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Though there are several different types of fish in Alaska — each of which is prize-worthy in its own right — there’s one in particular that prompts scores of anglers to take Alaskan fishing trips every year: the king salmon.

Sometimes called the Chinook, the king salmon is not only one of the largest species of fish in Alaska, but it’s also the largest species of Pacific Salmon. In fact, the current Alaska state sport fishing record for a king salmon is 97 pounds and four ounces, and was caught right on the Kenai River.

Of course, no novice angler will be able to catch such a fish in Alaska. That is, unless they know what they’re doing. Here are a few things worth knowing about these gigantic fish.

Head Out at the Right Time of the Year.

Like most fish in Alaska, king salmon can only be caught at certain times of the year. If you plan to fish for one in freshwater, then you need to head out to the Last Frontier some time between May and July. If you plan to catch one of these behemoths in saltwater, then head out to Alaska sometime between April and October.

Identify the King Salmon.

This should be common sense, but it’s still worth mentioning. If you plan to catch a king salmon fish in Alaska, you need to be able to identify them. These fish have blue-gray backs with silvery sides; black gum lines; and irregularly-shaped spots on their back, their dorsal fins, and on both sides of their tails. Spawning adults usually take on a maroonish or oliveish color.

Get a Guide.

The best way to catch these fish in Alaska is to get a guide. Even the most experienced anglers have trouble catching these massive monsters. In fact, an unguided angler will spend nearly 40 hours fishing before they even hook a king salmon, according to Alaska’s State Department of Fish and Games. If you don’t want to waste your time and get right to the good part — catching the fish — then you need to get a guide to help you out.

Catching king salmon is the reason why so many anglers go on fishing trips in Alaska, but in order to return successful, they need to head out at the right time of the year, be able to identify the king salmon, and use a guide.

If you have any questions about catching these monster fish in Alaska, feel free to ask in the comments.

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