Plan Ahead when Fishing the Kenai River

We suggest you plan 1 year in advance for your Alaska fishing trip. I’m not kidding!!! The sooner you pick where you want to go and the lodge in which you want to stay, the more likely you will actually get the dates you want and the best deals on hotels, flights and car rentals. Even if you are not worried about deals, dates are the most important for the different salmon runs. As soon as the fishing begins, fishermen are making reservations at their favorite lodges and hotels for the next year. Believe me, we almost ended up without a place to stay one year and lucked out by calling every lodge in the Soldotna area.

Many people choose to go to the Kenai River to fish the Sockeye in July. We have been to this area 3 times and it’s a great fishing experience as long as you like crowds or are prepared to do a few flyouts for a more private fishing experience, approx. $350 pp. + tip for guides.

AIRLINE/CAR/ ANCHORAGE HOTEL:  We usually fly Alaska Airlines, but you have to find what airline works best for you. We fly in to Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage. We rent a car there at the airport and usually spend one night in Anchorage before heading to the Kenai. There are several hotels close to the airport. We often stay at the Comfort Inn Airport.

Note: The Kenai is about a 3-4 hr. drive, depending on traffic and construction. Don’t be in a rush and spend the evening in downtown Anchorage where they have several good places to eat, shop and get Fireweed ice cream.

KENAI LODGING: We stayed at the Alaska Serenity Lodge near Soldotna. The lodge is on Denise Lake. Note: there are no fish in Denise Lake. But, it is beautiful and we saw lots of wildlife including moose. There are many other lodges on the Kenai River you just have to do your research and decide how much you want to spend.


FISHING: If you want an amazing flyout trip to fish with bears, you should take a trip with Talon Air. They fly you to the Wolverine Creek or Kustatan River and drop you off with your guide to fish and view the bears. We were very close to the bears and  got some amazing photos.


FISHING GEAR: Obviously you are there to catch salmon! So, let us steer you in the right direction for successful Salmon catching. There is nothing more frustrating then losing a fish because you don’t have the right gear. “It’s all fun and games until someone loses a fish.” 


Fly Rod and Reel:  8 wt. rod  and a quality fly reel that has a good drag. You will be spending at least a couple hundred on a good rod/reel or you may run into broken equipment. Salmon expose cheap and bad equipment very quickly.

and/or Spinning Rod/Reel: Medium to heavy weight rod and reel, capable of handling 30 lb. line. Once again, the drag is very important. 

Fishing Line: 30 lb. DO NOT go lighter then 30 lbs. My brother-in-law tried 15 and his line broke every time. Plus, you have to be able to control your fish due to the people around you and the fast water.

Weights: Size 2 or 3 split shot Note: Split shots go ~24″ above hook. You may need to adjust weight according to water depth and swiftness. You want to feel them bouncing on the bottom. 

Hooks: Octopus size 2

Fishing Yarn for hook. 

You will need waders, wader boots (rubber bottoms), net, pliers and fish bat. These fish are big and feisty so you will want to make sure you have a fish bat to knock them on the head to be able put on your stringer. *Remember to pull a gill on each side to bleed the fish. Otherwise, you will have blood in the flesh of the fish.

I know what you are asking…how do I get a net to Alaska? You can either buy a net when you get there or purchase a foldable net from Amazon. We have been using the folding net for several years with no problems.

In the Kenai you will be standing in glacier water for several hours a day. You will want to wear warm socks (Smartwool or Alpaca), warm pants and take a jacket and quality rain jacket.  Also, be sure and take a mosquito net and/or 100 DEET repellant and sunscreen. 


There are several public and private places to fish the Kenai River including the Soldotna Creek Park, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and Fishing Area, Donald E. Gillman Kenai River Center and Ciechaski Day Use Area. 

You may want to buy a bucket and trash bags to put your fish in to store in the car on your way to the fish processor. 

FISH PROCESSING: You can take your fish in to any of the processors to be filleted and packaged to take home. It is expensive to ship fish home, so you may want to have them box it up to take on the plane with ice packs. 

Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions about fishing the Kenai or getting to the Kenai.

Remember to check regulations when you arrive or quantity of fish you are allowed to keep. You must hook the salmon in the head, forward of the gills, for the salmon to be legal to keep. Note: You can get your fishing license online. 








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