Kenai Peninsula Fishing Adventures
Many of Bear Paw Adventure’s guests visit the Kenai Peninsula to fish and halibut or salmon fishing is often on the top of their bucket list. If you fish for halibut on a charter vessel, you will be able to keep two fish per day, although the second fish is limited to no more than 28-inches. No halibut charter fishing is allowed on Wednesdays, and you are allowed a total of 4 charter-caught halibut per year. Salmon bag limits depend on the species and, in some cases, also by where the fish are caught, but daily limits of 1 king, 3 reds and 2 silvers are perhaps typical.
Sport fishing reports for areas of Alaska can be found on the Alaska Fish and Game Website. Select the “Homer/Lower Kenai” area and then select the “month” of your travel.
Bear Paw Adventure provides free professional advice about these local fishing options:
- Saltwater Charters for halibut, salmon, cod or rockfish
- Guided Freshwater Fishing on the rivers for salmon, trout, dolly varden and grayling
- Guided Fly Out Trips for salmon, trout, grayling, char and northern pike
- Unguided Fishing on your own or with a riverbank guide on the local rivers and lakes or at the fishing hole
- Clamming for razor clams
Alaska Fishing License
You will need a fishing license, and if you fish for king salmon, you will also need a king salmon stamp. Good News! Children under the age of 16 are not required to have a license. Several license options are available for you.
You can buy your license online before your trip, but unless you plan to buy an annual license, it is probably best to wait until you get to the Kenai Peninsula so that you can be sure that the dates on your license include the days you fish. A 1-day license, for example, is for a specific calendar date. You can purchase your license at several stores in Anchor Point and nearby Homer.
Visit the Alaska Fish and Game website for details.
Taking Care of Your Fish
If you fish with a charter operator, your charter fee will include cleaning your fish in preparation for packaging and freezing. If you fish on your own, you can either fillet your fish yourself or take them to the processor. Guests at Bear Paw Adventure are welcome to use Bear Paw’s fish cleaning table for this purpose.
Local fish processing services are available to vacuum pack and freeze your cleaned fillets. The cost for this service is about $1.05/lb. You can also package the fillets yourself, and freeze them in the freezer section of the refrigerator in your vacation home at Bear Paw Adventure. By far, the fillets will keep better in your home freezer with vacuum packing. If you pack your fish yourself, use freezer bags and take care to squeeze all of the air out of each bag.
For your return home, you can pack your frozen fish in an ice chest or in a “wet lock box” (that you can purchase locally) and then check it in on your flight as baggage. Baggage fees may apply and be sure to keep the box weight under your airlines weight limit, usually 50 lbs to avoid overweight charges. Another option is to have the fish processor pack your fish for you in their fish box. You can ship your frozen fish home by Fed Ex, at a costs of about $200 for a 50 lb box.
The Adventure: Access to remote areas on the Kenai Peninsula or across Cook Inlet for day-trip fishing adventures is available through local flying services. These fly out trips include a fantastic flight-seeing ride, fishing equipment and guide.
Examples of specific trips, targeted species, location, dates available and approximate cost:
- King Salmon, Bristol Bay Drainage, June 20 to July 15, $3,450 for up to 5
- Silver Salmon, Western Shores of Cook Inlet, July 20 to Sept 9, starting at $395/person
- Sockeye Salmon, Wolverine Creek at Lake Clark National Park, June 10 to July 31, $395/person
- Arctic Grayling, Remote Lakes in the Kenai Mountain Range, June15 to Sept 9, starting at $360/person
- Rainbow Trout, Kenai Peninsula, May 25 o Sept 9, starting at $325/person
- Trophy Raingbo Trout, Bristol Bay Drainage, June 8 to Sept 9, $3,450, $3450 for up to 4 persons
- Lake Trout, Dolly Varden and Sockeye, Crescent Lake at Lake Clark National park, $475/person with a group of 4, June 10 to Sept 9
- Grayling, Char and Pike, June 1 to Sept 9, Remote Streams at Lake Clark Pass, $2,950 for up to 5
Kenai Peninsula Rivers offer a variety of fish species, with salmon being perhaps the most popular. Big, first-run king salmon on the Kenai River is an Alaskan classic. Salmon runs in the fresh water occur periodically throughout the summer and fall, with typical appearances as shown below. See the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Run Timing Charts for more details and timing for other species.
- King salmon – May through July (an early run and a late run)
- Sockeye salmon – June through August
- Coho salmon – late July through September
- Pink salmon – July through Sept, peaks in August
Kenai Fish Sizes:
- Chinook (king) Salmon: Avg. size: 40 lbs
- Coho (silver) Salmon: Avg. size 12 lbs
- Sockeye red) Salmon: Avg Size 8 lbs
- Rainbow Trout: Avg size: 22 inches
- Dolly Varden (Char): Avg size 20 inches
Power boat, guided fishing is available on the Lower Kenai River and drift boat fishing can be chartered on the Upper Kenai River and on the Kasilof. Full-day trips ($195 – $295/person) are available.
