Fish for the Freezer
King Salmon Fishing on Kodiak Island Alaska
King Salmon are one of the most prized catches in Alaska due to their massive size.
Lacey and I planned a quick last minute trip to go fishing for King salmon with our outfitter on Kodiak Island. Although we only had a week to prepare it was plenty of time to work up some excitement for this trip! I couldn’t wait to show Lacey how beautiful of a place Kodiak Island is, but I was more excited to catch some salmon and rockfish to bring home for the freezer. Lacey had never caught a king salmon or any of the other bottom fish we would be fishing for.
We arrived in Kodiak, grabbed our bag and walked across the parking lot to the Island Air building and checked in for our charter flight. We had a coffee in the shop next door while we waited. It was a beautiful partly cloudy day and 55 degrees. We flew to Old Harbor in a Cherokee Piper a small aircraft that seats 5 and the pilot. The flight was great over snowy mountains, Lacey and I even saw a few mountain goats on the 20 minute flight to the lodge.
Upon arrival Kelley met us at the gravel airstrip and brought us five minutes across the village to the fishing lodge. The lodge was recently renovated and is pretty close to 5 star. It has room for twelve anglers with spacious rooms facing the ocean and mountains. Wildlife mounts cover the walls, on the 2nd level there is nice lounge area with picture windows overlooking the bay and a TV should you want to catch a game or the news.
Lacey and I walked the beach and picked up some shells before we went in for coconut crusted salmon appetizers followed by a salad, chicken pasta dinner, and the best bananas foster I’ve ever had the privilege of eating. The stories rang in from today’s catches by the other lodge guests of some nice kings caught and more lost along with a few big halibut. Unfortunately our weather for the next few days looks rough but we will make the most of it! We are really looking forward to our three days here.
Day One of Salmon Fishing on Kodiak Island
The first morning was unfortunately one of the worst weather days Gary Sampson, the lodge owner/manager has ever seen in his 14 years! He’s only had a few days during that time that he didn’t get out with the boats. One of the main selling points of this lodge is the fact that they have the Sitkalidak straights and many bays so the boat captains can always find a comfortable spot to fish for their guests. We started the morning trolling for kings and the German gentleman Ernst who was fishing with us caught a small one. We saw a few blacktail deer and seals too. Then the weather got even worse so we had to head back in early. This day was an anomaly for weather. The other boat lost 2 kings in a short time and landed one 45lber!
The boats they use are 28 ft heavy aluminum with Twin V bows which allows a more comfortable ride and makes them incredibly sea worthy for their size. The cabins have seating area for 5 and a small heater if needed and the back deck is ten feet by ten feet and allows plenty of working room to fish. The lodge also gears guests up with high quality Grundens rain suits for us to use while here. This makes it easy to just pack the few necessary items and clothes for the trip. All fishing gear etc is included you just need to show up ready to fish.
Although it was an unlikely day I was impressed with the level of service we received and we had a great lodge to eat lunch in and hang out, play cards, and visit with the other guests. We also did a tour of town which has some neat history from the Russians first coming there to the 1964 earthquake that made a tsunami wipe out the entire village of Old Harbor.
Day Two of Salmon Fishing
Woke up to much calmer water in the straights. It was just a riffle out there and a little rainy. Everyone was excited. The wind direction had changed from East to SW and would be half as windy as yesterday. The straits provide protection from many different wind directions.
We started trolling for kings and quickly picked up a few nice fish. I can now fully understand the draw to come fish these big powerful fish. I had never before witnessed Kings in the Saltwater and boy they are strong fish! Lacey had a 25lber and I landed a thick one that would go over 30 pounds! We saw a black fox on the beach digging and eating anything he could find. Ernst the man we were fishing with caught a nice king as well as broke off a huge fish! If you are patient you have the opportunity at catching a real monster out here.
After kings we went out to Three Saints Bay and jigged for rockfish. This bay was incredible with snow peaked mountains that dropped right into the ocean, waterfalls were everywhere. We saw many goats up in the cliffs as well as 5 bears on the beach or open grass feeding. We caught a yellow eye each and missed a few other fish while jigging and taking in the stunning beauty. Gary our guide then switched up our rigs and we jigged for black bass. The action was ridiculous, as soon as you dropped it down twenty feet they were attacking it, and we all easily hooked and landed 30 fish a piece. If you brought the little jig to the surface you could watch a bunch of them go for the lure and even come out of the water if you dangled it just above the surface. We only kept a few of the larger ones to bring home. Eagles were flying around and at one point one swooped in very close to our boat to try and take one of the fish from us! It was such a great day.
Day Three of Fishing
This morning we enjoyed our coffee and looked out the dining room windows to complete glassy water in the straights as the sun came over the mountains, it was a blue bird day. We headed out to the north this time from the harbor and again started after the kings. We saw a bunch of deer and puffins too which are really cool water birds. It didn’t take long for Lacey to hook and land a nice king. Soon after Ernst landed one and then I missed a few…it took a bit until we had another take down. This time the drag was singing before I could even get it out from the rod holder. The big king ripped line from the reel and must have went 200 feet before slowing down. It took me 15 minutes to bring him in. This was the biggest fish of the trip and went 42 pounds! The month of May into early June is the best time for these bigger kings and each year kings over 50 pounds are caught.
Since we all had a king in the boat box we decided to try to jig for some halibut and cod and found a school of BIG gray cod that were 8-16 pounds. We reeled in nine or ten of them before being content with the amount of fish to bring home. I think we could have sat over that school of fish and caught many more had we wanted to. The gray cod are one of my favorite fish to eat. I like them even better than eating halibut and just like to roll them in flour and seasoning and pan fry them classic fish and chips style. We tried another spot for halibut and Lacey lost one.
When you should go fishing on Kodiak Island
The halibut and bottom fishing in general gets better as you get into June and continues to produce well until September. May is the best time for the BIG kings. June is a good mix of Kings and bottom fish. July offers the best variety of all species and Ling Cod can also be kept. In August silvers show up thick and you can keep five per day as well as other fish. One thing to keep in mind when booking your trip is that on Wednesday’s all season long you can’t fish for Halibut in addition Tuesday’s in July you can’t fish for them either. This pertains to most of Alaska (rules can change at anytime, so check the regulations). The nice thing is this trip offers many other species to fish for and all it takes is one nice 60 pound halibut to fill your fish box.
Sadly we had to leave early to catch our charter flight back to Kodiak City, and then our Alaska Airlines flight back to Anchorage. The trip overall was great as we got to experience the absolute worst weather mixed with two days of normal weather which is little wind and partly cloudy days of fishing. I can’t wait to come back to Kodiak and see the beautiful little village of Old Harbor. I thought to myself how quick this trip went as we loaded up the charter plane with our luggage and fish boxes filled with fresh frozen fish. Just like that, another adventure is behind us and more memories made, man I love Alaska!