Area Sport Fishing Reports
Water levels generally go up from their spring lows by mid-June, and once the high, muddy water passes downstream, water clarity and fishing success generally improves.
To protect spawning rainbow trout, many of the flowing waters on the Kenai Peninsula are closed to rainbow trout fishing or all fishing activity through June 10. Please check the Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet carefully before heading out to fish.
The following is a partial list of some of the more popular sport fishing destinations.
The upper Kenai River (above Skilak Lake) reopens to fishing at 12:01 a.m. June 11 (except for the Russian River "Sanctuary Area"). Outside the fly-fishing-only areas, legal tackle is one unbaited, single hook, artificial lure or fly with the gap between point and shank being 3/8-inch or less. In the fly-fishing-only areas, the tackle must be one unweighted, single-hook, unbaited fly with gap between the point and shank of 3/8 inch or less. The fly must weigh less than ¼ oz. Sockeye salmon and resident species fishing in the upper Kenai and Russian rivers will be progressively getting better over the month of June as early-run Russian River sockeye salmon return to their spawning grounds.
The Russian River Sanctuary Area is not scheduled to open until July 15 but watch the ADF&G website for emergency orders affecting the opening date as it is possible it will open earlier.
The lower Kenai River (below Skilak Lake) opens for trout fishing 12:01 a.m. June 11. In June, the lower Kenai River is open for Chinook, sockeye, and pink salmon, as well as, Arctic char/Dolly Varden fishing. Legal fishing tackle is restricted to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure, any size hook. In flowing waters, beads fished ahead of flies, lures, or bare hooks must be fixed within two inches of the hook or be free sliding on the entire length of the line or leader. There are many public access points on the Kenai River. The Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet has maps depicting these areas and is a good resource for anglers.
There are several confluence areas within the lower Kenai River that have special tackle, Chinook salmon fishing, and boating restrictions. Double checking fishing regulations in the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet and emergency orders is a good idea before heading out on the water.
In June, the Kasilof River is open to fishing for Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon, rainbow/steelhead trout, and Dolly Varden. However, rainbow/steelhead trout may not be retained, may not be removed from the water, and must be released immediately if caught. Bait and treble/multiple hooks are allowed in June but can change if there are emergency orders issued. Fishing in Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Kasilof River, is closed to Chinook salmon fishing all year and will not open until August 1 for resident species and coho salmon fishing.
Chinook Salmon - Kenai River
Chinook salmon fishing continues to improve, with the early-run peaking around the second or third week of June. Once the sonar is installed, estimates of large fish passage are posted on the ADF&G fish count webpage. If you are fishing for Chinook salmon from a boat, try single-hook Kwikfish™, Mag/Wiggle Warts™, or Spin-N-Glos™. If you are fishing from shore, try Spin-N-Glos™, Pixees™, Tee-Spoons™, or L'il Corkies™. Chinook salmon tend to run in the deeper channels, down the middle of the river. Be sure you have enough weight on your line so that your lure crosses their path. Always check regulations and emergency orders before heading out to fish. There are some closed areas of the river, special tackle restrictions, length restrictions, annual limits, and specific bag and possession limits for early-run Chinook salmon. Regulations for the early-run often change by emergency order as well.
Chinook Salmon - Kasilof River
In the Kasilof River, early-run Chinook salmon fishing continues to build until the late-June peak. Excellent catches of 15-25 pound fish are often reported. The early-run is comprised of both hatchery- and naturally-produced Chinook salmon with varying regulations for each. Make sure to double check sport fishing regulations and emergency orders before hitting the river. Bait and treble/multiple hooks may now be used throughout the Kasilof River. Crooked Creek remains closed to Chinook salmon fishing all year and opens to fishing for other species on August 1.
June is the month that early-run sockeye salmon begin to return to the Russian River. The Russian River is a tributary to the Kenai River and is located at approximately river mile 74. June 11 is opening day for fishing on the Russian River. Larger numbers of sockeye salmon aren’t usually present until the last week of June. To access the Russian River anglers often use the Russian River Ferry system or the Chugach National Forest Russian River Campground. Day use parking and camping is available with extensive trails and boardwalks. The Russian River is a beautiful, clear water stream that is wadable. Be bear aware and adhere to U.S. Forest Service forest orders regarding filleting fish, fish disposal, personal gear, and coolers.
Legal tackle in the Russian River and Sanctuary area is one unweighted, single-hook, artificial fly, with gap between point and shank 3/8 inch or less. The fly must weigh less than ¼ oz. If weights are used, they must be at least 18 inches ahead of the fly. Most anglers use a bucktail streamer fly, such as a Russian River coho fly, with enough weight so that the fly/hook travels close to the river bottom. Oftentimes, best success is early morning or late evening, when the sun is not directly shining on the river. Sockeye also tend to hug the bank, and long casts are not necessary.
The small run of early-run Russian River sockeye does not present much of an opportunity to harvest fish in the mainstem Kenai River downstream of Skilak Lake. The biological escapement goal for Russian River early-run sockeye salmon is 22,000-42,000 sockeye salmon.
When the Russian River weir is installed, daily counts are posted on the ADF&G fish count webpage.
Residents of Alaska may participate in a "personal use" dipnet and gillnet fishery that opens on June 25 at the mouth of the Kasilof Rivers. An Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permit and a current sport fishing license is required to participate in these fisheries. Special regulations apply. Make sure to check the Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for information on fishing times, marker locations, fin clipping, recording harvest, and permit requirements.
While flowing water closures to protect spawning rainbow trout are in effect, it can be a great time to concentrate on one of the many Kenai Peninsula's stocked lakes. There are 25 lakes throughout the Northern Kenai Peninsula area that are stocked with rainbow trout, Arctic char and/or landlocked Chinook or coho salmon. Fishing is usually excellent in these lakes in June. Using small spinners, flies, or, where legal, fresh shrimp or preserved salmon roe are recommended tackle. Publications describing these lakes are available online and at ADF&G offices in Anchorage, Soldotna, and Homer. Make sure to check the ADF&G fish stocking and the ADF&G Alaska Lakes Database (ALDAT) webpages for up-to-date lake stocking information.
All other Kenai River drainage lakes are open to fishing, with the exceptions of Crescent Lake which is closed to all fishing May 1 - June 10. Bait may be used in all lakes except ¼ mile of all inlet streams that flow into Kenai Lake, Kenai Lake outlet, and Kenai Lake inlet on Skilak Lake. Make sure to check the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet carefully!