Kenai River silvers arrive in the nick of time: just about the time that one is completely burned out or turned off by the huge crowds, intense nature and necessary patience of king fishing, the wonderful silver salmon begins to show in the lower river. Chrome bright and full of fight, these prized sport fish of 7-12 lbs. lighten the moment and offer it all: a spectacular fight on light gear, wonderful table fare and a myriad of ways to catch them, satisfying anglers from novice to expert! Pound for pound they are a great fish to fight with jumping acrobatics part of the show.
Perhaps this is why the Coho remains one of the locals favorite fish: the method employed is up to you! Sit on anchor on a traveling lane in the lower river and plunk eggs. Or, for those type A fisherman not content to sit and wait, cover the holding water (eddies and side channels) ala pink salmon style, casting and retrieving Pixee spoons or Vibrax spinners. When your arm tires from repeated casting, put out a K15 Kwikfish or Hotshot and take a break, back trolling while your friends cast away. These methods are popular in both the lower and middleKenai. The upper Kenai offers holding silvers eagerly awaiting a big, gaudy fly tauntingly presented with a rhythmic stripping retrieve.
Although biologists may dispute it for political reasons, seasoned guides and long-time locals will tell you that the Kenai River has two distinct runs of Coho. The first begins in late July/early August but usually doesn’t fish well until after August 10th, when Cook Inlet set-netting ends and decent numbers of Coho are allowed to enter the system. The lower Kenai normally offers peak fishing from the 15-25th and remains good through the end of the month. Many years there is a small window of slower fishing the first week of September, lending credit to the locals two-run theory. By the tenth, the larger (10-18 lb.) second-run fish arrive in good quantity. The lower river fishes well through September, but fresh fish continue to enter throughout the fall and into the winter. October in the middle river can offer exceptional silver fishing for those hearty and tough enough to brave the cold, late fall weather.
And there lies the beauty of the feisty silver salmon: a long season, minimal crowds, endless ways to fish them, a spectacular fight and great table fare.