kenai peninsula (july 2006)
I just got back from the kenai area today and wanted to share my experience for anyone who is planning a trip. we did a 5 night, 4 day trip with a very well known guide service that included lodging, meals, etc.
the first day we went king salmon fishing on the kasilof river, only caught 1 fish in 7 hours because of the heavy commercial netting on the river. unfortunately, nobody told us about this ahead of time so we were unable to plan for it. the river itself was beautiful though.
the second day, we went king salmon fishing on the kenai river. the fishing was better, we caught 3 fish between 4 anglers, largest was between 30-40 lbs. for those who have never fished on the kenai, the boat traffic is extremely heavy. at times, it feels like a parking lot- but this is the price we pay for trophy class kings.
the next two days, we fished in the ocean with great success- caught a number of halibut, silver salmon, monster lingcod, and yelloweye. much better fishing and much more enjoyable than the river. we had great weather too- 2 days of clear skys between storms.
one of the main benefits of the guide service was that they cleaned, vacuum packed, and froze the fish for us. in general, the guides were excellent, friendly, and extremely knowledgable. I have no complaints about this aspect of the trip.
unfortunately, the amenities at this service were awful. the first 2 nights we stayed at the lodge in soldatna. our room was below the kitchen and each night beginning at 3 am, the kitchen staff made a tremendous amount of noise and basically ruined sleep for the rest of the night. the quality of the room was about that of your average motel- far from the 5 star quality suggested by the brochure. the food was also below average, not what we expected and certainly not worth the amount we were paying. the next 2 nights were at the lodge in seward which was better, but still far below the expected quality. the food was from costco- lunch each day of the trip was deli meat sandwiches that we made for ourselves each morning. we tried to discuss our feelings with the owner, but he did not make himself available to us. we weren't alone in our sentiment, every single group felt that the quality of our lodging was far below the price, and nobody was planning a return visit.
that being said, I think the best way to plan a kenai fishing trip is to either drive up in a motor home or stay in a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast. there were several bed and breakfasts that looked excellent- and were far below the price that we were paying. there are also numerous restaurants that looked decent, and plenty of charters available that can be booked in advance. I would not recommend any well-publicized/famous lodges/guide services that promise 5 star accommodations, the best trip is one that you plan yourself.
I would be happy to discuss any specifics regarding this post, email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your best bet is to plan your trip a year or so in advance. This can be done using the internet. I like to book my own lodging, and there are a number of nice rental cabins all over the Kenai Peninsula. You can prepare your own meals, eat out, or barbeque every night. Once your accomadations are set, then you can research and get feedback on guide service. Customize your vacation to fit your needs, and there will be less surprizes.