Several years ago the Alaska Department of Fish and Game enforced strict policies to prevent commercial fishers from accidentally catching and keeping kings while targeting sockeye. They also limited times of commercial activity and used GPS units to measure a no net zone along the shoreline where kings typically travel on their way to the river. Additionally they installed better counting devices on the Kenai to measure the strength of the run. All of these efforts mean stronger and healthier trophy Chinook salmon runs on the Kenai River.
Two runs of Chinook return to the Kenai River the first begins in May and peaks in mid June. These fish are big, but not like their second run behemoth cousins that enter the river in Mid June. The action on the king of kings lasts through mid July but lasts until the close of season July 31st. Back trolling large egg clusters, plugs or spinners from boats works best, especially with the help of a guide. Hiring a seasoned guide like Joe Johnson is the key to success more so on the Kenai than anywhere else because he knows every trick it takes to hook and land a world-class trophy Kenai king salmon. Guided trips with Big Dipper Guide Service are super affordable for anyone’s budget and well worth the small investment.
With lots of daylight during prime time, anglers usually opt to visit the Russian River, a tributary of the Kenai when not fishing with a guide. From June through July thousands of sockeye fill the Kenai and Russian Rivers with unbelievable numbers of fish. When the fish are in these rivers it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder fishery, but loads of fun. Generous six fish limits require anglers to come prepared with an adequate-sized cooler and sharp fillet knife. Combat casting flies works best for these fish and anything less than 17-pound test line will just frustrate you. Jumbo rainbow trout, reaching double digits sizes call the Kenai River home too, and will tempt and tease anglers into the Alaskan night of never-ending sunshine. These fish are catch and release only but still provide top-notch fun. Coho fishing is great too, from August through September.
The Kasilof River can be awesome too, especially when wild and hatchery-enhanced kings ranging in size from 25 to 32-pounds enter the river. You had to be dead not to catch fish on the Kasilof last year, remarked a local do-it-yourself-angler. Anglers also found decent numbers of steelhead in May. If you grow tired of the Kenai or Kasilof, try Lake Creek for kings in May and June. If these rivers don’t hold your attention try your luck at halibut fishing in famed Cook Inlet. When it comes to halibut fishing you won’t need luck, just good bait or lures and lots of strong superbraid line.
Halibut fishing from either Ninilchik or Homer simply can’t be beat. Big Dipper Guide Service can book your trip for you. These flat fighters range in size from 20 to 100-pounds and reach weights over 300. Dozens of charter boats in either locale offer ½ day, full day or multi-day charters. If you want really big buts shop around and spend a few more dollars for the boats that travel farther from port. Either way, you’ll likely catch your two-fish limit so leave room in your cooler.
Reaching the Kenai River region is an easy drive from Anchorage. This means making car rental reservations well in advance of your trip. Having a car will allow multiple getaways to numerous lakes, rivers, nearby glaciers, or a day trip or two for halibut on the coast.