Kenai River Fishing Charter & Guide Service
The Kenai River, or Kahtnu as the native Dena’ina peoples called the river, is a glacial-fed 82-mile long river originating in the Chugach Mountains. Beginning at the outlet of Kenai Lake, the Kenai River flows east to west down to Cook Inlet. Broken down into sections the Kenai is often referred to by locals as the lower river, middle river, and upper river with Skilak Lake dividing the middle and upper river sections. Rules and regulations vary greatly along the river, however, the vast majority of salmon fishing takes place from the mouth of the river upstream to Skilak Lake, and the majority of big Rainbow fishing takes place in the middle and upper river sections. We fish the 50-mile section of the Kenai, from its mouth in Cook Inlet to Skilak Lake, depending upon what species are targeted and the time of year.
Guided King(Chinook) Salmon Fishing on the Kenai River
It can easily be argued that the Kenai is the world's most famous salmon fishery and that King Salmon was solely responsible for placing the Kenai on the map. Famed for hosting 7 of the top 10 record fish including the 97.4 lb World Record king caught back in 1985 which can be argued was the start of what has become one of the greatest sport fisheries in the world today. Bucket list King Salmon, also known as chinook salmon, are caught daily on the Kenai from May through July, and recent efforts to protect this great fish have paid off in the last couple of years and will continue to do so in the future.
While at times it is legal to harvest and retain King Salmon on the Kenai many operations have gone strictly to catch and release these great fish while others strongly encourage practicing C&R on all Kenai Chinook Salmon. The fishery is strongly regulated and closely watched each day of the season and often meets its required escapement goals but it treads a thin line as to either having a prolific return or just a mediocre return at best. Releasing these giants play a significant role in ensuring that not only you, but our kids will also be able to enjoy the same thrilling experiences that we have been able to do currently
Experience Alaska's Best Guided Fishing
Fishing in Alaska is a thrilling experience in it’s own right, while King Salmon catching on the Kenai has never been known to be fast and furious it is better recognized for the many anglers and boats jockeying for position to intercept these freight trains on fins. The bite is one of the most exhilarating moments in time that equals nothing else, and the moment you finally grab the rod out of its holder a battle like no other is already happening. Armed with the finest graphite EDGE Rod’s on the market today, a bullet proof Shimano reel and the toughest braid and Flourocarbon leaders all the while enjoying the comforts of our custom built Willie Boats allows you to have the greatest chance at landing one of theses giants.
Typical methods involve backtrolling lures but can range from an old technique of dragging to even back bouncing or float fishing the incoming tides. We fish these great fish every day of the season and are always up to date on the best areas to concentrate in during any given day and have the ability to fish anywhere in the river system where others only fish one given hole or area. Being mobile and up to date along with our networking of other top guides on the river ensure that you will be in the right place at the right time to do battle with one of the greatest fish on the planet today.
Fishing Silver(Coho) Salmon on the Kenai River
Silver Salmon, also known as Coho Salmon, is one of our favorite fisheries on the Kenai. The time of the year on the Kenai, starting in August and continuing into November offers anglers a large window of productive fishing for silvers on the Kenai. Big strong and feisty Silvers enter the Kenai towards late July with increasing numbers each day until they start to slow down around mid-October. This offers a long season and even low fishing pressure making for a unique fishing experience. Silvers can be targeted in a number of ways and through the river system, our vast knowledge of the river allows us to target these fish in all 50 miles of the river accessible by powerboat from Skilak Lake down to the mouth, it also allows us to use virtually every productive method ranging from soaking eggs on the tide, running floats through holes stacked with chrome bright fish to tossing spinners in pocket water amidst the rocks.
All equally enjoyable ways we try for the most hands-on approach at all times. While many will take you to the tide and sit on Anchor for countless hours we try and keep the rods in your hands and you fishing the entire length of the trip. With that said there are times that the only strong bite is on the hook but if we can avoid sitting on anchor we will. Silver’s are highly susceptible to catch and release mortality in the lower river system so when we are down in the lower river systems we do adhere to catch and keep practices’ making for a perfect half-day scenario but as fish progress up steam later in the run we tend to add more combo trips chasing Silvers in the morning and Trout in the afternoon.
Fly fishing opportunities are also excellent ways to chase Silvers, while the Kenai does not always see much of the topwater action as other streams but it is a great place for stripping big bunny leech and streamer-type patterns. The long periods of darkness in the winter allow us time to custom tie and fill back up the file boxes with many of the proven patterns needed to fool these great fish. Whichever method you choose to use this fishery is really one that is at the top of the “must-do” list.
