Lower KenaiThe final 21 miles of the Kenai River is commonly referred to as the Lower Kenai. Starting at the Sterling Highway Bridge in the small town of Soldotna, the river repeatedly winds and bends but ultimately flows west-ward towards the town of Kenai to the point where it meets the saltwater of Cook Inlet. Due to the close proximity to these two small but modern towns, this section of the river is the most populated with many private residences, several RV parks and multiple launch sites located on the bank.
The final 12 miles of this section are inter-tidal and it is here that the bulk of the fishing pressure occurs during the busiest king salmon season, specifically the peak of the July late run. This fishing is serious business best done from a stable boat. The big fish, many obstacles and numerous boats necessitate a skilled operator, heavy tackle and much patience-but the reward can be big! It comes highly recommended to hire a guide for king fishing the lower river.
While the lower Kenai remains clean, calm and civil most of the year, especially early in the king season and during the fall Coho runs, if one is looking for a quiet, wilderness experience during July, the lower Kenai won't be their best bet. After all, the pulses of fresh fish brought by the tides of the lower river make it a great spot to fish. Combine this fact with a July time frame that marks the arrival of the abundant late-run sockeye as well as the largest strain of Chinook on the planet, and it's only natural that people travel the world to fish the lower river. Count on numerous boats, sometimes totaling in the hundreds, in close proximity during your July day on the lower river. However, the fishery operates in a remarkably civil way despite serious boat traffic and heavy pressure, and many anglers return year after year in their quest for the biggest salmon they'll ever catch!