Category Archives: Fishing & Clamming

2018 Kasilof RV Park Summer Blog

Kasilof RV Park 2018 Summer Blog


Welcome to a summary of our 11th Wonderful Summer at the Kasilof RV Park.

As in past years I have used some of our great animal summer visitors as speakers for the happenings at the Park and again this year I was going to use our ornery little Sammy Squirrel.

 HOWEVER, he immediately got into trouble opening up a bag on the picnic table, then dumping the peanut jar from the bag off the table on to the floor, opening the lid and then ate the remaining peanuts in the jar.

Kim Brooks just loves to leave cookie crumbs along the deck railing for him! We love her cookies too so we don’t complain too much.

2017/2018 was a cold winter at the Park and we had a lot of frozen pipes when we got back. Fortunately, we only had one broken line on campsite 16. (Note that John Brooks did all the work while I supervised! It’s sure nice to have help!)

We didn’t get all the lines thawed until the 5th of June, but did manage to get them open before other campers started showing up. Although we put anti-freeze in all the campsite lines, we finally determined that our old compressor was just not putting out enough air to fully blow out most of the water. We finally bought a new Husky compressor with a 20 gallon air tank. Hopefully we will not have that problem this fall!

This was another very poor year for Sockeye (red) fishing in the Kenai River.   In fact it was the worst salmon season on the Kenai in the 21 years that I have been fishing it.  We barely caught a third of the reds we normally catch for the summer.  Fish & Game managed to reach in their excuse bucket again and pick out the cause for the poor showing of reds.   It seems that the ‘Brown Blob’ occurred in the Gulf of Alaska.  A biologist for F&G suggested that the warming of the ocean in the Gulf of Alaska during 2014 might have killed much of the food that the young sockeye salmon need to survive and grow prior to coming back to the Cook Inlet in 2018.   Thus there was a very poor showing of Red salmon this year in the Kenai.   F&G reduced the daily limit of reds from 3 to 1 per person and then shut down red fishing in the Kenai on the 4th of August through the 24th of August.   At that time, they stated that a big run of red salmon had entered the Kenai and that they had reached the minimum required number to assure future Kenai red salmon so they raised the daily limit of reds to 3 again.   It was strange because all we could catch after August 24th were Pinks and Silvers!

Maybe they can’t tell the difference between Pinks and Reds?   


AND it was a banner year for fishing in the Kasilof River. ????   John Brooks caught his first King of the season in the Kasilof in early June and the Sockeye (Red) fishing was the best the Kasilof has ever had.




Cody and Nelson came up in early June and Cody took a photo of Nelson and I fishing in for Reds in the Kasilof.   Nelson caught his first Red that day.  


It was the first Red of the season and large for Reds in June on the Kasilof.   


Nelson and Cody continued to fish on the Kasilof and had good success.  The Reds continued to be large for the first run on the Kasilof River.   

Of course they had to share their success with a beer in the Kenai River Brewery in Soldotna.



We had more fun with Nelson while they were here such as eating crab with the help of pair of scissors. 

“Come-on, Alaska crabs are not that tough!” 


Jan and I also gave him a lunch bucket that he could use when he becomes a Math teacher. The lunch bucket from the Kenai River Brewery had three beers in it.  We thought he might need those after teaching math to high school boys.


However, our family visitors never get away without doing something to help improve the Kasilof RV Park. We do that because eventually the Park is for their pleasure and future.  Nelson and Cody helped us by trimming up some of the overgrowth of trees around the north end of the park. The trees had grown under the electric lines to the point where they could cause a problem so the boys topped off the trees and hauled the limbs down over the back of the hill.

4th of July Celebration


The 4th is always a celebration for us at the Park and for the past two years we have had a potluck dinner for all our visitors in the Park.  Cody and Nelson stayed for the celebration and Cody cooked his special recipe for brats. Sister Sally and her husband Bob also came.

Most of the campers in the Park came plus our friends the Pierce’s who were former campers.






It was a fun afternoon and a nice 4th of July celebration.




It’s always interesting to see moose in the park and the campers especially always enjoy seeing them, particularly the mothers and their babies. This year was no exception; however, for some reason the mothers were bringing them at dusk or after dark to eat the new tree leaves. We would find many large and small moose tracks in the mornings, but rarely see the moose during the day. 

The one exception this year was the momma, I call ‘Bear Scar’. I call her that because she has a scar on her left side along her ribs that ‘may’ have been made by a bear. We have another photo of her taken in 2010 that is hanging in our camper.   She has been coming into the park for eight years showing off her babies to us.

This year was no exception although she hadn’t had her baby yet. However, she did come into the park this year followed by last year’s young male (he has horn nubs). She was pregnant with another calf and wanted him to quit following her around before the baby was born. She chased him through the Park and along the front,  clear to the south end.  He finally he left. 

 Kim Brooks saw her walk through the Park later with a calf.   Then we saw her and the calf tracks several times later.

