5 Species of Pacific Salmon

Fish for 5 species of Pacific Salmon in the rivers as they move in to spawn or in the offshore or nearshore waters here too.  If you choose to do a saltwater trip, you can target halibut, rockfish, lingcod and salmon all from the same boat on the same day.

Kenai River

The Kenai River is famous for its salmon and trout fishing.  The King Salmon fishing can be unbelievable during the summer.  Anglers fish for sockeye, coho and pink salmon, rainbow trout, dolly varden and lake trout.

Run Timing

King Salmon (Chinook)
First Run: Mid May to July; Second Run: Mid July to July 31 (last day of season)

Red Salmon (Sockeye)
First Run: Late May to Early June; Second Run: Mid July to Early August

Silver Salmon (Coho)
Late July to Late September

Pink Salmon (Humpbacks)
Mid July to Late August (Even Years Only)

Rainbow Trout
June 15 – October 31

Dolly Varden and Lake Trout
Entire Year

Kasilof River

The Kasilof River is not as popular as the Kenai River, but it is also a very good river for fishing.  Located just south of the Kenai River by 11 miles and is slightly smaller in size.   It begins at Tustamena Lake and flows northwest for 17 miles before dumping into the Cook Inlet.  Anglers target king, sockeye, silver (coho) and some pink salmon to go along with steelhead, dolly varden and rainbow trout.  It is a drift only river, so no motors are allowed.

Run Timing

King Salmon (Chinook)
Late May to Late July

Red Salmon (Sockeye)
June through August

Silver Salmon (Coho)
Late July through September

Russian River

The Russian River is another popular river on the Kenai Peninsula.  This river is known for its sockeye salmon and coho salmon runs.  There are 2 runs for the sockeye salmon and a fall run of coho salmon.  This river has a lot of access and is fairly shallow, so you can easily find a place with fishing access and waders will do the trick for fishing the Russian River.

Run Timing

Red Salmon (Sockeye)
First Run: Mid June to Mid July; Second Run: Mid July to Late August

Silver Salmon (Coho)
Fall Run

Chinook Salmon

Also known as king salmon, these fish have silver sides with black spots on the back and on both lobes of the tail.  When caught out of the lake or sea, they are a beautiful looking silver fish, however, they turn very dark once they get into the rivers for their fall spawning run.  Chinook salmon are the largest salmon and they make strong, powerful runs once they are hooked.  Many Chinook over 40 pounds are caught every year and the world record is over 90 pounds.

Chum Salmon

Chum salmon are very silver with faint vertical stripes along their sides.  The stripes are not as distinct as the ones you will see on striped bass, but you candefinitely see their stripes, which is different from any other salmon.  They do not have distinct spots anywhere on their body.  Chum salmon typically live for 4 years and they can grow fairly big.  Many fish are caught over 10 pounds and the world record is over 30 pounds.

Coho Salmon

Coho, also known as silver salmon, look similar to Chinook, but the tail has spots on the upper part of the tail only.  They are very silver in the lake or sea, but they change colors when they enter the rivers for spawning season.  Most coho caught are between 4 and 8 pounds, but some very large coho are also caught with a world record over 30 pounds.

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon, also known as humpback salmon, have silver sides with large black spots on the upper sides, their back and throughout the entire tail.  Pink salmon are much smaller than coho and Chinook.  The average size pink salmon is around 3 to 5 pounds and they normally only live for 2 years.  The world record is just above 13 pounds.

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye salmon, also known as red salmon, have silver sides with a bluish-green back.  Like the chum salmon, they don’t have any distinct black spots on their body.  Just prior to spawning both sexes turn red with green heads and sport a dark stripe on their sides. Males develop a hump on their back and the jaw and teeth become hooked during their move from salt to fresh water.  They have a 4 year life span, but they grow slowly.  Most sockeye salmon are in the 3 to 5 pound range and any fish over 10 pounds are considered a trophy.  The world record is just over 15 pounds.