Fishing Alaska on the Cheap

My wife and I did a vacation in AK where we backpacked in Denali and fished the Kenai. I will second the vote that the drive is well worth it to the Kenai.

In our trip, we flew to fairbanks, took the train to Denali. After that, we took a shuttle to Anchorage. I really thought the Kenai was one of the prettier parts of AK. We floated the upper river with guides. I can't speak about the ease of walking in fishing, but the road parallels the river and there were many bank fishermen.

I'd love to go back and explore some off the beaten trail places.



Down in the Centennial State.
Well right now we're flying into and out of Anchorage on June 17 and June 22 respectively. We wanted to do Denali, but the stupid train up there is way too expensive and it would take three days out of our schedule so we ditched that part of the trip. Right now it's Anchorage on 6/17-18, Seward 6/18-19 for the Kenai Fjord tour to Fox Island and stuff. Then it's on to Soldotna for fishing on 6/19-21 (still trying to figure out the details of that part), and then back to Anchorage on 6/21 until 6/22 and we fly back to Seattle at 1:44 a.m. on 6/23 (only way I could use my free miles). Once we return to Seattle, it's two Mariners' games versus Cincinnati to see Griffey's return to Seattle. The Seattle part is the start of my farewell tour of Washington State as the wife and I are heading to Boulder/Denver area at the end of July as she begins grad school at University of Colorado - Boulder after living in Washington for our entire lives.
For what it is worth, here's my thoughts for you. Long before I worried about "where" I was going to fish, I would look into "what" I was fishing for....I have lived in SE AK for 35 years with 4 spent in Anchorage. I can't recall when the sockeye runs on the Kenai begin but I would check. The Kenai is full of elbow to elbow fishermen when the fish are in. If this is a once in a lifetime trip then seriously think about flying in someplace. It will be much more enjoyable for you. After all, every fisherman from Anchorage south will be heading down that one road to Kenai and homer. Despite what everybody thinks, a lot of AK fishing is dependent of what fish are in and what is running. If you do your homework now, you will be happier I think. Not trying to discourage you, just alerting you.


Piscatorial predilection

I can highly recommend Capt. Harry Temple, guide and owner of Little Bear Lake Lodging (907) 260-3779, Soldotna, AK. he can provide you with home style lodging in his beautiful log home (he has two seperate rooms in his daylite basement which over looks the lake in his backyard) Harry is also a very accomplished guide and will offer you some real great options for fly fishing.

We stayed with him and his wife Barb last year and will be going back June 23-30th. That is just after you plan on being there. If you call Harry tell him the Bairds recommended it. Harry and Barb will treat you like welcome family, ask him to show some of his videos in the evenings after dinner :thumb:

Check out my pics in the gallery.

Hope your trip turns out great.

Tony Mull said:
Red's flying service has their own cabins and a good rep, Alaska Air Guides, Rust's Flying Service are good ones to check out. Red's and Rust's are probably the oldest services in town. Most of the flyouts are pretty close to anchorage so day trips are no problem.

Stop for breakfast at Sourdough Sal's in Soldotna and make sure you eat at Gwinnie's in Anchorage, and if you can, get into the Fly By Night Club for a show. They are closing in September after many years as the most famous nightspot in Alaska, guess mr. whitekeys is retiring. If you spot someone who looks like a movie star in the audience at the whale fat folleys or springtime in spenard, it's not a look alike, people come from all over the world. Chillkoot Charlies and the Hogg Brothers Cafe are just on up Spenard. enjoy.

You must have been last up here a long long time ago. Reds flying service has been out of business over twenty years, Air Guides sold out to Jim Air in the 90s, and then went out of business last year after crashing in a whiteout in Portage Pass. Rusts has changed to catering to flight seeing tours with big groups (connection with the tour companies). Whitkey's Fly By Night Club closed last year. Hog Brothers moved off of Spenard Road sometime in the early 90s into a Sizzler building. Fishing is substantially changed on the Kenai if you were last up here since all of those businesses were still operating.

Check out Denali Rent a Car for off-airport older cars. The cars are not real beaters, but significant savings with them over the big Chains. For flyouts on floats you might check out Alaska Air Taxi, Trail Ridge Air, Regal Air or Ellison Air, however I heard that Ellison Air may not be operating this summer.
Nah flyboy, I come back a lot I just don't hang around in anchorage much. Rust's does still offer fishing though. Last time I had any involvement with Red's they offered me a half price trip if I'd take their shotgun and deal with a bear that had been causing problems all summer. I went to a different cabin instead but when I came back the pilot said they did have to shoot the bruin. Maybe inevitable that they went out of business. I can't believe Hogg Brothers moved! We used to wander or stagger right out of Koots and right into Hogg Bros for some breakfast, damn, now one would probably have to cross Spenard or try to drive. Next you'll be telling me the closed PJ's! It has been a long time since I paid much attention to anchorage but I lived in spenard for 12 of my 20 years in AK. They are kinda blurry years, I'll admit. Remember when there was a montgomery wards at Northern Lights and Spenard or a Pay n Pak over at Minnessota? Or when Flippers was the most popular resturant chain in town? Never thought Carrs and Safeway would merge or that they'ed actually clean up Mountain View, or that Gary Kings would close either. Stuff does change. What's different about the Kenai except more people and more expensive? I do spend a lot of time down there.

PS Whitekeys should have closed their website, but when I look it is obvious that they meant 2006 for closing, not 2007. too bad.
I lived and fished Alaska for six years, and spent lots of time on the Kenai Peninsula. You've gotten some good suggestions here, but I've got another one for you.

Write to Craig Medred, outdoor editor of the Anchorage Daily News, and ask his advice. If you get him on one of his non-grouchy days, me might be the best person in the state to lend you a hand.

Good luck.


Piscatorial predilection
I googled Rent-A-Wreck in Anchorage and we got a Kia Sportage, stick shift for 7 days for only $435.24 including taxes and 150 free miles per day! That is only $62.18 a day, much better than the outfits at the airport:thumb:
The Kia was not a choice, it was all they had left :( but it'll get good gas mileage:)



Down in the Centennial State.
Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. Our trip is pretty much set now with guide and rental car all set. If you have any ideas on hikes or other outdoor activities around Anchorage, Seward or Soldotna, please feel free to let me know.


Piscatorial predilection
Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. Our trip is pretty much set now with guide and rental car all set. If you have any ideas on hikes or other outdoor activities around Anchorage, Seward or Soldotna, please feel free to let me know.
If you are in Anchorage on a friday/saturday be sure to head over to the open air market, it's cool, you won't believe all the fur:eek: (the kind that was originally on animals)

On the Russian river take the two mile hike to the falls, and then you can fish all the way back to the parking lot, almost five miles total.