Port of Call – King Salmon Alaska: Gateway to Katmai Park and Bristol Bay

Commercial Fishing Boats - Alan SorumKing Salmon Alaska is located at the east side of Bristol Bay on the north bank of the Naknek River on the Alaska Peninsula. In Alaskan jargon, King Salmon is a hub community, providing a transshipping point for the smaller neighboring villages. The town is home to a formerly active Air Force Base that provides excellent aviation infrastructure for the region.

King Salmon is part of the Bristol Bay Borough, the first Borough government incorporated in the State of Alaska. Other communities in the Borough include Naknek and South Naknek located 15 miles to the west. The area surrounding the community is known for its spectacular national parks and wildlife refuges, commercial fishing, and pacific salmon.

Katmai National Park and Preserve was established in 1918 to preserve the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. This is a forty square mile ash deposit caused by the eruption of the Novarupta Volcano. The volcano last erupted violently in 1912. Encompassing more than 7,000 square miles of pristine wildness, most of the park is unvisited by outside guests. Katmai is home to Rainbow and Lake Trout, Sockeye and Silver Salmon, Dolly Varden, and several thousand hungry Brown Bears.

Becharof and Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuges take in an incredible range of land forms running from the coast to the tundra and up into the volcanic mountains. Established as a means to preserve wildlife habitat, the refuges host a myriad of animal species. Features like the 300,000 acre Becharof Lake stagger the imagination and our sense of scale. Thousands of bird, fish, and mammals thrive in this rich environment.

Sockeye Salmon and Commercial Fishing - Sockeye or Red Salmon are a prized catch, known for their high oil content and flavor. Chum (Dog), King, Silver (Coho) and Sockeye (Red) Salmon are all found in Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay produces some of the most abundant populations of salmon to be found in the world and the portion of the Bay that lays near King Salmon and Naknek has the greatest Red Salmon fishery to be found in Alaska. Huge, sustainable runs of salmon and herring support a monstrous commercial fishing fleet. Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reports a sockeye harvest for Bristol Bay of 24.5 million fish in 2005. At prices reaching $.60 per pound, the fishery produced $91.3 million for the Alaskan economy.

First time visitors to the region should visit the King Salmon Visitor Center located near to the airport terminal building. The facility is an interagency effort sponsored by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bristol Bay Borough and Lake & Peninsula Borough. Transportation into the area is primarily by air and cargo is shipped in on ocean going barges. Boats are heavily used for commercial, subsistence and recreational purposes ranging from the 32 foot gillnetters to high powered jetboats running the swift river waters.

King Salmon is the perfect destination for travelers seeking adventure, abundant wildlife, and unexplored terrain.

Copyright 2013 by Alan Sorum – First published at http://boatingsailing.suite101.com on 9 January 2007.

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