May 2024: The Gateway to Summer Fishing on the Kenai Peninsula

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As the last vestiges of winter retreat and the landscapes of the Kenai Peninsula burst into the vibrant hues of spring, May heralds a season of abundance and excitement for anglers. The melting snow feeds into the rivers, bringing life and movement that calls to both fish and fishermen alike. May 2024 is set to be a remarkable month for those seeking the thrill of the catch in the stunning waters around Kenai. Let’s explore the burgeoning opportunities that make this time of year particularly enticing for fishing enthusiasts.

The Return of the Kings: Chinook Salmon Season

May is synonymous with the beginning of the king (Chinook) salmon season on the Kenai Peninsula. These magnificent fish, revered for their size and strength, start their migration up the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, igniting a sense of anticipation in the heart of every angler. The early run of king salmon offers a unique challenge, with the potential for rewarding catches that are tales-worthy.

  • Strategies for Success: Focusing on deep river bends and slower-moving water can prove fruitful as kings prefer these areas for their migration. Techniques such as back-trolling with bait or utilizing plugs can entice a strike from these elusive giants.

A Symphony of Fins: Sockeye and Halibut

While the kings may steal the spotlight, May also sees the beginning of the sockeye (red) salmon run and the prime time for halibut fishing in the deeper waters of Cook Inlet. Sockeye, known for their tenacity and delicious red flesh, provide an exhilarating experience for fly fishermen and women. Meanwhile, the pursuit of halibut, the behemoths of the deep, adds a different flavor to the fishing adventure, with opportunities for both charter trips and shore-based angling.

  • Sockeye Techniques: Focus on river mouths and areas with strong current breaks. Sockeye are attracted to bright flies and lures, making them a visual target for anglers.
  • Halibut Tactics: Whether you’re chartering a boat or fishing from shore, bait such as herring or octopus, paired with heavy tackle, is essential for these powerful fish.

Embrace the Diversity: Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden

The trout fishing on the Kenai Peninsula in May is nothing short of spectacular. As the ecosystem rejuvenates, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden trout become more active, feeding on the increased presence of salmon eggs, fry, and aquatic insects. This period of revitalization offers fly fishermen and women a chance to enjoy some of the most scenic and productive fishing of the year.

  • Fly Fishing Flourishes: Utilizing a mix of nymphs, streamers, and egg patterns can mimic the natural diet of these fish, increasing your chances of a successful outing.

Preparing for Your May Adventure

  • Licenses and Regulations: Ensure you’re up-to-date with the latest fishing licenses and understand the local regulations that govern the season’s fishing activities. Conservation is key to maintaining the health and vitality of Kenai’s fish populations.
  • Gear and Apparel: With variable weather conditions, layering is crucial. Waterproof gear, including waders and jackets, will keep you comfortable and focused on the fishing.
  • Connect with Experts: Kenai Fly Fish offers guided fishing trips that cater to all levels of experience. Leveraging local knowledge not only enhances your chances of landing a dream catch but also enriches the fishing experience with insights into the area’s natural history and ecological practices.

May 2024 is poised to be an exceptional month for fishing on the Kenai Peninsula. Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of hooking a king salmon, the fight of a sockeye, the pursuit of halibut, or the grace of fly fishing for trout, Kenai offers a world-class angling experience set against the backdrop of Alaska’s unparalleled natural beauty. Join us as we cast into the waters of a new season, embracing the adventure and promise that May brings to the Kenai Peninsula.


Kenai River Fish Species

Rainbow Trout

Kenai River rainbows can be well over 30 inches and up to 20lbs!

Dolly Varden Char

Dollies range of all sizes and can reach up to about 12 lbs.


Steelhead are very uniform in shape and average around 28 inches. These amazing, acrobatic fish are often a fly fisherman’s favorite to target.

King Salmon

The Kenai River is open to motorized boats, allowing us chase the bite, and stay on the fish!

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye salmon (also called red salmon) are the most popular salmon to catch on the Kenai Peninsula.

Coho Salmon

Ranging anywhere from 5-20lbs, coho are acrobatic and are probably the most aggressive salmon out there.

Pink Salmon

Pinks are completely underrated, they are extremely aggressive to catch and come in by the millions!


Guided ocean fishing on the world-famous Kenai Peninsula