Preparing for the Kenai

Druunkonego

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Hello. I'm new to the board and have been browsing your Alaska threads (thanks for all the useful information Ard!) I'm heading to AK for 9 days (7 on the ground, or should I say on the water?). I'll be there during the first part of September. This will be my first time up there and I'm very excited. I'll be visiting my cousin who has a place in Soldotna and hope to fish as much of the Kenai peninsula as possible. Looking forward to 2nd run Silvers and big Bows!

Any recommendations on sights to see, fly shops to visit, places to eat, rivers to fish (or avoid)?

I've been tying up a bunch of leeches and some other patterns. Still planning on doing some flesh flies and steak and eggs type patterns.






With about a month to go before I leave I've got some more packing, preparation and tying to do. Any tips or recommendations are appreciated.
 

Druunkonego

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Hey Monello! Your link doesn't seem to produce for me... I just get the "Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms" message (shrugs). But I scoped your profile and found a bunch of Alaska posts (Thanks!). My anticipation continues to grow.
 

Druunkonego

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I think I’ll have enough flies for my week in Alaska. If they produce is to be determined but my expectations are high. Currently at the airport. Wish me luck. ��
 

Druunkonego

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Thanks!
This was the fishing report I got from my cousin up there yesterday.
Couple bruisers. My 7wt my be a little under gunned but I’m excited for the challenge.
 

ia_trouter

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It's one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever fished. Most of the southern end of the state is a wreck. I suspect the Kenai is about as good as it gets without a bush plane with a full tank. :)

Take some pics!
 

Ard

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Your flies look great,

To the best of my knowledge the river level is good due to its source. You are on the end of sockeye but the silvers are showing up now. What area are you focused on as in Upper - Middle or Lower river?

Also be sure to check all available info regarding the Swan Lake Fire and smoke situations. Things were very touch and go just 6 days back.

Edited @ 9:30 AM.

Looks like they may be opening schools in the Cooper Landing area today. The area has been engulfed in smoke and particulate so heavily that it was unsafe to drive, or anything else. The weather has cooled with daytime highs in the 60's and there has been some light rain showers. The fire has slowed down but I don't have any direct contact with anyone working down there at this time therefore can't tell you what's open or what's not.

All other fishing venues other than Kenai & Kasilof Rivers are experiencing very low water conditions due to the many months with no measurable rainfall so your focus may be on those 2 rivers. The entire Matanuska Susitna Drainage is in a severe low water condition so going off the peninsula won't be helpful.

We have found low water and low abundance of fishes as far away as the Northwest side of the Inlet so flying out may not be an advantage at this time. Will you be hiring guided boats or fishing from shore?

I do not go to the Russian River but my feeling is that it will be quite low water conditions which results in many thousands of rocks being exposed and the fish spooky and stranded in the remaining channels. That won't stop the masses who will chase the silvers around unless the fishery would be closed. If shore fishing all bets are off unless you get a boat to taxi you around to uncrowded areas.

Your cousin at Soldotna should know the drill and I hope he can get you into some fish. I won't be coming that way until October.
 
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Druunkonego

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The footage of that fire along the highway last week was terrifying. We were having some real reservations about this trip after watching it. It’s good to hear this weekends weather helped.

We’ll be focused on the lower Kenai mostly as I believe much of the middle and upper are closed due to the swan lake fire. I’m not positive if all of the middle/upper is affected or not but I would like to check some of that out if possible.

I don’t know the specifics but I’m told we should be able to find “good” Dollies somewhere an hour-ish south of Soldotna. I know it’s probably early but it would be awesome to find a steelhead while we’re at it.

My goal is Silvers, Bows, Dollies, Grayling and Steelhead. In that order.

At Minneapolis/St. Paul now. Next stop Anchorage!!!
 

