26 Jan Fishing on your own
There are many fishing opportunities on the Kenai Peninsula that do not require the use of a guide. New visitors to the peninsula will have a difficult time catching fish without some guidance, so this page will give you some options to explore new territory and hopefully catch some fish. Many of these locations are accessible by road or within walking distance from a road.
If you do plan to venture out on your own, there are several things to consider. The first of these is safety: Always fish with a friend or several friends. Some locations may have difficult and dangerous terrain, bears, moose or other hazards.
Another thing to consider are the mosquitoes and other biting insects such as “white socks” and “noseeums”. Remote locations are often plagued with these pests. Take appropriate precautions such as packing a head net and bug dope.
Before venturing out to a remote location, let someone know where you are going so that if anything unexpected occurs, someone will know where to look for you. Also, carry a map, compass and/or GPS if you plan to venture off the beaten path.
When fishing in a crowded location, wear some type of glasses to protect your eyes from flying hooks, weights, etc…
Finally, read the current Fish and Game Regulations for the area you intend to fish, abide by the law, and keep your fishing license in your possession at all times when fishing.
Some of the more productive fishing locations are very popular and may be crowded from time to time. Generally these are the locations with easy road access. Other locations are more remote and may require a short walk or a longer hike. Fish can be caught at any of these locations; however timing may be a significant factor with anadromous species like salmon and steelhead.
Kenai River: There are many access points for the public to fish the Kenai River from the bank. During July and August, bank fly fishing for sockeye salmon can be excellent. Look for the crowds and you will find fish. From late July through October silver salmon can be caught from the bank using a large spinner like a Mepps or Blue Fox Vibrax. Try Morgan’s Landing off the Sterling Highway from July through September for some excellent trout and silver salmon fishing. Swiftwater Park near Soldotna is good for sockeye during July and August and has excellent road access. Cunningham Park is also a popular spot for sockeye, pinks and silvers. A map in an invaluable tool for locating public access points along the Kenai River.
Russian River: A tributary to the Kenai, the Russian River has two runs of sockeye salmon, the first arriving in June and the second run arriving in July. Bears are prevalent here, but generally not a problem. The Russian can get very crowded when the sockeye are running. It may be worth your while to hike up the river a mile or two to get away from the crowds. Catch and release trout fishing is also good in this river and in the fall months, silver salmon and be found in the Russian Rivers gin clear waters.
Homer Spit: There is a saltwater pond on the Homer spit that is stocked with king and silver salmon. This is a terminal fishery, meaning that the intent of stocking is for people to harvest as many of the fish as possible. At certain times during the year, this fishery is open to snagging for a short period to maximize the harvest. Fish enter the pond at high tide, and then move back into the ocean as the tide recedes. This spot is very easy to access, has adequate parking, and is close to restaurants and other tourist attractions. Needless to say, it can get crowded here when the fish are present. Observe the locals for successful fishing techniques.
Lowell Creek: Located in Seward, Lowell Creek is also a terminal fishery and can get crowded at times. However, there is easy road access. Parking may be a challenge. King salmon can be caught here from mid June through July, with the peak of the run occurring in early July. Silver salmon can be caught from mid July through August. Fish the incoming tide.
Spring Creek: Only 5 miles outside of Seward is Spring Creek. Fishing is not allowed in the creek, but fishing the beach at high tide can be very productive. From mid July through October a variety of fish can be caught here. Chum salmon are commonly caught in addition to silver salmon, sockeye, flounder and dolly varden. The salmon here can reach up to 25 pounds and it can be a challenge landing them on the beach. Be sure to have a net handy and a partner to help. A large spinner is an excellent way to fish this beach.
Swanson River: Closer to Sterling/Soldotna is the Swanson River. The river is accessed on Swanson River Road, north of the Sterling Highway near Sterling. The river is about a 25 mile drive from the highway. This river has very good fishing for trout during the summer. When fall arrives, silver salmon flood the river system. This is a very good place to catch some pan sized trout, however there are some larger trout in the river as well. Be careful of the mud here, as it is Alaska’s version of quicksand. The limit on trout here is 5 per person per day, with only 1 fish allowed over 22 inches, so carry a measuring device and check the regulations before fishing. There are many lakes along the Swanson River Road that have been stocked with trout and silver salmon or dolly varden. Most of these lakes are best fished from a boat or some type of float tube.
Roque Lake: This little pond is stocked by Fish and Game on a periodic basis. It is located off the Sterling Highway 10 miles south of Soldotna and is next to the Decanter Inn. Salmon roe is a good bait at this location for pan sized trout, some up to 17 inches. Use a size 6 or 8 salmon egg hook and a split shot to fish the bottom. If you don’t catch fish, you can always walk up to the Decanter Inn for a bite to eat and something to drink. Say hi to Glenn.
Johnson Lake: Also stocked with trout by Fish and Game, this spot can put a few pan sized trout in your dinner skillet. Access is east off the Sterling Highway in Kasilof. Use a map for explicit directions. Use salmon roe or salmon eggs for bait here with a split shot and size 6 salmon egg hook.
Nest Lake: Before Swanson River Road meets the Swanson River, there is an eastward turn that parallels the river. 8 miles up this road on the left side is the small parking lot for Nest Lake. You will need to hike about half a mile to reach the lake. This is a beautiful spot, pristine and remote with eagles, loons and trout up to several pounds. Fish this lake with salmon roe or a small spinner from the bank. The limit is 5 and the trout average about 14 inches. Use insect repellant here.
Crescent Lake: The trailhead for Crescent Lake is located south of the Sterling Highway near mile ??. The hike is about 12 miles each way, but the grayling fishing is excellent from the bank and the hike is very scenic, passing other small fishless lakes along the way.
Deep Creek: This is a small coastal stream with an excellent run of steelhead in the fall. Located between Homer and Soldotna, this creek has easy road access and is easily wadable. As a bonus, silver salmon also enter this river during the fall. Steelhead must be released, however silver salmon may be retained.
Anchor River: A popular spot for locals and visitors alike for king salmon fishing during the summer from mid June through July. Be sure to check the regulations before fishing here. This little river has an excellent run of king salmon, much larger than previously thought. As a result, in 2008 the fishery will be opened on Wednesdays to anglers, in addition to the normal weekend openings. A large spinner with a single siwash hook should work well on this river.
Clam Gulch: Don’t limit your fishing opportunities to fin fish. Consider digging some clams at Clam Gulch during low tides. The tide must be a minus tide to be successful, so make sure to check the tide tables before venturing out. You will need rubber boots or waders, a shovel and bucket. Look for dimples in the sand and dig next to the dimple so you don’t crack the shell of the clam. Then put your hand in the hole and feel around for the clam. Pinch it and pull it out of the hole and place it in your bucket. It’s fairly easy to limit on clams within one hour.
Jackaloff Bay: This little spot is accessed via taxi boat from Homer. Plan to arrive at the outgoing negative tide. Once you land at Jackaloff Bay, dig in the rocks for steamer clams along the shoreline. A digging tool is very helpful as the beach terrain at low tide is very rocky. It’s very easy to harvest half a bucket of clams here during a low tide cycle. And, steamer clams are excellent table fare. The limits are very liberal.