Kenai River: The Ultimate Family Fishing Vacation Destination

If you’re thinking about a family vacation that breaks the mold of theme parks and beach resorts, set your sights on the Kenai River in Alaska.

This isn’t your average fishing trip; it’s a rugged adventure into the heart of nature where every cast is a chance for a family memory.

The Kenai River is the ideal backdrop for families looking to swap screen time for river time and experience the thrill of the catch. Whether you’re seasoned anglers or first-timers, this river has something for everyone.

Let’s dive into what makes the Kenai River the ultimate destination for a family fishing vacation that’s more about rods and reels than rest and relaxation!

Choosing the Right Spot: Kenai’s Diversity

Picking the right spot to fish on the Kenai River is like finding the sweet spot on a baseball bat; when you get it right, it’s a home run.

The middle and upper sections of the Kenai provide exciting terrains. These areas are where you’ll find the larger catches and stronger currents. They’re perfect for teaching older kids and adults the art of angling in more demanding conditions. This is where the thrill of the catch is matched by the stunning natural beauty surrounding you.

When choosing your spot, consider your family’s skill level and what you want to experience. Whether it’s a peaceful day by the river, the excitement of a big catch, or a bit of both, the Kenai has a spot that’s just right for your family.

When to Visit: Timing Your Trip

Timing your trip to the Kenai River is like planning an epic meal: you’ve got to get it right for the best experience.

The Kenai fishing calendar is packed with different seasons; each offers its own unique flavor. Summer is the prime time for salmon fishing. Starting in June, you can catch the sockeye salmon run, an exciting time for any angler. By late summer, particularly in August, the silver salmon make their grand entrance, offering some of the best family fishing experiences on the river.

If you’re planning a trip with your family, consider the summer months. This is when fishing is at its peak, and the weather is more favorable for a variety of outdoor activities. The long Alaskan days provide ample daylight for fishing, exploring, and soaking in the stunning natural beauty of the Kenai Peninsula.

However, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds and don’t mind a bit of chill, late spring and early fall can be magical times on the Kenai. The river is less crowded, the scenery is breathtaking, and there’s still plenty of fish to be caught. Just be prepared for cooler weather and pack accordingly.

Recommended Read: Kids on the Kenai

Gearing Up: The Family That Fishes Together

Gearing up for a family fishing trip on the Kenai River means equipping everyone for success and safety.

For adults and older kids, a good quality rod and reel are essential. You want gear that can handle the fight of a Kenai salmon but is also manageable to use. For the younger members of the family, opt for lighter rods and simple tackle to make their experience enjoyable and not a struggle.

Don’t skimp on the essentials: a fishing line, hooks, bait, and lures tailored to the fish you’re targeting. Local tackle shops or your fly fishing guide can offer advice on what’s best for the current conditions on the river.

Safety gear is non-negotiable. Life vests for everyone, especially the kids, are a must (regardless of how calm the water may look). The weather on the Kenai can change rapidly; dress in layers and include waterproof and windproof outerwear. Waterproof boots or waders are also important; they’ll keep you dry and comfortable.

Finally, remember that fishing is just one part of the trip. Pack snacks, drinks, and a first-aid kit. And don’t forget a camera to capture those moments when your family lands their catches; those memories are the real trophies of your Kenai River fishing trip!

The Role of a Fishing Guide

Hiring a fishing guide for your Kenai River adventure is like having a seasoned quarterback leading your team on game day. These guides are more than just fishermen; they are experts in everything the Kenai has to offer.

They know the river like the back of their hand: every bend, every pool, and where the fish are biting on any given day. For families, especially those new to the area or to fishing, a guide is an invaluable asset.

A good guide, like those at Jason’s Guide Service, does more than just lead you to the best spots. They provide hands-on instruction in fishing techniques to ensure that even the most novice anglers in your group can enjoy the thrill of a catch. They know the right bait and tackle to use, and perhaps most importantly, they understand the Kenai’s ever-changing conditions (essential for keeping your family safe on the water).

Fishing guides also bring all the necessary equipment (which means you don’t have to worry about packing and transporting a ton of gear). They’ll have the right rods, reels, bait, and safety equipment, all tailored to the Kenai’s conditions and your family’s needs. This leaves you free to enjoy the fishing and the stunning scenery around you!

Fishing Ethics and Conservation

Fishing on the Kenai River isn’t just a sport; it’s a big responsibility. The river is home to a diverse ecosystem, and maintaining its health is crucial.

This means practicing ethical family fishing and conservation. Catch and release, especially for species like rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char, is a practice every angler on the Kenai should follow. It ensures the sustainability of the fish population and the health of the river for future generations.

Being mindful of the environment while fishing is also key. This includes not littering, being careful with bait and tackle to avoid leaving anything behind in the river and respecting the natural habitat of the wildlife in the area. Adhering to local fishing regulations, like size and bag limits, helps manage the fish populations and maintains the natural balance of the ecosystem.

Teaching your kids about conservation and ethical fishing practices is perhaps one of the most valuable steps you can take. It instills a sense of stewardship and respect for nature.

Start Planning Your Upcoming Kenai River Fishing Trip!

 fishing on the Kenai River

Are you ready to enjoy a fun day on the Kenai River? We can help! At Jason’s Guide Service, we plan a range of exciting fishing trips on the Kenai River.

