Lakes: Fishing far from the crowds

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Looking for a place to fish without having someone's elbow in your ribs?

You won't find seclusion on a road-accessible salmon stream, but you can certainly find it on Kenai Peninsula lakes.

Our local lakes have been called "the peninsula's best-kept secret" and its "least-used resource." The reason for this is that all the focus in summer is on salmon and halibut. Most "locals" don't fish the lakes until winter, when they're frozen over.

Peninsula lakes are of all descriptions, from remote-alpine to urban-lowland. They contain several species rainbow trout, lake trout, Dolly Varden, arctic char, arctic grayling, northern pike and landlocked silver salmon.

Some fish are stocked by the state; others are wild.

Some lakes you can fish from shore. For others you'll need a canoe or boat. Most lakes are within hiking distance of a road, within float-tube range.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge contains many lowland lakes, including the Swan Lake Canoe Trails and Swanson River Canoe Trails. Nearly all of the lakes on these trails contain one or more fish species.

The Chugach National Forest also has its share of lakes to explore. Some of these are alpine gems, perfect for fly fishing.

If you go, be sure everyone wears an adequate "PFD," or life jacket. Even in summer, our lakes are so cold that, if you fall in, within minutes you will be too cold to move.

Maps and information about refuge and national forest lakes are available at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge headquarters on Ski Hill Road, just outside Soldotna.

If you plan to canoe the refuge canoe trails, a copy of "The Kenai Canoe Trails" would be invaluable.

Another good place to get information on lakes is the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. The agency stocks 28 peninsula lakes, all of which are accessible by road.

Be sure to pick up a free copy of "Kenai Peninsula Stocked Lakes." This brochure tells what fish are in each lake. It also contains maps that show public access locations.

Several local businesses rent canoes and other equipment. Local tackle shops are a good place to ask which fish are biting where and to purchase needed gear.

Don't forget the fly-in option. Local air charter operators can put you on some truly secluded lakes, only minutes from the hubbub of civilization.

If you're looking for your own little part of the "real Alaska," chances are good you'll find it on a lake.

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