Photo by M. Scott Moon
The trouble with Kenai Peninsula fishing is too many choices. The choices start in March with “feeder” king salmon. These fish aren’t on their spawning runs; they’re just looking for a meal. This is a year-round fishery, but the weather is best between March and September. Most of the fishing is out of Homer or Seward, your choice.
Kings bound for spawning streams arrive in marine waters in early May, and are available in the salt through July. The earliest are taken in the Ninilchik and Anchor Point areas, take your pick.
The next fishing that requires a decision comes in mid-May, when the kings enter peninsula streams. The choice is between the Kenai, Kasilof and Anchor rivers and Deep Creek. At the same time, kings are still being caught in saltwater, and the halibut fishing is improving every day.
In mid-June, sockeye salmon, or “reds,” arrive at the Russian River. The fishing is road-accessible, and it can be smoking hot, so expect company. Fortunately, there’s enough daylight to fish day and night.
Adding to the frenzy, in early July, the Kenai River becomes one of Alaska’s most popular king salmon fisheries. Downstream from Soldotna in the peak of the run, the river can resemble the English Channel on D-Day.
Just when you think you can’t stand any more choices, in mid-July the “late-run” reds surge into the Kenai River by the tens of thousands. They’re caught by dipnetters in Kenai, and by anglers fishing from shore along the river upstream.
At the same time, saltwater fishing reaches its zenith. Few charterboats bring back less than a two-fish limit of halibut for every angler aboard. Silver salmon headed for their natal streams are hungry and abundant. Some catches resemble a smorgasbord, with lingcod and rockfish adding to the variety.
Pink and silver salmon start showing up in the Kenai in late July. In years ending with an even number this year is one pink returns can be astounding.
August offers no respite for the weary fisherman. Red fishing in the Kenai continues well into the month.
Saltwater fishing remains excellent. Silvers start entering lower-peninsula streams in early August, and steelhead follow a week or two later.
Silver fishing in Resurrection Bay, out of Seward, can be unbelievably good. As the reds in the upper Kenai River start spawning, rainbow trout fishing gets better and better.
The pinks peter out in late August, but Kenai River silvers are available through October.
Fishing for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden or landlocked silver salmon in the peninsula’s many lakes improves just before freeze-up. And the Anchor River provides fair steelhead and Dolly Varden fishing until floating ice forces anglers from the water.
By November, even ardent anglers need a break. It’s not so much that they’re tired of fishing, they’re just tired of making decisions.
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