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Home Travel Center North America Alaska Nick's Guide Service

Nick's Guide Service

Nick's Guide Service

Join Nick's Guide Service on the Kenai River, Kasilof River or Cook Inlet angling for King (Chinook), Silver (Coho), or Red (Sockeye) salmon, Trout, Char and Halibut. The world famous Kenai and Kasilof rivers provide anglers with some of the best salmon fishing found in Alaska. Float the scenic Upper Kenai River by drift boat flyfishing for Rainbow Trout & Dolly Varden. Giant Halibut and salmon are available in Cook Inlet throughout the sport-angling season. Since 1986, Nick's Guide Service has been guiding sport-fishing enthusiasts to unparalleled success on Alaska's incomparable Kenai Peninsula.
 
The section of Kenai River from Kenai Lake downstream to Skilak Lake, including a 1/2 mile radius from the Kenai River inlet, is managed as a "Trophy Trout" fishery. The Kenai River, from mile 82 to the Kenai River inlet at Skilak Lake, is designated as a "Drift Only" area. Use of a motor is prohibited. Only unbaited, single hook, artificial lures may be used in all flowing waters above Skilak Lake. Nick's Guide Service encourages C&R sport fishing when targeting Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden char.

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Seasons & Species

The Kenai is a glacial river draining the central Kenai Peninsula. Originating at Kenai Lake, the Kenai River courses 82 miles through the communities of Cooper Landing, Sterling, Soldotna and Kenai before emptying into Cook Inlet. Sport fishers ply the cold, glacial waters of the Kenai angling for anadromous (sea-run) king, silver, sockeye and pink (in even numbered years) salmon, resident (exclusively fresh water) and anadromous Dolly Varden char and native populations of resident rainbow trout. Lake trout are common in Kenai Lake and Skilak Lake.

KENAI RIVER KING SALMON

With two distinct runs of Chinook returning to the river, the Kenai supports the largest freshwater king salmon fishery in Alaska. First run kings begin returning in early May. The run peaks in mid-June. It is comprised mainly of king salmon returning to tributaries of the Kenai River. The majority of these fish return to the Killey River and the Funny River, both of which flow into the Kenai below Skilak Lake.

A second, larger run of king salmon begins entering the Kenai in early July. The late run is comprised of kings that will eventually spawn in the Kenai River. The peak of the second run traditionally occurs during the latter half of the month of July. The sport fishery for king salmon on the Kenai River is limited to the waters between Skilak Lake and Cook Inlet and is continuous from the first returns of fish in May through the season closure on July 31.

KASILOF RIVER KING SALMON 

Twelve highway miles south of Soldotna lies the tiny hamlet of Kasilof and the river that bears the same name. The Kasilof River is one of the most popular drift boat fisheries in Alaska. It supports returns of king, red and silver salmon.

The first return of king salmon, a hatchery enhanced run returning to Crooked Creek via the Kasilof River, arrives in mid-May and continues through its peak in mid-June. A second run of Chinook, native to the Kasilof River, migrates into the river in early July and builds through the sport season closure July 31. The bulk of the red salmon run enters in July. Silver salmon return in early August into September. After September 15, silver salmon and steelhead are available.

Red Salmon

Sockeye (red) salmon enter the Kenai River in two separate runs also. The first run of fish is bound exclusively for the Russian River drainage and begin entering the Kenai in late May. Traditionally, this run moves through the 50 miles of Kenai River below Skilak Lake rapidly, offering minimal sport fishing opportunities. The confluence of the Moose River and Kenai River in Sterling provides the best opportunity for anglers attempting to intercept these first run reds before they arrive at the mouth of the Russian River. The confluence of the Russian River and Kenai River and the previously mentioned Moose River are both designated as "fly fishing only areas". This refers to terminal tackle which must be an unweighted fly with a hook gap of no more than 3/8" and does not mean that anglers must use a fly rod.

The second run of reds begins entering the Kenai River in early July and peaks in late July. Numerous fish are bound to eventual spawning destinations in tributaries throughout the drainage, including the Russian River. Others spawn in the main stem of the Kenai River, between Kenai and Skilak lakes and just below Skilak Lake. During the second run, reds are available throughout the Kenai River.

Silver Salmon

Silver salmon also migrate into the Kenai River in two distinct runs. First run fish begin appearing in late July. This run peaks middle to late August. Late run silvers enter the river in early September through October.

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon are available in the fall of even years only (i.e. 1994, 1996, etc.). Their abundance and aggressiveness towards any moving lure provide sport anglers with non stop action.

Rainbow Trout & Dolly Varden (Char) 

Rainbow trout are native to the Kenai River, spending the winter in the lakes of the drainage. The best fishing occurs in the section of river upstream from Naptowne Rapids to Skilak Lake and the portion of river designated as a "Trophy Trout" fishery on the scenic Upper Kenai River upstream from Skilak Lake to Kenai Lake. The majority of trout spawn during the low, clear water conditions common in the spring prompting ADF&G to prohibit fishing on the Upper Kenai River from May 1 through June 10 seasonally to protect their spawning endeavors from human interference.

The Kenai River supports both resident and anadromous populations of Dolly Varden. Resident fish are available during the entire year and throughout the river. Anadromous Dolly Varden begin to enter the river in mid summer continuing into September. These fish spawn in the fall and winter over in the river and lakes. In the spring anglers intercept them as they return to Cook Inlet.

 

Itinerary

You will meet your guide at the specified location and time as detailed prior to your arrival. 

For King Salmon fishing, you will meet your guide near or in the town of Soldotna.

For Trout and other Salmon fishing, the small community of Cooper Landing, located approximately 90 miles from Anchorage and which swells with visitors in the summer months, will generally serve as your planned meeting place.  

With the arrival of the first run of sockeye salmon to the Russian River, a tiny stream meandering through the Chugach National Forest that empties into the Kenai River, anglers ply the clear waters of the Russian River and the glacial Kenai River near the confluence.   Red and/or silver salmon angling opportunities continue into the fall.  

The best trout fishing takes place from the end of July through September as trout and char congregate to feed on the salmon spawning beds. 

Accommodations

Locally, there are several Bed & Breakfast facilities, small rental cabins and a large, luxurious full service lodge, the Kenai Princess Lodge, to stay at before, during and after your fishing with Nick's Guide Service.

It is also feasible to plan "day trips" from the Anchorage area.

Other Activities

Numerous activities are available to non fishers while visiting the area.  Several establishments offer rafting/historical adventures on the upper river.  Wildlife viewing opportunities abound.  Bald eagles, beaver, moose, caribou and brown and black bear frequent the banks of the river.  Dall sheep and mountain goat inhabit the rocky elevations and snow capped peaks that surround the scenic upper Kenai River valley.  Backpackers and hikers enjoy traversing the many trails that explore the area.

Rates

King Salmon May 1st - July 31st

Kenai River Power Boat

$175.00/half day

$250.00/full day

Kenai/Kasilof Rivers Drift Boat

$250.00/full day

Salmon/Trout/Char (Russian River/KNWR Trophy Trout Fishery)

June 11th - October 31st

Drift Boat Only - $250.00 / Includes Kenai River Canyon weather/conditions permitting

Silver Salmon

August 1st - September 31st - Kenai/Kasilof Rivers

Power Boat – $165.00

Drift Boat – $165.00

Prices quoted per angler/per excursion based on double occupancy minimum. Prices do not include an additional 3% Borough Sales Tax. Reservations accepted on first come first served basis. Activities are full day except where noted in the Kenai River king salmon fishery. Fish processing accomplished by several local businesses for an additional fee.


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