By September, sockeye salmon begin to transform into their spawning colors and the coho (or silver salmon) replace them in high numbers. Coho tend to rest in the slower water, and can’t wait to bite anything flashy that comes their way. These beautiful chrome salmon run anywhere from 4-20lbs. Coho is a great catch for all experience levels, whether you want to cast spinners, troll, or just try your luck fly fishing. If you are looking to catch Coho on a fly rod, I highly recommend coming in September. Having a little casting experience can go a long way when it comes to catching these easily spooked fish on the fly. Generally, the limit goes from 2 to 3 fish per person on September 1st. I will provide gear for every technique. You will not need any special tags for Coho 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 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.
Although trout fishing can be great all summer, September is the best time for trout fishing. I highly recommend coming in the fall to catch trophy trout! With the millions of salmon spawning in the river during September, the trout really start putting on some weight. 10lb Rainbow trout are not uncommon this time of year and when conditions are right many people hook or land one daily! I highly recommend hiring me for a private charter with no more than 3 people in the boat. Having only three anglers can be a more personable trip and can result in a lot better fishing.
Rainbow trout are by far my favorite species to fish for in freshwater. They are well known for jumping and explosive runs. These fish live their entire life in freshwater, 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!
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. 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.
September is usually when we start seeing steelhead in higher numbers on the Kenai Peninsula. Both the Kenai and Kasilof River have decent populations of steelhead, but just like anywhere, having an opportunity at catching just one can be a good day. On the Kenai it is difficult to target only steelhead. While fishing for Rainbows/Dolly Varden on the Kenai, steelhead are caught occasionally. Steelhead are a kind of ocean going rainbow trout. Steelhead typically migrate back to fresh water after 3 years in the salt water. They are the only pacific salmon that will survive after spawning and head back to the ocean for potentially another spawning cycle. All other pacific salmon die after one spawning cycle. Steelhead look a lot like a rainbow trout, but with a trained eye, the difference is distinguishable. Steelhead are very uniform in shape and average around 28 inches. These amazing, acrobatic fish are often a fly fisherman’s favorite to target.
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!