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Thread: Kenai (River/Lake) Skilak small boat camp/fish

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    Default Kenai (River/Lake) Skilak small boat camp/fish

    Searched around the site a bit, didn't find what. I was looking for.

    Looking to get some input on viability of taking a 15 ft Grumman w/ 4hp onto the Kenai River, Kenai Lake, and Skilak Lake for fishing and camping. I have my son (12 yrs) up for the summer and looking for things to fill the weekdays. Is it safe to take such a boat on the Kenai? (Will 4 hp go back up river?)

    Looking at the maps, Skilak Lake has Frying Pan Island and Caribou Island. Are those Islands accessible by small boat with an area to to moor or beach a small boat overnight and an area to camp? Any other places for shore or island camping in that vicinity? (We really like the idea of Island camping.)

    Is it possible to put in at way...Cooper Landing or Kenai Lake and work downstream to Skilak, the return the next day? Or is it better to just out in at Skilak and stay close to shore?

    Not looking for a secret hole (but if you want to offer...LOL) just would like to get info from those with some on water experience before I take my son on the river. Little concerned about safety and want to make sure I have a I idea on camping spots before taking off.(Obviously, I have never been on that water.)

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I can't speak with much expertise to your boat/motor setup (though it does seem underpowered for the Kenai to my novice eyes), but as for your third set of questions regarding putting in at Cooper Landing or Kenai Lake and running down to Skilak: The upper river is non-motorized, so running back up river would not be legal. Furthermore, below Jim's Landing you'd be running through the Kenai Canyon which contains Class III water. So, the short answer is that no, that would not be a viable plan.

    I'll let others chime in on the other questions.

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    That is not a safe boat for the Kenai river or Kenai and Skilak lakes. Swanson river canoe lakes would be fine. I don't want to see your name in the paper. Get a bigger boat.

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    It will have to be a 4 stroke motor to even be on the Kenai river drainage. Didn't see you mention that so I'm throwing it out there. Second I wouldn't take it out on the big lakes as the weather can come up really fast and out of nowhere. Lake waves and ocean waves are two different animals Lake waves are a lot steeper so it doesn't take much to be dangerous in a smaller boat.
    I would look at hidden Lake there are several islands out there that have some great camping on them there also is Lake trout fishing in hidden. It's not great fishing but they can be caught.
    Another option but watch the weather is to put in at the lower skilak launch from there it's a short run to the river and you can stay close to shore if you need to. There is some good fishing to be had on that section down to beings landing. (Check the regs though) There are several spots to camp on the skilak to beings landing section, lots of bears too. Don't miss the beings landing take out or you'll be headed through naptown Rapids.

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    I would NOT put that boat on skilak/kenai/tustumena lakes, good friend of mine died in a 20' boat on tustumena and he'd been on the lake his whole life.

    Hidden lake is a great suggestion, also scout lake out north.


    Might consider a drop off across Kachemak bay as well? Maybe float down Swanson river in that boat?


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    Thanks for the input, folks. Yeah it's a 4 stroke, but 4 hp is all I have; my bigger engine is 2 stroke.

    Swanson River is out because it's no power equipment in there. The boat weighs 120 lbs, so I'm not portaging it very far. I'll continue to search the web on Hidden Lake.

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    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    I thought you could have a motor on Swanson as long as it wasn't over 10hp

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    there is lots of informarion here to read, can you do it yes but only in good weather, not far to the lower camp ground to the mouth
    but as you said 15 ft grumman TYPE ????? of grumman ?? when you get to the boat launch if it is ruff you don't go but when you want to
    get back what do you do ? waves an small motor ??? is the 4 HP 4 cycle ? check regs not sure , long trip to Bings landing , but if you have good weather it would be fun BUT wind on lake , the islands you talked about I think they are private an lots of cabins there [ could be wrong]
    SID

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    Last I checked, Tony is right, 10HP limit on Swanson. And as far as Skilak goes with that low of HP I wouldn't go out on it. Weather coming off the mountains can turn that lake nasty quickly. With all this rain lately I have to think that Swan Lake canoe system would be ideal, planning on a trip myself on the 4th. Moose river is a nice float when the water is high. You might consider a canoe rental and get dropped off at the west entrance, paddle in a few lakes, fish your hearts out, hit Swan Lake and exit through the Moose. You can make the bridge in 5 or 6 hours at a lazy pace. Its what my Dad did with me as a kid, what I've done with one son and will do with the other. Memories for a lifetime.

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    Feel like I'm striking out on this I guess.

    Okay, so...first off, Swanson River and Swan Lake are in the Dave Spencer Wilderness Unit and motorized boats are prohibited. (However, there are about a dozen lakes within said Wilderness unit that DO allow motorized boats under 10 hp with no mention of the dreaded 2 stroke ban, so that might be where you guys are getting the under 10 hp thing from.) Besides, as I said earlier, my boat is 100 plus pounds and my motor, if I'm forced to use the 4 stroke, is over 60 pounds; I'm NOT portaging.

    To answer Sid's questions, it's a 15 ft Grumman Sport Boat, so a little wider than the 19 ft freighter. (43" beam)

    Back to Hidden Lake. I can't find anything yay or nay about camping on those two islands, but I saw a youtube video that is supposedly from that lake and it shows tents on an island in the back ground. It's also a 2 yr old video. The Refuge website states that island camping is discouraged. What I have found about Hidden lake, mostly from threads on this site, is the fishing pretty slow. I've also read that Hidden lake can get the same high winds and waves that Skilak can get.

