Ketchikan: The Salmon Capital of the World

Across the lower forty-eight, there are many big cities that are famous for pieces of their culture and unique traditions. From Mardi Gras in New Orleans to Spring Break in Miami, there are lots of exciting activities to partake in throughout the continental United States. During these big events, cities experience extreme crowding thanks to the visitors that flock to the areas to celebrate. In Ketchikan, Alaska, there is a very different type of crowding that happens each year that many people head to the area to enjoy, and this crowding doesn’t involve wading through hordes of tourists.

A school of young salmon.

The crowding that takes place in Ketchikan each year is a crowding of incredible salmon. For those looking for a once in a lifetime experience, a trip to Ketchikan, Alaska during the annual salmon run is the best vacation opportunity there is. The salmon themselves have an internal clock that brings them in droves to Ketchikan every single year at the same time, giving an incredible show to onlookers.

From mid-July to mid-September, five different types of salmon work themselves to near exhaustion trying to fight their way up stream at Ketchikan Creek Falls. As these magnificent fish crowd together, swimming and jumping in the same direction, they seem to form a solid wall between the open air and the water with their bodies. This incredible scene cannot be described, it must be seen to be believed.

The five different types of salmon that flock to the Ketchikan area are Chum Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, King Salmon, Silver Salmon, and Pink Salmon. These different salmon all work toward the same goal of making it upstream to spawn and carry on their legacy. Watching these fish fight and climb to calmer waters is like watching the survival of the fittest in action.

These salmon face more challenges than just the rough waters ahead. Most people who take to the streams during this time are fisherman looking for their biggest catch yet. Hooking a giant King Salmon or any other type of salmon, for that matter, is a thrilling experience that will also provide an incredibly tasty meal.

Since the waters are teeming with salmon, nature’s fisherman head to the waters, as well.

View of the boat harbor and marina in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Those hoping to see one of Alaska’s native bears or eagles are much more likely to see them where the fish are thick in the water. These animals expertly pick out the salmon as they jump near the surface of the water, giving onlookers and incredible show.

The salmon capital of the world, Ketchikan, Alaska, is a terrific place for outdoor lovers, fishermen, and those who just want to check Alaska off their bucket list, to travel. For guests hoping to catch a glimpse of the massive amounts of salmon attempting to spawn or those who are looking to make a meal of these salmon, a trip to Ketchikan will be an unforgettable and awe-inspiring journey. Traveling to the Last Frontier has never been as exciting as it is during the annual salmon run.

Ketchikan Fishing Minute 06/01/2017

After a year long hiatus, we are back online with another Ketchikan fishing minute.

The 70th annual Ketchikan CHARR King Salmon Derby kicked off on Memorial Day weekend, and we were blessed with spectacular weather, with plenty of sunshine and temperatures climbing over seventy degrees.

I left the dock with a couple of friends in one of the Clover Pass Resort Yellow Boats in time to catch the morning tide change. We fished from Pup Island up to the Tatoosh Rocks and back for most of the morning. While the tide was slack, we were getting strikes consistently. Unfortunately, most of those fish were too small to keep, just shakers in the 12″-18″ range.

Once the current started moving, the bite dropped off considerably. We kept at it however, and when the tide changed that afternoon, the bite picked up again. We pulled a few more shakers up to the boat, and our patience was rewarded when our sales manager brought in a 13.5 pound king salmon. While that fish isn’t going to win any prizes, it did turn out to be a white king, where the flesh lacks the reddish color that you expect from salmon. This occurs in about five percent of king salmon, due to the fish being unable to process the pigments in their food.



One fish that will qualify for a prize on the derby ladder was brought in by good friend of the lodge, J.B. Ruth. His 34.6 pound king is currently sitting in second place, but we have two more weekends to go and a lot of fishing in front of us.

JB crop

Overall, more than 800 anglers got on the water this opening weekend, with over 330 fish turned in at the four weigh stations in town. The largest fish so far has been a 37.1 pound chinook brought in by James Bellarosa. If that fish holds on to the top spot, James will walk away with $10,000 cash and two tickets to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies!

Thanks to Jake and Eric at KPU for the great footage last weekend. We will get back on the water for more derby coverage, and give you an update on who’s on top of the ladder next week on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute!



Ketchikan Fishing Minute 09/03/2015

I was only able to get out on the water one day this week, and that was yesterday – Wednesday, September 2nd. We got well over four inches of rain over the weekend, but the weather was clear on Wednesday with a bit of nip in the cool September air. By the time early September rolls around, you can expect most of the pink salmon to have moved into freshwater streams, leaving mostly silvers out in the saltwater. As previously mentioned however, this summer has been highly unusual, with runs seemingly arriving behind schedule and in lighter numbers than a typical season.

Much like last week, we were getting quite a few bites from the smaller, “shaker” fish yesterday, with the only keepers being three decent sized pink salmon – one of which was still pretty bright, not yet humping out or turning color. That could not be said for the other two fish however.

This weekend is Labor Day – a traditional kicking off point for the fall coho run, so I will be back out on the water a couple of times over the next few days and get back with an update next Thursday on another Ketchikan Fishing Minute!


Ketchikan King Salmon Derby Underway!


The 68th Annual Ketchikan King Salmon Derby got underway last Saturday, May 23, with 410 fish weighed in over the Memorial Day Weekend. By comparison, a total of 822 fish were weighed in over the course of all three derby weekends in 2014. We’re clearly off to a terrific start!

Rosie on boat with fish

The angler who turns in the largest fish this year will win a $10,068 cash prize in addition to two round trip tickets to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies, a custom tournament jacket, and a canvas photograph of the winner with his or her fish. In addition to the grand prize and the adult prize ladder, there is a youth prize ladder, categories for the largest fish caught from a skiff 16’ or shorter, the largest fish caught by a permanent license holder, hidden weight prizes, and more. In total, over $100,000 in cash and prizes are up for grabs during this year’s derby!

Briggs 1

Last year’s derby was won by Rick Forrester with a 42 lb king. The current leader of this year’s derby is Duseigneur Paolo with a 40.3 lb Chinook salmon. There are still four more derby fishing days for someone to jump into the top spot.

Derby Winner Pic

Official Derby Weigh-In Stations are located at Mountain Point, Bar Harbor, Knudson Cove Marina, and Clover Pass Resort. Alaska Sportfishing Expeditions is also providing free fish processing to all derby participants at Clover Pass Resort and The Cedars Lodge on derby days!