The Story of the World Record King Salmon

Les Anderson's World record king salmon

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.

World Record King Salmon

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.


  1. Richard Drummond says

    Good old Les !! The fish gods were with him that day! I have many hours on the river and have had a few big ones get away

  2. GC Thomason says

    From the Field and Stream, May 1971 page 84,

    World records… in Pacific salmon are made in British Columbia waters… “Heintz Wichmann’s 92 pound salmon came from the Skeena river”.

  3. Billy says

    I’m in a restaurant in Seattle and they have a pic of a teddy roosevelt looking guy that caught a 124 lb fish. That gotta be a record

    • Annonymous30 says

      My husbands father (who is now deceased) did the taxidermy work on that fish in the 1970s while working for Klineburger Brothers in Seattle (Think it was Jonas Brothers back then). That fish was commercially caught and is the true largest king salmon ever recorded. But its not an IGFA world record because it was commercially caught in a net. My husband has personally seen the mount and his father also had a fiberglass mold that he made off the mount. He sold a few reproductions out of the mold to sea food restaurants in different places. Unfortunately, the mold was destroyed along with a reproduction in a fire that leveled his fathers taxidermy shop in Hoquiam, WA in 1997. Not going to mention any names but anyone that knew my husbands father knows who we are talking about.


  1. […] of the world's record size King salmon at 97.25 pounds, caught by Les Anderson of Soldotna, AK. The Story of the World Record King Salmon | Fish with JD The biggest King I have personally caught was only 44 pounds, but I do not like the […]

  2. […] Though the Kenai’s slowing down as a giant factory, there are still monsters lurking in its emerald depths and Les Anderson’s all-tackle world record of 97 pounds, 4 ounces is never safe here. Check out the story of the World Record King HERE […]

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