All The Fish

Kings of Kachemak Bay

Winter saltwater fishing for Chinook Salmon in Alaska

3 king salmon tails on a blue boat deck
Three kings on deck. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson

Where are these kings originating from and what are they doing in Kachemak Bay this time of year?

I’ve heard these fish called “feeder kings”

Two kings next to flashers. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson

How big is a 2-year winter fish and what do they look like?

How can you tell it’s a Chinook verses another salmon species?

close up of a chinook salmon tail
Close-up of a King Salmon tail (note the spots). 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson


What are they eating and how does that inform what kinds of baits and lures to use?

a downrigger and rod with snowy mountains in the background
A downrigger and rod set for king salmon fishing. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson
a king salmon being reeled into a boat
Netting a king in Kachemak Bay. Note the flasher above. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson

Is it common practice for people in a fishing party to set the downriggers at different depths and see where they start getting strikes?

two women land a Chinook Salmon
Landing a King Salmon in Kachemak Bay. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson

Do you have any general safety or preparation tips?

And to put that tide in perspective, what are the tides? I mean they’re huge! How big are we talking?

Homer webcams helps you check the weather and tides (see below under Resources for Anglers).

Yep. It’s something you’ve think about when you’re launching the boat as well: getting that timing right.

Safety Tip

Don’t forget your sunglasses. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson


Do you have a favorite recipe for winter kings or kings in general?

So I’ve heard from some friends of mine who have gone fishing for kings near Homer that when you open them up they don’t have that distinctive orangey-red flesh that we associate with salmon. It’s more of a pale kind of white meat. Is this a different subspecies of king? A unique variant?

a white and red salmon fillet
a white and red salmon fillet
A “white” king (bottom) vs a more typical salmon fillet. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson
a woman holds a king salmon in Kachemak Bay
Holly and Mike 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson

Stories from Alaska by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service