Kenai Peninsula

Kenai Report 9-23-14 PDF Print E-mail



Winterize your boat? Put your rods and gear away for the year? Not quite yet! For many local anglers, we're just getting started on what some consider "prime time" here on the Kenai Peninsula. Silver Salmon continue to pour into every nook and cranny of nearly every flowing water within range, and they can be taken through various means and methods. However, the highlight species of late fall on the Kenai Peninsula is undoubtedly the Rainbow Trout. As the masses of salmon continue to spawn and die, Rainbows are there to pick up the pieces, literally! Water conditions can greatly affect the trout bite, but if you have a bead or a flesh fly on the end of your line, and get it down to the bottom, you are giving yourself the opportunity to land a wild trophy trout, the likes of which are only available on the Kenai and a few other places on Earth. Luckily, Kenai trout aren't leader shy, so make sure your tippet is heavy enough to land the potential giant that may wind up at the end of your line... You'll be happy you did. Focus your efforts behind places where salmon are spawning, and do your best to "match the hatch" by picking colors and sizes of beads and flesh that mimic the food presently available. Most veteran trout anglers have their own favorite fingernail polish color used to coat their beads, making them more realistic and/or attractive to the fish, so don't be afraid to experiment with your own. The pink salmon are largely spawning out and dying off, so you will catch less and less of them going forward.

Reminder- be extra cautious boating and wading in the high fast water. There are a lot more logs, branches and other debris floating down, so be careful.


Middle & Lower Kenai

The Middle River (Skilak Lake to Bings Landing) and Lower River (Bings to Cook Inlet) sockeye fishing is long over, the pinks have made their way up stream, and silvers are getting thick. The number one rule when Silver Salmon fishing is to BRING EVERYTHING! Silvers can be moody, and are often extremely selective towards color, presentation, etc. In one moment they want to bite eggs, the next they want jigs, the next they prefer slowly stripped flies in slow water, etc, etc, etc. If you're not having a lot of luck while fishing for Silvers, it's probably not because they're not there, it's probably because they're being picky. Some days they'll seemingly bite anything your put out there, but others there is only one presentation that gets their attention. So don't give up, and try everything in your box until you figure them out!


Trout fishing has been good- but the higher water conditions are making it more of a challenge lately. Fish are moving closer to the banks grabbing up salmon carcasses. Try flesh flies near areas where salmon are being caught and cleaned, and also below where salmon are spawning and dying off. Beads are probably your best bet right now though, in the 8-10mm size range. Don’t be afraid to add a weight or two in the high fast water. The trout are gorging on salmon eggs and carcasses, and that next grab could be the trophy rainbow you have dreamed of.

Upper Kenai

Moving up to the Upper Kenai (Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake), trout fishing has remained good to great despite rising waters from the abundance of fall rain we have experienced. The salmon spawn is on- so beads are the primary go to option. 6 or 8mm, start with natural or dark roe colors and experiment with more washed out colors from there. With the rising water levels, we can expect a lot of carcasses and food to be in the water system, so a good flesh bite may be coming on again in the very near future. Silvers are being picked up regularly, but many are pretty blushed out. Try stripping in brighter chartreuse, pink and purple flies- dolly llamas and other large streamers.

double bow


The Kenai Peninsula is lucky enough to contain one of the most northerly steelhead runs in the world. The season is relatively short, but when conditions are right, fishing can be great! The Kasilof River, the Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, and the Anchor River are all beginning to see steelhead enter their respective systems. A few steelhead are accidentally caught on gear by anglers targeting silver salmon, but most steelhead seekers are fly fishermen. The southern Kenai Peninsula streams are all textbook fly fishing locations, and Steelhead can be targeted effectively using several different fly fishing strategies. Perhaps the most common method is to utilize an indicator and a bead in the 10-14mm range. But Steelhead are also vulnerable to striking at a variety of flies being swung by a spey or switch rod, various streamers and wet flies, and even large nymph patterns being dead-drifted. In my experience, Steelhead on the Kenai Peninsula act more like trout than steelhead I have encountered in other areas, so implement your strategy accordingly. If you are lucky enough to bring a Steelhead to hand, please take great care of these special fish, and do not remove them from the water if at all possible.

The chill is in the air, so bundle up. Winter is coming, but there is plenty of great fishing still!


