Kenai River fishing is world class. The Kenai River is known as one of the best sportfishing rivers around the world. It stretches through 82 miles of the central Kenai Peninsula of Alaska and flows through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Not only does the Kenai River offer world class fishing, there is also scenic hiking, rafting and wildlife viewing to experience.
The waters of the Kenai River are a brilliant and surprising turquoise blue. The unique blue and green coloring is caused by glacial silt. The movement of massive glaciers grinds rocks into fine particles that make up the silt. The silt absorbs and scatters light creating the beautiful blue-green water we see and is an iconic sight in Alaska.
The Kenai River is divided into three parts. The Upper Kenai River begins at its source, the glacial fed Kenai Lake. Kenai Lake is closed for all salmon species, but anglers can target trout, char, grayling and pike. Many sections of the Upper Kenai River are drift only making it a popular float and Kenai River fishing location.
From Kenai Lake, the upper river runs westward through Kenai Canyon where class II rapids draw in whitewater river rafting enthusiasts. The Kenai River continues to and includes the 18-mile long Skilak Lake. Skilak Lake is one of the most productive salmon fisheries in Alaska and part of what makes Kenai fishing so good. Skilak is over 500 feet deep and 18 miles long and is home to salmon, Dolly Varden and trout.
The Middle Kenai River begins at the outlet of Skilak Lake and reaches the bridge at the city of Soldotna. This area is known for massive rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char. The Middle Kenai River is an excellent spawning habitat for Sockeye, coho, king and pink salmon and hosts several runs of each species through out the year.
The Sockeye and coho runs are especially healthy. Alaskans and visiting anglers alike gather for Kenai River fishing to get in on the harvest. Big Dan’s Riverfront Lodge is located in Soldotna and right in the action. When the timing is right, guests can even fish right off the riverfront platform at the lodge.
From downtown Soldotna the Kenai River continues into the final part; the Lower Kenai River which flows all the way to the Cook Inlet and out to sea. The Lower Kenai River is where the world sport fishing record king salmon was caught in 1985 by Les Anderson weighing 97 pounds and 4 ounces! The Kenai River holds many IGFA records and that puts it at the top of most angler’s fishing destination wish lists. It is one of the most popular salmon and trout sport fishing destinations in the world and Kenai River fishing is a must for all anglers.
Read ADFG regulations for the Kenai River here.