Check the Alaska Fish & Game Regulations before fishing
Halibut are perhaps the most popular saltwater target and these big flat fish are available year round, except in January. Halibut are migratory however, and the best halibut fishing occurs in the months of May through September. Halibut only day charters are $295 per person in June or in July and August with a party of 6. Otherwise, July and August Halibut only trips will be at the combo price of $350 per person.
Charters fishing in the waters off Anchor Point are also likely to pick up grey cod and rock fish as well as other species.
Salmon fishing in the saltwater is also a major sport off Anchor Point. Salmon fishing success depends upon the timing and population of the individual salmon runs, although feeder kings are caught year round. Saltwater king salmon only charters are priced at $295/person.
When salmon are present in the saltwater off Anchor Point, sports fishing charters can be arranged for salmon only trips, halibut only trips, or combination halibut and salmon. Combo charters are priced at $350/person in July and August or $295/person in June.
- King Salmon (run fish) are generally available May through August,
- Sockeyes June and July
- Coho and Pinks July and August
Trophy Charters are saltwater fishing trips that target Ling Cod and may also include Black Bass and Yellow Eye. These trips require a longer boat ride than typical halibut charters and will have you on the water for 10 to 12 hours. Approximate cost - $395/ per person.Click to read more about saltwater fishing off Anchor Point.
Fishing the rivers and lakes on the Alaska Kenai Peninsula is a popular sport and a great way to enjoy the Alaska outdoors. Anglers will find easy access to salmon runs on the Anchor, Kenai, Russian, and Kasilof Rivers, Deep Creek and the Homer Spit fishing hole.
Please carefully read the Alaska fish and game regulations that apply to the Kenai Peninsula and to the specific area you plan to fish. The regulations commonly include restrictions on the use of bait, type of hook and weight, legal species and size, days when fishing is allowed, bag limits, etc. Also be aware that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game may issue emergency closures that take affect with little notice. You will also find a lot of useful information including a link to Emergency Orders at Lower Cook Inlet Management Area – Fishing Information.
Wade Fishing on the Kenai Peninsula
Fishing on your own on the Kenai Peninsula Rivers is generally wade fishing, requiring a good pair of chest waders. Be careful of the fast moving currents and stay in shallow water so that the current can’t take you off your feet.
Anchor River Fishing
The Anchor River, accessed at Anchor Point, is one of the Kenai Peninsula’s popular fishing rivers. You will reach this river in just minutes from your lodging at Bear Paw Adventure.
The Anchor, downstream of the Old Sterling Highway Bridge, is open weekends and Wednesday’s for king salmon, starting the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, for a total of 5 weekends. (Note that this schedule is subject to change.)
The Anchor River is open for other species during those time periods and July 1 to October 31. Silver salmon fishing in the Anchor is usually excellent and starts with the run in late July and continues through mid-September. The best fishing is usually early morning.
Because red salmon (sockeye) spawn only in river systems that include a lake, the Anchor River does not have a red salmon run. Dolly Varden can be found in the Anchor River in early July through October. Check the Alaska fish and game regulations for restrictions related to these fisheries.
Steelhead fishing in the Anchor River begins in early August and peaks in mid- to late-September. This is catch-and-release fishing and you are not permitted to take the fish out of the water and must handle the fish carefully.
Click here for Run Timing for Kenai, Soldotna, Anchor Point Areas. (Information summarized from Alaska Fish and Game Run Timing Publication.)
Guided Bank Fishing
An excellent way to accelerate your learning curve and catch more fish when wade-fishing the Kenai Peninsula Rivers is to engage a professional guide. This service is available at Anchor Point.
NOTE: IN RECENT YEARS, CLAMMING HAS BEEN CLOSED ON THE KENAI PENINSULA. CHECK CURRENT REGULATIONS BEFORE PLANNING A CLAMMING TRIP.
Digging Razor Clams or clamming is one of the most popular sports on the Alaska Kenai Peninsula. Clams are available all year, but the best digging occurs April through September.
You will need an Alaska State fishing license, a clamming shovel or tube and a bucket. Bear Paw Adventure has a limited amount of clamming gear that guests can use and additional gear can be purchased locally. You will want to wear rubber boots and rain gear. Be sure to check the current limit on the number of clams you can dig to avoid an expensive fine.
Clamming on Sandy Beaches from the Kasilof River to the Anchor River
Clamming beaches are found on sandy beaches from the Kasilof River to the Anchor River, with one of the most popular spots being Clam Gulch, located at Mile Post 117.5 or 37.5 miles from Bear Paw Adventure. This beach is easily accessed by road. (Caution: Do not drive on the beach as there is a danger of becoming stuck and then caught in a rising tide. In addition, most rental car contracts don’t allow driving on the beach.)
Check the Tide Tables for Ideal Times
For success in clam digging, you will need to dig during a minus tide, preferably minus 2 feet or lower, when the clam beds are exposed. Your can purchase tide charts locally at Anchor Point and you can also check the tides for the dates of your visit to Anchor Point on these Tide Tables.
Click to download more information about Razor Clams: when, where and how to dig them, and clam cleaning information from the Alaska Fish and Game website.