Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Guided Fishing

One of the things that makes the Kenai Peninsula so great is how much diversity there is between all the rivers and streams. The juxtaposition between the Kasilof River and Kenai River is really something special and affords extended fishing opportunities as the two rivers, just 12 miles apart, play off each other  The Kenai River has a late run of sockeye salmon that flood the river starting July 1st. But what about June?  Wouldn’t it be great to fish for Alaska Sockeye in June? That’s where the Kasilof River (and Russian River) comes in and helps out.

Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Fishing

Full Day

June 15 - Aug 15

Kasilof River Sockeye Combo Fishing

Full Day

June 15 - July 31 Sockeye/King
Aug 1 - Aug 15 Sockeye/Silver

Fish All Fifty Team With a Stringer of Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon

Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Fishing

June 15 - Aug 15

The Kasilof River has a fantastic run of sockeye salmon and we fish it a lot. It’s often a toss-up, in the early season prior to July 10, whether we prefer to fish the Russian River or The Kasilof River. The win probably goes to the Kasilof. Due to its limited road access points and equally limited walk-in points it leaves the Kasilof rugged and beautiful compared to the crowds that form on the famed Russian River. Tackling it in one of our drift boats is the best way to go.

We love the Kasilof because it brings such a wide variety of fishing opportunities – wild run king salmon, hatchery king salmon, sockeye salmon, silver salmon, and a great fall steelhead fishery. And because the fish arrive here at slightly different times.

This river changes pretty quickly. Once the longer and warmer days of June arrive, the glacier melt-off will increase, and the river will rise quickly. The changing river definitely changes how we fish it. Luckily we’re fishing it nearly every single day so we always have a pulse on how it’s trending.

Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Fish Counts

June 15 - Aug 15

The Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon fishery is a really steady fishery year after year. The Kasilof has just one return of sockeye salmon that start to return around June 15th every year.  

Timing this river is really important for successful fishing. Once these fish enter the river it’s only a 16-mile journey for them to Lake Tustumena and they can reach it pretty quickly. Once they reach the lake they can be pretty hard to get so we definitely want them in the river. For this reason we carefully select our fishing time to coincide with incoming tides as we know that’s when the new push of fish enter the river each day.

The fishing pickups up around June 22nd each year and continue to grow stronger until peaking about the 20th of July. Fishing will remain good to excellent until approximately August 11th. 

Each year the Kasilof River sockeye salmon run will reach its minimum escapement goal of 160,000 fish on July 10 and cross the maximum escapement goal of 390,000 fish by August 2nd. Once the maximum escapement goal has been reached it’s not uncommon for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to increase daily angler limits. 

Kasilof River Sockeye Fish Counts Daily-Escapement
Morello Family With Russian River Sockeye Limits

Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Fishing - What To Bring

Once we hit the water on the Kasilof River we’re committed. We’re in a drift boat and we’re committed to the end. We’ll make stops along the way but we have no choice but to continue downstream to the pullout.  Both the upper Kasilof River fishings trips and lower Kasilof River fishing trips take between 6-8 hours. It’s important to come prepared.

  • Fishing license & king salmon stamp (for combo days)
  • Clothing appropriate for the day’s weather. This may need to include warmer clothes for the morning, and t-shirt’s in the mid-afternoon, and rain pants and rain jacket by late afternoon. Seriously, Alaska weather can change dramatically throughout the course of the day so please do a careful review of the predicted weather and plan accordingly so you can be comfortable.
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Lunch, Snacks, and Drinks. Adult beverages are allowed. 
  • A waterproof cell phone case is always a good idea. We don’t expect your phone to be dropped in the water, but rain is always a possibility
  • A great attitude!  No one wants to catch fish more than us! We’re in this together.

Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Fishing - What To Expect During Your Day

The Kasilof River is a drift boat only fishery and one of our favorite rivers to fish in all of the Kenai Peninsula. We will often fish the upper river for sockeye but most of our Kasilof River king salmon fishing will be done on the lower Kasilof River starting at the Sterling Highway bridge.

We have two meetup spots. The first is at the Kasilof River Recreation Area which is located right at the Kasilof River Bridge on the Sterling Highway about 12 miles south of the town of Soldotna. The second is a Tustumena Lake boat launch where we put in to start fishing the upper Kasilof River.

Our day will begin around 6:30 AM when we put in and we’ll start fishing for Kasilof River Kings almost immediately. As the day progresses we’ll continue to work ourselves downstream until we reach the pull. On days when we can do both Kasilof River sockeye fishing and Kasilof River king salmon fishing we’ll step out of the boat on various gravel bars as we work our way downstream and fish for sockeye salmon from the banks.

You can expect that we’ll be professional, friendly, passionate, and great people to spend the day with. Whether you’ve fished all over the world or never fished at all, we’re always excited to share what we know and learn what you have to share. And you can expect 100% of our effort all day

Young Angler Kissing Kenai River Sockeye
Kasilof River Drift Boat

What Are The Chances Of Catching A Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon?

The Kasilof River sockeye salmon fishery has really been consistent year over year. From June 22 to August 11 each year the chances of catching sockeye are very good. And catching limits during that time frame is very good as well. The limit is typically set at 3 Kasilof River sockeye salmon per person per day unless the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has modified the daily limits.

The Kasilof River sockeye salmon run is definitely one of the best choices to fish during the later May and early June time. The chances of catching fish on the Kasilof River will be some of the best opportunities available during that time of year. And it’s a pretty awesome fishery.

Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Fishing - Do We Need A Guide?

We strongly suggest getting a guide for at least 1 day on the Kasilof River. The help of a guide is needed more starting in late June and the first part of July than in the early run of May and June. The Kasilof River does not have very many public access points but has some great fishing that can only be accessed from a drift boat. As the water level rises it becomes more difficult to target king salmon from the bank and it’s always better from a boat regardless.

One of the reasons why the Kasilof River does not get as much attention as the Kenai River is that there are only a handful of public access points. However, in a drift boat, the entire river becomes accessible. We really recommend getting out with a guide at least for one day to get an orientation on the river, how to fish it, and where the best gravel bars are located to target the Kasilof River sockeye salmon.

If you’re comfortable with a drift boat, Alaska Boat Rental & Guide Service has drift boats available. If not, getting a guide for a day is a great option. It’s also a good idea even if you have previous experience. We can help you understand the river, point out the right drifts, teach techniques and help prep you for your own days on the water and be far more productive. 

Kenai River Sockeye Salmon Stringer

Book Your Kasilof River Sockeye Salmon Guided Fishing Trips Online