Alaska, also known as “The Last Frontier,” is a dream destination for avid anglers and adventurous tourists alike.  Among its numerous fishing options, the Kenai River stands out as the economical angler’s best budget destination.  The Kenai Peninsula offers some of the best access to fishing and outdoor activity on the Alaskan Highway.

The Kenai River system is just a short scenic drive from Anchorage.  The headwaters of the river, Kenai Lake, is within two hours of Anchorage, and the Lower Kenai River is within 3 hours of Anchorage. 

Kenai river
Kenai River Canyon

The Kenai River offers some of Alaska’s best variety of fishing within one central location as well as great accessibility for Do-It-Yourself anglers and wildlife enthusiasts.  The Kenai and Kasilof Rivers have a variety of salmon that run at different times of the season, providing anglers and tourists with fishing opportunity nearly all season.

The fishing season begins in May and June on the Kenai Peninsula, while bait opens mid-May on the Kasilof River for hatchery king salmon fishing.  The Kasilof River still receives a return of king salmon every year and provides anglers with an opportunity to target kings and keep hatchery fish.  King salmon without adipose fins were reared in a hatchery before being released back into the river. These king salmon have been to the ocean just like their wild counterparts and may be taken by the recreational angler in possession of a King Salmon Stamp.  A special King Salmon stamp is required to target and retain these salmon and can simply be added on as additional purchase with your standard state-required fishing license. 

king salmon plug fishing
King Salmon Plugs

Sockeye salmon are next to show up in the river systems in late May and early June, while numbers are low fish are often in catchable quantities in both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers.  Most of the early run red salmon in the Kenai are Russian River fish.  The Russian River receives most of the “first run” sockeye in the Kenai, meaning it gets fishable numbers of reds first.

July and August are peak salmon fishing months, provide the best potential weather, and provide tourists or anglers with the best opportunity to bring fish home with them.  The sockeye salmon run usually peaks in numbers on the Kenai River during the end of July. We hope to get one to two million “late run” sockeye salmon during the months of July and early August.  The fish seem to have started running later and later every year extending what is peak season well into August.  Accessibility for red salmon fishing is great on the peninsula.  There are many pub lic access points that provide good sockeye fishing from the headwaters all thew way to tide water.  

Sockeye Salmon

August, September, and October on the Kenai are all about rainbow trout and silver salmon.  The trout fishery is catch and release (per our policy) and are typically fly fishing trips.  The silver salmon are best caught on conventional gear and spinning rods.  Fly fishing for silver salmon is possible in the Kenai River, but can be challenging.  Salmon begin to spawn in August and will spawn through September and October.  This introduction of salmon eggs to the river system gets the trout moving, feeding, and fat.  These trout attain great size with the protein available to them and have only a short season to feed.  The Kenai River offers some of the best trout fishing in the world, state, and for your dollar. 

Late Fall Fishing

Hiring a local guide can greatly enhance your experience.  They possess valuable knowledge of the river, fishing techniques, and can provide you with the best opportunity for fish!  Not only will a guide enhance the experience, but they also help keep tourists and anglers safe.  Changing river conditions and wildlife can be hazardous and should be approached with caution. 

See you out there!