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Top Fishing Charters in Kenai

Fishing in Kenai

Straddling the mouth of the famous Kenai River and looking out into the deep waters of Cook Inlet, Kenai is a paradise for freshwater and saltwater anglers alike. Kenai fishing charters head out into the inlet and beyond, targeting Halibut, Lingcod, Rockfish, and ocean-going King Salmon. Cast your eyes inland, and you’ll find scores of Kenai fishing guides heading upriver in search of the awesome Salmon and Steelhead runs that crowd these waters every summer. Kenai has everything you could hope for from a remote fishing getaway.
And it’s not even that remote. The busy streets of downtown Anchorage are just a few hours away by car. This means you can hop down for a weekend of awesome angling and be back in the city before your fish even defrosts! You’d be a fool to write the town off as no more than a launching point, though. Kenai’s lush forests and beautiful coastline are enough to keep your eyes busy for weeks, especially with whales, seals, and porpoises to focus on.
A remote wonderland just three hours from Anchorage, with incredible fishing to boot? Sounds too good to be true! The town does get pretty busy in Salmon season so you’ll need to book well in advance, but once you’ve done that you’re in for a very special fishing experience.

Types of Fishing

There’s a lot of ground (and water) to cover on Kenai fishing trips. There are so many great fishing spots around that it’s impossible to pick just one place to fish. Instead, here are a few trips you have to try while you’re in town:

River Fishing

This is the reason 90% of you will come to Kenai. Fishing Kenai River ranks high on bucket lists of anglers across the globe. The current world record King Salmon was caught in these waters - a monster weighing in at a staggering 97.4 pounds. It’s not just Chinook in these waters, either. Cohos, Sockeyes, Pinks, and Chums all pack into the rivers cold, clear waters.
And that’s just the Salmon! You’ve also got Steelhead, Grayling, Dolly Varden, and Arctic Char swimming about with them. All in all, this is one of the most productive freshwater fisheries in the whole of Alaska. No wonder people book years in advance in some of the area’s top lodges.

King Salmon Charters

Just when you thought the area couldn’t get any more Salmony, you realise that the sea is also full of them. Chinook Salmon can be caught year-round in Kenai, fishing along the edge of the coastline in search of big Kings lurking below. You may not get the same variety of Salmon species that you do in the river, but you can theoretically catch them 365 days a year here.

Halibut Charters

Just because the Kenai River draws all the crowds, doesn’t mean it’s the only place to fish. On the contrary, the deep, blue waters of Cook Inlet are a great place to fish for Halibut. They may not yield fish as big as they get down in Homer, but Kenai Halibut fishing charters are still well worth a try.

Combo Trips

If you’re set on heading home with the most fish possible and don’t mind traveling to find it, Kenai combo trips could be for you. These trips will bag you Halibut and Salmon, and could even go after Lingcod or Rockfish, too. There are different options to suit every palate, but you rarely have time to target more than three species.

Fishing Techniques

Kenai river is heaven on earth for fly fishers for obvious reasons, but spin anglers can have a whale of a time fighting Salmon, too. Spin-N-Glo rigs with Salmon roe attached are hands down the best way to attract big Salmon in freshwater - they stop feeding on their way up to the spawning grounds, so normal baits are summarily ignored. 
When talking Salmon in saltwater, the best ways to catch them are trolling and mooching. Use plug-cut or whole, live Herring and troll as you troll or drift over the fish. You don’t have to use bait, though. Big, colorful spoons work just as well when trolling, and can be way more fun when the fish are in the mood for a fight.
Halibut are bottom-dwellers which hunt as much by scent as by sight. Chum the bottom to draw them in, then drop strong-smelling baits like Salmon belly or Herring strips. You can also use jigs once the bottom is baited or chummed. Top tip - fish your lines a turn or two off the bottom. Halibut come up a couple of feet as they hunt, so you’ll be targeting active hunters if you bring your baits up a bit.

