Anderson's colossal Kenai king remains the standard
97.3-POUNDER: Experts say it likely weighed more than 100 when first caught.
Fame was the farthest thing from Les Anderson’s mind when he
trundled down to the Kenai River with brother-in-law Bud Lofstedt on a
fateful May morning a quarter-century ago. They were angling for big fish, but they didn’t have big expectations. Mid-May on the Kenai is relatively
slow for king salmon, and typical fish run 20 to 30 pounds — undersized
compared with the 70- and 80-pound monsters of the July late run. Nobody expected a world-record king to come from the Kenai early run. Anderson wasn’t after one, either. He went fishing that morning, as he had on so many others, because he loved to fish. “He worked hard all of his life, but
he always made time for fun, “ his family would later observe in his
obituary. “For years, summer found him up at 3 a.m. and on his beloved
Kenai River by 4 a.m. so he could go to work by 8 or 9 a.m. and then go
fishing again after dinner.” It was this love of fishing that eventually put Anderson in the spotlight and kept him there. For it was on the morning of May 17,
1985, that Anderson, who died in 2003 at age 84, pulled a world-record
king from the Kenai. The fish weighed 97 pounds, 4 ounces and set a
record that still stands. This was a fish about which Alaskans still talk, even if it never earned Anderson much more than notoriety.