Area Sport Fishing Reports
Salmon - Kenai River, Russian River, and other Kenai Peninsula waters
September is a great time to go coho salmon fishing on the lower Kenai River. The middle of September usually sees great fishing all the way from Cunningham Park up to the Kenai Keys area. Popular shore access points include the boardwalks at the Soldotna Visitor's Center, Soldotna Creek Park, Rotary Park, Morgan's Landing, Izaak Walton State Park, and Bing's Landing. For a map and complete list of public access points, check out the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet.
In September, bait and treble/multiple hooks can be used in Skilak Lake, and in the mainstem Kenai River from the mouth of the Kenai River at Cook Inlet, upstream to the Upper Killey River.
Excellent coho salmon fishing can be found in the upper Kenai River (above Skilak Lake) from Cooper Landing downstream to the Kenai Canyon from the middle of September to about the second week of October. Bait is not allowed, and anglers may only fish with one unbaited, single hook, artificial fly or lure. The gap between point and shank must be 3/8-inch or less and beads fished ahead of flies, lures, or bare hooks must be fixed within two inches of the hook or be free to slide on the entire length of the line or leader.
In the Russian River area, coho salmon fishing is usually best near the end of the second week of September. Weir counts end on the Russian River by early September.
In the mainstem Kenai River (including Skilak Lake), once you keep your bag limit of coho salmon, you may not fish in the Kenai River below the Soldotna Bridge on that same day. Bag and possession limits for coho salmon vary depending on the waters you are fishing, by date, and may be in combination with other species. For a complete summary of coho salmon fishing regulations, checkout the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet.
Salmon - Other Fresh Waters
In the Kasilof River small numbers of coho salmon continue to be available until the middle of September. Best success comes in the early morning. Beginning September 16, bait and treble/multiple hooks are prohibited. Anglers may only use unbaited, artificial flies or lures.
The Swanson River system sees a very small run of coho salmon, usually appearing in the middle of September. Bait and multiple hooks are allowed in the drainage; however, Sucker Creek is closed to all salmon fishing.
Rainbow and Steelhead Trout and Dolly Varden - Flowing Waters
Rainbow trout fishing in September on the upper Kenai River can be slow to excellent, depending on water conditions. Fall rain can cause the river to rise rapidly as well as create turbid conditions. Sometimes enticing a rainbow trout with a full stomach of salmon eggs to hit your unbaited lure is a challenge, but many sport fishing anglers find that's part of the fun. This is the time of year when you may have to try every trick in your tackle box to entice a strike.
There is a very small run of steelhead trout in the Kasilof River. Catching a steelhead trout is challenging, but if you are one of the lucky ones, please remember it is illegal to remove the fish from the water and it must be released immediately.
Dolly Varden fishing in September can also be exciting, depending on water conditions. Dolly Varden are in their fall spawning colors at this time and are beautiful fish. Some streams/rivers, including portions of Quartz Creek and Cooper Creek close September 15 to protect spawning Dolly Varden. Remember to check the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet closely for fishing regulations specific to individual streams/rivers and drainages.
There are 25 lakes throughout the northern Kenai Peninsula area that are stocked with rainbow trout, Arctic char, and landlocked Chinook or coho salmon. Fishing is usually excellent in these lakes in September. Try using small spinners, flies, or, where legal, fresh shrimp or preserved salmon roe. Publications describing these lakes is available 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 lakes of the Kenai River drainage are open to fishing in September, including Crescent Lake and Hidden Lake. Hidden Lake is one of the few lakes on the Kenai Peninsula that has lake trout. Bait may be used in all lakes, with the exception of a few areas of Kenai Lake. Be sure to check the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet carefully!