Chuitna King Fishing is every angler’s dream come true….
Certain expectations always accompany any fishing trip to Alaska. Hardly any destination will fulfill every preconceived notion you may have about fishing the Greatland but the Chuitna comes darn close. Visiting this modest, clear flowing Alaska River surrounded by lush forest and teeming with ocean bright king salmon is a unique experience. Being transported to this glorious location by helicopter doesn’t hurt. This is the type of trip where you haven’t even made your first cast and you already feel like you’ve had a once in a lifetime experience. Then you get a bite that almost pulls you off the gravel.
When Fish Alaska magazine editor Troy Leatherman, photojournalist Tony Weaver and I visited this area this past June, our timing was nothing less than perfect. We had a number of promising factors in our favor and as we charged through the river corridor in the helicopter. I was sure my heart was racing in pace with the rotors. The river was receding and clearing nicely after recent heavy rains and the river had just opened to fishing for king salmon. We inspected a 2-3 mile section of the river just above tidewater and finally settled on an inviting reach with a long stretch of fast, deep water culminating in a nice slow bucket. This was sure to hold a few fish and I asked the pilot over the radio to set it down. We unloaded our stuff and the pilot told us he’d be doing a “fly-by” approximately every hour. He told us to motion “thumbs up” to stay and “thumbs down” to be moved. After these simple instructions, he was gone. The windy noisy commotion was now a distant and fading hum eclipsed by a racing river and the intoxicating peace of Alaska wilderness.
Our party proceeded to land multiple king salmon and hook many, many others. We never moved. The fish were mostly concentrated in the deep seam of the main hole but we did find them on the edges, at the top of the run, and in the tail out. Can you say loaded? The recent “flush” of high water into the Inlet had lured a bountiful quarry and they were super aggressive. Many still had multiple sea-lice still clinging to their bodies and their sides sparkled with iridescent chrome.
This was an exceptional day, but the Chuitna is a very dependable fishery during a select portion of June. Anglers that target that ten-day to two-week window will be well rewarded. The logistics for reaching the Chuitna require a 20-minute float plane ride from Kenai and then a helicopter jump from a nearby lake. You and your guide will be set down on your own private stretch of river.
THE CHUITNA RIVER IS CURRENTLY CLOSED TO ALL SPORTFISHING FOR KING SALMON DUE TO LOW ESCAPEMENTS IN RECENT SEASONS. THEREFORE WE ARE NOT OFFERING ANY CHUITNA RIVER KING SALMON FISHING UNTIL THE RUN REBOUNDS AND RESTRICTIONS HAVE BEEN LIFTED.