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Thread: Spring Kenai River flyfishing tips needed!

  1. #1
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    Default Spring Kenai River flyfishing tips needed!

    I've lived on the Kenai Peninsula for 3 years now and have really been wanting to get into flyfishing for rainbows on the Kenai River. I don't have a boat so I am looking for good places that I can drive to and get and hike the river bank and have some success. I just purchased a new 9', 8wt rod (I checked several places and they all recommended either 7wt or 8wt for the Kenai in case you happen to hit a mosnter rainbow or a sockeye or silver). Anyone with good info on where a beginer can go practice and get some decent fish without alot of pressure from other more experienced fisherman. Also, FYI, Im not new to fishing, just fishing for rainbows on the Kenai. I dont know much about Strike Indicators and some of the other more technical aspects related to fly fishing here but I do have quite a bit of experience flossing for sockeyes and have the basic flip technique down. Otherwise, any pointers would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

  2. #2
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Hi there. Welcome to the forum.

    Thereís really no secret to the Kenai. Anywhere you can access the river from the highway can be productive Ė itís just a matter of how far youíre willing to walk. As for having some success and getting into some decent fish, well thatís just going to take some time (maybe more, maybe less). Without a boat, Iíd say youíre better off focusing on the upper river, just because thereís a lot more water downstream of Skilak. Youíll find it a bit easier going wading the upper river and being able to work good lies. Use your fish instinct and focus on places fish are likely to be holding/feedingÖ current seams, eddies, boulders, downed trees, tailouts, etc.

    You could hike down to the canyon above Skilak Lake from Skilak Loop Rd or just fish right below the bridge in Cooper Landing. The bridge downstream by the Russian, Sportsmanís Landing, Jims Landing, and any pullout along the road can put you on trout with some persistance (and maybe a little bit of luck).

    That said now, keep in mind that the river is closed to rainbow fishing May 2 Ė June 10. As for spring fishing before the closure (up to May 1), you may luck out and get on some fish aggressively feeding (more than likely on outgoing smolt), but as a general rule fish are few and far between this time of year. Many would define success as one good trout during a spring day on the river. Leeches, smolt, flesh flies, and stonefly nymphs can be good early season producers. The nice thing about spring fishing is water levels are down and you can walk miles of stream bank. Itís a great time of year to learn the river structure and identify some likely spots to try out later in the year. And thereís very few people on the river this time of year, so youíll have lots of room.

    After the river opens back up in June, salmon start to play a bigger picture. But until the salmon really start to get going, the same flies can be producers (and really through the rest of the season). Of course, by late July most of your fish are going to come on beads, flesh flies, egg patterns, etc. But donít be afraid to try something different! Any gravel bar you can walk to has potential for trout, just go exploring.

    Overall, thereís really nothing you can do to get away from other fishermen throughout the summer. During peak season there will be people on just about every good bar, hole, etc. either from drift boats, rafts, or other people on foot like yourself. Just be courteous, donít crowd in on other people, and itís no big deal. Thereís really plenty of room as long as people are respectful, and most people arenít going to begrudge you fishing nearby. You might learn a thing or two watching some more experienced folks as well.

    Other thoughtsÖ
    Remember when salmon move into the river they often rest in the best holes and push trout into more marginal water. Fish the fringes around holed up salmon.

    An indicator is just a bobber. Put the indicator several feet higher above the fly than the water is deep where youíre fishing.

    Cast upstream at an angle so your fly can sink near the bottom and then try to minimize drag on the fly as it drifts by you downstream.

    Donít get frustrated. Enjoy being on the water whether youíre hooking up or not. Have fun! If you do that, the fish will show up eventually.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  3. #3
    Member
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    Kenai
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    I'm in Kenai & also have little experience but want to hit it this year.
    Send me an email & maybe we can carpool or something one day.
    vwonserATalaska.net
    Replace the AT with @
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  4. #4
    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    Hi there. Welcome to the forum.

    Thereís really no secret to the Kenai. Anywhere you can access the river from the highway can be productive Ė itís just a matter of how far youíre willing to walk. As for having some success and getting into some decent fish, well thatís just going to take some time (maybe more, maybe less). Without a boat, Iíd say youíre better off focusing on the upper river, just because thereís a lot more water downstream of Skilak. Youíll find it a bit easier going wading the upper river and being able to work good lies. Use your fish instinct and focus on places fish are likely to be holding/feedingÖ current seams, eddies, boulders, downed trees, tailouts, etc.

    You could hike down to the canyon above Skilak Lake from Skilak Loop Rd or just fish right below the bridge in Cooper Landing. The bridge downstream by the Russian, Sportsmanís Landing, Jims Landing, and any pullout along the road can put you on trout with some persistance (and maybe a little bit of luck).

    That said now, keep in mind that the river is closed to rainbow fishing May 2 Ė June 10. As for spring fishing before the closure (up to May 1), you may luck out and get on some fish aggressively feeding (more than likely on outgoing smolt), but as a general rule fish are few and far between this time of year. Many would define success as one good trout during a spring day on the river. Leeches, smolt, flesh flies, and stonefly nymphs can be good early season producers. The nice thing about spring fishing is water levels are down and you can walk miles of stream bank. Itís a great time of year to learn the river structure and identify some likely spots to try out later in the year. And thereís very few people on the river this time of year, so youíll have lots of room.

    After the river opens back up in June, salmon start to play a bigger picture. But until the salmon really start to get going, the same flies can be producers (and really through the rest of the season). Of course, by late July most of your fish are going to come on beads, flesh flies, egg patterns, etc. But donít be afraid to try something different! Any gravel bar you can walk to has potential for trout, just go exploring.

    Overall, thereís really nothing you can do to get away from other fishermen throughout the summer. During peak season there will be people on just about every good bar, hole, etc. either from drift boats, rafts, or other people on foot like yourself. Just be courteous, donít crowd in on other people, and itís no big deal. Thereís really plenty of room as long as people are respectful, and most people arenít going to begrudge you fishing nearby. You might learn a thing or two watching some more experienced folks as well.

    Other thoughtsÖ
    Remember when salmon move into the river they often rest in the best holes and push trout into more marginal water. Fish the fringes around holed up salmon.

    An indicator is just a bobber. Put the indicator several feet higher above the fly than the water is deep where youíre fishing.

    Cast upstream at an angle so your fly can sink near the bottom and then try to minimize drag on the fly as it drifts by you downstream.

    Donít get frustrated. Enjoy being on the water whether youíre hooking up or not. Have fun! If you do that, the fish will show up eventually.
    What he said. I can't really add anything to what he said. Try all the pull outs heading down the Sterling highway. Be persistent. Don't give up if you can't find fish. The Kenai can be a frustrating place in June and July. There'll be a big flesh bite in the week or two following the red opener and then it gets a little tougher until the egg drop later in the summer. The bridge in Cooper Landing can be spectacular in April if you can figure out what the fish are feeding on. Last year they were boiling the surface for the first few hours of daylight. They were extremely specific on what they were feeding though and if you didn't "match the hatch" you weren't in the fish.
    Alaska: We're all here cuz we're not all "there"

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