Alaska Red Salmon (Sockeye) Fishing

alaska salmon fishing

Red salmon are also known as sockeye salmon. They are a hard-fighting fish, lots of fun to catch, and are highly sought after for their rich and tasty meat. In fact, many people claim they are the best eating of all the Pacific salmon species. There are two runs of red salmon in the Kenai River and one run of reds in the Kasilof River that we fish for.

Kenai River Red Salmon Fishing

If taking home wild Alaskan salmon and having plenty of opportunities to hook a hard fighting fish are on the top of your to-do list, consider red salmon fishing on the Kenai River in July! Each year the second run of red salmon boosts returns of around a million!

Red salmon is a favorite amongst local Alaskans due to the rich flavor and abundance. Red salmon are known for their deep red/orange color of meat. Take a trip through the seafood section of your local grocery store. The sight of those fillets will make your mouth water, but the price (sometimes selling for $20 a pound) will make your wallet cringe.

The typical daily possession limit is three reds per person. If the run exceeds 750,000 the limit will increase to six. This does not always happen, but check out these numbers… an average second-run red weighs 9-12lbs. Anglers will retain ~ 50% of the weight in fillets. At a minimum, one limit of three reds will put ~13.5lbs of incredible fillets in your freezer!

One misconception about red salmon fishing in Alaska is having to stand shoulder-to-shoulder (combat fishing) with other anglers. Yes, most of the Kenai is fished in this manner for reds, but there is another way… We fish from the boat much the same as one would fish for king salmon on the Lower Kenai River – minus 400 other boats and few chances at a hookup a day per boat.

Our environment is a wilderness setting with opportunities to view moose, bear, lynx, eagles, loons, and more. We do our best to avoid other anglers and quite often have plenty of space to ourselves. This tranquil environment is often interrupted by constant action, bent rods, and screaming drags. Red salmon are one of the hardest fighting fish, pound for pound. They love to fly out of the water putting on epic aerial displays, then charge subsurface and repeat, over and over!

When the fishing is hot and limits happen early, anglers can participate in a phenomenon known as the Kenai double dip. Once the fish box is full we switch gears and target native rainbow trout. The Kenai is home to some of the biggest wild-native rainbows on the planet! The end of July into early August is a sleeper peak time for amazing trout fishing and the shot to tie into trophy trout over 10lbs! Go to our Rainbow Trout Site to learn more about this awesome fish.

Kenai & Kasilof River Red Salmon

Fishing Season:
June 25th to August 5th

July 15th to August 1st

Average Size:
7 – 12 lbs

3-6 per day

kasilof river red salmon fishing

Kasilof River Red Salmon Fishing

By late June, the Kasilof River sees the start of red salmon (sockeye) entering the river. This is a blessing for anglers looking to experience red salmon fishing in Alaska. Typically the first run of king salmon on the Kasilof is just about spent, making a naturally hard endeavor harder. Red salmon on the Russian river are also nearing an end.

As with any salmon run, the beginning and end of the run come with inconsistency. If the reds are early, fishing will be good. If they are on time, it will be solid. If they are late, well… it will be tough. The positive aspect is these fish are fresh! You will not be sifting through older fish that have been in the river for a while, which is typical of fishing the end of any salmon run. They fight hard, and the venue in which you will be targeting reds is absolutely spectacular. Your daily limit is three reds per person and average 6-9lbs.

This trip begins at the headwaters of the Kasilof River where wilderness dominates. The Upper Kasilof borders the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, so opportunities to view wildlife are bountiful. Anglers feel the essence of being in remote Alaska, a truly breathtaking experience. Your guide will find an appropriate gravel bar to fish from, and often several locations will be fished during a full day. We fish reds from the shore on the Kasilof during this time, but no combat fishing, here. If you’re visiting Alaska in late June and you want a chance at catching salmon, this is the trip for you.

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About the Alaska Red Salmon.
( A.K.A. Sockeye Salmon )

Red salmon have dark blue-black backs, silvery sides and white bellies. The average size is 7-12 pounds and 4-5 years of age. The sockeye’s flesh is ruby red in color and is the most sought after salmon in Alaska due to its wonderful flavor and color. The red salmon is second only to the pink salmon in total run size.

For more red salmon facts
Click here >>

Fishing for Red Salmon

Red salmon are commonly caught using “coho” flies. The appropriate weight is placed a couple feet away and the fly bounces along the bottom and, with practice, into their mouth.