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Alaska fishing: Northern Kenai Peninsula & Cook Inlet Area

Alaska salmon fishing, Alaska halibut fishing, Alaska fishing, king salmon, silver salmon, halibut, Pacific halibut, rockfish, lingcod, Homer, Kachemak Bay, Deep Creek, Ninilchik, Kasilof, Kamishak Bay, Cook Inlet, Lower Cook Inlet, razor clams, crabs, charters, charter boats, deep sea,Listen to a RealAudio™ interview (5:33) with an Alaska Department of Fish and Game sport fish biologist for additional information about fishing Alaska's northern Kenai Peninsula.

Species

There is only one word to describe the angling opportunities on the Kenai Peninsula, is “incomparable”. This area ranks high on the list of favorites in the state. It is home to the both the world’s largest run of Sockeye salmon, which is accessible by vehicle, and the Peninsula is also home of the largest King salmon ever caught. This peninsula is easily reached, heavily fished, and contains everything from world-class lodges to do-it-yourself camp sites. From fish to clams, and combat fishing to serenity, you get it all on the Kenai.

While fishing on the Kenai Peninsula (sometimes misspelled Keni or even Keani), saltwater anglers can expect King, Sockeye, Coho, and Pink salmon. The adjacent waters of Cook Inlet are renowned for giant Pacific halibut. Rockfish, Dolly Varden Char, and steelhead trout are also available. Where the saltwater reaches the land, a unique opportunity presents itself.

Visitors to the Kenai Peninsula can comb selected beaches during low tides to harvest razor clams. These extremely tasty delicacies are unique to this area and are cherished Pacific seafood. Diggers can go it alone or with an area outfitter who will assist in the harvest. 

In nearby and interior freshwater areas, anglers have even more choices. Opportunities range from whitefish, grayling, northern pike, lake trout, rainbow trout, steelhead trout, Dolly Varden Char, Arctic Char, and every salmon species that swims. By far, the ruler of them all is King salmon. Anglers flock to the Kenai River in their attempts to break the record of the largest King of the past.

Area Sponsor

A beautiful (and huge) Kenai rainbow caught on a Sappah & Son guide service trip

The Kenai River is well known for consistent catches of salmon and trout (like the really nice rainbow at right). Terry Sappah & Son Guide Service provides drift and power boat fishing most often in the middle reaches of the river in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge away from the also well known crowds. They also fish the Kasilof River and Cook Inlet. The Sappah's are lifelong Alaskans and believe in delivering productive Alaska fishing experience for the accomplished angler as well as the child or rookie. [ADV]

Geography

The northern Kenai Peninsula is bordered by Cook Inlet on its western side and Prince William Sound on its eastern side. This proximity is dominated by the Kenai Mountains that offer numerous glaciers and ice fields within view. As the roadway winds, this stunning region splits in two directions. Anglers who elect to travel and fish the western side take the Sterling Highway. Those who travel east continue on the Seward Highway to the community of Seward. By far, the majority of all fishing activity is to the west. The Kenai River dominates this area and eventually empties into Cook Inlet at the town of Kenai. 

Alaska Fish On Charters

Gary Kernan provides fishing enthusiasts, as well as first timers, a great advantage on the Kenai River, bringing 21 years of experience fishing the Kenai Peninsula waters. When you’re on board with Alaska Fish On Charters, you’ll be using nothing but the best fishing gear and fishing the hottest spots. We offer specials on Lodging and fishing packages.

Communities along the way offer numerous activities as well as spectacular surroundings. Communities like Hope, Cooper Landing, Sterling, and Soldotna are all locations that provide services that range from luxury lodges and fly-ins, to campgrounds and bank fishing. Rafting, sightseeing, kayaking, and guided drift-fishing are several of the more common activities in the area. Roadways will lead visitors through settings that range from wild canyons and remote forests, to urban municipalities and shopping centers.

Dall sheep roam the mountain tops, moose cut across the roads, bears fish the rivers, lynx bounce out between bumpers, and there is always a constant hum of commotion. The entire area is fully accessible by highway, spectacular in view, and legendary in fishing quality. There is little wonder that this area is the most crowded Alaskan fishery in the entire state. Drive it with care and reserve ahead.

Best saltwater times in the Northern Kenai Peninsula & Cook Inlet area
(ADF&G data)

Species

Availability

Peak

King salmon

January through December

May through August

Sockeye salmon

May through July

June and July

Coho salmon

June through October

July and August

Pink salmon

July through September

July and August

Dolly Varden Char

May through September

July and August

steelhead trout

August through October

August through October

halibut

February through October

May through October

rockfish

year round

May through August

Best freshwater times in the Northern Kenai Peninsula & Cook Inlet area
(ADF&G data)

Species

Availability

Peak

King salmon

May through July

June and July

Sockeye salmon

May through July

June and July

Coho salmon

July through December

August through October

Pink salmon

July through September

August

Dolly Varden Char

year round

July through September

Arctic Char

year round

July through September

steelhead trout

year round

April through October

rainbow trout

year round

April through October

lake trout

year round

May through January

northern pike

year round

January, May through June, September through October

grayling

year round

April through May, August through October

whitefish

year round

year round

Transportation

Kenai/Soldotna is served by regular commuter flights from Anchorage, although most people choose to drive. It is connected to Anchorage by road. The cutoff to the Sterling Highway is about 90 miles from Anchorage. A network of roads in this part of the Peninsula makes access to fishing locations possible. However, roads are few on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the refuge covers a substantial portion of the western peninsula. 

Weather 

Click for Kenai, Alaska Forecast

Kenai Peninsula weather is milder than much of the rest of the state because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Summers are cooler and winters warmer than in the Interior. Rainfall is higher here than the dry Interior, but not as high as Southeast Alaska.

Destination Information Resources

The Chamber of Commerce for both Kenai and Soldotna have very informative websites that are well worth checking out. For additional information about where to go, where to stay, and what to do in the Kenai Peninsula area, check out KenaiPeninsula.org. Last but not least, be sure to check out the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website for fishing regulations and information. 

Current fishing report (updated regularly during the summer months) 

Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet


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Area Descriptions for Southcentral Alaska

Anchorage fishing
Cordova fishing
Homer fishing

Kenai fishing
Kodiak fishing
Matanuska/Susitna/West Cook Inlet fishing
Prince William Sound fishing
Seward fishing
Upper Copper / Upper Susitna area fishing
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