The hill behind the lodge where we have the DJS Folly pole was becoming over grown with bushes and weeds. It was a favorite spot for the moose to eat the young leaves and branches off the scrub bushes. During the summer, we cut down the bushes and weeds because it was becoming an eyesore. We wanted toplant grass on the hill.

A couple of weeks later ‘Bear Scar’ momma was standing on the cleaned hill looking at us on the porch like she was asking ‘what happened to all my food?’


Nephew Ryan Pyle arrived on the 8th of July and brought his daughter, Ainsley and his step daughter, Ella (she wouldn’t let us take a photo of her) for a visit with him.   He took them to all the fun places on the Peninsula, Homer and Seward. They had a great time and then flew back home to Kansas before fishing season started.


Each year Ryan treats us with a Pad Thai dinner.  Sally and Bob came out for the feast. Bob just loves Ryan’s Pad Thai so it is a yearly feast for us.

Cary had arrived the day before as a surprise because we hadn’t expected him to come up this year.

Debbie had just arrived with her cousin, Scott Farber so they got to enjoy the feast also.




Kim Brooks and Jan had gone to the local wood shop to learn how to carve wooden bowls from Burch tree wood blocks in June.

They had so much fun and the bowls turned out so well that Jan took  Debbie to learn how to turn a bowl also.


Kim and Jan had also made dishes out of grey clay with fiber. They made them in the shape of Rhubarb Leaves. Jan had made one for Debbie also. When Debbie came to fish, the three of them finished the dishes painting them to look like Rhubarb leaves with flowers laying on them.



The Reds had started coming into the river in the third week of July and Ryan, Cary and I had gone to the Kenai to see if they were coming up the river yet.  We each did catch two and then on Friday the group including Debbie and Scott went to the river and caught 11. Todd arrived on the 21st and we caught 10 Reds that day.

On Sunday, the weather was warm and the river was high and running fast.  It had been a warm, wet spring and the grass along the river was shoulder high as is shown by Debbie fishing in the rocks beyond the grass.

Scott had already caught his limit showing 3 fingers in the air as he worked his way back to the cleaning area with his fish where Debbie and Ryan were cleaning their limits.

Todd, Cary and I were also fishing on the Kenai and managed to catch 7 more Reds.   On Monday, the 23rd John and Cary each caught three on the Kenai. Debbie, Scott, Todd, Ryan, Jan and I flew over across the inlet to Crescent Lake on a Talon Air Tour and caught 3 Reds each. That was the best day of Red fishing with a total of 24 Reds caught.




Debbie, Skip and Scott had taken the tour in 2016 and were so excited and happy about it that Jan, Todd and I took it again in 2017. We were also enthused about it so we wanted to go again this year. We added Ryan to the group and drove out to Mackey Lake for our flight over to Crescent Lake at the base of Mount Redoubt. The only problem with the trip was the weather.                IT RAINED ALL DAY! Other than the rain, it was a great trip with lots of bears, plenty of fish and lots of fun.

The trip over to the lake was in Talon’s 12 passenger and two dogs pontoon airplane. The dogs were the owners (the pilot’s) Brittany Spaniels that loved to fly and run on the lake bogs.  Of course Scott made up with them as soon as they entered the airplane and then they went to sleep.

They flew us across the Cook Inlet toward Mt. Redoubt, then up the river on the north side until we approached Crescent Lake.  We landed on the water and taxied up to a bog where the boats were stored.  The bogs around the lake are large patches of water plants and bushes that have grown so thick that they float on the surface of the water.  People can walk on them without falling through and the dogs had a ball running around on them. 

Talon guides had pulled their boats up onto the edge of the bogs and store their boats until the airplane lands.  Then they walk across to the boats and bring them over to the pontoons on the plane so they can load the passengers.  The boats are owned by Talon and provided to the guides to give touring and fishing assistance to each of the people onboard.  Each guide provides his own fishing gear for 4 guests and equipment and receives a part of the tour payment from Talon for each person.

In our case since there were six of us, they put Scott, Debbie, Todd and Ryan with a guide in one boat and Jan and I and two other young men with a guide in the other boat.  We were then taken across the lake to Wolverine Creek, a falls (very steep rapids) from Wolverine Lake which is fed by a glacier on the side of Mt. Redoubt. The lake is on the next level of land several hundred feet above Crescent Lake.

The Red salmon come out of Cook Inlet, swim up the river to Crescent Lake then rest at the base of Wolverine Creek before swimming up the falls to the lake to spawn.  There are usually several schools of Red salmon swimming around in the water resting before making the climb up to the next lake.  The abundance of salmon in the shallow water draw a lot of bears and a lot of people wanting to watch and photograph the bears as well to catch the salmon, us included.

There are generally a lot of boats in the small area at the base of the falls wanting to view the bears.  The guides have come up with a plan to help with the problem.  Each of the boats are in a line pointing at the falls for fishing and watching.  Each boat is allowed 30 minutes to catch their limits of Red salmon and watch the bears.  Then it is required to move off to other areas or to get in the back of the line to start again. There were two other boats in front of us and we were in the lead boat of the two from Talon Air.  The fishing had been slow as we approached and there had been no sign of bears.  Then as the boats in front of us started catching fish, the black bears started coming down to the falls.  