Fishing Rainbow Trout on the Kenai River
Rainbow Trout are the most sought-after game fish in the world today. Anglers travel all over the world from New Zealand to Russia to the many famous trout streams all across the Western United States to name a few, but one place stands above all the rest for access to giant Rainbows. Alaska is a destination state with areas like Bristol Bay being at the top of the list to chase these giants, but over the years anglers have found out the little hidden secret that the Kenai is actually one of the greatest Rainbow fisheries in the state. Being road accessible and having the conveniences of our local communities at your fingertips, allows for a very affordable and easy to plan vacation chasing 30”+ Trout. Huge returns of Sockeye, Silver, King and Pink Salmon create a smorgasbord of food for these serious eggs and flesh-eating predators. Open nearly year-round large Trout can be caught nearly every day, however early in the spring after the spawn is really the start, then things slow down slightly until after the hordes of the sockeye run through the system.
Starting around the late part of July giant rainbows come out of the woodwork and start filtering into the tips of islands and behind any areas that collect hundreds of thousands of rotting carcasses starting a feeding frenzy for the thousands of Rainbows and Dolly Vardon. They continue on this feast until the middle part of August when King Salmon and Sockeye start to spawn, while many will move on to the millions of eggs starting to flood the system many continue to eat the rotting flesh. A calorie-rich diet during the summer months helps these fish pack on the pounds and length quickly.
Chasing these thrilling fish for a day out of our custom Willie Boats made specifically with side drifting and fly anglers in mind make for a memorable day be it using terminal gear or fly rods. Add a premium Sage fly rod and reels, or the lightest and finest graphite rods made by Gary Loomis’s newest company EDGE Rods anglers are sure to walk away smiling. Many choose to solely chase these fish all day long while others tack on an added bonus after a morning of Silver Salmon fishing. We also offer an exclusive 2 person per boat fly fishing package that allows anglers all the freedom of our oversized Willie boats for the day, something you will not find with any other operation on the river today.
Fishing Sockeye on the Kenai River
Kenai Sockeye Salmon is one of the most prolific runs of salmon on the Kenai Peninsula, only coming in second to the millions of Pink salmon that enter the river every other year. The Sockeye Salmon of the Kenai typically has in river return of a million or more fish. Sockeye or “Red” salmon on the Kenai have two distinct runs. An early run of salmon starts to enter the system as soon as the ice breaks up and peaks right around the 10th of June. These are your typical Russian River reds that generally hit that section of the river around the last part of June. These fish, and the Russian River, are most known for the classic picture of fishermen lined up elbow to elbow on postcards around Alaska. There are opportunities for the lower river anglers to intercept these fish however, timing is everything. A very hard run to predict and typically a run that shoots through the lower system in just a matter of a few days make it hard to target. Yet if you happen to be here at the right time these are the sweetest treats on the BBQ a person can have.
The second run of Kenai Reds start entering the system towards July and peak almost every year on or around the 14th of July. This is our large run of reds and typically the size are equally as big. Known for being one of the biggest sockeyes to return to any system these fish drive the local economy and create quite a frenzy. People from all over Alaska travel to the Kenai to fill the freezers with these prized fish and the commercial fishery is centered around this run of fish, it is the bread and butter for many. Dip netting occurs at the mouth of the river and the public access areas can be lined with people just waiting their turn to hook up and do battle. In fact, the Kenai could hold a world record for having the most people at any given point in time running around in hip boots.
Sounds crazy?? Well, I will not lie it certainly can be, but it is a very easy fishery to participate in on your own, and many of our guests do just that. So here is the kicker, having access to the guides we can take you to many of the places that most others can not get to, we know the techniques and can coach you with every cast to maximize your productivity. We also have a few hidden techniques that are unlike anything you have ever heard or read on how to catch a red, we also have access to certain properties that offer private premium stream bank access, a rare commodity here on the Kenai. Leave the dirty work to us and let us help fill your fish boxes with these premium fillets fresh from the ocean and ready for the dinner table
Our Fishing Adventure Rates
- Full Day (8hrs) $300
- Half Day (6-11:30 & 12:30-6) $225
- Book the boat $1100
- Fly Fishing the Kenai for Salmon and Trout August through September $1400 2 person maximum
All trip prices are per person and subject to availability
- Trips include all top of the line equipment and tackle needed for fishing
- Complimentary fish cleaning and preparation for the fish processor
- 50% deposit is due upon booking, the remaining balance is due 10 days prior to embarking on our first trip together
- ACE Fishing Adventures does not offer a cancellation policy but you are able to rebook for any available date the following year.
There are many great ways to reach the Kenai. One of the most popular is to fly via the frequent and daily commuter flights from Anchorage’s International Airport. A person is able to fly right into the City of Kenai for about the same price as a rental car from Anchorage. Anchorage is a beautiful city, centrally located halfway between the Kenai and Denali National Park.
If you choose to rent a car or RV from Anchorage, you are truly rewarded with one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful scenic drives around. Along your journey to the Kenai, you will travel south along the Seward Highway where you will want to keep a watchful eye out for Moose, Dall Sheep, the occasional Black or Brown Bear, and Beluga Whale along Turnagain Arm. The Cities of Soldotna and Kenai are about two and a half hours from Anchorage.