Alaska Fishing

Combat Fishing in Alaska for Salmon

Combat Fishing is a truly Alaskan experience. Every year thousands of anglers head down to popular rivers and compete for their fair share of the abundant runs of Salmon which pass through the local rivers. Because the rivers are often very accessible, you end up with large amounts of people Fishing for Salmon very close together along a few select areas of shoreline they believe to be the most productive for Salmon Fishing.

Alaskan Combat Fishing - Kenai River and Russian River Combat Fishing
Image courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Alaskan Combat Fishing Locations

Ship Creek, in downtown Anchorage, and the Kenai and Russian rivers on the Kenai Peninsula, are world famous combat fishing locations in Alaska. While they are not really fighting a war, some fishermen may feel like they are as they jockey along the shoreline competing with each other for the best spots.

While targeting Salmon, everyone basically stands shoulder-to-shoulder along the river banks during the peak times of the salmon run. If you’re concerned about there being enough salmon to go around, there is no need to worry. Because the salmon season and catch limits are carefully regulated, there are plenty of salmon for each and every fisherman on the bank to catch their limit.

The Kenai and Russian rivers in particular have famously large salmon runs, and some of the biggest salmon in the world. Les Anderson caught his world record, 97.25 pound, King Salmon in the Kenai River in 1985. Most combat fishermen on these rivers are targeting smaller Red Sockeye Salmon and Silver Salmon.

Is Combat Fishing Dangerous?

Just like in any "war" combat fishing has its risks. Every summer the Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna extracts on average over 200 fishing lures from people who have gotten hooked by another fisherman. At the hospital they have 2 mannequins, and every time a lure is extracted from a disgruntled fisherman, they place it on one of the two mannequins in the hospital in the same spot where it was extracted from.

Because of the safety risks, when you are combat fishing you should always wear protective clothing to decrease your chances of injury from rouge lures. This protective clothing would consist of light weight gloves, long sleeve shirts, eye protection (such as sunglasses), and a round brimmed hat. If you do not have a round brimmed hat, then a baseball cap is another good option.

Combat Fishing Etiquette, and the "Rules of Engagement."

There are a few etiquette rules to keep in mind when combat fishing.

1. As much as possible try not to crowd other anglers along the shoreline.

2. Never take another fisherman’s spot, unless he is finished fishing.

3. If another fisherman has a fish and your line becomes tangled, let out slack so that the fish can be landed and your line removed.

4. When you do hook into that beautiful salmon shout, “Fish on!” to let other nearby anglers know that you are fighting a fish.

5. Don't waste a lot of time fighting the fish needlessly. If other people are waiting to fish, and are courteous enough to give you room to land yours, get the fish landed as quickly as you can.

6. If someone around you yells, “Fish on!” take your line out of the water, give them a little space, and wait for them to reel it in.

7. Remember that a little courtesy goes a long way. Everyone is there to have a good time and to catch fish, there is no reason for anyone to get upset or angry.

8. When you have finished catching your limit of fish leave the river so that others may enjoy fishing and have an opportunity themselves.

Combat Fishing on the Kenai River in Alaska
Image courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service