As we moved forward toward the falls, we began hooking Red salmon.  Then as the fishing really got busy with lots of splashing and fish being caught, a huge brown bear came out of the trees and crossed the rapids making its presence known. The black bears quickly moved out and other brown bears began to come down to the falls. In the mean time, we were all catching Reds and had several in the boat.

Every one in our boat had caught their limit of Red salmon except me.  The guide told me to hit a special spot in the water with my hook.  I did and hooked the final fish in our boat.  The guide noticed it was a nice large one and told us that we would use it as our lunch.

We rotated out of line and let our second boat come to the front.  Ryan immediately hooked another large Red and fought it to the boat. 




The brown bears were really getting excited and were out in the water looking for fish. 


 Scott caught the last fish for their boat and


as they moved out of the line another brown momma and her baby moved down to the big rock from up the hill.



  She moved 


along the shore with the young one (notice him peeking out by the tree) as we went along the shore in the boat to a bog where the guide could cook lunch.


The guide was really set up to cook for his guests.  He started by filleting the salmon leaving the skin on one side.  Then he set up his small grill with a pan for the two fillets.  He oiled the meat first and then used a little sea salt and sprinkled seasoning over the fillets.  He even had an umbrella to cover the grill while the fish was cooking. It was really raining.  When the salmon had cooked for about 10 minutes and was still very moist, he cut the fillets in bite sized pieces and gave a bite to each of us in the boat, then cut up the other fillet and gave the bites to each of our group in the boat parked beside us.



Of course they had to show off all the Red salmon that they had caught on their boat.  We had caught the same number of fish so we had to show our fish to them.



When lunch was done, our guide took us on a scenic boat tour of the area including another beautiful falls flowing down from the level above.  This falls did not have a lake above it so there were no Red salmon climbing it to spawn. 

By then it was time to head back to the airplane for the trip back to Mackey Lake.  On the trip back, the pilot flew over the very interesting Redoubt glacier.  Although it was still raining with heavy cloud cover we could still see all the deep ice crevices and huge area of ice and snow. 

Although the airplane trip is expensive, the combination of watching the bears and fishing for salmon plus the flight across the Cook Inlet was worth it and we will probably do it again.


The Red salmon fishing was pretty much done after our trip across the Inlet.  Although the group still tried to fish on the Kenai, most of the Red salmon had already swam up river to spawn in Skilak and Kenai lakes.   We were only catching one or two Reds a day.                (Jan, Debbie and Scott on Pierce’s dock)

Fish & Game reduced the limit to one per person per day due to the small number of Reds in the river. Then on the 4th of August they closed the Red fishing on the Kenai completely because they only had three quarters of the minimum number of Reds in the river to spawn for the future.





The first run of Coho (Silvers) salmon also started coming up the Kenai in large numbers in late August.  In even years (such as 2018), huge numbers of Pink salmon also enter the Kenai.  This year a huge number of salmon entered the Kenai the third week of August.

On the 24th of August, Fish and Game declared that a huge number of Reds had entered the Kenai River, which allowed them to reach the minimum limit to replenish the Red salmon for the future (??).  Do to the (so called) large number of Reds in the river,  F&G increased the Red limit for fishermen in the Kenai back up to the normal three per day.   Unfortunately, there weren’t many Reds in the river.   It’s funny, but we caught only one Red after they increased the limit back to 3,  but we caught a LOT of Pinks and some Silvers.

Although the Red fishing was poor this year, we still had a great time and lots of fun fishing and working together.

Pink salmon are fun to catch! They will hit almost anything, even a bright silver bare hook and are really feisty fun to catch. Unfortunately, their meat tends to be rather soft and has less flavor than the Reds, so we much prefer to catch the Reds for food.

Coho (Silver) salmon are larger than Pinks and Reds and their meat is slightly more oily than Reds. Many people prefer Silvers to the Reds for food.

Sliver fishing is more like catfish fishing in a pond or river. You bait your hook with salmon eggs or a lure, throw your line with a sinker and bait into the river and sit there waiting for a fish to hit the bait.


A Visit from the Luthi Girls 

My first wife, Lindy was very close to her mother’s family, the Luthi’s from Lamont, Kansas. We would often go down to Lamont for Holidays, especially Thanksgiving and often Christmas while I was still in college. We kept up the visits whenever we could, even after we moved to California, Ohio and the East Coast. Beside Elva, Lindy’s mother, there were three Luthi sons with grandkids totaling 8 girls and three boys. The entire family was very close. And they continued to be close to me after Lindy’s passing.



Soon after Jan and I married and purchased the RV Park in Alaska some of the Luthi girls wanted to come to Alaska for a vacation. This summer they got their chance and we had a great time with them. (left to right from the top) Jill and Janette Luthi, sisters; (botom) Laurie Wilson and Allison Luthi.