Need to Know

Fishing licenses are rarely included on Kenai fishing charters. You’ll need one for both salt and freshwater, with an extra King Salmon stamp if you want to target these awesome predators. And let’s be honest, you’d have to be crazy to come to Kenai without targeting Chinook.
Based on 11083 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Kenai Fishing Seasons

You won’t find much action at sea in January, but the ice on the lakes makes for all kinds of fun. Enjoy the Tustumena 200 Dog Sled Race or just go ice fishing for Salmon and Steelhead.

People really know how to turn the cold to their advantage here. Take the Frozen RiverFest in Soldotna. Locals laugh in Frosty Jack's face, with bonfires, bands, food, and drinks. It’s well worth checking out.

Charter season is still a long way away, but hardy anglers can enjoy shore fishing for hardy local species like Pollack, Flounder, and even Halibut from some points along the Kenai Peninsula.
The Dolly Varden spring run kicks off the Kenai River fishing season in April, with great catches of these anadromous predators. You start to get Steelhead towards the end of the month, too.
The spring run kicks off in earnest in May, with Dolly Varden, Steelhead, Grayling, and Chum Salmon. Chinook are also in full swing by this point, making it one of the best times to visit. Book early!
June is the best time to target freshwater King Salmon. They’re not alone, either. Chum Salmon are at their peak, and the first few Sockeye show up, too. All in all, a great month for food fishing.

The fishing is great everywhere in July. The river guides are getting most of the attention, but don’t forget to check out the boat charters, too. Halibut, Rockfish, Lingcod, and Saltwater Salmon are all on fire!

August is your chance to bag 5 species of Salmon in one day and score and IGFA Salmon Fantasy Slam. It’s also the season for the Kenai River Classic, one of the best freshwater fishing events around.

The Kenai River Women’s Classic invites fisherwomen from across the country to battle huge Salmon in the name of conservation each September. Sounds like a win-win to us.

October’s your last chance to find a charter before the boats call it quits for winter. Head out in search of monster Halibut, delicious Lingcod, deep-dwelling Rockfish, and much more.

The rivers are still active in November, with fall run Dolly Varden, Rainbow Trout, and Grayling. Things get pretty cold towards the end of the month, though, so waterproofs and layers are a must!

Christmas Comes to Kenai in December, literally. This event brings seasonal cheer to the darkest night of the year, with parades, music, lights, and much more. It’s not far for Santa to visit, we guess.

Kenai Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Kenai

"Perfect day"

Marcelo F. fished with Alaska Slammin Salmon Charters on August 21, 2018

Totally recommend. Is was our first time in Alaska and we loved!

"Full day with Brett on the Kenai River"

Benjamin B. fished with Brett’s Guide Service on July 26, 2018

River fishing in Kenai may not be for everyone, but I think everyone should try it at least once. I normally fish saltwater but had a great time on the Kenai River with our guide, Brett.

"Full Day trip with Captain Brett"

Gale D. fished with Brett’s Guide Service on July 25, 2018

Book early -- the season can be unpredictable. Bring bug spray!! The mosquitoes weren't terrible while on the water, but once on shore, they were pretty thick. Stay close to where you will be fishing. Anchorage is 2.5 - 3.5 hours from most fishing locations (that we are aware of), and getting a good night's sleep will make your trip much more enjoyable.

"Whole Day King Salmon fishing with Captain Brett"

George L. fished with Brett’s Guide Service on July 6, 2018

We were a bit early to catch the peak king salmon run on the lower Kenai, although we did catch fish. The river was less crowded, however, which made for a more relaxing trip. You will have a better chance to catch more and larger fish later in the month, but you'll have lots of company.

Top Targeted Species in Kenai

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Chinook)

Salmon (Coho)

Salmon (Coho)

Salmon (Sockeye)

Salmon (Sockeye)

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)

Salmon (Pink)

Salmon (Pink)





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