rainbow trout caught on Kenai Peninsula

© Nigel Fox / Alaska Drift Away Fishing

Kenai Peninsula Fishing blog by Nigel Fox

The turn of the leaves and the cooler temperatures that come at the end of August signal a change of seasons in Alaska. Fall in Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula, can be a wonderful time of year to fish. There is lots of opportunity for roadside and visiting anglers. In the fall, we are on our last salmon run of the season, halibut fishing is slowing down, steelhead are returning, and trout fishing is amazing.  In this blog, I am going to start the furthest south you can drive on the Kenai Peninsula and work my way north, discussing a few of the opportunities for anglers at this time of year.

Kenai Peninsula Silver Salmon & Steelhead Fishing

Coho (silver) salmon are the last salmon to hit Kenai Peninsula streams. These hard-fighting and usually cooperative salmon can be caught in several streams. The Ninilchik, Deep Creek and Anchor River get strong numbers of silvers. These streams are easy to wade, and you can fish them in a multitude of ways–from fly to spin fishing, silvers are biters and will chase a spinner, inhale drifted roe under a float, and attack a stripped or drifted fly.

kenai silver salmon

© Nigel Fox / Alaska Drift Away Fishing

These streams also get good numbers of steelhead. They’re not as easy to catch as silver salmon, but still fun to chase and equally or perhaps more rewarding, even if you must catch-and-release them. Flies swung, stripped, or drifted through runs can be effective; dead drifting an egg pattern is also very good.

If wading a stream and catching hard-fighting salmon or steelhead is not your cup of tea, Homer is great place to visit for some good old deep-sea fishing. Homer has amazing food, breathtaking sights and is one of the last places you can catch a halibut before they migrate out of range for the winter. Located on Kachemak Bay, there are charters running daily and the weather tends to be mild. You can also troll for king salmon during fall.

North of Homer, one of the larger streams on the Kenai Peninsula is the Kasilof River. This glacial stream can be flooded with silver salmon in the fall. There aren’t many access points to fish on foot; it’s best fished from a boat. There are several charters who book trips on the Kasilof; you should have no problem finding a guide for the day with a simple Internet search.

Kenai River coho, Dolly Varden, and rainbow trout

Continuing north, we run into the lower section of the Kenai River. Silver salmon, Dolly Varden and trophy rainbow trout are the golden ticket here. There are multiple access points in the town of Soldotna from which to fish from foot. Fishing from a boat gives you better opportunity in this stretch of river (from Skilak Lake to the Eagle Rock boat launch).  In the lower Kenai, you have a chance to get your limit of silvers and catch the rainbow trout of a lifetime all in the same day! For the best chance of success, hire a guide.

man fishing on kenai alaska

© Nigel Fox / Alaska Drift Away Fishing

After crossing the Kenai River at Soldotna, the Sterling Highway proceeds north to the town of Cooper Landing, a small town nestled along the upper Kenai River.  This drift-only section of Kenai is more scenic than the lower Kenai. Again, silver salmon, Dolly Varden and rainbow trout are the target species. You can book a charter for the day or walk the banks of the river from the several pullouts along the Sterling Highway. The Russian River is a little gem that dumps into the upper Kenai River a little south of Cooper Landing. This crystal-clear stream is teeming with salmon and trout.  You could spend a whole week of fishing here and have fun every day.  The Russian is easy to fish, and wading is a popular choice for both locals and visiting anglers.

There are other areas to fish on the Kenai Peninsula, but these are some of the key spots for a successful, semi-self-guided trip.


Nigel Fox has been partners with Jeremy Anderson and Nick Ohlrich at Alaska Drift Away Fishing for over a decade. He is a lifelong Alaskan and has been fishing on the Kenai River since he was a young boy, and each year he learns more about the intricate world of catching trophy fish on the Kenai and Kasilof rivers.

Find more blogs and articles from Alaska Drift Away fishing here.