Unfortunately, we were in a rainy spell in Alaska and they never did get to see the beautiful mountains across the Cook Inlet. However, we took them Homer for the day and a fun time on the Spit.The rain had stopped and the sky had cleared over Kachemak Bay and the Spit, the mountains and 

glaciers were visible from the hill above Homer.  

After a great seafood lunch at Captain Mike’s the girls had to visit all the stores on the Spit including a rest stop along the way and a few curiosities.



We all eventually gathered at the Salty Dog Saloon for a photo opt and a beer before heading back to the Park for the night.



Back at the Park we relaxed for the evening, had dinner and then played a game of Mexican Train.



The nest day was a trip to Seward where we spent most of the afternoon at the Sea Life Center. Again it was a really rainy day, which is not unusual for Seward.

But we toured the beautiful seaside town in the Van and stopped at the Seward Falls to take a photo of the girls holding the Madison Kansas newspaper (near where the Luthi family lives) that they found at the Seward Sea Life Center (small world)!

On the final day of their visit, we toured our local area with a trip to Soldotna. We had a waffle breakfast at Whistle Stop Hill in the Alaska Train Caboose (fun!, fun!) and then toured the Kenai River area before driving on down to Kenai and the Visitor’s Center there.

It is always great fun to have family and friends visit us in Alaska. Alaska is so beautiful even when it is rainy. The summers are cool, but not cold. The flowers and trees are spectacular in their color, growth and quantity. And the scenery is spectacular! We just love to show it off!




As August was coming to a close, we had our last group come in to celebrate their parents Wedding Anniversary. Arlene and Galen Gordon (at the top of the photo) have been celebrating their anniversary at the park every year for the past six years. They live in Homer and love to fish for trout.  So each year they have been spending their anniversary at the Park and fishing for trout at Johnson Lake.   This year, their entire family came with them to celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary.

And as every year, the end of the fishing season means canning time. Kim and Jan were filling the cans with salmon and heating them prior to putting on the lids.


John and I were in the back room sealing the cans with lids prior to cooking them in the pressure cooker. There were only 83 cans this year, less than half of our normal year.



Kim Brooks at the Kenai airport (AP).       



Sally, Bob, Jan (w/camera) & I at AP.





And, as always the end of the summer arrives and we have to wish all our great Alaska friends goodbye for another year. It was a rainy year and the fishing wasn’t great, but we had a lot of fun and




Hope you come too!

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Salmon Fishing

King (Chinook) Salmon

King salmon enter the Cook Inlet in late April as the water begins to warm.  The king fishery starts in the salt water out of Homer and continues up the Kenai Peninsula coastline in early May. They swim up the shore line and enter the Kasilof and Kenai rivers to spawn.  Fishing for Kings in the Kenai river is accomplished entirely by boat.  The size and strength of the fish preclude bank fishing.  There have been slot limits for the length of fish taken in the early run, but your guide will know all the regulations.  We know several of the better fishing guides on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers and can make arrangements with them for your fishing trip.  Peak times are always busy so let us know early in order to get a date.

We had a good day on the Kenai in late July 2006 when we caught two Kings (48 and 52 pounds), a Red, a Pink and two Silvers.  The four of us were fishing in our own small river boat without a guide.  It was very crowded- there were approximately fifty other boats in the lower river below Eagle Rock.  We were very lucky to land both Kings with all the boats around us.

Kenai Kings are generally large in the 40 to 80 pound range.  These two Kings weighed 48 and 55 pounds.  The one on the left took 45 minutes to land in the boat and we traveled almost three miles down river before it wore out.


The Kasilof river King salmon include both native and hatchery fish.  The first run of Kings in the Kasilof are usually under 30 pounds and can be fished from the bank.  Although sometimes landing a feisty 30 pound King from the bank can require a lengthy run down the bank trying to wear the fish out! In 2008, native Kings could only be kept on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday although hatchery Kings could be kept every day.
Also there was a two fish daily limit on the Kasilof.  Be sure to read the Fish & Game regulations this year.  The Kasilof river is restricted to drift boat fishing only due to the shallow water and many rocks. We will be glad to tell you the best places to fish on the Kasilof river and will contact guides to take you on a trip down the lower river in a drift boat to fish for Kings if you prefer.

Red (Sockeye) Salmon

In mid-June, the first run of Red salmon swim into the Kenai river and quickly head upstream to the confluence of the Russian river. There they will stop and stay in about a three mile stretch of the Kenai until some unknown signal happens telling them to swim up to the Russian lakes to spawn. This is really the first chance to catch the delicious Red salmon of the year and thousands of people from all over the world gather in this out of the way spot on the Kenai river to enjoy ‘COMBAT FISHING’.

This is the river ferry located on the north side of the river. Fishermen gather here to cross to the south side of the river where most of the salmon are laying in wait before swimming up the Russian river.

