For peak Rainbow trout fishing in Alaska come anytime from mid August through the end of September. There are a lot of great options but the best of them are rivers that have huge red runs – the Kenai and Bristol Bay drainage, like the Alagnak, Tikchik or Kvichak for those truly big Rainbows.
You can come to the lodge here in Cooper Landing for the Kenai fishery and our wilderness float fishing trips give us access to the Bristol Bay rivers. The Kenai is easy to access by car from Anchorage so weekends tend to be busy – plan to fish mid week for the best results.
If you are planning a multi-day trip we can show you several sections of the river so you can fish new waters each day, each with its own special character.
The Upper Kenai flows through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and here, it is closed to motors … plus only 20 of us get to guide trips on this part of the river making it is a special place.
Those of us with permits are all limited to no more than 10 starts per week so be sure to plan ahead if you want to fish here.
The Canyon is the last several miles of the Upper River and has both some fun rapids and some of the best holding water for big rainbows. This part of the river means crossing Skilak Lake at the end of the fishing day so it is weather dependent.
The Middle River starts in the Wildlife Refuge but leaves it after 5 miles. This part is open to motors so has easy access from a variety of put-ins.
Drift boats still account for a lot of the boats on the waters here – most with outboard kickers to allow making several passes through the best holes. Much of the fishing is done from the boat since the river is larger below the lake and the shoreline is less hospitable to casting.
Despite these factors, the Middle has some of the biggest trout in the system and can provide some spectacular memories.
If you are bringing your own gear, bring at least a 7 weight and be able to land big fish without tiring them excessively.
To make roll casting and mending easier, we recommend a 9’6″ or 10′ rod. If you don’t have one, you can use one of ours.
(Or, if you prefer, we will confirm to your spouse that you need to buy a new rod.)
If you are using your own rod, spool up a large arbor reel with an excellent drag system – we use Ross, Abel and Sage for the most part but there are lots of great choices.
A weight forward floating line is the best all around choice – Wulff Triangle Taper and Rio Indicator lines are great choices. I suggest overlining by one or two line sizes.