Lower Kenai River
Great stretches of the Kenai River are open to the public for bank fishing, but sometimes the only way to tempt the uncooperative fish is to get out in the middle of the river with them.
Between the outlet of Skilak Lake and the mouth of the Kenai River there are a number of boat launches available for public use. During the busy season, the parking lots of these launches can easily fill, so be prepared to arrive early or put some patience in your thermos as you may have to wait for a space to become available.
Additionally, launches often require a fee for use. Make sure to pay all dues and correctly display parking information before leaving shore; otherwise a trip could end up costing a good deal more than anticipated.
Here’s a list of launches and the approximate river mile of each launch to aid in determining which lauch is best to use given the time of year and species you’re after.
Bing Brown’s Landing, RM 39.5
Izaak Walton Campground RM 36.4
Swiftwater Park, RM 23
Centennial Park, RM 20.4
Poachers Cove, RM 17.1
Stewarts, RM 14
The Pillars Boat Launch, RM 12.5
Eagle Rock, Kenai, RM 11.5
Cunningham Park, Kenai, RM 6.6
Kenai Landing Boat Launch, RM 3
City of Kenai Launch, RM 2
Access to bank fishing along the Kenai River can challenging due to the large portions of the banks that are closed to fishing in an at tempt to lesson angler impact on riparian habitat. As a result, some fishing spots that are easily accessible from the bank can be over-crowded. Private properties line the river as well, so anglers should be sure to watch for post ed “No Fishing” and “Closed to Fishing” signs. Anglers should check the Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations before throwing out that first line to ensure all of the rules are known and being followed. Don’t ruin a great Alaskan vacation with fines because the wrong fly or hook was used. Listed below are some of the public access points on the Kenai River.
Bing Brown’s Landing, Campground, Day Use Picnic Area, Boat Launch, RM 39.5
Izzak Walton Campground, Campground, Day Use Picnic Area, Boat Launch, RM 36.4
Morgan’s Landing, Campground, Day Use Picnic Area, Boardwalks, RM 31
Funny River Campground, Campground, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 30
Swiftwater Park and Campground, Campground, Day Use Picnic Area, Boat Launch, Boardwalk
Access, RM 23
Soldotna Airport, Stair Access, RM 23
Soldotna Creek Park, Day Use picnic Area, Boardwalk Access, RM 22
Soldotna Visitor Center, Boardwalk, RM 21
Centenial Park Campground, Campground, Day Use Picnic Area, Boat Launch, RM 20.4
Slikok Creek, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 19
Pipeline, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 16.5
Ciechanski, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 15.5
Cunningham Park, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 6.6
Kenai Flats State Recreation Site, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 5
The Upper Kenai River
Any serious discussion of fishing on the Kenai Peninsula must include Cooper Landing and the Russian River. The photo above depicts what locals refer to as “combat fishing”, due to the close proximity of one angler to another as they stand in the river battling for the salmon. If brave enough to enter the “combat zone” during June through July, be sure to be properly protected. Shatterproof eye protection and a hat are recommended to keep out-of-control flies and sinkers from injuring anglers, but long-sleeved shirts aren’t a bad idea either. Bears annually can be drawn to the filleted fish carcasses left behind, so anglers should remember to cut their carcasses into small pieces and throw the pieces into the fast flowing water. Never leave whole carcasses lying in the shallow, slow-moving water near shore. The piscatorial pinnacle of this stretch of river is located along the Sterling Hwy between road mile markers 53 and 55 just south of the town of Cooper Landing. The U.S. Forest Service operates a ferry to shuttle anglers across the river at Milepost 55. The public access points along this stretch of the river are listed below:
Cooper Landing, Boat Launch, RM 82
Russian River Campground, Campground, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 75
Russian River Ferry/Sportsman Landing, Foot-Traffic Ferry, Boat Launch, Day-Use picnic Area, RM 73
Sterling Hwy Milepost 57 Pullout, RM 71
Jim’s Landing, Boat Launch, Day Use Picnic Area, RM 6