World Records were Meant to be Broken
At about 7:00 am on May 17th, 1985 Les and his fishing partner, Bud Lofstedt, tied into the lunker at Pillars Drift on the Kenai River. The large fish had plenty of spunk and gave the pair an exciting hour or so of excitement as it led them first upriver and then back down. When Les hooked the fish it went airborne and crossed Bud’s line. Bud managed to get the line untangled and reeled in, but when he headed the boat upstream after the fish, Les was knocked off his feet to the bottom of the boat. He managed to hold on as the big fish led them up to Honeymoon Cove and back.
More problems came up when they tried to land the behemoth: the net was just too small. After three attempts, they finally beached the boat and manhandled the fish to shore. At the time, neither fisherman realized that the fish was a potential world record so they continued to fish the rest of the morning. At 2:00 pm in the afternoon, they finally got around to weighing the fish on the official scales located at Echo Lake Lockers. The fish may have lost as much as two pounds in the five hours since it was hooked, but even at 97.25 lbs. it soundly beat the previous record of 93 pounds. Les’s world record salmon is proudly displayed in the Soldotna Visitor Center.
Les won $500 in that year’s derby, brought the world record home to the Kenai River, and endured a long run in the hot seat. Les Anderson, holder of the world record for his 97-1/4 lbs. King salmon wished everyone the best in beating the record and “taking the heat off of me!” Well, not in Les’s lifetime did that happen. Les Anderson died on August 26, 2003 holding the current record. After 19 years of notoriety, Les was ready to give up his crown as King Fisherman.
Perhaps this is the year that someone will break the elusive one hundred pound mark, a new record that could undoubtedly stand for another dozen years, or, perhaps forever. Les was always willing to share his story and give photos with a genuine smile, handling his fish fame with a wonderful personality – a truly great sportsman.