By Jeremy Anderson

As this next summer of Alaska fishing gets closer to reality it’s time to think about what gear you need to have a great trout season. There is gear that helps you catch more fish and be more organized. There is also gear that helps you release trout back into the water safely and efficiently. It is our duty as trout fisherman on the Kenai River (and all other waters) to treat these trout with respect and to care for them properly.

Release Tools:

There are several types of release tools that you can make or purchase. If you use a release tool for the fish you are not going to net then you literally do not have to touch the fish, which eliminates the opportunity for a human hand to pull the slime off the body of the trout. This is important for small fish to remain healthy so they can become big fish. If we catch 50 fish in a day trout fishing I use the release tool for about 40 of the fish and a rubber net for the other 10. That means that I only touched 20% of the fish that we caught that day. The fish never came out of the water. Email for information on release tools.

Big Rubber Nets:

Having a large rubber net is very important for the rainbow trout to remain healthy while you are dealing with your fish. Having a big rubber net allows the rainbow trout to remain in the water without the fish wanting to swim out. Fisherman that use smaller rubber nets often lift the net mostly out of the water so the fish doesn’t jump out. They keep the fish in the net but the trout is then out of the water and probably not breathing correctly. Frabill and Ranger make the best large rubber nets. They have long handles, deep buckets and last a long time; these nets cost roughly $90 to $110 each.

Dun Rite Measuring Board:

A good measuring board is crucial for accurately measuring your fish quickly without taking it out of the water. The board opens up and can measure a fish up to 60 inches long. So for trout fishing it is perfect because when it is not open it is 30 inches long. You can easily slide the fish onto the measuring board and butt the nose of the fish in the board. Make sure the fish is flattened out (and still breathing in the water) and you have an instant measurement. Do not measure the fish out of the water. This board also floats so it is very easy to do it over the side of the boator when pull over to shore. Don’t go trout fishing without one of these boards if you want an accurate measurement with the least possible amount of fish-handling.

P-Line Hydro Float:

This product is critical if you are going to spin-fish for rainbow trout with a bobber. Float fishing, the type of fishing being described here, is one of the most deadly ways to catch rainbow trout on the middle and lower Kenai River. You use a slip bobber with a leader and dead-drift your fly or bead through the hole. To maximize your drift, it is important to have a floating line from the bobber to the reel so you can have proper line management. P-Line Hydro Float is the ticket. It is almost like a braided line, thin and strong, but has a coating on the line that makes it float. I recommend the 30-pound line for fishing the Kenai River.

As you embark on the sacred trout journey this summer and fall remember that the fishery really depends on the people fishing it to lead by example. More people have started trout fishing on the Kenai River in the past 10 years than ever before. The more people we get using these fishing products for rainbow trout fishing the healthier our Alaska fishery will be. The Kenai River is a thriving but extremely sensitive fishery. If we take care of the rainbow trout of the Kenai they will grow to be big, old fish and our kids will be able to experience the same fishing we have been able to enjoy.


Jeremy Anderson has guided on the Kenai for more than a decade. He lives in Sterling during the summer months, centrally located to some of the best trout- and salmon fishing waters in the world. During the long Alaska winter Jeremy lives in Girdwood where he works as Director for Challenge Alaska Adaptive Ski School . For more information, visit the Alaska Drift Away website at