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Kasilof

Posted: January 1, 2012 - 1:00am  |  Updated: January 9, 2014 - 2:23pm
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Kasilof, a town of roughly 500 people, is a hub of outdoor activity regardless of the season. In summer, people from near and far launch drift boats and line the banks of the Kasilof River in the hopes of catching one of several species of salmon that return annually.

From mighty chinooks that start to arrive in late May and early June, to sockeye in July that can return in excess of a million fish, to the aerial acrobatics of silvers in August -- the Kasilof River offers anglers a lot of piscatorial possibilities.

Common sport fishing access points include the Kasilof River State Recreation Area, and the Crooked Creek State Recreation Area.

The natural salmon run also is an important element in the area's longstanding commercial fishing industry. While driving from Kenai, along Kalifornsky Beach Road, notice the fluorescent orange buoys floating just off shore in Cook Inlet, which mark fishing locations where salmon are harvested.

Kasilof beach, located at the end of North Cohoe Loop Road, offers an even better glimpse into the commercial fishing industry, as shoreline "set-netters" can be seen pulling up their nets and "picking" out the fish before they are iced and shipped to restaurants and dinner tables all over the United States.

Salmon aren't the only fish in town. For anglers that like wetting a hook on quieter water, several local lakes offer exceptional trout fishing. Most popular among these are Tustumena Lake, the peninsula's largest lake, and Johnson Lake in the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area, which is annually stocked with roughly 5,000 rainbow trout, courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Johnson Lake also offers some superb canoeing opportunities and has numerous campsites and picnic locations along the shore. Wildlife viewing is good around Kasilof, and ducks, loons, moose and bears are quite common, and lynx, while rare, are also occasionally spotted by those with keen eyes.

In winter the outdoor activities of Kasilof don't slow down. The area is a dog mushing Mecca, and several professional mushers use the dwindling system of local trails to train their teams, including Dean Osmar, the 1984 Iditarod champion, and his son Tim Osmar, the 2001 champ of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest, which runs from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

Kasilof is also home to the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race and a jumping off point for snowmachiners heading into the lower Kenai Peninsula trails region, known as the Caribou Hills.

For history buffs, the Kasilof Regional Historical Association's McLane Center Museum is a must-see. It offers a glimpse into the past with numerous Native and homesteader artifacts and several restored cabins of trappers and fox farmers outside on the museum grounds.

Must-see in Kasilof

A closer look at the commercial fishing dynamic of the area can be found at the beach access located at the end of North Cohoe Loop. During seasonal openings, you can see both the set net and drift fleets in action as they harvest wild Alaska salmon from the waters of Cook Inlet.

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