Ard

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I've never caught a Grayling down there, doesn't mean they don't exist but most are in lakes in the upper peninsula. If you are fishing Dollies and trout might as well crimp the barbs, I do it so I don't kill by accident. Best chance to swing up any big trout / steelhead trout may be below Tustumena Lake on Kasilof River, big water that one but some good fishes. Other usual haunts are too low to provide good sport for them.

For a good Grayling river you would need to drive way north toward where I live. That would be one heck of a good sight seeing trip if done in clear weather. I could direct you to one that is easy access if you PM to me. It would be a trip and you would have to camp there due to distance.

For silvers you can fish right there in Soldotna at the park, when they are running the river they come right close to shore there.
 

Druunkonego

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Thanks for the info guys!
So yesterday we found some silvers in a small creek south on the peninsula and my dad and cousin both landed one. I unfortunately lost two, one of which was a monster. However, I partially redeemed myself today on the Kenai in Soldotna with this fat Bow hen.

 

Druunkonego

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You’re right and I agree. It’s important to treat ‘em right. Regretfully I landed this one. I was not fishing for, nor expecting a rainbow to hit the leach patten I was fishing. I was by myself, without a net and with the river being high I didn’t have many options for what to do with it.
(Side story, for context) I had a bad experience earlier this year unhooking a stockie (back home) where it rolled with the hook in my hand and tore out a considerable chunk of mouth meat. The fish, which was quite lively prior, immediately stiffened up and was obviously shocked by the experience and, unfortunately, didn’t recover. :(
I will say that this fish, on the other hand, was returned promptly and swam off strong without needing any resuscitation.

So with that unfortunate business out of the way...

I love Alaska! I had an amazing time.
I fished the beautiful Kenai river.


I hiked up to a glacier.



I caught my first Salmon and Dolly Varden.



I saw a bull moose, northern lights (including red ones!!!) and I saw live music and camped out in Hope... Hope is a magical place and I must return there someday.

Sadly, my trip is now over and I currently sit at the airport waiting to return home. But I miss my wife, my son and my bed and all good things must come to an end. Until next time, Alaska.
 
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Ard

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I knew that what I said was like rain on a parade but I did it.... I see now that you had circumstances that led to the picture and I want you to know that I am not without my own bad memories. When I first moved here I thought this was an endless supply of big trout and I took my share of beached fish for sure. Once I started looking at the images I realized they didn't carry much of a positive message when it came to handling the fish and I changed things up.

It's too bad that things were so dry while you were here, under normal conditions I would have been full of suggestions for you regarding other destinations but my own travels told me that most small rivers and streams were very low water. My boat has been parked since August 9th due to the water being so low here in the valley. I'm happy to hear that you had a good time and got around to see some things, nothing beats a good light show huh :)
 

Druunkonego

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Ard, it’s clear you are passionate about fish/fly fishing and are a true ambassador for the sport. I take no issue in what you said and I share in your desire to ensure the future of it. :)

By all accounts it seems like it is a different sort of silver season up there. The blue water was high and the clear water was low.
I was thrilled to manage to land one and excited to hook up with several. I really wanted pull one out of the the big blue water but that ride only lasted a few seconds before the line went limp. I did manage a peek at its tail and it would have been a good fish. But putting hours in waste deep glacier water can really take it out of you.
I do regret not making up north for grayling but there’s always next time.

The light show was on the way north to soldotna after a day of steelheading (no luck with them). They weren’t spectacular, shimmering curtains of light but more like individual pillars of green, while off to the right, lower on the horizon, was this blob of red. They lasted about 10 mins max and then were gone but I enjoyed it.immensely.
 

Ard

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Basically anything being fed by glacial melt remained high all year since the ice went out. The freestone rivers and creeks supported by wetland drainage and rainfall have nearly dried up in my area. The silver fishing in the Kenai requires a boat so that you can access wade-able areas of the river. Trying to fish for them from road access is very difficult unless you are present when a good bunch is headed up river. They are way harder to predict than sockeye salmon because they come in much smaller numbers. Now that you've seen how large and swift running the river is you can imagine how many fish it takes to make things easy...
 
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