By Stacey Sutherlin
Not many mornings offer the spectacular view of the sun, the moon, and the sea while wetting a line in the pursuit of fresh salmon.
Southcentral Alaska, the home of the Kenai Peninsula, offers some of the best fishing destinations worldwide, as folks from all over the world pack up their bags and travel to the last frontier in chase of the ultimate prize, a king salmon.
If you hit the Sterling Highway and head south you’ll ultimately end up in Homer, a place where you are able to do some saltwater king salmon fishing. The views along the drive most definitely don’t disappoint, and Homer and the Homer Spit offer quite a bit as well.
Who doesn’t love fishing? Fishing the salt water is much different than hitting the fresh water rivers or lakes. Hitting the salt for fishing provides a variety of fish to target which include salmon, halibut, rock fish, ling cod and more depending on fishery seasons. An all-time favorite is targeting those winter king salmon known as feeder kings that people rave about. Winter kings are fat and tasty and a limit fills the freezer right up.
Don’t let the word winter divert you! Although it can be chilly, if you layer up, prepare for temps in the high 20s and low 30s with the right gear, your experience will be exactly what you make it. The plus is charters have a cabin that is kept warmer where you can warm up throughout the day of fishing if need be.
Don’t forget that the adrenaline that kicks in when that king hits your line is exhilarating, cranking the reel with a fat feeder king fighting at the other end makes you instantly forget the chill you may be experiencing.
The feeder king fishery in Alaska is healthy and lively. As reported by ADF&G biologists, the feeder kings that are caught in the waterways out of Homer have traveled up from California, Oregon and Washington, and even British Columbia to feed until they are ready to head back to their spawning grounds. Research by ADF&G shows that during the winter months, a very high percentage of the king salmon are from outside the Cook Inlet. Many of the fish are identifiable by their clipped fins as hatchery fish that have come into Kachemak Bay and the Cook Inlet to forage for food during the winter months.
Feeder kings, also known as winter kings, tend to range anywhere from 10-24 pounds. As spring moves in, they get larger. Winter kings are absolutely delicious and one of my favorites! They are often known for their extra-high fat content making them extra tasty.
General regulations for this area explain that limits are 2 king salmon per day during the winter fishery September 1-March 31, with 2 in possession of any size. King salmon caught during the winter fishery do not count toward your limit of 5 kings during the summer fishery. There are many charters that offer trips during the winter. Alaska literally offers fishing year-round if you’re up for the chase.
This winter, I was given the opportunity for some winter king fishing. Let me be the first to tell you it was everything I expected and more! That February morning presented the most serene day on the water. With the sun shining, our lines wet in hopes to get a nice king on deck and great company aboard the charter I was on, I couldn’t have asked for a better winter day. The water was calm, flat and offered that beautiful glacial blue color you often hear about.
That day on the water we were trolling for kings using downriggers, flashers and bait. Everyone on the charter that day caught a nice king which made for smiles all around. As we headed back to the harbor, the deckhands filleted the salmon on board, making it easy to place the fillets in a cooler to process when arriving home or where you are lodging.
Now you’re thinking about booking your next fishing trip to catch yourself some fresh salmon, and what better place than visiting Alaska to do just that? As you’ve heard, the Last Frontier has some of the best fishing destinations worldwide. With affordable charters and great lodging, check out Absolute Alaska Adventures based out of Soldotna. I would highly recommend them for your first or your next trip in southcentral Alaska. Check them out and plan your next trip today, choose from their package specials listed or customize your trip; either way, you’ll be happy you did.