lodge was fantastic! capt Joe was so helpful and always doing what ever he could do to make each day special. a special thank you to both Scott and Jody for taking the time to make us feel like family. can't wait to go back next year

Jason Nielsen

Wonderful and Magical Place

We had an amazing business retreat to Pybus Point Lodge.  Everything was top notch... the fishing, the staff, the boat captains, the food, the accommodations, and especially the scenery. I really liked that Pybus took care of everything from start to finish. Chef John is an amazing cook. We had delicious hot meals the entire trip.  The cabins were amazing and very comfortable.  The fishing was awesome and that’s coming from a guy that doesn’t fish that much.

Brandon Foote

We brought home 100lbs of fish!

My wife and I spent a week at Pybus Point this Summer. We had a beautiful, private room overlooking the bay and our own new, ensuite, private bathroom. What an amazing place for couples to get away together. We set our own breakfast time, met our boat captain after, fished the day along, and returned to clean up and enjoy a nice dinner at the restaurant. Next time Alaska is on the trip list, Sherrie and I will go together, and it will be to Pybus Point!

Kent Danjanovich

Fun in Alaska

This was my first trip to Pybus Point. I stayed in one of their new cabins. The accommodations were incredible, the view onto the bay in the mornings was stunning. I loved the staff and the food was really very good. All of this and they have new boats to take you out onto fairly calm waters to fish. The fishing guides were great. Overall a great experience. Definitely going back.


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