On the south side of the river, you will have to find a gap in the people fishing in order to catch the wild salmon.  You may be between an Oriental, a German, a Dane, a lower 48-er or another Alaskan.  Whoever is next to you, you can be sure that you will be hung up in their fishing line more than once.  Usually everyone is congenial and having a good time.

It is hard to catch your limit though as most of the fish either break your line or are released in the tangle with other people.  Add to this a few brown bear that think that this place is their fishing ground and they also enjoy what fish you catch.
This fishing frenzy usually lasts for about two weeks before the salmon get that signal that it’s time to swim up the Russian river to spawn.

Mid-July starts the second run of the Reds in the Kenai river.  The thrill of catching a 10+ pound Red salmon from the bank of a swift river is enough to get your heart pounding! The Reds are so strong that many a line and fishing pole have been broken by a fighting fish.

The season on Reds starts out with a limit of three fish a day, but normally when the minimum number of spawning fish up the river is reached, Fish & Game will raise the limit to six fish per day.  Be sure to read the regulations for the limits and locations where you can fish.  A beautiful large Red salmon is a thrill for any fisherman.

The Red salmon start entering the Kasilof river in late June.  Although they are not as large as the second run Kenai fish, they are still fun to catch especially in the swift, shallower water of the Kasilof.  Also the river is not as crowded as the Kenai and there you might also catch a large Rainbow, Cutthroat trout, a Dolly Varden or even a King.  Fishing for Reds on the Kasilof is much different than fishing on the Kenai as the fish are less concentrated at the edge of the river.

Down near the mouth of the Kasilof are primary locations for Alaskans to obtain their annual subsistence salmon both by hand netting and set netting. The Kenai mouth is also a hand netting location.  You can stand at the edge of Scout Park on the bluff in the city of Kenai and watch the locals netting the Reds on the beach below. 

The Silver salmon start entering the Kenai Peninsula rivers and creeks around the first of August.  These fish are usually caught with bait or lures and therefore are generally fished from a boat on the Kasilof and Kenai rivers.  The Silvers normally bite best it the very early morning or late evening as they are very sensitive to light.  The Silver Salmon Derby in Seward is a huge event with prizes amounting up to tens of thousands of dollars.  Generally fishing is done from boats in Resurrection Bay although at certain times the Silvers can be caught from the shore.
Catching my first red salmon was a thrill of a lifetime and hooked me on fishing in Alaska.  Fighting a 10 to 12 pounds salmon with a fly pole in a river that is running 12 knots is to me the ultimate in sport fishing.  Add to that enjoyment of eating a fresh wild native red salmon convinced me that the Kenai Peninsula was going to be my summer home.  It gives us great pleasure to provide our visitors with a beautiful place to stay while they are enjoying our great and wonderful state.

See more on the salmon prime fishing times and places.

Fishing on the Kasilof River
Kasilof King
Kenai Reds
Neal shows off his catch
A good catch of reds
Salmon fishing in the shallows

Combat Fishing
A great catch of reds on the rack
Fishing from the bank
Tom holds up his catch
Reeling one in from the bank
Cary with his catch
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Fishing & Clamming

landing 40 lb. King SalmonThe Kenai Peninsula is considered one of the premier salmon fishing sites of the world.  It boasts two major salmon rivers. One of which, the Kenai, holds the world record for the largest King Salmon (98 pounds) rod caught by a fisherman. It has two runs of the delicious Sockeye (Red) salmon, a Coho (Silver) salmon run and in even years millions of pink salmon. Then there is the Kasilof River with it’s early runs of Kings, both natural and hatchery, followed by a growing Sockeye (Red) salmon run and a big Coho (Silver) salmon run. In addition, King salmon can be caught on Deep Creek, Ninilichik Creek and Anchor River on Memorial weekend and the following two weekends, then Coho (Silver) salmon in the fall.

Early May also starts the entrance of Kings into the Kenai River and the guide boats fill the lower river. Combat fishing at the Russian River starts around the end of June bringing in fishermen and women from all over the world for the annual event (more detail in the fishing section). 

The middle of July brings the second run of Reds into the Kenai with the big males up to 12 pounds.  For two weeks, the river is full of reds and the banks are lined with fishermen.

Starting the 1st of August the Coho (silver) salmon enter all the rivers and creeks on the peninsula and the annual Silver Salmon derby starts in Seward.  Is it any wonder that the Kenai Peninsula is considered: ‘THE SALMON FISHING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD’

A large halibut from the Cook InletThe Kenai Peninsula also boasts the ‘HALIBUT FISHING CAPITAL OF THE WORLD’ in Homer, Alaska.   The Cook Inlet is salt water and provides easy access to some of the largest Halibut in the world.  Guides with large boats can take fishermen and women on daily trips to the fishing grounds from Ninilichik to Homer.  Some guides offer both Halibut and King salmon fishing on the same trip.

