Kenai Peninsula

Red Owl

Well-known member
Messages
456
Reaction score
2
Been thinking about a trip and I am looking at the Kenai River or area but I am wondering how crowded it gets in some areas. Is it shoulder to shoulder? Everyone spin/bait or fly?
In addition, I'm thinking about camping but wondering if the mosquitoes are intolerable and if it rains every day.
I also would like to catch things I normally don't, like Arctic Graying, Arctic Char, Dolly Varden. I could just book a week with a lodge but some prices are really steep. I sort of wanted to knock around on my own but would do so by car.
 

Ard

Forum Member
Staff member
Messages
21,944
Reaction score
5,169
Location
Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
It's a tough river without a boat or guide, there are very few areas where you can walk and wade. The areas where you can walk / wade can get pretty crowded. What time of year are you thinking of?

There are several nice campgrounds but that doesn't solve the access issues for an angler on foot. There are Rainbow - Dolly Varden - a few Whitefish - Silvers - Sockeye - and of course Kings that either live or return in the river during the course of a year.

Finding an actual fly fishing guide down there may be tough also, everyone uses beads and floats.
 

smp005

Well-known member
Messages
459
Reaction score
174
Location
Akron, Ohio
Quartz creek has nice wading.. Ard is right - the Kenai really is a float.. everyone should float it once - it is a beautiful river...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

Ard

Forum Member
Staff member
Messages
21,944
Reaction score
5,169
Location
Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
Correct you are, I thought about that myself but until I'd know when someone was going to be in the area it's tough to call Quartz. If you can fish it prior to the early run Sockeye arriving it can be good streamer fishing for Dollies. I've caught a good bunch of them in the 17 - 20" size there. Once the Sockeye start clogging the creek things change. Right now a fair length (if not all) is closed because it's Dolly spawn time.
 

smp005

Well-known member
Messages
459
Reaction score
174
Location
Akron, Ohio
Good point! I've only ever fished it in August and September..


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

Red Owl

Well-known member
Messages
456
Reaction score
2
Thanks for the real world help. I've fished tributaries of the Great Lakes for Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead but I've seen images of red sockeye salmon literally shoulder to shoulder and that would be quite a sight, so I think that would be a focus. That is, go when the sockeye are running. If float, that's okay. I've never caught any dolly varden and grayling would be good as well.
On the flies, I have done pretty good on polar shrimp, Babine Special, egg sucking leech and a down and across cast.
I've checked out some campgrounds in the National Forests and they reserve the right to close them if bears are a problem. That could really screw up travel plans. I'm thinking a private campground closer to town might be bear free.
On a float down the Kenai, what chance (100%, 80% 50/50) would you have to see a brown bear- that would be a priority.
On the safety thing, I see you tubes of fisherman just standing around looking at a brown bear wading along the river. Do they generally ignore you? Is the trouble more akin to hiking on a trail and jumping a brown bear?
 

Ard

Forum Member
Staff member
Messages
21,944
Reaction score
5,169
Location
Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
While closures can happen it is rare. The most usual cause for camping restrictions happens when a mother bear is shot by a fisherman and the cubs raid campgrounds for lack of other means of obtaining food. After having situations like that occur several times the department of Wildlife USFS who runs the campground at Russian River will close the access when mothers with cubs are on the water catching fish. Restrictions usually require that you camp in hard sided trailers or RV's and not tents or pop ups.

The time to fish for sockeye is when the run is gearing up and not once they have turned red. Once red they are interesting to see as they pair up for spawning but the fish to catch are the bright ones fresh in from Cook Inlet. This is a totally different type run than you may ever have witnessed. The fish come up the big river forming strings or more like conga lines that can stretch from the Inlet all the way to Kenai Lake. They generally are on the move at about 2 miles an hour and seldom hold up in pools. I've already fished six hours in order to catch six males even though there were thousands and thousands of salmon passing me every two hours. They are not overly inclined to grab a fly unless you can get one passed directly in front of a fish and I mean directly. Foul hooking happens due to the number of fish and many times it is more productive to search for an area with fewer fish visible which cuts down on accidental hooking.

Seeing all those Sockeye is a treat but I believe the best fly fishing is to be had during the Silver run. Although they don't occur in such great numbers these fish will and do grab flies frequently. Timing the silvers a year in advance for planning purposes can be like choosing lottery numbers. They can be two weeks early or two weeks latter, there's no way to predict abundance during a visit unless you live here and get real time info from guides down there.

Seeing a bear? This is another thing hard to predict. I've already floated the upper river and seen both black and brown bears on the same float but many times I've seen none. To get a full sense of the river I would recommend doing the upper river from Kenai Lake to Jim's Landing on one day and then from Skilak Lake to Bing's on another day. A good rule for sockeye runs would be; early run peaks around June 25 or there about. Late run peaks around August 1 - 7 usually. Talking to someone who works down there is the way to go. I fish there during off peak season and generally avoid it during the June - September time frame.

If things hadn't changed so dramatically in my area over the past six or seven years I'd advise you to come this way but fishing has become very unpredictable here. I do expect the trout fishing to slowly recover but the past few years have been tough. One must have a boat and be able to go looking for them often to have much success.
 
Top