Trips start at $175.00
Max guests: 10
Trips start at $700.00
Max guests: 4
Trips start at $1000.00
Max guests: 6
Cooper Landing, AK
Trips start at $185.50
Max guests: 4
Trips start at $175.00
Max guests: 8
Kenai-Cook Inlet, AK
Trips start at $284.00
Max guests: 4
“People don’t take trips, trips take people.”
No one is sure exactly where author and fisherman John Steinbeck was talking about, but we’re certain that it’s places like Alaska’s Kenai River that inspired the famous quote. The Kenai River (Kee’-nigh) is what Alaskans call a “meltwater river”, fed by melting ice from a huge watershed in the state. The river begins at the Kenai Lake, narrows down near Cooper Landing and passes through Kenai Canyon. The water and fisheries resources are also boosted by the Russian River. Kenai is generally referred to in three different parts: upper, middle and lower river.
The Silak section is called the Upper River. A large 20-mile section from the lake to the Sterling Highway bridge near the town of Soldotna is called the Middle River. And the final 21 miles flowing into the Cook Inlet at the town of Kenai is the Lower River. While most of the river flows directly to the inlet, the tide actually affects the last 10 miles of the Lower River. There are guided trips and excursions that help you make the most of your trip here. Most anglers will spend more than one day on the water, while others spend as long as a week. A private chartered trip will help you make the most of the adventure.
The Kenai River has been crowned king of sportfishing destinations in Alaska. And that’s saying a lot considering the varied and enormous fisheries resources. The main reason for its popularity is because it’s widely recognized as the top spot for catching king salmon, also known as Chinook. There are usually multiple runs of the king salmon along with coho and sockeye salmon. There are also large populations of pink salmon, although they are not as popular as the other more well-known and better-tasting salmon.
Kenai River anglers can also claim trophy-sized rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and occasionally steelhead. But, as we said earlier, the king is King. The world record salmon, which weighed almost 100 pounds, was caught in the Kenai River in 1985. While other areas may have more total numbers of salmon, none can compare when it comes to size. A typical summer run in July usually gives up multiple catches in the 50-80 pound range. Trophy trout over 30 inches long have also been reported.
You can access this fishing by boat or by wading in many areas. Anglers should be cautioned: this water is extremely cold. Frigid might be a better word. So take precautions, especially when wading. Another precaution includes watching for wildlife. While the moose and other wildlife are fun to watch, a special eye has to be kept out for the bears. If anglers and bears are fishing the same waters, it’s pretty obvious who should give in and find a new spot.
The Upper Kenai is your spot if you like fly fishing. It is drift-only fishery (no powerboats between Kenai Lake and Skilak Lake). The strong current also allows inexperienced anglers to attempt fly fishing in a prime environment. The sockeye salmon is the top target here as well as resident rainbow trout and Dolly Varden that surprise anglers with their size. This area is a spawning ground for king salmon and fishing for them is closed; Check regulations closely when fishing here. A popular spot is also just below the Russian River ferry crossing. If you get into Skilak Lake, be aware that it can become dangerous in the wind. A plus about fishing along the Upper Kenai is that there are several good spots to bank fish with turnouts from the main road and trails to the river.
The sockeye salmon run also brings big crowds to this section of the river. Boats are allowed here so caution is advised. The area is mostly rapids free and fishing is great for King salmon, sockeye salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon, Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, and even whitefish.
The Lower Kenai River is the most popular area and when the runs are on, the boat ramps and river can get crowded. There’s a reason: It’s one of the most productive spots in the state and full of trophy fish. There are numerous improved access points and campgrounds, including Centennial Campground:, Slikok Creek, Big Eddy, The Pillars, and Eagle Rock.
Whether you want to wade the eddies of a stretch of rapids for trout or slowly float down the scenic river for huge salmon, book a Kenai River trip with FishAnywhere.com and one of our fishing experts will make the most of your visit. The beauty of Kenai, Alaska makes it almost worthwhile if you don’t catch fish, but with one of our experts, that isn’t going to happen. You’ll go home with fish and a personal understanding of John Steinbeck’s famous quote for sure.