Kenai Report 8-18-14 PDF Print E-mail

 cohoThe hustle and bustle of summer is coming to a close, and we are transitioning to the more relaxing pace of fall.  It is always a bitter sweet feeling for those of us on the Kenai Peninsula.  The kings and sockeye that draw such ferocious crowds are mostly gone now, and we are entering what many locals believe is the greatest season of all- FALL!


Silver salmon are starting to invade the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, but a bunch of recent rain has caused near flood level high water conditions.  Despite that, fishing is still pretty good, and is expected to improve as the water begins to drop and clear up.  During the high water, focus on the backwater areas.  Eddies, the downstream side of inside corners, behind islands, and back channels will be your best bet to find slower moving water during the minor flood we are currently experiencing. 

Oh, and another great thing about even years is that you can catch a whole bunch of pink salmon, aka humpies, no matter what you are fishing for.  While some consider them a nuisance, they can keep the action going all day long and can be fun for kids, beginners and even experienced fishermen alike.  Try stripping & swinging streamers in the slow water areas of the river where pinks congregate.  



Trout fishing with beads and flesh flies is heating up as well.  8mm fresh beads and 10mm fresh roe beads have both produced some very nice fish in the middle and lower sections of the Kenai. 

Middle & Lower Kenai

The Middle River (Skilak Lake to Bings Landing) and Lower River (Bings to Cook Inlet) sockeye fishing has essentially ended.  A few fish can be taken here and there, but most are starting to blush and moving into spawn season.  Silvers and pinks are starting to hit the River in good numbers.  Chartreuse, pink, or purple are all favorite fly colors. Strip your fly low and slow and wait for the bite!  Remember- silvers prefer to take the path of least resistance, so stay out of raging currents and you can find some success. And the further you go up river, the less pinks you will get into as well.

mega bow


Trout fishing has been fair to good- with the high water conditions making it more of a challenge.  Fish are moving closer to the banks to grab up the remnants of the salmon carcasses.  Beads were starting to pick up, but the high water levels are making bead fishing more of a challenge.  Try larger flesh flies tight on the bank near cleaning stations and areas where salmon are being caught and cleaned.  As the water drops and clears, trout fishing should start to seriously heat up on both beads and flesh.  Don’t be afraid to add a weight or two in this high water.  And hang on- some of these rainbows have been gorging all summer and are getting BIG!

Upper Kenai

Moving up to the the Upper Kenai (Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake), sockeye fishing is essentially over- you can still get a fish or two here and there, but most are fairly well blushed out and ready to spawn at this point.  Some silvers are being taken on the fly stripping bunny leeches in slow or still water.  We expect silver fishing to pick up as water conditions improve and we get later into the silver run. 

rainbow grass


Trout fishing has been slow to decent, with the high water conditions making it a challenge.  Seek out slow moving pocket water for best results, and don’t be afraid to lengthen your leaders and add a few extra split shots.  Flesh is still productive, and we are moving closer to the prime time bead bite.


While some folks are packing up their boats and rods for the season, others are just getting warmed up… so grab some rain gear and a beanie because the Silver Salmon and Rainbow Trout fishing is likely to get better and better for the next month and beyond.  Don’t miss it!!! 


Kenai Report 7-30-14 PDF Print E-mail

 bow over net

The peak of the tourist season is just about to come to a close here on the Kenai, and while some folks are packing up and going home with plenty of salmon for their freezer, others are heading home with coolers a little on the light side.  The sockeye/red salmon run for the Kenai River has been very strange this summer.  After a very strong start to July and great fishing in the early part of the month, things didn’t pick up as is expected by mid to late July.  Fairly consistent counts of fish in the 30,000 per day range have been seen for most of July but we have yet to see the classic huge rush of fish the Kenai River is known for.  This is enough fish for some more competent flippers to catch their limits with some work, but not enough to create the insanely easy type of fishing a lot of us are used to seeing for at least a few days in July! It is possible to have another big pulse of sockeye enter the river in early August, but it is more likely that the run is beginning to wind down, and it'll continue to take a lot of work to put some sockeye on the bank.  

