This may be a dismal summer for king salmon fishing in Alaska, which attracts anglers from all over the world. After several years of poor returns, hot spots around Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula will be heavily restricted or closed this year. Many of the state's other good king salmon rivers will be, too.
And yet, one gem of an Alaska river continues to thrive -- the 242-mile-long Nushagak in Southwest Alaska.
To the delight of sport, subsistence, and even commercial fishermen, the Nushagak River has now had three really good years following a crash in 2010. It is not just the top performer in the state; the Nushagak may be the greatest king salmon river in the world.
"Yes, for wild kings I think it is pretty close to the top," said Dillingham-based sport fish management biologist Jason Dye. "Of course the Columbia River is having huge runs lately too, but a large percentage of those are hatchery fish."