Kenai River Silver Salmon Guided Fishing

Kenai River silver salmon is a transition point for a summer spent pursuing king salmon, sockeye salmon, and salt water fishing for halibut. When August 1st comes around each year, the crowds dwindle, the trees start to change into autumn colors and the Kenai River silver salmon start making their way into the Kenai Peninsula river system. Fall is officially here. 

Kenai River Silver Salmon Fishing

Full Day & Half Day

Aug 1 - Sep 30

Kenai River Silver Salmon Experience

3 Hours

Aug 1 - Sept 30

Kenai River Silver Salmon Combo Fishing

Full Day & Half Day

Aug 1 - Aug 20

Kenai River Silver Salmon Fishing

Kenai River Silver Salmon Fishing

Aug 1 - Sept 30
Aug 1 - Aug 20 Combo Silver/Sockeye

Our guided Kenai River silver salmon fishing trips are one of our fall personal favorites. The summer crowds have disappeared, the fall colors start to show up throughout Alaska, locals are starting to shift from fishing to hunting, and silver salmon start making their way up the Kenai Peninsula watershed. The Kenai River is the destination for a large majority of them and a a lot of the “big ones”.

Kenai Silver Salmon are aggressive towards a wide variety of lures which makes experimenting with and catching these fish a ton of fun for all types of anglers. These are big powerful fish and we often catch them on fairly light tackle while we’re fishing for sockeye salmon – it gets exciting quick. 

From August 1st to August 20th we’re able to target both Kenai River sockeye salmon and Kenai River silver salmon. By August 21st the Kenai River sockeye run is coming to an end and we switch our focus to just Kenai River silver salmon.

Kenai River Silver Salmon Fish Counts

Normally, there would be a graph of the Kenai River silver salmon fish counts here and a discussion about when the silver salmon show up, all scientifically discussed with sonar counts, the peak times to fish for them, and more. However, for a variety of reasons, Kenai River silver salmon are not counted on the Kenai River. So, instead, we’ll show you current record holder for silver salmon that was caught on Salmon River in Pulaski, New York on Sept 27, 1989. This world-record holder silver salmon tipped the scales at 33lbs 4 oz. That’s a big silver salmon!  

Silver salmon start to enter the Kenai River starting around Aug 1st. However, there are still tens of thousands of Kenai River sockeye salmon entering the river too. Half of the annual Kenai River king salmon escapement are still entering the river, and on even-numbered years millions of pinks are entering the river. All of this makes getting any kind of accurate assessment of the Kenai River silver salmon run very challenging. 

What we do know is that the Kenai River silver salmon run is two distinct and very healthy runs, simply based on fishing the river every summer for years. The early Kenai River silver salmon run peaks around the 2nd to 3rd week of August, and the late Kenai River silver salmon run will peak in the 2nd to 3rd week of September. It’s no coincidence that the annual Kenai River silver salmon derby takes place every year between the 2nd and 3rd week of September. 

Silver Salmon World Record
Silver Salmon & Sockeye Salmon - Can You Tell Which One Is A Silver?

Kenai River Silver Salmon Behavior and Biology

Silver salmon, like all salmon spawn in the freshwater, migrate to the saltwater for a number of years and eventually return to the same spawning grounds. Also like all salmon, their biology begins to change as they enter the fresh water and even before. Their diet becomes extremely reduced diet and a strong desire to focus on getting to their spawning grounds prevails. Their digestive tracts shrink to almost nothing to make room for sperm and eggs. Food and hunting are definitely not on their mind.

Unlike sockeye salmon, silver salmon are really aggressive towards lures and bait, second in aggression to only the pink salmon. Why silver salmon are so aggressive towards lures and bait when compared to sockeye salmon, for example, is not understood but it makes for fantastic fishing when the silvers are in and moving up the river. 

The early Kenai River silver salmon runs significantly overlap with the late Kenai River sockeye salmon run. In the picture here, 5 of these salmon are sockeye and 1 is a silver. Can you tell which one? We’re not going to say here, but if you want to know or confirm if you’re right, send us a note and we’ll tell you.

Kenai River Silver Salmon Fishing - Methods

We target Kenai River silver salmon in exactly the same manner as we target Kenai River king salmon. Using bait-wrapped Kwikfish and eggs on Spin-n-Glo lures, or back-bouncing eggs. Usually though since these fish are smaller, we’ll step down the size of the lure a bit. With Kenai River silver salmon, because we are often in slower moving shallower water, we can also add some additional techniques. The main additional technique is to use a variety of spinners, casting out and slowly retrieving as the lure drifts down stream. And, this is a great way to get actively involved in the fishing. 

