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Les Anderson of Soldotna gets ready to hoist his record king for pictures.

From the Archives: Les Anderson's World Record King Salmon

Original Peninsula Clarion report from May 20, 1985

Posted: March 15, 2012 - 1:38pm

The following is the original news report published by the Peninsula Clarion on Les Anderson's world record king salmon caught May 17, 1985, from the May 20, 1985 edition.

Anderson catches 'whopper' his way

Les Anderson normally doesn't savor a fish that's been dead three days, but this week he's still in the spotlight for his Friday catch of a world record king salmon out of the lower Kenai River.

The 68-year-old Anderson, who is part-owner of Peninsula Ford, hooked what is officially a 97 1/4-pounder, but many envious anglers realized the monster might have topped the elusive 100-pound mark when it was fresh out of the water.

News of the catch traveled faster than Anderson, and by the time he got to Echo Lake Lockers Friday afternoon to weigh the fish he had a crowd of over 20 admirers and half the media in Alaska on his tail. In between answering phone calls from radio stations and newspapers, and posing for pictures, Anderson said, "All this for a fish. Can you believe it?"

All that for a fish 58 1/4-inches long, 37 1/4-inches around.

Anderson hooked the whopper near Honeymoon Cove and fought it one-half mile up to The Pillars and back.

"It kept going upstream. We'd go up after him, then he'd go up some more," said Anderson's fishing partner, Bud Lofstedt, who maneuvered the boat.

"I don't know how long we chased him. I thought we were going to lose him, so we just kept working him," Anderson said. "I knew it was a big one when we couldn't fit it into the net."

Over the weekend, congratulatory and envious fishermen surrounded Anderson.

"He's a lucky, lucky guy," said Bob Penney of Anchorage, president of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association. "And what a wonderful boast for the state. But that poor river will be full of people now."

The Kenai River is already the single most popular stream in the state, primarily because of the king salmon that return every summer. Anderson's catch and the national publicity that's likely to ensue will add to the number of salmon seekers.

Ironically, many local anlers figured it was too early to be out looking for kings; the water in the river is low, making boating tough. And the early run of kings, the ones that come home to spawn in late May and June, are generally considered to be the smaller cousins to the late run in July.

But Anderson's catch was a monster, a "big hog" by any measure. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Dave Nelson said certified scales showed the salmon to be 97 pounds, 4 ounces.

Anderson has lived in Soldotna 18 years. He lured the fish at about 6:30 a.m. near Honeymoon Cove at Mile 13 of the river with salmon eggs on the end of his Spin-N-Glo.

Anderson battled the king 45 minutes before the fight was over. "I had the thing in the net three times and I couldn't handle it," Lofstedt said. The two men finally had to beach the fish to capture it.

"I was shocked. I was amazed. I've been fishing the Kenai for 16 years," Anderson said. "The largest fish I caught was 63 pounds. My wife caught one 85-pounder and I could never beat her."

Anderson's catch is more than four pounds heavier than the current world record for king salmon caught by hook and line. A 93-pound king was caught in June 1977 in southeast Alaska by Howard Rider of Juneau, fish and game officials said.

To count as an official world record catch, Anderson's catch still must be registered on three certified scales, his line must be tested, and affidavits must be signed by him and a witness.

The biggest recorded king salmon caught by any means in Alaska was a 126-pound fish caught in a trap near Petersburg in 1949.

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