ClammingThe beaches of the Cook Inlet also offer the fun of digging for the famous and delicious Alaskan Razor Clams.  The beaches at Coho, Ninilichik, Deep Creek, Clam Gulch and Whiskey Creek are always crowded at the low tides with people digging for the elusive clams.  Come and enjoy the fun and then having the pleasure of eating the fresh clam strips, clam fritters and delicious chowder.

Rafting on Johnson LakeAnd don’t let us forget the fun for the entire family of fishing for Rainbow trout in Johnson Lake.  Each year the Alaska Fish and Game stock Johnson Lake with Rainbows.  They are a delight to catch and good to eat.



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Russian River Sockeye Fishing

In early June, the first run of Sockeye (Red) salmon come into the Kenai River to head to the confluence of the Kenai and the Russian Rivers. Thousands of these salmon will congregate in about two miles of the Kenai river waiting for some signal to enter the Russian river and make their way up the river to the Russian Lake where they will spawn and die.

Fishermen and women from all over the world know of this annual event and gather on the banks of the Kenai to participate. So many in fact that they line up elbow to elbow to catch these tasty, elusive salmon and it has become known as ‘Combat Fishing’. The National Parks have built a park and a Ferry at this confluence of the rivers and each year during this event, ferry anxious fishermen across the river to catch these tasty salmon.

Russian Lake
Russian River Falls

Combat Fishing
Russian River
Russian River Ferry
Combat Fishing
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Clamming Tides

Currently, Clamming on the Kenai Peninsula may be a little poor due to over harvesting of the clams. Fish and Game have closed down several of the most popular clamming sites, be sure to check with F&G to find out which ones may be open.

When available the quality of razor clams on the beaches of the Kenai Peninsula brings a special treat and great food to our visitors and our Alaskan residents. Each summer there are two low tides each month which offer the opportunity to harvest these wonderful treats. The waters of the Cook Inlet provide plenty of food to build plump, juicy clams and the cold temperatures of the waters assure that they remain tender.

The tide charts on the above indicate the dates, times and the low tide level that will be obtained on the beach of Ninilchik in 2016. Alaska razor clams are available on the eastern shore of the Cook Inlet from the mouth of the Kasilof River to Anchor Point. The low tide times are earlier the further south you go.

In order to get out to the sand beds where the clams are abundant, it is necessary to have negative tide levels below -2.0 feet and the lower the better.

It should still provide many opportunities for gathering your limit of clams (check your State Fishing Guide for the 2015 limit) from 4 to 6 inches in length. Note that the limits of clams taken change from year to year.

2018 Clamming Low Tides

Thursday, May 3111:32 AM-2.4
Tuesday, Jun 129:14 AM-3.18
Wednesday, Jun 139:57 AM-4.58
Thursday, Jun 1410:40 AM-5.38
Friday, Jun 1511:25 AM-5.47
Saturday, Jun 1612:12 PM-4.85
Sunday, Jun 171:01 PM-3.62
Wednesday, Jun 2710:04 AM-2.33
Thursday, Jun 2810:40 AM-2.44
Friday, Jun 2911:15 AM-2.25
Wednesday, Jul 118:53 AM-2.99
Thursday, Jul 129:40 AM-4.52
Friday, Jul 1310:26 AM-5.45
Saturday, Jul 1411:12 AM-5.66
Sunday, Jul 1511:58 AM-5.1
Monday, Jul 1612:45 PM-3.84
Tuesday, Jul 171:33 PM-2.04
Saturday, Jul 2810:56 AM-2.04
Thursday, Aug 098:37 AM-2.39
Friday, Aug 109:26 AM-3.98
Saturday, Aug 1110:12 AM-4.96
Sunday, Aug 1210:56 AM-5.17
Monday, Aug 1311:39 AM-4.56
Tuesday, Aug 1412:22 PM-3.2

Also you must take and count any clam you dig regardless of the size or condition. Do not hesitate to go clamming during those periods where the negative tides are not as great (-2 to -4 feet) as some sand beds are still available. Clams are there also, but may be more scarce and may be deeper below the surface.

You can normally dig for clams up to a couple of hours before the low tide and an hour or so after the low tide. However, be very careful as the tide changes and begins to return. It comes in very quickly and can leave you stranded if you are too far away from the beach. There is a free handout guide available for you at the Kasilof RV Park which will identify the major locations for clamming and methods for cleaning them. We also rent all the gear for clamming, including clam shovels, clam tubes, rubber boots and buckets. If you need help cleaning them, we will give you lessons and advice. 


Raking the surface sand for steamer clams

Digging clams

Clamming at Cook Inlet
Reaching for a clam
Starting the clam search
Clamming at low tide
Cleaning the large clam batch
Shelling clams
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Notice: Fish and Game have closed down several of the most popular clamming sites, be sure to check with F&G to find out which ones may be open.
If they are open be sure to get this years info on the prime clamming tides.

