Alaska Fishing Report: 2019 Nushagak King Forecast

It’s almost time for the Alaska salmon fishing season! And we are ready to make a 2019 Nushagak king forecast in this Alaska fishing report. Chinook fishing on the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay is the most productive king fishery in Alaska. While the king fishing on the Kenai River, throughout the Mat-Su Valley, and much of southeast Alaska looks bleak in recent years, the western Alaska salmon fishing report is solid. Last year king salmon escapement levels were at a healthy point of just over 97,000 kings in the Nushagak River and the king salmon fishing forecast for 2019 looks promising as well, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game data. Our Alaska fishing lodge staff is amped and ready for guests to begin arriving the third week of June—we are excited for those first slabs of chrome blackmouths to hit the fillet table!

Chinook Salmon

Chinook salmon have a life span of 3- to 8 years with the most important age group being 5- and 6-year olds for the reproductive health of king stocks. King salmon are the largest of the Pacific salmon with an average size of 36 inches. They are nicknamed “blackmouth” for the obvious reason that their gums are lined in black pigment. Random spots on their backs, dorsal fins, and both lobes of the tail fin are the mark of a Chinook that differentiate it from its salmon cousins. Kings tend to prefer large bodies of freshwater as their stomping grounds which is part of what makes The Nush such prime king habitat. When king salmon become smolt as juveniles and head to the saltwater they can spend anywhere from 1- to 5 years feeding in the ocean before coming back to their natal river to spawn.

Nushagak River King Counts

The annual biological escapement goal for Chinook on The Nush is 55,000- to 120,000 kings. ADF&G’s website shows Nushagak River king counts for the last eight years and it depicts six of the eight years landed well near the top end of the escapement goal. Only twice in a decade were run numbers on the low end of escapement goals. “We’re hopeful it will be another strong king run on the Nushagak this year,” said Tim Sands, the AK Dept Fish and Game area management biologist. “The number of 2-ocean fish we saw last year looks promising that we will see a strong return of 3-ocean fish.” The river is managed to be optimized for around 100,000 Chinook going up the river. Of course that is never a guarantee but these folks play an instrumental roll in balancing that act.

Our lodge team expects to have good returns for 2019 based on the consistency in the run, the cyclical nature of salmon life cycle, plus no new known environmental concerns at the time. As that magic eight ball you used to play with as a kid would say, “all signs point to yes”. Alaska fish counts are strong in general, but nothing beats Bristol Bay for the salmon abundance and trophy trout.

Alaskan King Salmon Run Timing

The best fishing times for Alaskan king salmon on the Nushagak River is from summer solstice through the middle of July with king fishing still strong for the remainder of the month. While one of the earth’s poles are at their maximum tilt towards the sun so are Alaskan salmon anglers! Kings tend to blush up more around mid July but you see larger fish at that time and some chromers that still enter the river.

Nushagak River Adventures Lodge King Fishing

We are completely booked for king season at our Alaska fishing lodge for 2019 but we are taking reservations for 2020 and beyond. We have a couple spots in 2019 for silver salmon anglers as well as into next year and on out. Our loyal, returning anglers get first right of refusal for their preferred dates and we welcome new guests beyond that.

King fishing in southwest Alaska should be strong this summer. When choosing your Alaska fishing lodge think about the health of their fisheries, the top species you want to target, as well as the quality of lodge they run, the character of their guides, level of dining provided, comfort of the facility, and attentiveness of the staff. The king fishery is as healthy as it gets on The Nush, the world’s largest run of wild king salmon. Look for an upcoming Alaska fishing report on the abundant 2019 silver salmon fishing forecast for the Nushagak River coming later this spring.

To inquire about king salmon or silver salmon fishing in Alaska, contact Nushagak River Adventures Lodge at 877-876-NUSH (6874) or request trip information.