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7/21/2001 Pulling an 8'/400#+ Salmon Shark into the boat

Salmon Shark Fishing In Prince William Sound
 The experience of fishing for Salmon Sharks has an added benefit over that of other deep sea angling in Alaska.  It can be as much of visual spectacle as that of a brute force battle.  As the many millions of salmon migrate into the Sound each year, Salmon Sharks gather into large schools and actively search and feed on the masses of salmon. 

6 - Salmon Sharks 7' to 8.5' (300# to 350#)

If you want to experience the ultimate hook and line sport fishing in Alaska then you have to try Salmon Shark fishing in Prince William Sound (PWS).  These large 6 to 10 foot, 300 to 400 pound sharks follow and feed on the various species of salmon entering PWS each year.  Salmon Sharks are in the same family of cold water sharks as Mako and Great White.  They are excellent food quality (when properly prepared) and sometimes compared to the taste of swordfish.  Several of our clients have compared the fighting power, speed, and leaping ability of PWS Salmon Sharks to that of Blue Marlin around the Cabo area.  Marlins, on average jump more often, however the Salmon Sharks commonly display extremely powerful runs of hundreds or up to a thousand yards, diving all the way to the ocean floor, often times, many hundreds of feet deep.  One shark several years ago, pulled a tightly set drag on a Penn 50SW 2-speed reel for 17 minutes straight, taking over half the line (approximately 800 yards), before breaking off.  Another shark pulled drag on a Penn 9/0 for so long that the drag washers started smoking!  Another shark several years ago ripped an Okuma 50 2-speed reel right off the rod, breaking all four stainless steel mounting bolts (this was our customers tackle, not ours).  On average it will take from 20 to 40 minutes to land one of these sharks.  The shear power of the Salmon Shark, along with dozens of razor sharp teeth, and skin similar to 80 grit sandpaper require only the highest quality tackle be used to catch this magnificent creature. 

      ORION CHARTERS recommend catch and release of Salmon Sharks. However, if you would like to keep your shark, we will gut and bleed the shark, immediately after bringing the shark to the boat.  This procedure dramatically improves the quality of the shark meat.  Back at the dock, the shark(s) will be expertly filleted, and the jaws removed.



The biggest Salmon Shark that we landed (so far) is 540#/9.5 feet landed during the 2002 season.  The average size Salmon Sharks that we catch (in Prince William Sound) are approximately 7 feet and 300 pounds. The smallest Salmon Shark that we landed was approximately 175#/6.5 feet. The Salmon Shark has been reported to reach approximately 14 feet and 1,200#, however the largest Salmon Shark that has been caught on sport tackle (that I am aware of) weighed approximately 775#.

While feeding, Salmon Sharks are reported to be able to warm their blood from 30F to 50F above the  ambient temperature.  The warmer temperature increases blood flow and oxygenation, which in turn enhances the sharks abilities, i.e. swim faster, see better, smell better.

Salmon Shark must also keep swimming at all times to keep their muscles warm.  If they stop, they loose body heat and can die.

Salmon Sharks seem to be present in Prince William Sound all year.    During July and August it is a common every day experience to see numerous Salmon Sharks aggressively attacking salmon.  This is the time when major migrations (millions) of Pink, Chum, and Silver Salmon enter the PWS.  Large schools of sharks may be seen swimming just under the surface, usually with the dorsal fin exposed.  As your boat nears the sharks they sometimes "swirl" to avoid impact, sometimes slapping the water with their tail fin.   Sometimes they seem oblivious of an oncoming boat, and the captain must do evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.  One friend of mine who is a top notch charter boat captain has destroyed more then one set of props on these sharks.  The sharks may be intent on hunting salmon, have no fear of the boat, or simply do not see the boat approaching?   Occasionally the sharks may be seen "cart wheeling" across the surface.   If you are close enough to get a good look at this, you can sometimes see salmon hanging out of the sharks mouths.

Before June and after September PWS salmon sharks feeding seems to be greatly reduced.   Large schools of Salmon Sharks may still be seen, however I have not been able to get these sharks very interested in taking bait.

I have heard quite a few stories about other species of sharks, besides Salmon Sharks, present in PWS and the Gulf coast areas.  Some of the stories include Hammerhead or Great White sharks.  However, in the hundreds of sharks that have been brought along side ORION, and the thousands of sharks that I have observed over the last decade, all appeared to be Salmon Sharks.  Due to the similarity between Great White and Salmon Sharks, perhaps some of the stories about Great Whites were actually large Salmon Sharks?  One exception to this is a large shark that we observed offshore in September of 2005  (see unusual shark page).

During the 1990's and 2000's, there was an abundant shark population in Prince William Sound.  Fishing was nothing short of spectacular.  About 2009 or 2010 to the shark population suddenly decreased for unknown reasons.  While there are still some Salmon Sharks available in PWS Orion Charters has stopped targeting them.  We still catch and release an occasional shark while halibut fishing.


Here are some pictures of Salmon Sharks: 

August 8, 2006  3 sharks + 2 yelloweyes, all gutted & bled

July 19, 2005 - 6 Sharks + 2 yellow eyes, all gutted & bled

7/22/06  6 - Salmon Sharks avg. 300#, all gutted & bled

07/28/06  6 - Salmon Sharks avg. 300#, all gutted & bled

8/5/06  6 - Salmon Sharks avg. 300#, all gutted & bled

7/22/2005 - 5 Sharks, all gutted & bled                                                                       6/29/2005 4 Sharks, all gutted & bled     

7/21/04 - 5 Salmon Sharks 7'-8' + 111.4#/63" Halibut

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7/11/2002 - 5 Salmon Sharks 7-8' kept, all gutted & bled                               7/27/2002 - 6 Salmon Sharks 7-8' kept, all gutted & bled

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5 Salmon Sharks 7.5'/300# to 9'/400# (all sharks gutted & bled) caught 7/23/00

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8/23/2002 - 540#/9'4"/67"  Salmon Shark (gutted & bled)

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                          July 1999 - 500#/9.5'/76" Salmon Shark         

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7/19/2002  8.5' Salmon Shark (gutted & bled)               7/6/2002 - 8.5' Salmon Shark tied alongside the boat

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                                    7/26/2002 - 2 Salmon Sharks 7' - 8' gutted & Bled                                                 

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8/17/2002 - 3 Salmon Sharks 7'-9' gutted & bled

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7/22/01 321# Shark (gutted & bled) live weight was approx. 420#       7/8/01 265# Shark (gutted & bled)           

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8/4/2001 - 4 Salmon Sharks (all gutted & bled)


Dave & Frieda Wiley
P.O. Box 3577
Valdez, AK 99686

EMAIL:      dave@orioncharters.com or

PHONE:              (907) 835-8610                         

Check out these other pages for pictures and information.

Sleeper Sharks, Unusual Sharks, Dog SharksCatch and Release Sharks ,

Shark Articles

 Halibut, Lingcod, Salmon Shark, Rockfish, Salmon, Unusual Fish

GlaciersWhales, Sea Lions

 Prices,  Terms & Conditions, Boat Info,


This page was last updated on 09/24/17.