Late May through mid June the Kasilof River hosts a solid run of hatchery and natural king salmon. A natural king is one that has, at some point in its lineage, bred with a hatchery fish. They look, fight, and taste the same – the only distinction is the presence of an adipose fin which was not clipped. Hatchery kings have their adipose fin clipped in the hatchery before they are released as smolt.
King salmon, during this time, average 10-20lbs with some pushing 25lbs-30lbs. They put up a tremendous fight and look great on the BBQ. The daily possession limit is typically one king per angler. King salmon are one of the most sought after sport fish on the planet, for their size, power, and flavor.
The Kasilof River is a glacial fed river located 15 minutes west of the Kenai River and is non-motorized. Drift instead of power boats reduce the number of guides and offer anglers a wonderful experience without the noise and madness of the Kenai. Most of the Kasilof is void of houses, creating a beautiful atmosphere to take in wildlife and scenery while king salmon fishing.
The Kenai & Kasilof Rivers are home to some of the biggest king salmon in the world. The current world record is 97.04lbs, caught on the famous Kenai River. Eight out of ten world records have also come from the turquoise water of the Kenai. A quick stroll through any Kenai fishing guide’s website will say almost the exact thing. However, these wild, native beasts are in a critical fight for survival. A run that used to produce 50,000 – 70,000 kings, many over 40lbs, is now reduced to 25,000, on average, with some years only returning 15,000. Overharvest by both sport and commercial fishing, coupled with mismanagement and changing ocean conditions (yes, this is real) has reduced the return of kings by more than 50%.
The guides of Alaska Drift Away Fishing made the decision to stop guiding native run king salmon on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers in 2013 as a way for our business to have zero impact on this special Alaskan salmon. We love kings, and fishing this first run is a wonderful way to enjoy targeting these amazing fish while reducing the impact on the native stock we need to protect. The fish and anglers both win!