Alaska offers many different angling opportunities. The Kenai is arguably Alaska's most famous fishing river and best known for its runs of giant King Salmon (Chinook). The world record King was taken here in 1985 and weighed over 97 pounds. While the Kings draw many anglers to the Lower Kenai, fly-fishers typically focus on the Upper Kenai and the numerous rainbow trout. Fish over five pounds are common. Larger rainbows to twenty pounds or more have been taken. In addition to the rainbows, Dolly Varden are plentiful with many caught weighing four to six pounds. Sockeye (Red) Salmon arrive in huge numbers in mid June and from mid July through August. During large runs, the Sockeye (Reds) have returned to the Kenai in numbers exceeding one million fish. Silver (Coho) Salmon join the fray from early August into the winter season. Silvers are considered by many to be the best of the salmon species to target with a fly.
Flowing from 20-mile long Kenai Lake to Cook Inlet, the Kenai River drops 430 feet on its 82-mile course to the ocean. The 17 miles of river between Kenai Lake and 15-mile long Skilak Lake is known as the Upper Kenai. This section is where most of the fly-fishing takes place. Alaska State Parks manages a boat landing right off the Sterling Hwy where the river flows from Kenai Lake. The Upper Kenai is drift only (no power boats). This adds immeasurably to the quality of the experience.
A RIVER FOR EVERYONE
The Kenai is a wonderful river. Fishing the Upper River in the Cooper Landing area with the spectacular backdrop of the Chugach Mountains is what Alaska is all about. Considering the rising costs of destination fly-in lodges and outpost camps, it is no wonder the Kenai is a popular river. The Upper Kenai draws anglers because it is accessible (100 easy miles from Anchorage), holds sizable fish, and has a relatively long fishing season. Much of the river parallels the road as it travels through the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. For those wishing to get away from the road, the five miles above Skilak Lake wind through a canyon gorge and offer a remote wilderness trip into the heart of the refuge.
The Lower Kenai adjacent to the towns of Soldotna and Kenai continues to draw the majority of salmon fisherman. They seek out record sized King Salmon on guided powerboat trips. For those wishing to catch these giants, the Lower Kenai is the place to fish. Fly-fishers and anglers wishing for a little more solitude and scenery can find their place on the Upper Kenai. The plentiful Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Sockeye and Silver Salmon keep things interesting.
Text from www.mysticfishing.com