Anchoring is now allowed so we can put the boat in the optimum fishing spot. There is no need to constantly back-troll the river like we are required to do for Kenai River king salmon fishing. This makes for a very relaxing day of fishing. We’ve been known to regularly bring the BBQ and make a hot lunch right on the boat. Often times, it’s salmon!

We will also anchor with a quick release buoy that will allow us to come off of anchor when we hook into a particular big Kenai River silver salmon and we would like the flexibility of fighting it with the help of the boat. Many times this is unnecessary but it is very nice to have the option.

Charlie Erickson and Tim Erickson With A Kenai River Silver Salmon
Kenai River Guide Creig Garrett With a Kenai River Silver Salmon

Kenai River Silver Salmon Fishing - What To Bring

We will provide nearly everything you need on our Kenai River silver salmon guided fishing trips. Fall is in the air and so are fall temperatures and we begin our full day trips fairly early in the morning just as the sun comes up. So you can plan on cooler morning temperatures, cool air over the river, and there’s always a chance of rain.

Mostly you’ll need to bring personal layered clothing to stay warm, we always recommend bringing rain pants and a rain jacket unless there is absolutely no chance of rain. 

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

  • Fishing license & king salmon stamp if needed
  • For Kenai River silver salmon fishing, it’s always a good idea to plan for cooler temperature and plan for rain. Better safe than sorry! Dress in layers.
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Sunglasses & eye protection is need sockeye fishing more than any other type of fishing we do
  • 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 Silver Salmon Fishing - What To Expect During Your Day

Our full-day sockeye salmon trips start at 6:30 AM although as we get further into the fall we’ll start these trips a little bit later so we’re not fishing the entire morning in the dark! We usually will fish the lower Kenai River and launch 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. 

Nearly 100% of the day we’ll be in the boat and we typically won’t have to be on the water more than 5 to 10 minutes before we are ready to start fishing. We’ll use a variety of fishing techniques but we rarely have to get out of the boat. There are bathroom facilities always nearby and we like to plan a couple of stops every few hours but can also power through and just hit the restrooms as needed.

Fall mornings can be colder, there is a lot of moisture in the air, the sun has not come up fully by the time we start fishing for the day, and of course, there’s always the chance for rain! Make sure to check our section on this page about what to bring.

Our full-day trips are from 6:30 AM to 2:00 PM. Our half-day morning trips are from 6:30 AM – 11:30 AM and our afternoon trips are from 12:30 PM – 5:30 PM.

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 every day.

Captain Kevin Chavira with a Kenai River Silver
Captain Jim With a Resurrection Bay Silver Salmon

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

Honestly, pretty darn good. The Kenai River silver salmon is a really healthy, consistent run year after year. Certainly, some years are better than others and without scientific fish counts as we have with some other species it’s really difficult to gauge precisely. However, this fishery is so consistent year over the Kenai Chamber Of Commerce has started the Annual Kenai Silver Salmon Derby around it, and many people come up to Alaska specifically to fish Kenai River silver salmon.

Kenai River silver salmon limits are set in combination with Kenai River sockeye salmon during the month of August. You are allowed a combined limit of 3 fish per day but no more than 2 of them can be Kenai River silver salmon. Starting September 1st, the limit becomes 3 Kenai River silver salmon per person. 

As we mentioned before the best time to target silver salmon is mid-August and mid-September. The fishing in August for Kenai River silver salmon is low stress because there are so many Kenai River sockeye salmon in the river, and pink salmon also on the even-numbered years, that we’re always catching something!

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

Kenai River king salmon fishing success rates using a guide are really clear, and it’s almost impossible to catch one of those beasts without a boat. However, it’s not as critical with Kenai River silver salmon fishing, but we would still recommend getting a guide for at least 1 day. Ideally, at the beginning of your stay.

Using a boat with lures presented out the back of the boat, right in the sweet spot, is absolutely the best way to catch Kenai River silver salmon. The boat is maneuvered into the optimum position on the river, the lures are presented at the optimum location from the back of the boat, scents and bait are applied to the lures, and the lures are fishing 100% of the time. Contrast this to using spinners and other forms of fishing where you are in the strike zone only a fraction of the time and it’s easy to see why fishing with a guide from a boat is far more successful.

However, Kenai River silver salmon fishing can be done successfully using the right spinning lures, in the right places at the right time. We would encourage you to get out for a day of fishing with us, learn all the techniques, and then let us point you to the places you can access via car or short hikes to fish successfully on your own. And, because we’re Alaska Boat Rental & Guide Service, we’ve got all the gear to help you be successful and save a lot of money. And, if you’re competent and experienced on the water, we’ve got boats you can rent to do it all on your own.

Nick Garret & Patrick Enslow With Kenai River Silver Salmon

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