In July, I start transitioning to fishing the Kenai more than the Kasilof River. I tend to bounce back and forth from river to river, depending on what the fish are doing on that particular day. It is important to be flexible, the conditions can change daily. The Kenai River is home to some of the largest king salmon (or chinook salmon) in the world. Fisherman Les Andersons caught the world record 97.25lb king salmon on May 17th, 1985 on the Kenai. Make sure to check out the story of Les Anderson’s massive king salmon. With the king run starting in late May, July is the most popular month to go for these fish. For both the 1st and 2nd king run you have the opportunity to catch huge trophy fish reaching up to 90lbs! With the runs trending lower than average in recent years, be prepared for a catch and release fishery. Please be sure to ask about new rules and regulations as they tend to change for king salmon often. The Kenai River is open to motorized boats, allowing us chase the bite and stay on the fish! Before arrival, make sure to buy a king salmon stamp while purchasing your fishing license.
Sockeye salmon (also called red salmon) are the most popular salmon to catch on the Kenai Peninsula. With the second run averaging around 1 million, July is the best time to harvest sockeye salmon! Sockeye salmon on the Kenai River draw crowds of thousands of anglers every year. If you bring your own gear down, there is public access to the river, this can be a great opportunity to add to your fish box. Make sure to ask what public access points are the best and feel free to call me for a fishing report. The Kenai River sockeye are larger than Kasilof sockeye, they average around 8 lbs. Sockeye are extremely fresh, hard fighting fish that come straight from the ocean. Both fly or spin gear can be effective techniques for catching sockeye. Sockeye fishing is mostly done on the river bank, I can provide hip boots if needed. The Kenai River has two runs. The first run is smaller, with its final destination being the Russian River. The second run is over 1 million fish, it starts in early July and ends in mid-August. With the abundance of sockeye, fishing can be very competitive, please be ready for early morning starts! I highly recommend booking half day charters, especially towards the end of July. You will not need any special tags for sockeye fishing. Make sure to bring a cooler for your fresh catch at the end of the day. At the end of your charter I will fillet your fish and can direct you to one of the local fish processors. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable. Please wear warm layers, a hat and sunglasses. Make sure to bring your own drinks and your fishing license. You will not need any special tags for sockeye fishing.
Although July is mostly know for salmon fishing, trout/char fishing is also a great option for fly fisherman who are not as interested in taking fish home. At this time of year the trout are gorging themselves on freshly filleted salmon. With the fish being so close to shore I require no more than 2 people to buy the whole boat. Rainbow trout are by far my favorite species to fish for in fresh water. They are well known for jumping and explosive runs. These fish live their entire life in fresh water gorging themselves on decaying salmon and their eggs. Wild rainbows are catch and release only on the Kenai River. Kenai rainbows are some of the largest wild trout in Alaska and the world, they grow very large because of the abundant food source created by the millions of salmon spawning on the river. Kenai River rainbows can grow well over 30 inches and get up to 20lbs! If you’re looking to learn how to fly fish, I highly recommend fishing for Kenai River rainbow trout! The weather in Alaska is unpredictable. Please wear warm layers, a hat and sunglasses. Make sure to bring your own drinks and your fishing license. You will not need any special tags for trout fishing.
For gear I will be providing fly rods and I will be rigged and ready for the day. The Kenai is a great opportunity for all experience levels. I highly encourage beginners to learn how to fly fish because it can be the most successful technique. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable. Make sure to dress warm, wear layers, a hat, sunglasses and waterproof boots if possible. Please bring your own drinks and your fishing license. You will not need any special tags for trout fishing, just a regular license.
Dolly Varden Char
Dolly Varden (char) are anadromous and extremely abundant in the Kenai River. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden have very similar migratory habits and can be caught in the same locations. Dolly Varden have very distinctive pink spots and can get up to the 10lb range. Prime time for Dolly Varden is in the fall, during the salmon spawn, but are these fish easily targeted from June-December. Just like rainbow trout, Dolly Varden are extremely important to the ecosystem. In the early 1900s, Alaska had bounties on Dolly Varden with the belief that they were eating all the salmon eggs. When the salmon are spawning, modern studies have shown that Dollies eat mostly just the diseased salmon eggs. This prevents disease, bacteria, bad genetics which actually helps the salmon runs. Dollies are incredibly hard fighters and are known for being bulldogs, making them one of the main targets for sport fisherman because they are so fun to catch!
For gear I will be providing fly rods and I will be rigged and ready for the day. The Kenai is a great opportunity for all experience levels. I highly encourage beginners to learn how to fly fish because it can be the most successful technique. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable. Make sure to dress warm, wear layers, a hat, sunglasses and waterproof boots if possible. Please bring your own drinks and your fishing license. You will not need any special tags for Dolly fishing, just a regular license.
FAQ: How to get to the Kenai Peninsula
Once you arrive in Anchorage, you can rent a car and drive the scenic Seward Highway South for about 2.5 hours to Soldotna. You can also fly straight into Soldotna on a small plane from Anchorage, but you will still need a rental vehicle to get to the boat launches. Please keep in mind that the traffic will be slow on Alaskan highways in the summer because of the short construction season and heavy tourism traffic, you may want to add an hour or two to your expected drive time.
With long hours of fishing and early morning starts, I highly recommend finding a place to stay overnight while visiting the Kenai Peninsula. I recommend Aspen Hotel Soldotna. Booking.com , Airbnb and VRBO can also be great tools for finding available options on the Kenai Peninsula. I am more than happy to help you find a place to stay, so feel free to give me a call at any time. Please be sure to book far in advance as prime summer dates book up fast!