28 Apr Kasilof River Fishing
The Kasilof River is located just south of the Kenai River by 11 miles and is slightly smaller in size. It begins at Tustamena Lake, the largest Lake on the Kenai Peninsula and flows northwest for 17 miles before dumping into Cook Inlet. The Kasilof is considerably more glacial or turbid than the Kenai as it does not have two lakes in its system to help filter the suspended glacial silt. Tustamena Lake has several large glaciers that feed directly into the lake. The river supports king salmon, sockeye salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon and steelhead trout as well as dolly varden and resident rainbow trout.
Fishing the Kasilof is much different from fishing the Kenai, largely because it is a drift-only river and motors are not allowed. Fished from a drift boat, the Kasilof offers a very relaxed and peaceful experience. We fish two sections of the Kasilof River: one drift from Tustamena Lake to the Sterling Highway and another from the Sterling Highway to tide-water. The Sterling highway to tidewater drift is by far the most popular as this is the section that offers the most productive water for king salmon. The Kasilof has two distinct runs of kings: an early run in May and June and late run that arrives throughout July and early August. The early run consists of both hatchery and naturally produced king salmon and they are mainly returning to a tributary named Crooked Creek located just ten miles upriver from Cook Inlet.
Unlike the Kenai, the use of bait is allowed on the Kasilof beginning May 16. Also unlike the Kenai, anglers are allowed to keep fishing after retaining a king salmon, making this a very attractive fishery for someone looking for a shot at multiple kings. The fish in the early run average 15-25 lbs. The late run consists almost entirely of wild main-stem Kasilof Kings and the average size of the fish increases to 25-40 lbs. with fish over fifty pounds not uncommon.
The Kasilof also has a good run of sockeye salmon, though not quite as large as the late run of Kenai sockeye. The Kasilof sockeye are slightly smaller on average than their Kenai cousins and the peak of their return typically occurs in late June and early July. For sockeye salmon, we enjoy floating the upper section of the Kasilof from Tustamena Lake to the Sterling highway bridge. The float offers several ideal gravel bars for sockeye fishing and it is also very scenic. The float begins in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and includes some moderate rapids and white water.
Silver salmon fishing on the Kasilof is also very good in the fall. The run peak in the second and third week of August and fishing consists of bouncing bait in pocket water and back channels. This is a hands on, exciting way to fish for silver salmon.
The Kasilof also has a large run of fall steelhead that begin arriving in late August and enter well in to late October and November. This is an entirely catch and release fishery but it can hold some amazing double digit days for chrome bright sea-lice steelies!
Alaska Fishing with Mark Glassmaker has been fishing on the Kasilof for the past 28 seasons and just like on the Kenai, our guides offer 100% effort all day. Myself and the guides that work for us are veterans of the river and we know how to catch fish. Our boats are new, clean and offer the most state of art fishing equipment. We take great pride in our Kasilof Fishing and we look forward to having you aboard.
For rates and additional information on fishing the Kasilof River, please see: