Kenai River King Salmon Guided Fishing

Kenai River king salmon fishing is one of the most popular recreational activities on the Kenai River. Anglers come from all over the world in an attempt to catch one of these magnificent Kenai River king salmon. Make no doubt about it. This is trophy king salmon fishing. 

Kenai River King Salmon Fishing

Full Day & Half Day

May 15 - July 31

Kenai River King Salmon Experience

3 Hours

May 15 - July 31

Kenai River King Salmon Combo Fishing

Full Day & Half Day

July 1 - July 31

Kenai River King Salmon

Kenai River King Salmon Fishing

May 15 - July 31

Our guided Kenai River king salmon fishing trips can begin each year as early as May 15 and continue through July 31st. Kenai River king salmon fishing ends by state regulation on July 31st each year. 

The Kenai River king salmon run is two distinct runs. The early Kenai River king salmon run starts May 15 and continues until June 30. The late Kenai River king salmon run starts July 1st and continues until August 15th when the last few remaining king salmon make their way into the Kenai River drainage. But, as mentioned above, fishing for Kenai River king salmon ends annually on July 31st. 

Kenai River King Salmon Early Run

May 15 - June 30

We do most of our Kenai River king salmon fishing during the early Kenai River king salmon run on the lower Kenai River. One of the primary reasons for this is simply the lower water levels. Using a powerboat on the Kenai River is advantageous because it allows us to quickly try a number of different areas. Also, when we do hook into one of these monsters we are able to use the boat to go up and down the river with them helping to minimize the amount of current the fish is pulling with as well. 

However, low water levels can make getting up higher in the river more difficult due to shallow water. During the early run, we’ll begin staying below Pillars boat launch.

Kenai River King Salmon Run Fish Counts
Kenai River Seasonal Water Level - Discharge Rate

Kenai River King Salmon Late Run

July 1 - Aug 15, Fishing Allowed July 1 - July 31

As we approach July, water levels begin to rise as the Kenai River starts to swell in depth, and discharge rate. The river get significantly deeper. As it does, we are able to move further upstream and fish more of the river. By mid-June, we can move several miles upstream and by the first of July, the river is just short of the annual peak discharge rate and height that it will maintain over the next 8 weeks. By July 1 we can consider using a powerboat all the way from the mouth of the Kenai to Skilak Lake including navigation through Naptown Rapids.

The late run of Kenai River king salmon start to arrive on July 1 and will peak around July 20th each year with an average of 450 monster Kenai River king salmon entering the river per day enter. With nearly 70% of these fish spawning between river mile 10 (Eagle Rock) and river mile 30 (Moose Confluence), we will focus most of our attention on the lower and middle Kenai River. Most of this focus will even be below Slikok creek because, by general regulation, bait is allowed below river mile 19, and this significantly improves catch rate.

Kenai River King Salmon Fishing - Methods

All of the Kenai River king salmon fishing we’ll be doing will be done from inside the boat with a maximum of 4 anglers. Our boats have been customized specifically for fishing the Kenai River. Our boats are 20′ long with 50 hp outboard engines and 5 seats total – comfortably seating 4 anglers and 1 guide. This configuration is the maximum allowed boat size and engine size allowed on the Kenai River. 

We’ll be using a combination of techniques for targeting these Kenai River king salmon. Using Luhr-Jensen Jet Divers helps keep the lure right on the bottom of the river where we know the fish are. Along with that we’ll primarily fish 2 rods with Kwikfish and 2 rods with spin-n-glo lures but we’ll also leave your choice of lure up to you! Both are very effective at catching Kenai River king salmon. When bait is allowed, we’ll use scents and wrap the Kwikfish with a nice oil-enriched piece of sardine, and to the back of the spin-n-glo, we’ll attach a ball of fire red cured eggs.

Anchor River Big King Salmon
Kenai River King Salmon

Kenai River King Salmon Fishing - What To Bring

We will provide nearly everything you need on our Kenai River king salmon guided fishing trips. This includes fishing rods, reels, bait, nets, and everything else needed for a successful day of fishing. The only thing you’re absolutely required to bring is your fishing license with a king stamp, both valid for the day of fishing. We’re required to review these prior to the start of fishing for the day.

Here are a few things you can consider bringing in order to make your fishing with us more comfortable:

  • Fishing license & king salmon stamp
  • 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.

Kenai River King Salmon Fishing - What To Expect During Your Day

Our full-day king salmon trips start at 6:30 AM and either leave from Centennial Campground boat launch or at Eagle Rock boat launch. When you arrive, we will be waiting for you, the gear will be ready to fish, and we’ll be ready to go. After quick introductions and a license check, we’ll be ready to head out. It won’t be more than a 5-10 minutes boat ride to where ever we’ll start fishing for the day. 

Most of our fishing will be done between river mile 10 and river mile 30 and we will move up and down the river. Restroom facilities are no more than a few minutes away at any given time and we do like to encourage bathroom breaks every 2-3 hours. Our full-day trips are from 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM.

On a typical day, we are constantly back trolling the boat. This means we point the boat upstream and apply just enough power to the engine that the boat slowly moves downstream with the current drifting our lures into the fish as they are resting or swimming upstream. 

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.

Kenai River King Salmon Fishing

What Are The Chances Of Catching A Kenai River King Salmon?

We’re not going to sugarcoat this. Catching a Kenai River king salmon requires patience, effort, timing, and know-how. And we know how. However, does that mean you’re all but guaranteed to catch a king? No, it does not. And, please run, don’t walk from anyone giving you a different impression.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game has done a wide variety of studies regarding catch rate and angler effort. In its most recent report, for early run Kenai River king salmon fishing, an unguided angler spends, on average, 32 hours per Kenai River King Salmon. Guided anglers spend 14.9 hours per Kenai River king salmon.

The Kenai River King salmon run has significantly more fish entering the river than the early run so the catch rates are much higher. Unguided anglers required 23 hours per Kenai River king salmon while guided anglers only required 13.6 hours. You can find all this information in the tables on pages 20 & 21 under the column CPUE (Catch Per Unit Effort).

In summary, what this means is that even in the best of years you can expect to do a lot of fishing and not a lot of catching when you’re targeting these huge fish. Kenai River King Salmon is truly trophy fishing. Wouldn’t really be much of a trophy if these things were just jumping in everyone’s boat now, would it? But as a friend of mine once said, when you do catch that Kenai River King Salmon you’ll have a fish that you’ll be telling your grandchildren about. 

Kenai River King Salmon Fishing - Do We Need A Guide?

Generally speaking, the short answer is yes. 

First off, you’ll need a boat. Landing a Kenai River King Salmon from the bank is pretty much nonexistent. On those rare occurrences when a 70 lb fish does take your line and swims downstream with the mighty Kenai River helping out, he’s probably barely even going to know you’ve hooked it. The rods are likely to break, the line is likely to break, and it’s going to getaway. You need a boat to help give you the best chance to hook one and then the best chance to land one.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game has done a large number of studies on angler effort per Kenai River King Salmon catch rate as well. Unguided anglers make up 65% of the total angling effort and caught 48% of the total King Salmon caught. Professional anglers made up 35% of the total angling effort and caught 52% of the total effort. Professional anglers are way way better at catching Kenai River King Salmon. You can find those statistics here:

Captain Hunter Nash With Kenai River King Salmon

Book Your Kenai River Guided Fishing Trips Online