Just back from 12 days on the Kenai. Not one of my better trips there quality wise but quantity evened things out. I found that my buddy Mike had replaced his old fishing shanty with a 2400 ft cabin/house since my last time to see him. The lot fronts on a canal that leads out to the Kenai. We had a brownie prowling through the cabins until fish and game darted him and took him to greener pastures. Despite counter reports of over a thousand kings entering the river each day few people were having much luck and the hogs were very rare. I got only a single king and it was under 20 pounds. In hindsight it was wise to keep it, although we debated it at the time. He was a lively fish and made several runs under the boat which is always a treat. The sockeye once they came made up for the lack of kings. The bucks especially were larger than usual this year. I got one sockeye that went just over 12 pounds and already had fangs just a day from salt water. There was an endless stream of reds coming by and an endless stream of filleted carcasses, heads and entrails going back downstream. Dollies were gorging on the bounty and we got several nice ones while fishing for sockeye. Some new rules on the Kenai made things interesting for sockeye anglers. In most places you must stay 10 ft from the bank at all times, placing nothing (daypack, net, rod, etc) on the bank and boats must be anchored at least 10 ft from the bank also. We found that not being able to beach fish made things very exciting as we attempted to bonk them in a foot or two of water. Enforcement was pretty strict with wardens coming by a few times a day. I was dismayed at the proliferation of guides on the Kenai. There has been at least a 10 fold increase since I moved outside in 1990 and the constant noise and wakes really impact the experience for everyone. No guides are allowed on Sundays and its drift only on Mondays. The difference on those two days is incredible. On the other hand i saw many guide boats with empty seats and even some services with empty boats tied up with no clients to fill them so I suppose economics will eventually decrease the numbers of guides operating. Photos are in my gallery.


John Hicks

Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits
Nice report. My wife was up in Ninilchik last summer and really had a fun time. I look forward to heading out there.
No, not much chance of that in the Kenai. Got him on a spin & glow with eggs while drifting the bluffs just above Ceicanski (sp) Park near Soldotna. My buddy's place is just downstream at River Quest, conveniently located near Echo Lake Lockers and an endless supply of their world famous Jalapeno Cheese Spread (eating nothing but Jalapeno Cheese Spread and chips for several days is, as it turns out, not conducive to proper bowel function). Much better for flyfish for Kings in the Ninilchik, Anchor River or Deep Creek, however those streams all close for kings on June 30. The one I have is truly undersized for the Kenai but this year it seems pretty average. We saw nothing caught larger than 35 and only heard of one 60#er. 60's are pretty common most years. Apparently many fish but smaller fish this year.

I've fished the Kenai and Russian for reds with a fly rod several times. If you have to stand 10 feet away from the river while fishing from the bank, how do you unhook a fish? (If you can turn it around and bring it to shore).
Dan, I didn't fish the russian or the kenai confluence this trip, but was much further down river between soldotna and kenai. so i don't know if those regs applied upriver. they are really trying to reduce streambank impact on the Kenai (it's kind of a joke with all those wakes from the boats, but sadly typical.) there are many areas where you cannot get 10 feet from the bank and not drown, but many of those were not posted. for example the area just above ciechanski (sp) is bluffs with houses that are approaching the edge and lots of erosion and caving. you can barely stand in the water along there and the water a couple of feet in front of you is close to 10 feet deep. those bluffs are not posted and it's OK to stand on the bank. Certainly you cannot stand 10 feet out at the kenai/russian confluence.

It's difficult at best to manage a fish standing 10 feet out in the water. with a net and a buddy it's not really a problem, but by yourself it's an adventure. i found i had to tire the fish a lot more (didn't matter since i was keeping them that day anyway). bonking was hard, just grabbing leader and suspending the fishes head out of the water and hitting them let the fish swing away and that aborbed lots of the blow. usually i would pin a fish against the ground and bonk it, but you can't do that in 12-18 inches of water. mostly i cheated and took the fish in to the bank long enough to dispatch it figuring that fish and game was not watching.
I'm anxious to see what devices alaskans produce to deal with the new rules. definitely need two anchors to keep the boat parallell to the bank so someone is selling anchors. an aside, i saw several boats with filleting tables that hooked onto the side of the boat so the guy could just stand there and fillet and wash everything back into the river with no mess. good on the drawing board, or maybe on another river, but the constant wakes coming in meant that several other guys had to try to hold the boat steady while the guy filleted. wish i had some pictures. it was a circus.