Kasilof RV Park is just a few miles away from some of the best razor clam beds in Alaska.  Twice a month during the summer, tides are lower than normal and the beaches fill with eager diggers looking for the tell-tail dimple in the sand that indicates a delicious razor clam is in residence several inches to feet below the surface.  Yes, these elusive clams can pull themselves down into the sand as you are digging for them.  They can’t go sideways, but they can sure go deep!

One of the methods of digging the razor clam is the clam shooter.  A long pipe with a handle on the top that you push into the ground around one of those dimples.  You have to be strong and you have to be careful because a misalignment may cut the fragile shell of the clam allowing the sand to enter. Then you have to pull the pipe full of sand out of the hole hopefully with an intact clam in it.  If not you have to keep pulling out pipes full of sand until you find that elusive clam.

The tried and true method is a clam shovel and long arms!  After finding a dimple, you have to dig a trench between it and the ocean down to where the clam is located and then pull it out of the sand by the neck.  Sometimes this turns into a problem as the deeper you dig, the surface water wants to run into the trench and cave in the walls.  It’s not unusual to be up above your elbows in the sand or higher.

The reward for your efforts are up to 65 delicious razor clams for each of the participants. The clams average about 6 inches long and are unusually tender due to the very cold waters of the Cook Inlet.  Kasilof RV Park has clamming equipment available for rent and during certain times will take groups to the clamming beach.

Clamming is not easy and is very messy.  Often mud is mixed with the sand where the clams are located.  It requires knee boots and rain gear.  The beaches can be cold and windy at times also.  However, clamming is quite an experience and a lot of fun if you don’t mind the work and the mess.  We normally clean the mud and sand off the clams in the ocean placing the clean clams in salt water for the ride back to the park where further fun awaits.

Cleaning begins after the clams have set for about an hour in the salt water to help clean them.  Then they are dipped in boiling water to loosen the shell, then in cold water to clean any additional sand off them.  Then they have to be cut up for eating.  We discard the belly and keep the neck, sides and foot.  The neck is chopped up for chowder, the sides chopped for fritters and the foot is stripped for fried clam strips.  When all that is accomplished, all that is left is a delicious meal.

Get this years info on the prime clamming tides.

Raking the surface sand for steamer clams

Digging clams

Clamming at Cook Inlet
Reaching for a clam
Starting the clam search
Clamming at low tide
Cleaning the large clam batch
Shelling clams
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Halibut Fishing Suggestions

Note: It was pointed out to me this pass summer by several of our Halibut Charter friends that the previous prime time tide charts we provided on the website were misleading. Actually, prime time for Halibut fishing occurs all summer long. Charter operators operate every day, but it is important to ask the operator about any weather advisories. Everyone gets sick and you do not catch many fish when the waves are high!

Halibut fishing occurs year around in the Cook Inlet. However, the Halibut do not migrate out of the deep water until late March or early April. Serious Halibut fishing begins out of Ninilchik on charter boats when the Deep Creek Tractor Pull opens in April and continues through September. Tide tables for the summer months can be obtained from the NOAA website or from any Alaskan tackle shop, Trustworthy Hardware, or Fred Meyers in Soldotna.

From mid-June through July, huge numbers of 20 to 60 pound (prime quality) Halibut feed in the 100 to 250 feet waters of the central Cook Inlet. Due to the extreme tide changes in the Cook Inlet (10 to 30 feet), most charter boats concentrate fishing 4 to 6 hours over the tide change reducing the flow rate of water over the bottom where the fish are
located. Actual tide changes at the fishing locations in the inlet vary by distance from Deep Creek and the water depth at which you are fishing. Generally the morning tide changes are better than the afternoon due to the warming of the air over the inlet and thus the increase in wind and wave action. 

In late July and the Sockeye (Red) salmon enter the rivers to spawn, plus the Chinook (King) salmon begin to spawn, and huge amounts of salmon pieces begin flowing out of the rivers. The Halibut feed heavy on these pieces as do the sharks. It becomes much more difficult to keep your Halibut baits away from the sharks. Also as the water and air over the Cook Inlet warm during the months of July and August, the winds and waves of the Cook Inlet become more pronounced and more frequent.

There are many listings for Halibut charter companies on the web that leave from Ninilchik (Deep Creek), Anchor Point and Homer. Also charters work out of Seward and Valdez. If you need help in locating a charter or making a reservation for a
Halibut trip, just let us know at and we will provide assistance with some of the charter companies we have had success with in the past.

Nice catch
Two big halibut
Group halibut catch
Cleaning big halibut
Boys and their halibut catch
Another good catch
Two big ones for Sara
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Halibut Fishing

As you travel south along the Kenai Peninsula, you will drive through the small town of Ninilichik.  There will be fairly large boats parked along the highway with large racks to hold fish.  Further on a ways you will see a cannery followed by a road leading off to the left with a sign that says ‘Boat Launch’.

This is the Deep Creek boat launch where large tractors hook to the boat trailers to launch the boats off the beach into the salt water of the Cook Inlet.  From here, the boats will travel 20 to 30 miles down the Cook Inlet to the fabulous fishing grounds for Halibut.  At the end of the fishing trip, the tractors will again hook to the boat trailer and back it into the water of the Cook Inlet to recapture the boat for the trip back to Ninilichik.

