Fish Species

Sockeye (Red) Salmon

Sockeye Salmon

Average Size: 6 – 8 lbs.
Available: June – August, peak in June – July

This species offers frequent hookups and fast action on light tackle. Our guests enjoy taking these delicious-tasting salmon home with them for good eating!

More Info on Sockeye Salmon

Location: Kenai River

  • Early Run: June 11 – early July
  • Late Run: Mid July – mid August

Average Size: 6 – 8 lbs.
Limit: 3 – 6 per day
Fishing Techniques: Drifting flies from the bank

The annual return of sockeye salmon (also known as red salmon) to the Kenai River drainage is probably the most highly anticipated sport fishery in Alaska. Sockeye salmon enjoy the reputation of being the hardest fighting salmon (pound for pound) of all the Pacific salmon species. These chrome-bright fish are notorious for thrashing reels and breaking even the beefiest rods! Not only do these fish have a reputation for being hard fighters, they are also highly regarded for their rich and flavorful meat. Many consider sockeye salmon to be the best tasting of all the Pacific salmon species. With an annual return of over one million fish, fishing for sockeye salmon gives anglers ample opportunity to experience plenty of arm-burning action!

The Kenai River receives two separate runs of sockeyes, the first beginning in mid-June and the second in mid-July. The first-run fish are headed directly for the Russian River, a small clear-water tributary of the Kenai River, and represents the smaller of the two runs with an annual return of 30,000 – 60,000 fish. The early-run sockeye begin stacking up in noticeable numbers at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers by mid-June, peak during the last week of the month and taper off during the first week of July.

The larger late run boasts an annual return that typically exceeds one million fish. Late-run sockeye start inundating the mainstream of the Kenai River (and its many tributaries) in mid-July and continue in strong numbers until mid-August. When this run is in full swing you’ll literally see sockeye salmon everywhere! Aside from the red-hot red salmon fishing during this time, it’s worth the trip just to witness the incredible natural phenomenon of migrating salmon.

Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden

Average Size: 14 – 18 inches
Available: All season, peak in September

The Kenai River is home to some of the largest native rainbow trout in Alaska. The excitement of hooking one of these prized fish is worth the trip to Alaska in itself.

Along with trout, the Kenai is also home to a large population of Dollies. These fish make the upper Kenai a fly or spin fisherman’s paradise. Our permits and experience allow us to fish limited access areas of the river.

More Info on Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden

Location: Upper Kenai River
Available: June 11 – September
Average Size: 14 – 18 inches
Limit: Catch and Release Only
Fishing Techniques: Fly and spin fishing from drift boats and banks

The upper Kenai River, nestled in the heart of the Kenai Mountains between Kenai Lake and Skilak Lake, offers some of Alaska’s finest catch and release trophy rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing. This special, non-motorized section of river flows through the beautiful mountain backdrop of the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. If trophy rainbow trout fishing is what you’re after, then the upper Kenai River is the place for you. With an average size of 12-18 inches and the occasional fish stretching the tape to 24+ inches, fishing the upper Kenai River for rainbow trout is a trip not to be missed.

Rainbow trout fishing on the upper Kenai River is good all summer. The action starts in mid-June, slows down through July as the salmon overwhelm the river and picks up significantly once the salmon begin to spawn in mid-August through September. During the late season feeding frenzy, when rainbow trout and Dolly Varden gorge on loose salmon eggs, the upper Kenai offers unparalleled opportunities for both fly and spin fisherman. Join us in the late season as we travel the river in search of trophy Alaskan rainbow trout and dollies.

Coho (Silver) Salmon

Average Size: 8 – 14 lbs.
Available: Mid-July – September, peak in August

These hard-fighting fish can be caught on the Kenai or in Resurrection Bay.

More Info on Silver Salmon

Location: Kenai River and Resurrection Bay

  • August – September on the Kenai River
  • Mid July – August in Resurrection Bay

Average Size: 8 – 14 lbs.

  • Kenai River: 2 per day
  • Resurrection Bay: 6 per day

Fishing Techniques:

  • Kenai River: Powerboat, Backtrolling, Drift Boat, Casting Spinners, Fly Fishing
  • Resurrection Bay: Mooching, Trolling

Silver salmon (also known as Coho salmon) are such aggressive fish that they fight just as hard 60 miles up river as they do fresh out of the ocean. Their combative nature allows anglers to choose from a variety of fishing techniques and styles to catch silvers as they migrate through different sections of the river. Regardless of the technique you use, once these fish arrive you can expect nonstop action and frequently reaching daily limits.

As the king salmon season comes to a close in late July, the first of the silver salmon begin migrating into the lower section of the Kenai River and appear in catchable numbers by the first week of August. We target these aggressive fighters in the lower section of the river, near the tidal zone, from early August into early September and in the “drift-only” upper section of the river from late August well into September. Silver salmon fishing trips on the upper Kenai River are complemented with drifting for rainbow trout in between known silver salmon holes.  The versatility in the methods used to catch these hard fighters make silver salmon a favorite for anglers of all experience levels.  

