They don’t call Ketchikan the “Salmon Capital of the World” for nothing. Ketchikan salmon fishing is second to none! Ketchikan has one of the most fertile salmon fishing grounds in the world, with huge numbers of king (Chinook), silver (Coho), chum (dog), red (sockeye), and pink (humpback) salmon inhabiting the waters of Ketchikan during the fishing season. Salmon is one of the most popular food fishes in the world, prized for its rich meat and substantial health benefits. Anglers also covet salmon for their hard fighting reputation and the rod-bending action it provides on the water. In many parts of Alaska, salmon are targeted from shore along the banks of rivers or by drifting rivers. In Ketchikan, salmon are primarily targeted while they are still in the saltwater.
The largest and most prized species of salmon is the King, or Chinook, salmon- the state fish of Alaska. And Ketchikan is the best place in Alaska to catch these magnificent fish. King salmon are available in Ketchikan year round, but from May through early July, the action is unbeatable. King salmon’s reputation as a fierce fighter is legendary. When you hook one, prepare for the fight of a lifetime. King Salmon in the Ketchikan area tend to range in the 20-30 pound range, occasionally hooking into fish in the 40-50+ range. It is definitely an unforgettable experience. Bella Misty Fishing Charters has years of experience locating and landing this always elusive fish, and would love to be your guides on an unforgettable Alaskan king salmon fishing adventure. Kings begin coming in to Ketchikan in early May. The largest numbers of King Salmon arrive by Mid June.
Ketchikan salmon fishing is done much the same way as in other parts of the country: Mooching or Trolling. Most often we troll using downriggers. This is also known as “controlled depth fishing.” We target zones of waters that are holding bait and target the fish using artificials such as spoons and squid bodies, as well as, whole herring trolled behind flashers. King Salmon tend to like whole herring baits with a slow roll. To accomplish this, we put a slight bend the herring to give it a “death roll” appearance. The take can can be as subtle as a “tickle” that is easily confused with a jellyfish bumping the line or as vicious as any strike you have ever seen. King Salmon tend to be defensive fighters. They take a lot of line and work to get deep and stay there. If they could be said to have a plan, it is to outlast you and let the leader wear through or hold on long enough for you to make a mistake and tear the hooks out. On the biggest fish, sometimes this is very difficult to overcome and the best way I have found to overcome it is to be patient and use angles and current to bring the fish up.
From July through September, the silver salmon in Ketchikan are ready to put on a show, leaping and jumping on the line in an impressive display. Also known as Coho salmon, silver salmon are a real treat for your rod and your dinner table. Silver salmon range in size from the common 8-10 pound size to occasional fish in excess of 20 pounds. Aggressive and acrobatic, silver salmon are known to bite hard and fast, and multiple hookups are common when you come upon a school.
We fish for coho’s fairly shallow cover a lot of water until a school of fish is located. Once located, the hard part is staying with the school and repeating what worked in the beginning. Typical presentations are: a. cut plug herring with dodger b. hotspot flasher and artificial squid body (hoochie) c. spoons d. cut plug herring and dummy flasher. Silvers can be difficult to land for first timers and seasoned anglers alike. They are on offence from the beginning; rocketing to the surface, jumping, charging the boat and fighting so hard that many wear themselves out before getting to the net and do a hard spin just out of net range. These are all deadly effective tactics that can result in a “Fish OFF” situation commonly know as an LDR (Long Distance Release).
Pink, or humpback, salmon are one of the smallest salmon species, ranging in size from 3 to 6 pounds but up to 12. But what they lack in size they make up for in numbers with multiple hookups from any given school. Pink salmon are very common in Ketchikan, but the peak month to catch Pink Salmon is August. Trolling or casting bright colored spoons and artificial lures. Pink, Orange are good colors for this species when you are Ketchikan salmon fishing.
Chum salmon, also called dog salmon, are well known as powerful fighters. Chum salmon average around 8-10 pounds, although occasional catches upwards of 20 pounds are possible. Chum salmon are best known for their strong runs and big leaps. Although not as commonly targeted, chum salmon are sure to provide you a memorable fishing experience. Chum salmon season runs all summer, peaking in mid-July through August. Troll slow and use lime green or purple artificial hoochies when Ketchikan salmon fishing for chums.
Sockeye salmon, or red salmon, are often considered the tastiest of all the salmon species. However, their diet consists of micro-organisms, making them almost impossible to target for salt water sport fishing.
Quite possibly the best part of Ketchikan salmon fishing is the proximity of the fishing grounds, making it a perfect excursion for cruise ship visitors. When you go on a charter fishing trip for Alaskan Salmon in Ketchikan, you are dropping you line in literally minutes! Many other locations require a long ride to reach the fishing grounds, but in Ketchikan, the Salmon are just offshore.
Bella Misty Charters has many years of experience charter fishing for salmon in Ketchikan. We would love to be your fishing guides on an Ketchikan salmon fishing adventure of a lifetime!