Kenai Peninsula waters offer four main species of salmon for sportfishing enthusiasts: chinook (king), coho (silver), sockeye (red), and humpback (pink or humpy). Each of these species offer exceptional dining qualities, and great angler experiences.
While it is possible to catch fish from the shorelines as a "bank fisherman", it is recommended that you consider hiring a professional guide if you are unfamiliar with Kenai Peninsula fishing. King salmon, for example, usually travel down the middle of the river, and not near the bank. This makes a successul bank fishing trip for king fishing a real challenge to say the least.
Kings, can actually be found year-round in the saltwater marine fishery, but start their spawning runs into fresh water from early May to August. First the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers, followed by the Deek Creek draining near Ninilchik see the first king runs. The Kasilof River is a popular sport fishery with the river speckled with the trademark wooden drift boats of fishing guides navigating this designated "motorless" waterway. Aspen Hollow is just over a mile from one of the few pull-outs for boats from the Kasilof River. For many of our guests, the famed Kenai River King Salmon is their target. From early May through July, both the Kenai and Kasilof rivers are popular fishing destinations for our guests. The world record King Salmon tipped the scales at 97 lbs, 4 ounces mid-May through July, kings are in the Kasilof and Kenai rivers.
One of our sayings at Aspen Hollow is "Come for the Silvers... Stay for the Gold" , as the annual run of silver salmon on the Kenai Peninsula usually coincides well with the approaching autumn colors of gold.
Silvers average about 10 pounds. They start showing up in the salt water fisheries of Cook Inlet in mid July, and can be found in peninsula streams by late July. With the exception of the Kenai River, where silvers are still present through October, most runend about mid-September. These are fantastic fish to catch, as they are very acrobatic and put up a decent fight. The added benefit is the colorful autumn foliage that lines the river banks. It is one of our favorite seasons.
Reds (sockeye) weigh about 6 pounds, on average. The Kasilof River, nearby Aspen Hollow Lodging is one of the early runs in mid-June, followed by the Russian River near Cooper Landing, then the Kenai River. By mid-July, late runs are returning to the Kenai and Russian rivers, where they are available well into August.
Pinks, the largest in number, are the smallest in size, averaging about 4 pounds. In peninsula waters, runs are strongest on the "even" numbered years — 2008, 2010, etc.. This is probably the most popular fishery for young anglers, as pinks tend to bite eagerly. While some Alaskans shun the lowly pink salmon, we actually prefer this as our choice when canning fish. The flesh on pinks is, well - pink, compared to the deep crimson flesh of the kings and reds. But a flavorful product none-the-less.
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