Fishing for silver salmon in the nearby coastal waters of Resurrection Bay is one of the most popular trips we offer. When the weather and tidal conditions cooperate our guides usually head straight for the Bay. When the conditions are right the fishing can be fast and furious, and with a liberal limit of six fish per day, you could easily fill your freezer in a single trip. These fish are typically found in medium to large schools so when the bite is on, double, triple or even quadruple hook-ups are possible! Silver salmon are highly voracious feeders and are known for their aggressive strikes and acrobatic tail-walking runs. Silver salmon fishing in Resurrection Bay is without a doubt a unique and exciting fishing experience!

Pair nonstop fishing action with a backdrop that offers frequent sightings of marine wildlife, calving glaciers and steep mountains, and it’s no wonder silver salmon fishing in Resurrection Bay is a guest favorite! This trip is weather dependent and typically offered July through the end of August.

Chinook (King) Salmon

Average Size: 15 – 25 lbs.
Available: May – July, peak in July

Some of our guests have caught 40 and even 60 pounders (the world record of 97 pounds was caught on the Kenai River in 1985)! Take your turn at this once-in-a-lifetime fishing experience.

More Info on King Salmon

Location: Lower Kenai River and Resurrection Bay

  • Early Run: Late May – June 30
  • Late Run: July 1 – 31

Average Size: 15 – 25 lbs.

  • Kenai River: 1 per day, 2 per season
  • Resurrection Bay: 2 per day, no annual limit

Fishing Techniques: Powerboat, Backtrolling, Back Bouncing, Trolling

Pacific king salmon can be found in the lush waters in and around Resurrection Bay near Seward, Alaska in early summer, feeding on the bounty of the sea. We target this hard-fighting salmon species from mid-June and into July from our custom ocean fishing boats, trolling the deeper waters for schools on the hunt for seasonal baitfish.  Resurrection Bay king salmon populations have been supported by a decades-long statewide stocking plan. Additionally, kings from various rivers all around the North Pacific visit the Bay for its nutrient rich waters.

The Kenai River boasts some amazing records for king salmon, holding a genetically unique, wild and physically large fish that can’t be found in other locations around the world. The Kenai River yields two distinct runs of king salmon each summer: the early run and the late run. Early run kings begin making their way into the river in May, peak in mid to late June, and dwindle in number as they overlap with the start of the late run in July. The main run peaks in late July as these giant spawners stream through the lower reaches of the Kenai.

In the spirit of protecting the wild and critically important natural resource that is Kenai River king salmon, Kenai Riverside Fishing will be practicing catch and release fishing only for Kenai kings. As stewards to the beautiful turquoise waters of the Kenai and all life forms the river supports, we’re proud to employ ethical fishing tactics and harvest restrictions in an effort to get these genetically unique fish upriver to their spawning beds.

You can learn more about forecasts for returning Kenai king salmon and the importance of protecting, supporting and helping to resurrect healthy populations of this amazing species of fish at Fish for the Future and Cook Inlet Keeper, two amazing organizations we trust and are inspired by.

Our reservations team looks forward to customizing your Kenai Riverside Fishing package to best meet your specific fishing goals, so please call or email us today. If any last-minute regulation changes occur during your trip, our talented team will work diligently to arrange an alternative day of fishing for similar species.

Alaska Halibut

Average Size: 35 – 45 lbs.
Available: May – September

More Info on Halibut

Location: Resurrection Bay
Available: May – September
Average Size: 35 – 45 lbs.
Limit: 2 per day
Fishing Techniques: Jigging, Drifting, Bait and Weight

Fishing for giant halibut in Resurrection Bay is a saltwater fisherman’s dream. Accessed from the picturesque town of Seward, Resurrection Bay is the premier destination for Alaska halibut fishing. The bay’s currents and bottom structure create a confluence of nutrient-rich water and unparalleled habitat for several species of bottom fish, including giant halibut. These waters are loaded with trophy halibut, lingcod, rockfish and, when in season, hundreds of thousands of silver salmon. Halibut are permanent residents of these waters, meaning that these giant fish are in season all summer long.

Fish for halibut with the best equipment and comfortable charter boats.The boats we use are fast and equipped with the finest navigation and fish-finding instruments, tackle and safety gear. Each boat has private restroom facilities and heated enclosed cabins for your comfort. Adding a day of halibut fishing to any multi-day fishing package is highly recommended. Regular sightings of whales, sea otters, Steller sea lions, and breathtaking views of sweeping glaciers and rugged mountain scenery make every trip to Resurrection Bay a memorable sightseeing excursion.

<  Back to Kenai Riverside Fishing