Once to the fishing grounds the fun begins.  Fishing on the ocean bottom with heavy weights, the Halibut will take the herring bait and start swimming away.  Then begins the fight of pulling the flat fish to the surface of the water.  The fishing grounds in these waters generally run from 100 to 250 feet deep.

After a lengthy fight, you are reward with a nice fish.  The boat captain or his mate will gaff the Halibut and stow it away in the hold until the trip is over.  He will bait your hook again and then it is another wait until the next one decides your bait is the most interesting of those others from the boat.  And the fun begins again.


So after everyone on board has had their fun and gotten their limit of two Halibut, the boat returns to shore, is pulled from the ocean by the tractor again and you get to hang your fish along with the other on a rack so every one can take a picture of them. The guide cleans your fish and packages them so you can take them home for future delicious dinners.

Or you can drive further south to the tip of the peninsula and out on the Homer spit where the Halibut boats are already launched and are waiting for you in the harbor.  Most of the boats in Homer hold six fishermen and travel out around the tip of Kachemak Bay for the big Halibut.  Here you will fish in 300 to 500 feet of water where the big ones lay.

Out there it is not unusual to catch a big one upwards of 150 pounds during the trip.  On one trip we caught 12 fish totaling over 1100 pounds.  Five fish were over 110 pounds with the largest weighing in at 120.  However, we were fishing in 530 feet of water and had sore muscles for several days.  Nobody complained about it though.

There is always the chance for the really big one though.  Homer has a Halibut Derby every year with fishermen buying tickets for the biggest fish caught.  It is not uncommon for the largest fish of the year to weigh over 300 pounds with a payoff sometimes as high as $35,000.  This particular fish was 84 inches long and weighed 349 pounds.  Unfortunately the fisherman that caught it didn’t buy a Derby ticket.  By the way, this one wouldn’t fit on the rack!

Learn more on our halibut fishing suggestions page.


Launching boats at Deep Creek tractor launch.
Group halibut catch
Tom’s halibut catch
Another good catch
Two big ones for Sara
Cleaning big halibut
Boys and their halibut catch
Two big halibut
Nice catch
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Kenai Peninsula Prime Salmon Fishing Times

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KING FISHING – Chinook or King Salmon is one of the premier fish of the Kenai Peninsula due to their large size. In the Kenai River they can vary from 20 to almost 100 pounds (the record is 97 lbs. 8 oz.). Due to their size and their fighting strength, it is almost impossible to land a King from the river bank, thus hiring a guide with a boat is a must.
On the Kasilof River, the first run Kings are mostly hatchery fish that range from 15 to 35 pounds, thus they can be caught from the bank. However, there are plenty of guides with drift boats (no motors allowed) to increase your chances of landing a King salmon. As the second run of larger (30 to 60 pounds) Kings enter the Kasilof, a guided drift boat is a necessity. The limit is two hatchery Kings or one hatchery plus one native on certain days. 

KASILOF RIVERMid-MAY to mid-JUNE1st RUN KINGS (15 to 35#)
KASILOF RIVERJULY peaks @ 20th2nd RUN KINGS (20 to 60#)


RED FISHING – I consider Sockeye or Red Salmon to be the best table fish. The Alaskan Wild Red Salmon has bright red meat and rich flavor which is high in Omega 3 oils. Plus it is one of the most exciting fish to catch. The red salmon doesn’t eat once it re-enters fresh water. To catch them, you must drag a fly-hook through their mouth hooking them, not an easy task and very exciting when you hook them in the fin or tail. Many a rod has been broken or rod & reel lost when a 8 to 12 pound red takes off across the river after being hooked in the tail. 



SILVERS & HUMPY FISHING – Silvers (Coho) and Humpies (Pink) Salmon come into the rivers at the beginning of August. However the Pinks only come into the Kenai River on even years. There are two runs of Silvers in the Kenai River, but only one in the Kasilof. Both species feed in the river and spawn in the river and side creeks; therefore, both baits (cured salmon eggs) and lures will attract the fish. Silvers tend to feed only in early mornings and evenings on sunny days, Pinks feed any time and will strike at about anything. Silvers are more oily than reds and have orange meat, Pinks tend to have pink, mushy meat (especially the males).

PINKS (4 to 6#)


TROUT & DOLLY VARDEN FISHING – Rivers, creeks and lakes on the Peninsula are normally open to trout and Dolly Varden fishing all year round except for closures in specific areas on certain dates. Be sure to check the fishing regulations concerning the closure dates, limits and where they have to be released when caught.

* I have personally collected this information over the years fishing on the Peninsula. 
The dates vary due to changes in the weather, water temperature, etc.

King catch
Big Red Catch
Kenai Reds
Combat Fishing
Tom and his King
Deb catches a Pink
Coleman and his Red
Cary’s Silver catch
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