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An Insight to Salmon Fishing On The Kenai River

With eighty percent of wild salmon species originating from here, Alaska harvests more than twenty-nine million fish yearly. The ninth-largest seafood producing region globally, the icy cold waters of Alaska produce what many consider to be the best salmon in this world. It is a haven for anglers looking to fish for salmon. While angling opportunities are plenty throughout Alaska, the South Central region is probably the best place to go fishing.

The best time for anglers to catch salmon in Alaska is from May to October; incidentally, the time when the state witnesses the best weather conditions. The exact time will depend on what you wish to catch. Anglers with experience in fishing salmon in Alaska plan their trip according to the type of salmon that they wish to catch. The best time for king salmon or Chinook salmon as it is also known is from late May to early June. June to late July is perfect for sockeye salmon. Those interested in the pink, red or chum salmon should visit Alaska from mid-July to mid-August. Angling for silver salmon, also known as the Coho salmon is best from July to October.

The Kenai River

Originating in the Kenai lake, fed by the glaciers of the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai River flows westward through Skilak lake and enters the Gulf of Alaska at the Cook Inlet. Located close to Anchorage, the river is a very popular destination for anglers, visitors and locals. With highly professional outfits like EZ Limit Guide Service who offer tailor-made custom fishing itinerary, the Kenai River is an anglers dream come true.  Eighty-two miles of fishing paradise, the Kenai River teems with natural wilderness and fish. The best time for fishing here is determined by the period when the salmon returns from the ocean to the river to spawn.

Best Time to Fish the Kenai River

Offering king, silver, pink and red salmon from May to October, the Kenai River boasts of salmon weighing up to ninety-eight pounds that have been caught here. The average for the early runs through June is around 16,000 fish. Late runs which begin in July have a peak of 41,000 fish in mid-July. From late May through August, the Kenai River boasts of a million sockeye salmon. Late July to mid-August finds millions of pink salmon clogging the river for three weeks.

Salmon Fishing Methods

Three fishing methods are used for salmon fishing. The method used depends on the conditions prevailing at that time. These methods are fly fishing, plunking and trolling. Each type has its enthusiasts and techniques. 

Fly Fishing

Standing on the shore or in the shallows, fly fishing is best during the spring season. Use a chartreuse streamer fly for drift fishing, casting the fly upstream and pointing the tip of the rod at the fly as it flows past you. Anglers prefer to let the fly drift in slow-moving water as the salmon like to hunt in eddies created by rocks and boulders.


This technique is best used during high water in the river. Using a clinch knot, tie a three-way swivel to the mainline end. The remaining swivels should have a three-foot leader tied to them. Attach the end of one leader with an ounce of sinker weight. The other leader has the hook with the bait or wet fly. Standing on the shore, find the desired spot and cast the rig, allowing the sinker to touch bottom. Anglers use this technique during spawning runs for the best results.


To increase the area of coverage, anglers go trolling along the bays and deeper stretches in a boat. This gives the angler a chance to hook into a school of salmon. Anglers use either a whole or cut herring with an ounce of sinker weight and lower the line from the stern of the boat. Moving between two to four knots, the boat trolls the line at the proper depth – neither too high nor along the bottom.

The Bottom Line

The early summer months is a good fishing time for different types of fish like halibut, trout and also salmon. Early fall is another good season for those looking to catch silver salmon. Anglers with previous experience generally plan their visit according to the species that they want to catch. However, those visiting Alaska for angling from May to September can be assured of going back with several boxes of fillets of the best Alaskan salmon.

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