On May 17, 1985, Les Anderson of Soldotna, AK landed the all-tackle world record king salmon…this 97-pound, 4-ounce beast from the Kenai River. The mammoth Chinook was nearly 5 feet long and had an amazing 37.5-inch girth!
The improbable catch took place during the Kenai’s early run of kings, which typically features smaller salmon than the July run.
What’s even more crazy is the fish probably weighed considerably more at the time Andersen caught it…
After putting the giant in the net, he through the fish on the floor of the boat and fished the rest of the morning.
Then, Anderson hauled it around in the back of his truck for awhile. Of course, it was one of those rare sunny & warm days in coastal Alaska…and the sun beat down on that fish for 7 hours before it was officially weighed.
There’s no telling how much weight the fish lost to dehydration but the king was probably pushing the 100-pound mark when it was fresh!! You can stop in and pay homage to the record king salmon at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce where’s he mounted and on display.
Anderson’s 97-4 is the official record, but there have been even larger undocumented catches. Before the dams, the Columbia River was reported to have 100 pounders as did Washington’s Elwah River. Even the Sacramento in California has produced kings to 88 pounds in recent times and may have had even larger ones historically.
In 2001, a German tourist caught and released a 99.1-pound Chinook on B.C.’s Skeena River, so there’s still a chance.