The Kenai River in South-central Alaska has long been the crown jewel of Alaska salmon and trout fishing. Easily accessible via a very scenic three hour drive south from Anchorage, the Kenai River flows from the Kenai Mountain Range via Kenai and Skilak Lakes. Along its one hundred plus mile journey to the salt water at Cook Inlet, the Kenai traverses some incredible landscapes and supports one of the most prolific sport fisheries in North America. Home to king, sockeye, silver and pink salmon along with native rainbow trout, dolly varden char, and steelhead, the Kenai really has it all.
Deciding when to visit really depends on what you want to catch. All of the salmon species return at different times during the summer so when planning a fishing trip it is helpful to study the run timing and if possible plan your trip around peak dates for the species you wish to target.
The Kenai Peninsula receives four of the five pacific salmon species including kings, sockeye, silvers, and pinks. From May through October there is always a worthwhile fishing adventure to pursue.
For many Alaska visitors, fishing may not be the number one priority. Perhaps you are touring several different areas of the state and are only here for one day. Or maybe you are here with family and not everyone wants to spend 24/7 on the water. If just one or two days of fishing is all you are looking for, the Kenai Peninsula makes the perfect destination. It is both economical and diverse offering a wide variety of angling experiences throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Beginning in May and spanning well into October and even November, there is always something exciting to pursue. From the Kenai to the Kasilof Rivers, to float plane destinations on the west side of Cook Inlet, to salt water adventures from Homer, Seward and Ninilchik, we are literally surrounded by angling opportunities.
To make it easy for you to see what the best fishing options are during different months of the season we have them all listed for you right here!
The Kenai River is the longest river on the Kenai Peninsula. It originates from Kenai Lake in the Kenai Mountain Range near Cooper Landing.
From the town of Soldotna to tide water is known as the “Lower Kenai”, and this section sees the highest volume of boats angling for kings in May, June and July as well as silver salmon in August and September.
The 20 miles below Skilak Lake to the city of Soldotna is referred to as the “Middle Kenai River”. The middle is very popular for rainbow trout and dolly varden but is also very good, at times, for kings, sockeye, silvers and pinks.
From Cooper Landing, the river narrows and flows nearly 20 miles before emptying into Skilak Lake. This section of the river is popularly known as the “Upper Kenai” and is primarily fished with drift boats, targeting rainbow trout and dolly varden.