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Thread: Is the Kenai Wildlife Refuge really that much better for trout fishing?

  1. #1

    Default Is the Kenai Wildlife Refuge really that much better for trout fishing?

    What do you guys think. In terms of rainbows and dollies which part of the river is best? Let's say this was a trout tournament and the winner would be decided on total weight and biggest fish for points. Which area would you float in the last weeks of September? Thanks again guys!

  2. #2
    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Yellowknife, NWT


    For numbers I would fish the refuge, you can catch 100 fish a day with a good shot of a high 20's fish. The middle river you won't catch as many fish however the average size will be bigger with a decent chance of a fish over 30 inches. The refuge fish are a more beat up as it is estimated that each fish in that section is caught 20 times a season. If you are looking for cleaner looking and larger average size trout fish the section from Skilak Lake to Bings Landing. If you are looking for a ton of fish with a decent chance of a 26 to 30 inch fish, hit the refuge. I have hooked fish over 30 inches in the refuge but their numbers are lower than in the section below Skilak. The refuge has more gravel bars to stop and fish than the middle river does if you like to get out and wade. Keep in mind that most if not all of the guide boats take 4 persons out. If there are just 2 or 3 of you the other seats will be filled with other anglers, not a big deal as it's usually a good time had by all. Just a heads up if you were expecting just you and the wife or buddy and the guide.

  3. #3
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Eagle River/ Juneau


    isn't the refuge from the russian river to killey river? seems like a silly question to me
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  4. #4

    Default Negative

    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    isn't the refuge from the russian river to killey river? seems like a silly question to me
    Though technically you are correct regarding land ownership (if you will), but the reference, I believe, to this question is related to the waters that require a specific refuge permit to guide.

    Indeed the area from Skilak to the Killey is within the refuge, however the actual river belongs to the State DNR... i.e. the flowing water is a state park. What that means is if I access the river through a State Park or other area, I can guide the river (middle) without a refuge permit, as long as I don't step foot on the banks or use the refuge facilities.

    While I don't fully understand the complexities of exclusive/competitive use permits on the refuge sections of the upper, certainly the most logical access (put-in and take-out) are Refuge properties; thus they are able to control guide activities within that section of river.

    For the non-guided angler, this issue of refuge/non-refuge becomes practically moot. However, back to the question, the area implied by the present question relates to Sportsman's Landing to Skilak

  5. #5
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States

    Default Drifter is right on

    I float both sections of the river depending on different things. My wife loves the upper section from the lake or sportsmans to jims landing. Easy for her to fish off the bars, she does very well on the drift and we both catch lots and lots of fish. The thing is most of the fish are in the 20-24 inch range. We have pulled some 27 and 28's out both dollies and bows but have not broke that 30 thier yet but we will die trying. Now on the other hand the 30" barrier has been broken by us quite a few times on the "mid river" Skilak to bings. It is a pretty long float so in the fall if it is a crappy crappy say we will hit the upper. When we see a nice break and can put a nice 10 or 11 hours (all the daylight we have in late september) we can or will do the mid river. I have had so much fun on both. I also like the upper or refuge when i have newbies or 1st timers. Get them on the fish early and ofton. Either way the worst day on the kenai beats any day in anchorage or working. Just our fishing thoughts.
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight


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