    So, yeah, I feel like I'm striking out. My son's friends went camping on ox island out of Seward earlier this year, so that is where this is all coming from (the notion of camping on an island), but I'm not going out there (to Fox) for obvious reasons.

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    What about those islands on Cooper Lake? Are you allowed to camp/are they suitable for camping, and how do you get in there to launch? Also, what about Porcupine Island? (looks to be 5-6 miles of near shore travel from Quartz Creek.)

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    Launch from Kenai Lake, float the Upper Kenai, take out at Jims landing. None of that requires an outboard, and as long as you're competent with the paddles, the river is completely fine for a boat such as yours. There are 2 small sections of what ya might call whitewater, both are easily avoided by taking the line around 'em.

    Once you're past the confluence with the Russian River, you'll go about 1/2 a mile and there will be powerlines overhead. Below that the river braids and there are a number of islands with good campsites, google earth is your friend in getting a feel for what suits you. Once all the braids rejoin into the mainstem, there will be a channel on river left, across from a long cobbled beach (on river right) DO NOT go down that braid!!! It was clear last I heard, but it changes quickly and there are a lot of old growth cottonwoods in there that tend to fall across the channel. After that long beach, it is all mainstem stuff until you get to Jims Landing. There are braids and channels to be played in, exercise caution if you choose to try em. Don't float past Jims, or else you'll be dedicated then to getting across Skilak, after a splashy run through the canyon.
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    Actually, now that I think about it, there is an island on Lower Trail Lake that I've camped on before, it's near the highway, launch at the bridge by Crown Point and motor up the lake to it. Not a long trip, but it IS an island.

    The Kenai will offer a better chance at productive fishing tho'.
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    Hmmm. According to the Kenai River Special Management Area brochure and the Kenai River supplement to the Alaska Boater's Safety Handbook, camping anywhere other than developed camping facilities, including islands, is prohibited. I think the thread just became obsolete.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    What about those islands on Cooper Lake? Are you allowed to camp/are they suitable for camping, and how do you get in there to launch? Also, what about Porcupine Island? (looks to be 5-6 miles of near shore travel from Quartz Creek.)
    They are very small and rocky if I recall correctly, however there are plenty of decent camping spots along the edge of that lake, out toward the dam is a couple cool ones, I don't think it gets much fishing pressure either, could be good fishing. I've run my river boat up there and its been nice both times, never fished it myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    What about those islands on Cooper Lake? Are you allowed to camp/are they suitable for camping, and how do you get in there to launch? Also, what about Porcupine Island? (looks to be 5-6 miles of near shore travel from Quartz Creek.)


    I've been out on both Tustumena and Skilak in a canoe. Not a problem.......stay close to shore, if it gets rough pull out.....no biggie.

    I've camped on Porcupine Is.. It can be real nice. Again.........Kenai lake is big so it can get windy. Just use your head.

    Used to boat and camp on Cooper Lake a lot and it's a nice spot. It too can have winds come up on it. So, again...use your head and you'll be fine. If you do Cooper Lake, you get there by going to the end of Snug Harbor Rd. If you want to get away from the majority of people (that camp right at the end of the road) take the canoe down the lake towards the dam. You'll see where the lake narrows and opens up again. Just on the other side of the narrows is a nice place to camp and out of the wind. Caught fish there too when we went. Bring your rifle as there can be some good blackie hunting around there. Neat places to day hike as well.

    Have fun....!!!
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    How much has your kid been in a canoe? Will he be a help paddling & keeping the canoe upright or is he apt to cause an incident (particularly in rough water)?
    If I were you, I'd borrow or rent a portagable canoe (REI is a great place to rent - espically if you're a member); forget about taking a motor and hit the Swanson River canoe trails. The fishing will be easy & plentiful. The canoeing will be easy. And the portages aren't too bad - a lot of them are under 1/4 mile. Pick up a copy of "The Kenai Canoe Trails" - one of the BEST and most comprehensive "how to do it" books I've found. Some of the lakes even have islands with established campsites. Best of all, if you go during the week, you'll probably be by yourselves - a real "wilderness experience".
    Try it - you'll like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    How much has your kid been in a canoe? Will he be a help paddling & keeping the canoe upright or is he apt to cause an incident (particularly in rough water)?
    If I were you, I'd borrow or rent a portagable canoe (REI is a great place to rent - espically if you're a member); forget about taking a motor and hit the Swanson River canoe trails. The fishing will be easy & plentiful. The canoeing will be easy. And the portages aren't too bad - a lot of them are under 1/4 mile. Pick up a copy of "The Kenai Canoe Trails" - one of the BEST and most comprehensive "how to do it" books I've found. Some of the lakes even have islands with established campsites. Best of all, if you go during the week, you'll probably be by yourselves - a real "wilderness experience".
    Try it - you'll like it.
    If we were to do that, he would go in a kayak. Not exactly what we're looking for...err, what I'm looking for...but you're right, would be a substitute activity.

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    Whatever you decide, take lots of bug spray and head nets, they've been really bad again this year!


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    Quote Originally Posted by limon32 View Post
    Whatever you decide, take lots of bug spray and head nets, they've been really bad again this year!


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    Thanks. We have a "bug box" which is just a storage container with tons of bug coils, those Off brand fans, a thermacell and replacements pieces, bug dope, and head nets. I never leave home without it.

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