Where we fish on the Kenai River

Where we fish on the Kenai River

Where on the Kenai River is Mark Glassmaker Fishing?

The answer is everywhere.

For those of you who have not visited the Kenai River, there are several different areas of the river that offer various opportunities at different times of the summer . This means depending on what’s happening with any particular run at any particular time, we can be on nearly any portion of the main Kenai’s 50 miles of water. Typically in early May we’ll be (along with everyone else) in one or two holes just upstream from Eagle Rock on the lower Kenai. Low water conditions prohibit our power boats from leaving a select section of the lower river until both rains and glacier melt raise the river enough to clear some pretty skinny gravel bars and prop-eating rock piles. By late May we have begun pushing further up the river concentrating mainly on the holes just below the Soldotna Bridge. Here lies another unpassable stretch until higher water leads the way. By early June we will be running up to Swiftwater where we will ride out the peak and duration of the early run. Fast water (hence the name Swiftwater) and big pronounced boulder fields tend to keep less experienced boaters away from these parts. Large rocks, islands and gravel bars all provide excellent holding water for passing Chinook and that means FISH ON!

In mid-June, we will leave the peak of the king run temporarily, for the first days of trout season. We trade the heavy current of Swiftwater for the slow, tranquil flows below Skilak Lake. This is a tradition for us and these days will rival the finest trophy rainbow angling anywhere in the world, easy. Usually the closest floating objects are loons or trumpeter swans and there are no roads or houses, just trout. In early July our focus is on the first returns of late-run king salmon. Fishing on the middle and lower sections of the river improves daily and by mid-July the run is nearing its peak. From this point of July on we will stop back-trolling the middle river and begin drifting with the tides down low. This is when we see several thousand king salmon on nearly every tide and complete fishing chaos ensues. It really does get crazy and this is what the Kenai is famous for: BIG, BIG Kings and lots of them.

Since the Kenai is closed to guided fishing Sundays and Mondays in July, we leave the front lines for the slightly less chaotic pursuit of sockeye salmon from upriver gravel bars. We migrate yearly to the same “magic” spots where the fish seem to pass by in the heaviest and most consistent numbers. Our line of bank anglers all swing in unison like a finely tuned machine as flurries of fish rattle through the lines. There’s one, there’s two, there’s three on at once and the stringer continues to grow!

As King season ends with July’s last day, we have reached a point of transition. If returning numbers of silvers warrant our pursuit we will remain in the lower river and offer freshly cured salmon roe to them around the high tide. If the timing is right we’ll be done almost too fast and we’re headed home. If the Cohos have not yet arrived, we’ll head back upriver for the sockeye and the sure thing.

Eventually the bulk of the silvers will arrive and we will leave the sockeye for good. Almost immediately we will focus our angling efforts on the perfect spinner waters below Skilak Lake. Gathering in the slow moving pools, big groups of ocean bright fish await the passing flash of a tumbling spinner. The best action is always before noon and then it’s time for an effortless afternoon of trout fishing. We will play out this idyllic routine well through September as a later, larger run of silver salmon enters the river. By early October we are resigned to a few trout trips and some steelhead fishing on the Anchor . It will be May before the boat floats again and the whole cycle begins a new. Now you’ll know exactly where we’ll be and hopefully, you can join us.