The Kenai and the Kasilof each have two annual returns of king salmon. On the Kenai, the early run begins in May and lasts until the end of June. While this run has less fish (15-year average of approximately 15,000 fish) and is less predictable than the late run, it also sees far less fishing pressure. The early run on the Kenai also coincides with an early run of both hatchery and wild king salmon on the Kasilof River and these two fisheries make both May and June a great time to visit. We are prepared to fish each river daily so we will often schedule our king salmon trips for either the Kenai or the Kasilof in May and June. We can then let you decide the evening prior to your trip according to current fishing conditions. We always recommend fishing both of these beautiful rivers, as each destination offers its own unique experience.
Kenai King Salmon, Early Run:
•Season: May 1 – June 30
•Regulations: Single Hook, Bait allowed only after in-season projections for escapement are met.
•No retention slot: 46-55 inches.
•One fish per day, two per year. No fishing after retention.
•Closed to guided fishing Sundays and Mondays.
•Peak time: June 5-20
Kasilof King Salmon, Early Run:
•Season: May 15 – June 30
•Regulations: Multiple Hooks, Bait Allowed
•Retention of two hatchery fish (adipose clipped) 7 days a week, retention of one wild fish on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only. Limit two fish per day (two hatchery or one wild /one hatchery: Tues, Thur. Sat), five per season. Fishing after retention allowed.
•Peak time: May 25 – June 15
These powerful fighters are mint bright, just out of the saltwater, and average 8-12 lbs. Sockeye are considered the finest table fare of all the pacific salmon. The first sockeye (reds) of the season are heading for the rocky, fast-moving tributary of the upper Kenai near Cooper Landing named the Russian River. This fishery begins in mid June and extends all the way through late July. Also in mid June, we see strong numbers of sockeye salmon in remote, fly out locations such as Big River Lake.
In July, the Kenai receives a very large return of late-run sockeye. These fish tend to arrive in very high numbers all at once. The peak of this run normally arrives in mid July with good fishing well into the first week of August. Keep in mind this huge run of reds also attracts a large population of resident Alaskans to the area so services, access and accommodation will all be limited. We urge those wanting to visit during this mid to late July time period plan well in advance.
•Season: June 15 – Aug 10
•Regulations: Single hook, three fish per day.
•Peak time: Russian River: June 10-20
•Peak Time: Fly Out: Big River Lake: June 10-July 15
•Peak Time: Late Run Kenai River: July 10-25
During August and September, our primary pursuit becomes Silver, or Coho salmon. The Kenai and the Kasilof receive very robust runs of silver salmon with good to excellent fishing from early August into November (weather permitting). The limit is two fish in August and three fish beginning September 1. In addition to the silvers, we also have pink salmon in August and September, but ONLY in EVEN years. The Kenai also has a prominent late run of silver salmon that begins in September and continues well into October. On most days, we can fish for both trout and silver salmon in the same portion of the river, making for a very well-rounded fishing experience. Overnight temperatures can begin to dip below the freezing mark beginning in late August and September. With leaves ablaze and the landscape in full color, the scenery can be breathtaking at this time of year. Despite the frosty mornings, fall fishing is perhaps the most prolific and extraordinary of our entire summer season.
In addition to the Kenai and the Kasilof we also offer a wide range of remote, fly-out silver trips that will easily rival the best coho fishing in the entire state. Most of these remote locations are just a short flight to the west side of Cook Inlet. Since these fish see very little fishing pressure, they are aggressive beyond belief. We can employ a wide variety of fishing techniques with fly fishing being very effective. We also commonly use salmon eggs beneath bobbers as well as spinners. These remote silver trips are also a great way to see a portion of Alaska from the air. The West Side of Cook Inlet is extremely scenic with several coastal volcanoes standing tall in the distance. Steep snow-covered mountains, endless glaciers and thousands of lakes and rivers blanket the landscape. Setting down in this piscatorial paradise is a very special experience, one we feel very privileged to offer our guests. After many years of flying with Alaska West Air and exploring these unique and remote fisheries, we can show you in one day what many will never experience in a lifetime of angling. Keep in mind the closer, less expensive destinations often have more pressure. Flight time dictates the price of the trip but flying to more distant waters will normally give you additional solitude. Another popular option is to charter the float plane for the entire day to ensure you can visit multiple locations. Please contact us if you are interested in any of these trips. 888-776-8956
•Season: Fly Outs: July 15-Sept 15
•Season: Kenai/Kasilof: Aug 5-Oct 15
•Regulations: Fly Outs: 3 fish per day.
•Regulations: Kenai/Kasilof: Aug: 2 fish, Sept: 3 fish per day.
•Peak Time: August-October
Beginning in late August and running well into late fall /early winter, Steelhead trout return to a handful of smaller rivers on the southern Kenai Peninsula. The primary rivers are the Anchor Deep Creek and the Ninilchik. These ocean-going rainbow trout are newly arriving from nearby Cook Inlet and their aggressive hard fighting nature makes them a tempting target for fall visitors and locals alike. Steelhead Trout are completely catch and release, you’re not even allowed to take them out of the water for a picture. Trust me, the memory will last forever. We offer walk in trips for these Kenai Peninsula metal-heads beginning in late August and extending well in November, weather permitting. This is not a trip for novice anglers or those that are looking to catch a lot of fish. Adverse weather conditions and few and far between chances are the reality of most Kenai Peninsula steelhead trips yet when the timing is right, very good action is possible.
Kenai Peninsula Steelhead
•Season: August 1-Nov 1
•Regulations: Catch and Release Only, Fish cannot be removed from the water.
•Peak Time: Late August through October.
If you are looking for a guaranteed one fish after another experience, pink salmon will fit the bill. They arrive by the millions on even years only, showing up in early August and running until early September. Their numbers can be very imposing on the river in general and their masses make it more strategic to get to the silvers at times. For trout fishing, the sheer influx of food can have an adverse effect on the trout’s appetite and thus fishing success. All in all they are a remarkable and welcome transfer of energy from the sea and a lot of fun to catch but they are also a definite force to be reckoned with. These fish are great for kids or those who want to catch fish till their arms fall off.
Kenai Pink Salmon
•Season: Kenai: August 5-August 25
•Regulations: Kenai: 6 fish per day.
•Peak Time: August
Kenai River Rainbow Trout:
Rainbow Trout fishing on the Kenai River is among the finest in the world. Since the majority of the anglers that visit the Kenai are pursuing salmon, trout fishing is often overlooked. We recommend at least one day of trout fishing. Kenai rainbows are extremely plentiful. They are indeed the most wild and beautiful fish you will ever see. Since rainbow trout are one of the river’s year-round inhabitants and not a harvest species, we do our best to return them all to the river unharmed.
Trout fishing on the Kenai River opens on June 12. Fishing is usually very good at this time as the majority of the trout population is recovering from the spring spawn and beginning to feed voraciously. The fish are primarily taken on flesh patterns at this time and this remains the most consistent offering until August. The fish then key in on the abundant salmon spawn and single egg patterns, primarily painted beads, become most effective.
Every year the Kenai River produces some of the largest rainbows in all of Alaska. Fish over thirty inches are largely unheard of in most waters but on the Kenai they are caught on a regular basis.
In addition to the Kenai River, the Russian River and streams and lakes of the Swanson River and Moose River drainages also support significant rainbow trout fisheries. To provide additional fishing opportunity, many landlocked lakes on the Kenai Peninsula are also stocked with this species.
June 14 – October 31 and beyond…