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Top Fishing Charters in Cooper Landing

Fishing in Cooper Landing

A Cooper Landing fishing experience is nothing short of incredible. Known as the gem of the Kenai Peninsula, these emerald waters have a lot to offer anglers. Cooper Landing is located at Kenai Lake, where the famous Kenai River begins. It may be small, with just 300 people living there, but the options for world-class fishing are huge. In the fall, the number of anglers triples here, with over 1,000 coming to fish these waters during the area’s annual Salmon run.

Cooper Landing Fishing Spots

If you’re fishing in Cooper Landing, chances are you’ve come for the Salmon run along the Kenai River. When this gets too crowded, remember, you’ve also got the Russian River very close. The Salmon run is from late summer into the fall. Yet the action doesn’t stop during the winter – this is the perfect time to go ice fishing at one of the many local lakes, such as Juneau Lake, Watson Lake, or Skilak Lake.

In the Kenai Peninsula, you’ll find four of the top Salmon species – Sockeye, Humpback, Coho, and Chinook (also called Red, Pink, Silver, and King respectively.) Although delicious, to maintain the high quality of fishing opportunities here, catch and release is highly recommended.

Upper Kenai River

Kenai River is the reason this area is on the map. Near Cooper Landing, you have Kenai Lake and the Upper Kenai River. These waters are home to Sockeye Salmon, Dolly Varden, Rainbow Trout, and Coho Salmon. The Kenai River is more shallow and swift than the lower sections, making it perfect for drift fishing. A lot of anglers ride out to the hot spots then jump in and wade fish. During the Salmon run, be careful you don’t get knocked down by this powerful, single-minded fish!

Russian River

This beautiful water is well worth visiting even if you choose not to fish – although, with the best population of Dolly Varden around, that’s unlikely! You’ll also fish Rainbow Trout and Sockeye here – from the shoreline, these can even be seen jumping out of the water, so have your camera ready. This is one of the main rivers that Sockeye spawn in, so there are regulations and seasons for fishing here. Your Cooper Landing fishing guide will let you know when the waters can be accessed, and how many fish you can take home.

Fishing Tips

  • Ask your guide to teach you the “Sockey Swing,” the best technique for reeling in Sockeye Salmon. These bad boys need a completely different approach compared to Coho and Chinook. For best results, use small hooks baited with worms, eggs, small flies, or small spoons. Try to get your lure right in front of the fish to provoke a reflexive strike – remember, when spawning, these guys are not hungry, so traditional lures won’t work.

  • For Chinook and Coho Salmon, the presentation of the lure is vital. Position the lure directly ahead of the fish so they can’t miss it, with a good sinker to get it to the right depth. Lures that work well include eggs, spoons, spinners, and wobbling plugs

Need to Know

When out and about, remember to take your bear spray with you – this can be bought in most stores once you land in Alaska. Where there are fish, it’s likely there will be bears. Read up on bear protocol before you head out.

Rules and Regulations

It’s best to check the regulations for limits and other restrictions that apply during the season you’ll be fishing. These change regularly and vary from river to river. Your fishing guide is the best source to inform you what you can fish for and when. Emergency regulations can be put into place at any time to protect the productivity of the rivers.

You’ll need to buy a fishing license before your first line is cast. These can be purchased in most places – a day license will cost around $25 (price subject to change). If targeting King Salmon, you’ll need an additional King Salmon stamp to go after them legally.

Budget

Fishing trips in Cooper Landing generally cost around $175 per person for a half day trip, and $275 per person for a full day trip.

Getting There

Cooper Landing is 2 hours south of Anchorage International Airport. From here, a two-hour drive along the Sterling Highway can get you to Homer. You’ll notice that main roads are few and far between – it’s much easier to fly between towns.

A vacation in Cooper Landing fishing is fabulous – you’ll have a stunning backdrop to fish against, a huge range of Salmon to fish, and a choice of lakes and rivers that offer year-round fishing.

Cooper Landing Fishing Seasons

Ice fishing for Burbot is great at Juneau Lake Cabin, found at the south end of the Resurrection Pass Trail. You can snowshoe or cross country ski to get there – it's well worth the journey.

 

Head one hour to Soldotna for the annual Frozen RiverFest. Live music, bonfires, food, and a beer garden await you. Temperatures can dip as low as 19° F, so dress in layers.

Head to Homer and join in the Homer Epic 100K. Ski, cycle, or run the trails in 24 hours. Only 100 participants allowed, so book your place early.

Fishing is quiet this month. If you’re lucky, you can catch Dolly Varden at the Russian River.

Chinook begins to heat up – this is the fish that put the Kenai River on the map! Keep an eye out for emergency fishing regulations for this species.

From late June, Humpback Salmon begin their journey into Cooper Landing. This is great till the end of July. Dolly Varden is hot till July too.

If you’re going after “Humpies,” this is the last opportunity you’ll get this year. Temperatures reach 68° F with very long days. Sockeye heats up this month.

Sockeye continue to be great. Dolly Varden comes back into the river, and Coho action is fantastic. This is a great month for fishing.

Drive one hour to Seward for the Music and Arts Festival, for plenty of art, live music, dance performances, and food.

This is the last month for Dolly Varden. Last chance to catch Salmon, as they start to die off after breeding. The rivers become less crowded, but it becomes harder to get a bite overall.

This is the beginning of the ice fishing season. Winter months are also a great chance to book a trip to northern Alaska to see the aurora borealis.

There are plenty of Christmas activities to keep you feeling festive and warm this month. The lakes are usually frozen enough to ice fish safely now.

Cooper Landing Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Cooper Landing

"August fishing trip"

Jeffrey M. fished with Alaskan Angling Adventures on August 25, 2018

We were at the very end of the season and I knew that I was hoping we can hook one silver something to keep but we didn't but overall the trip was fantastic it was good the weather wasn't cooperating but we still caught some rainbows and Dolly Parton I was really wanting to get one silver Coho because my wife loves salmon, just not the right time of the year for us but the total experience very good you just got to be here at the peak times and unfortunately we're not but the fishing was still pretty good

"A day on the river "

Dustin J. fished with Alaskan Angling Adventures on July 4, 2018

Check the Alaskan wildlife site to see which fish are running or if they have closed the season for certain fish.

"Unexpected"

Lori G. fished with Kenai River Trout Anglers on July 1, 2018

This is the best place in the world to catch Salmon!

Top Targeted Species in Cooper Landing

Salmon (Coho)

Dolly Varden

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Sockeye)

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