IMG_0008 (Large) (2)The salmon run has begun in the Kenai River! Brian and I both caught our limit, or “limited” as the locals call it, by catching three Sockeye Salmon yesterday! We fished for two days in the green, cloudy Kenai, up to our crotches in cold water, catching nothing. Things changed quickly when the fish arrived. Yesterday, on our third day, the salmon run seemed to start right in front of our eyes.

For the first hour the fishing area was quiet, then suddenly fish started thrashing around on lines every few minutes and jumping out of the water nearby. They were everywhere, swimming by the hooks we were dragging through the water. We were waiting for fate or chance to help us land a hook in their mouths as they passed by.

IMG_4793Sockeye Salmon swim up the Kenai River on the way to their spawning area. The fish are focused on spawning and have stopped eating, so bait is ineffective. We fished with only a bare hook and a small weight on the line. We entered the river in chest waders designed to keep us dry. We cast our lines, let the hooks sink, then dragged the hooks along the bottom of the river in a sweeping motion. A sharp jerk at the end of the sweep would hopefully land the hook in a fish’s mouth. They swim with mouths open, so randomly hooking one in the mouth is actually a good possibility.

The picture at right is my very first Sockeye! This is definitely the biggest fish I’ve ever caught. It fought hard, too! These fish are fun to catch, and their meat is bright red and delicious. I’ve heard it’s good luck to kiss your first salmon but I forgot to do this. My lack of a wet, slimy kiss for my fish did not seem to hurt my fishing, because I quickly landed another two salmon! With my limit of three on a stringer near shore, there was nothing left to do but sit back and happily relax as everyone else fished for their limit.

IMG_6461 (Large)When we were done fishing, we headed back to “fish camp” on the Kenai Peninsula to clean and package the fish. Brian’s mom and her husband visit the fishing camp each summer for several months, and it’s a great place. It’s an improved lot with a couple buildings and spots for several trailers, so Vanifest fits right in here. It also has a fish cleaning table topped with plastic cutting boards, two vacuum sealing machines, and two large freezers.

IMG_6464 (Large)We settled into our positions at the different processing stations at the fishing camp and began working on the fish. The Sockeye Salmon is the most sought after salmon in Alaska because the meat is fantastic. It was exciting to see all the salmon four of us obtained from just one day of fishing. We worked together to clean, sort, and vacuum seal the fish in meal-sized packages. After the four of us worked on the salmon for about an hour, we had a nice sized stack packaged and ready to freeze. This wonderful fish is as wild as it gets and was processed with love. I like knowing the origin of the fish I’m eating, which seems to be rare these days as most of us are pretty distant from the sources of our foods.

This fish is great. We’ll try to bring some back to Boise to share!

Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

One Response to Sockeye Salmon Fishing in Alaska

  1. Kevin says:

    Hi. I really enjoyed my brief visit on your site and I’ll be sure to be back for more.
    Can I contact you through email address?

    Please email me back.


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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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