Fly Fishing Destination: The Kenai River

The Kenai River, One of a Kind

For both fisherman and outdoorsman alike, the Kenai River has everything to offer.  World-class fishing, breathtaking scenery, and an abundance of wildlife make it truly one of the finest outdoor destinations in the United States. Kenai River Trout fishing is world famous, with a unique environment for growth.

Beginning its journey at the western edge of the Chugach Mountains, the beautifully clear and turquoise waters of the Kenai River wind through canyons and the occasional lake until it empties into Cook Inlet near the quaint town of Kenai.  The river is split into three sections, and each offers a unique experience for thousands of visitors each year.  Whether you’re looking for the adrenaline rush of Class III and III+ rapids, the fight of a lifetime pulling in a famous Kenai King Salmon, or even the peace and serenity of floating the “No power boats allowed” upper section of the river, the Kenai will not disappoint. 

The Kenai River is just a short two or three hour drive from Anchorage, and each section of the river is easily accessible.  That’s what makes it so great!  Here’s a brief summary of each section of the river and what makes them so special.


Photo Credit: Jason Neuswanger, Fly Fishing Blog

The "Upper Kenai" is exactly what you think of when you think, “Fishing in Alaska”.  With the mountains in the background and destination lodges and cabins peppering the river banks, this is ideal for getting away and enjoying wildlife.  Much of the Upper Kenai runs through the Chugach National Forest and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. But it’s not just wildlife; Upper Kenai River fishing is first-class.  At approximately seven miles down-river from Kenai Lake, the Russian River and Kenai River intersect.  This is quite possibly the most famous salmon fishing location in the entire world.  Overflowing with Sockeye Salmon, you can expect to see hundreds of anglers fishing these waters in the summer months.

A Kenai River Rainbow Trout

The “Middle Kenai” is where to go if you’re looking to reel in a massive Rainbow Trout.  As the Salmon spawn and begin to die, Rainbow Trout gorge themselves on eggs and flesh, creating a rapid growth environment. This unique setting has made the Middle Kenai River a world class fly fishing destination. Quickly becoming the must-fish section of the river, this section lets you pick up the pace a little with power boats, and makes for a nice change of scenery. It has become immensely popular with Kenai River fly fishing guides  You’ll find plenty of bends and turns to explore for both fishing and wildlife sightseeing.  From moose to the occasional loon, this area of the river is rich with wildlife.


The “Lower Kenai” (Running about 50 miles from Skilak Lake to the Cook Inlet) is where the river slows and widens before emptying into the Cook Inlet.  Here’ you’ll see nesting swans, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and much more.   However, even though the river slows, the action picks up.  You’re likely to see power boats navigating the river as well as folks casting from the shore.  Multiple Kenai River lodging options make this a great place to stay and relax when you’re done exploring for the day.

The Kenai River is not just for summer time fishing either. This well-known destination has found popularity amongst the locals for rich Rainbow Trout fishing in the winter and beautiful scenery. As Silver Salmon spawn, Alaska Bald Eagles line the trees in wait for their meal. The surreal beauty of the icy blue waters is breath taking. 


Kenai River in the Winter

No matter which area of the Kenai River you explore, you’re sure to discover beauty, fun, and adventure.  Visit for the serenity and peace, or visit for the world-class salmon and trout fishing.  Whatever your preference, the Kenai is a one of a kind experience that will have you coming back year after year. It truly is the ultimate Alaska fishing trip. If your going to take a Kenai River fishing trip make sure you read up on some Alaska travel tips from a local. 

Perry Corsetti
Corsetti's Guide Service


said on Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Fantastic post from Perry Corsetti. He is seriously one of the best fishing guides I have ever had the pleasure of taking a trip with. 


Add Content