Kenai River is claimed to be the most popular sport fishing destination in Alaska, famous for its large king salmon. Recent years, an average of 275,000 angler-days of participation have been recorded. When we stopped at the visitor center to check out what was happening in Soldotna we got a taste of how important fishing is for this area. The visitor center features a Classic Fishwalk where you can fish the Kenai River from the banks behind the center. On the fishwalk there was a handful of people fishing and several catches during the few minutes we observed.
Interpretive signs along the fishwalk had information about the fishing along Kenai River. From its source at the outlet of Kenai Lake at Cooper Landing the Kenai river flows 80 miles to Cook Inlet. It runs through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge that we had canoed a small section of earlier.
The king salmon runs happen in June-July and it would be normal to catch salmon up to 27 kg (60 pounds). The Kenai River hosts the busiest freshwater king salmon fishery in Alaska. In the 1990s, 50,000 to 115,000 angler-days per year were recorded.
It was however beginning of September when we visited Kenai Peninsula and during that period the silver salmon run was going strong. After having seen the fishermen on the fishwalk we decided we wanted to try it ourselves. We hadn’t brought any fishing gear with us to Alaska and had no idea what the regulations in the river were so we figured it was best to go with a silver salmon charter. There are many companies offering this service in Kenai / Soldotna.
Related: ‘Our Alaska Adventure – Denali to Kenai ‘
The fishing is best in the morning so we had to get out of bed before sunrise. It was still twilight as we boarded our vessel and set down the river. We were going to be fishing in the lower Kenai today. We didn’t see any moose when we paddled the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge but we got lucky this early morning – a moose with her calf was crossing the river. It was a sight worth getting up early for.
Once we started fishing it soon turned out to a bit of a competition between the newly weds. Who would get the first silver and who would get the biggest one? I got the first one, but it is still debated who got the biggest one as we didn’t actually weight the catch. You can judge for yourself by the pictures below. I am convinced mine was bigger, but my hubby would tell you the opposite.
Silver salmon is known for being feisty and it was very fun catching them. In the end we filled our quota of 3 silvers per person and still have some delicious smoked salmon in our freezer. Turns out if you go with a fishing charter they will clean the fish for you afterwards so you don’t even have to get your hands dirty. What a luxury!
Thank you for visiting – please feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear what you think. Do you have any good fishing stories to share?
Some resources if you are planning on doing some fishing on the Kenai Peninsula yourself: