The “red salmon” of the Kenai River are legendary! Red or Sockeye Salmon are noted by the indigenous peoples of Alaska as integral to the river’s ecosystem. By returning each year, Sockeye helps the native Rainbow Trout population to thrive, along with Bald Eagles, Brown and Black Bear, and of course, humans. Scientific studies show the protein DNA of the Sockeye (and other Salmon) registers in leaves near the tops of trees 30 feet away from the riverbank. That’s how important that protein source is to the environment!
The species is revered. In summer, the Red Salmon confluence in force at the mouth of the Moose and Kenai Rivers has been celebrated in the annals of First Peoples history since time immemorial. Known for its size and abundance, the Sockeye is a favorite with anglers throughout the world who come to Kenai in search of the ultimate catch.
Best Kenai Red Salmon Fishing Locations and Times
If you’re looking to catch Red Salmon you should probably focus on one of several locations along the Kenai River in and around Cook Inlet. The hardest fighting of all Salmon species, sockeyes run close to shore and are largely caught from the bank. The Kenai River sees an annual in-river Sockeye Salmon return of between 750,000 and 1.5 million fish a year. The run typically peaks sometime between July 10-25 but can also be caught early to late summer. There are two runs, or depending upon your perspective, three runs of sockeye passing through the Kenai River; one spawns in the river in July and two others pass through the river on their way to the Russian River tributaries and others.
- Russian River Early Run: June 14 – July 8
- Russian River Late Run: July 28 – Aug 24
- Kenai River (Late) Run: July 11 – Aug 19
If you’ve never fished for Sockeye before, here are some tips.
- Don’t wade into the water past your knees.
- Position your back 45 degrees to the current and flip out various distances at angles of about 12 o’clock to 2 o’clock. Keep tension on the line the entire time by drawing the rod back towards the bank.
- Gently feel the weight clicking the bottom of the river 2-to-4 times during the drift.
- Keep the rod 90 degrees to wherever the fish is so it’s always bending to the fish.
- When your net partner is ready, pull up on the rod to bring the fish up to where your netter can see it and get underneath it.
- Be careful of flying hooks. Because these fish are caught by a “flossing” technique the hook is never buried deep in its mouth.
- If the fish is not hooked directly in the mouth it needs to be released without removing it from the water.
We Know the Kenai River and We Know Red Salmon!
The Gone Fishing Lodge hosts hundreds of Red Salmon angling devotees each year. Located in Soldotna right on the Kenai River, we offer the best variety of fishing packages for every budget. Don’t put off your Red Salmon quest.
Call or email today for more information.
Gone Fishing Lodge, 48672 Soldotna, AK 99669
Call: (877) 462-5752