Fishing Information

Kenai River Species & Season


Notes on Species & Season

Opening day for fishing on the Upper Kenai River is June 11th each year.

King Salmon are what made the Kenai famous. However, you need to be aware of the current condition of Chinook stocks both statewide and on the Kenai. Kenai River king salmon and other king salmon stocks throughout Cook Inlet are experiencing a period of low productivity and, since 2008, below average run strength. That trend is anticipated to continue during the 2018 season. In the spirit of good stewardship and of conservation of this resource, we no longer guide for or recommend fishing for king salmon.

Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden are managed as catch-and-release fisheries on the Upper Kenai. While it is legal to harvest one of each species per person per day under 16", we encourage catch-and-release only.

The first run of Sockeye Salmon comes up the mainstem Kenai and makes a break for the Russian River in mid-June. Where we guide, on the "Upper Upper", is upstream of this area and we cannot target the Russian River run. This run can be fished downstream of the Russian River on the Kenai in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. This is an extremely restricted area for commercial operations, but give us a call and we'd be happy to let you know the best guides to fish with for that area.

Coho Salmon don't get upstream to the Upper Kenai for any good fishing until late August at the earliest, into September, with the best fishing in October. If you would like to fish for Silvers in August, please give us a call and we can recommend some guides on the Lower Kenai that can help you out.

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Recommended Gear

We provide all the gear you need to fish with us on our guided fishing trips. For folks who would like to do some fishing on their own, below is a guide of some recommended gear.


Fly Rods: 5-8wt, 5wt is good for small stream trout fishing and dry-flying on the Kenai, for salmon 8wt. We typically fish 10' 6 & 7wt for trout out of the boat and 8wt for salmon. If you could only bring one rod for salmon and trout, an 8wt would do the job.
Spinning rods: We find 6-12lb with medium-light action to be a versatile setup.
Rods we use: St. Croix, Sage, G. Loomis


Any reel with good disc drag that is balanced well for your rod works nicely. We prefer large arbor reels from Ross.


Either pant or chest style waders work best. We prefer chest waders since it rains so much. Felt soled wading boots are banned in AK, but also make sure to avoid studded boots for float fishing since they can damage the boat. We like the foot tractor wading boot by Patagonia as they provide great traction but the metal bars are not as damaging to the boat as spikes/cleats.


For fly lines, floating, weight forward fly line one to two wieghts more than your rod is best (nymphing lines). For spinning lines, we prefer mono for the stretch and use Maxima.


We prefer mono for the stretch for spinning & fly, 12 lb to 6lb-8lb.


Spring Patterns for Trout: Spring water is still cool and rising so usually flesh flies work well, white/gray/brown sizes 4-10.

Early Summer Patterns for Trout: Leeches (egg sucking/standard) in black & purple, sizes 4-10.

Late Summer Patterns for trout: Late summer sunshine will bring some bugs, just depends on the day, top water or bottom- bead head prince nymph size 12-14, coachman, humpy, parachute adams, size 12-16.

Fall Patterns for trout: Beads or glow bugs, any pattern that looks like fresh roe with a few washed out pale ones thrown in as well, size 8mm-10mm.

Patterns for Salmon: Sockeye don't bite, so any bucktail style "Russian River Fly" in any color will work. Bright colors help you to see your fly in shallow waters for sight fishing. Silvers- streamers in pink, purple, or chartreuse, the bigger the better.


You will want some warm, light layers for under your waders that can keep you warm when wet and you can shed throughout the day as needed. We prefer Patagonia's capilene base layers, a second fleece layer, and then if fall and colder either wool on top or micro-puff. Top this off with your waders and good rain gear. For rain gear, we recommend STORMR and Grunden's. It is also helpful to have a packable light shell as well.