The Kenai River king salmon return has been very limited as expected, and is now the king salmon fishery is closed on the Kenai.  King salmon regulations were fluid as the season moved along, as expected.  First, ADF&G enacted an Emergency Order mandating catch and release fishing for king salmon with barbless hooks, and then they closed the season altogether.  Fortunately, the water conditions were so prime (temps hovered around 51-52 degrees, and clarity was exceptional) on the lower Kenai during the last week of C&R fishing that fishing was fantastic despite the low escapement numbers, and some extremely nice fish were caught by those willing to let them go.  We all hope that Kings return in more favorable numbers next season. 

sockeye cast

Trout fishing with beads and flesh flies is heating up as well.  8mm fresh beads and 10mm washed out beads have both produced some very nice fish in the middle and lower sections of the Kenai.  For those looking forward to the next phase of the season, the pink salmon have already begun to enter the lower Kenai in good numbers.  Try stripping & swinging pink streamers in the slow water areas of the river where pinks congregate.  There have been reports of a few silvers being caught as well, but expect Silver fishing to go from fair to fast as we transition into August, just expect to weed your way though a lot of pinks in the process!      

Middle Kenai

The Middle River (Skilak Lake to Bings Landing) sockeye fishing has remained consistently inconsistent- with surges of fish coming through in spurts, but generally not lasting too long and not being steady all day.  Expect to put in your time out there to get your reds, and focus on your technique to ensure you get your limit.  Grab a bank and try simple flies for the best chance at success with the reds.  Expect to have the best opportunity to catch sockeye in this section of the river through the first week of August when sockeye slow down a bit and gather into schools as they make their way upstream. 

The trout fishing has been fair to good recently, due in large part to the excellent water conditions.  Salmon carcasses are abundant in the water and are floating down and getting munched on by hungry rainbows and dollies.  Especially near cleaning stations, flesh flies have been a good strategy for anglers.  Large leeches, sculpin patterns and dolly llamas are also producing nice fish as well.  Going forward, expect the trout to start raiding the banks once the sockeye anglers are gone.  Those wily trout tend to shy away from the banks when there are thousands of weights raining down on them from the anglers searching for sockeye!  Expect trout fishing to remain good for the next couple weeks, and then get even better as Sockeye and Kings begin to spawn throughout the river in mid/late August and the bead bite turns on.

bow shallows


Upper Kenai

The Upper Kenai (Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake) sockeye fishing has been slow to very slow with most of the fish starting to turn and the Russian River not seeing a very strong return for 2014.  Expect to land several blushed fish before you get a chrome bright sockeye. 

Trout fishing on the other hand has been very good- with lots of success on small flesh patterns drifted beneath a strike indicator.  Swinging bead head nymphs and smaller leeches has been productive as well through shallow riffles.  Try swinging those larger flesh flies as well.  Flesh is expected to be the ticket for the next week or so, then a good mix of bead fishing will take over as the spawn starts.

Kasilof River

A mix of high sockeye numbers and low King numbers have created a relatively disappointing July on the Kasilof River.  The large volume of sockeye has prompted ADF&G to allow the terminal fishery to remain open consistently throughout the month, as well as expanded opportunities for the personal use fishery as well.  The best fishing has been early in the morning and in the few hours leading up to each high tide, and the occasional tide has produced decent fishing, but not at the consistent rate that the Kasilof is used to seeing during late July.  Reminder: the Kasilof has gone to catch and release for king salmon.

bow by net



As expected, the Kenai king fishery had another disappointing year with a dismal return.  We had hoped and expected a large sockeye return to the Kenai River, but we have not seen the numbers thus far.  Meanwhile the Kasilof River sockeye fishery had an outstanding return this year.  Pinks will be hitting the Kenai in abundance over the next few weeks, and trout fishing should just pick up more and more as will fishing for silvers.  Get your rods and get out there!

Fishing report compiled by Brendyn Shiflea of Pretty Fly For a White Guy with in river action reports and pictures submitted by guides Lee Keuper of Alaska’s Angling Addiction, Mark Wackler of Fishology Alaska, and Kyle Kolodziejski of Keen Eye Anglers.  All are current or past board members of the Kenai Chapter of Trout Unlimited.


Kenai Report 7-9-14 PDF Print E-mail


Kenai River

bright bow

The last few days of June and the first few days of July are often thought of as the "in-between time" here on the Kenai.  The first run of kings are mostly gone, and the second run of kings has barely started to enter the river.  July 1st marked the opener of the king salmon fishery on the Kenai, which according to all reports (and most expectations) has been dismally slow.  Water conditions are not great- but you can expect the second run of kings to begin showing up on the Kenai any day now.  (We hope!)

