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.
|Fishing on the Kasilof River|
|Neal shows off his catch|
|A good catch of reds|
|Salmon fishing in the shallows|
|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|