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Fly Fishing the Kenai River, Alaska

Fishing the Kenai River

If you’ve gotten bored of fishing nearby streams and ponds for hand-sized trout or need a new fly-fishing adventure, set your sights on one of the world’s best fly-fishing spots with the Kenai River in Alaska. Alaska’s Kenai River has long been a fly-fishing paradise due to the enormous fish and untouched Alaska wilderness that gives anglers a picturesque background every time they toss their fly in.
Fishing the Kenai River is much different than fishing your local stream and requires plenty of preparation and the correct equipment to have an excellent day angling. Let’s learn everything you need to know about fishing the Kenai River, including where it is, what equipment you need, and local resources to help get you landing monster fish.

Where is the Kenai River?

The Kenai River begins at Kenai Lake near Cooper Landing, Alaska, approximately 100 miles south of Anchorage.
From Cooper Landing, the Kenai runs 82 miles on a westward route through the Kenai Canyon, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and confluences with several other lakes and streams before emptying into the Pacific Ocean.
The Kenai is separated into three main portions. The first 17 miles of the Kenai from Kenai Lake to Skilkak is known as the upper Kenai or simply the upper river. The next 20 miles from Skilkak to the Sterling Highway is known as the middle river, and the last 21 miles from Sterling Highway to the Pacific is known as the lower river.

What Fish are in the Kernai River?

The Kenai River is a popular fishing destination for its numerous trout and salmon species. While native Rainbow Trout are incredibly popular in the Kenai, anglers can take advantage of several salmon species like Sockeye, CoHo, Chinook (King), and more.
The world-famous “Kenai King’ salmon can reach up 90 pounds and provides one heck of a fight. What type of fish you target largely depends on what fish are ‘running’ up the Kenai to spawning grounds.

Preparing Your Fly Reel and Flies for the Kenai River

The Kenai River is home to some seriously large fish, so you need to be ready with a fly fish setup that will haul in the lunkers. Because there are a lot of variances in fish weight depending on what you’re targeting, you may need to bring multiple weight rods, reels, and lines when fishing the Kenai.
Kenai is a destination where it might be better to purchase your equipment at a local fly shop or let the fly guide bring all the necessary equipment for your journey, depending on local conditions and what you’re targeting.

Other Equipment

The Kenai is cold no matter the time of year, so pack warm chest waders and layers. With any fishing adventure, make sure you know local rules and regulations and get your hands on the proper fishing license before you put your line in.

Best Time of Year to Fish the Kenai River

You want to be on the Kenai during the salmon runs that last from approximately late May into September. Different species appear at different times, so ideally, you want to set your trip when your favorite species is running the Kenai.
The summer runs are the best time of the year to fish the Kenai. The rest of the year? Well, it’s Alaska and as most know – Alaska’s cold. Unless you’re interested in some seriously cold and treacherous winter fly fishing, book your Kenai trip in summer.

Local Resources for the Kenai

Kenai Cache Outfitters: Cooper Landing, Alaska

Kenai Cache Outfitters in Cooper Landing puts you up close to great local fishing spots. If you don’t want to bring everything with you can shops rods and reels to the perfect flies at Kenai Cache’s full-scale fly shop or let your guide bring all the equipment for you.
If you’re in need a full outfitter Kenai Cache offers guided tours to put you right on the action with local experts. Kenai Cache also offers accommodations if you’re looking for an everything-in-one Kenai package.

Alaska Troutfitters: Cooper Landing, Alaska

Alaska Troutfitters host many of the same amenities and gear as Kenai Cache, so feel free to shop both to find your favorite. Alaska Troutfitters offers a full-scale fly and tackle shop, several types of local guided trips with fishing equipment included multiple types of lodging, and of course, local knowledge on how to fish the Kenai.

Good Times and Great Fishing

If you’re looking for a favorite Colorado fly fishing spot you can’t beat a day on the Arkansas River. Use our resources, local know-how, and rig your line up right for a successful day nailing brown trout. It doesn’t get much better than pulling out a lunker in the shadow of Colorado mountains.