The sockeye are typically on a similar timeline as the kings and the late June/early July timeframe can be a slower time.  But not this year!  The Kenai has seen strong sockeye fishing in late June and early July of 2014- possibly the best it has been in years during this time frame!  Anglers have been regularly hitting their daily limits of sockeye through the middle and lower sections of the Kenai for the past week or more.  Several of the past few days have seen 15,000-30,000 sockeye swim past the sonar.  The best part is that it should only get better through the next few weeks.  Crowds will be plentiful, but so will the Sockeye, so get geared up with your waders & sunglasses and be ready for combat!


Middle Kenai

The Middle River (Skilak Lake to Bings Landing) has been very productive for salmon fishing. Grab a bank and find those reds!  Try simple and sparse flies for the best chance at success with the reds.

scenic sockeye

Trout anglers are seeing mixed results throughout the Middle River.  The trout are phasing out of spawn mode at this point, moving off the gravel beds and settling into deeper pockets of water and other lies.  Try swinging sculpins, dolly llamas and other larger streamers through deeper pockets and riffles.  Flesh flies and beads are starting to be productive in areas where large amounts of sockeye are being caught and filleted.



Upper Kenai

The Upper Kenai (Kenai Lake to Skilak Lake) has benefited from the strong first run and early second run of sockeye salmon with anglers regularly hitting their limits. 

The mass abundance of salmon movement has had somewhat of an adverse affect on the trout fishing though- with the salmon schools pushing trout out of some of the normal holds and lies.  This had made the trout fishing a little more sporadic on the Upper Kenai.  Try exploring atypical spots for trout and experiment with your fly selection.  Near cleaning stations, flesh flies and beads are productive.  Through other stretches experiment with leeches, nymphs and smolt patterns.  

big bows in net


Kasilof River

The Kasilof kings have acted more like they're supposed to compared to the Kenai kings.  The majority of the first run kings have made their way into Crooked Creek to spawn, and the second run kings are slowly beginning to make their presence felt.  There is still a no-bait regulation in effect, but kwikfish and spin & glows have produced a few nice fish in recent days, especially on the incoming tide and extreme early mornings... as usual.  Try large bright streamers on the fly rod.

Kasilof sockeye have also been coming through in good numbers, and so many entered the river early on that ADF&G has increased the bag limit, and are currently allowing dip-netting much further upstream than usual.  Fish the lower river a few hours before the high tide for best results.  Some tides bring thousands of fish, while other tides come up dry... but you have to be there to find out.  Find a good bend or gravel bar and get your line wet!


As expected, the Kenai king fishery is looking to be a disappointing year.  However, the abundance of sockeye will hopefully make up for it for you anglers out there.  Enjoy the July weather- get out there and fish!  Best wishes for tight lines and a fun safe time on the water.          

Fishing report compiled by Brendyn Shiflea of Pretty Fly For a White Guy with in river action reports and pictures submitted by guides Lee Keuper of Alaska’s Angling Addiction, Mark Wackler of Fishology Alaska, and Kyle Kolodziejski of Keen Eye Anglers.  All are current or past board members of the Kenai Chapter of Trout Unlimited.




Kenai Report 8-17-12 PDF Print E-mail

Fishing on the Kenai is ramping up. There are reports that the sockeye spawn is in its early phases in the upper river and refuge. Fish are starting to pair up and dig redds. This means some serious bead time is in the near future. Fresh colors in 6mm and 8mm are producing. Very few kings made it into the upper river this year, meaning not a lot of spawning kings. When found though, 10mm beads are the size of choice.

The tributaries like Quartz Creek are starting to heat up with great dolly fishing. 6mm and 8mm beads are the size. The Russian is still fishing well and should continue to be productive as the sockeye spawn goes into full swing. Please remember that there are regulations specific to these areas. Here’s a link to ADF&G Regulations for the Kenai Penisula. Be sure to check and see if there are any emergency closures or updates.

Silver fishing is still in its early phases. Very few rumors of silvers in the middle and nill on the upper. Fish should start to show up in fishable numbers in the few weeks. For those wanting to fish silvers, lower in the river is the best bet.

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