Whether you’re in the mood for a guided rainbow trout trip, a guided silver salmon fishing expedition, or some good ol’ catch and release, we’ll plan accordingly and ensure you enjoy a safe, fun, and thrilling day on the river. Book now!

If you have any questions, our fly fishing guides would be more than happy to help.

fishing guide Jason Lesmeister and an angler smiling as they show off Dolly Varden char during their Kenai River fishing trip

New Year, New Techniques: Advanced Fishing Skills to Master in 2024

As the New Year unfolds, it’s time to cast off old habits and reel in new aspirations. For the avid angler, this means diving deeper than ever before into the art of fishing.

Let’s set aside the usual New Year’s resolutions and embark on a thrilling quest to master the art of angling in ways we never imagined.

Tighten your reels and fine-tune your senses as we navigate the waters of advanced fishing techniques. Whether you’re looking to outsmart the wiliest trout or cast your line in uncharted waters, this year is your opportunity to transform every fishing trip into a masterclass of angling prowess.

Let’s begin!

1. Precision Casting: The Art of Spot-On Targeting

Precision casting is an art form that separates the novices from the masters. In 2024, focus on honing this fishing skill to place your lure exactly where you intend.

This technique is essential (particularly when targeting fish that lurk in specific spots like under a log, beside a rock, or near a riverbank). Precision casting is a matter of understanding the water dynamics, the wind, and the behavior of your lure or fly.

Start by practicing your stance and grip. Your body’s alignment and the way you hold the rod influence the accuracy of your cast. Work on your casting motion; it should be smooth and controlled (not just in the forward cast but also in the backcast).

Consider the type of cast that best suits your environment. Roll casts are great for tight spots with limited backcasting room, overhead casts may be more suitable for open waters, and sidearm casts can be effective in windy conditions. Each scenario on the river may require a different approach; being adept in various casting techniques can significantly improve your precision.

As you practice, set up targets and challenge yourself to hit them consistently. Start with larger targets and gradually decrease their size as your accuracy improves. Precision casting is a fishing skill that takes time to develop, but once mastered, it elevates your fishing game exponentially.

Recommended Read: Cast Out a Fly and Enjoy the Ride

2. Reading the Water

fishing guide Jason Lesmeister reading the water during his Kenai River fishing trip

This is an essential fishing skill for any angler aiming to master the art of fishing. It involves understanding the nuances of a river’s flow: where the currents create ideal fish habitats, where they may be feeding, and how to present your lure or bait most effectively. Take the time to study and interpret the language of the water.

Start by observing the surface of the water. Look for ripples, eddies, and seams where different currents meet. These areas are often where fish feed due to the concentration of food. Also, pay attention to the depth and speed of the water. Deeper pools may hold larger fish. Shallower runs could be home to smaller, but often more, fish.

Understanding the underwater topography is also important. Submerged structures like rocks, fallen trees, and weed beds provide shelter and feeding grounds for fish. Being able to identify these structures, even when they’re not visible on the surface, can greatly increase your chances of a successful catch.

Learning to read the water also means understanding how environmental factors like weather, time of day, and season affect fish behavior. For instance, fish tend to be more active and feed closer to the surface during cooler parts of the day in summer.

In order to develop this fishing skill, you require patience, observation, and experience. Spend time on different parts of the river, observe how successful anglers read the water, and don’t be afraid to experiment with your approach based on your observations.

3. Advanced Knot Tying: Beyond the Basics

Knot tying is a fundamental fishing skill, but advancing beyond the basics can be a game-changer. In 2024, challenge yourself to master a variety of knots, each serving a specific purpose and improving your fishing efficiency. Knowing which knot to use in different situations can make a significant difference in the strength and reliability of your fishing setup.

Begin with the palomar knot (widely regarded for its strength and simplicity). It’s ideal for securing hooks and swivels. The double uni knot is another essential; it’s perfect for joining two lines of similar or different diameters. This knot is especially useful for adding leader material to your main line.

For tying lures or hooks to a fluorocarbon or a monofilament line, the improved clinch knot is a go-to due to its strong hold and easy tying process. The surgeon’s knot, on the other hand, is excellent for tying together two pieces of line while maintaining a high percentage of the line’s inherent strength.

Invest time in practicing these knots until they become second nature. Use different types of lines and various conditions to understand how they behave. Keep in mind that the strength of your line and lure setup often comes down to the integrity of your knots.

4. Mastering Different Fishing Styles

2024 is the perfect year to expand your angling repertoire by mastering different fishing styles.

Each style offers its unique challenges and joys. Fly fishing, with its intricate casting techniques and emphasis on lure presentation, is a style that combines skill with an intimate understanding of fish behavior. It requires a gentle touch, patience, and precision. This style is particularly effective in catching trout and salmon (often in river and stream settings).

Spin fishing, on the other hand, is a more versatile and straightforward approach. It’s suitable for a wide range of water types and fish species. It involves casting a weighted lure and can be adapted to both freshwater and saltwater environments. This style is ideal for anglers who enjoy a more active fishing experience.

Beyond these, consider exploring other styles like baitcasting, ice fishing, or even deep-sea fishing. Each style will challenge you in different ways, teach you new techniques, and expand your understanding of the sport.

5. Understanding Fish Behavior and Habitat

Knowing why fish behave the way they do, which environments they thrive in, and how they respond to different conditions is essential for successful fishing.

Each species has unique behaviors and preferences. Some fish are solitary, while others move in schools. Some prefer the safety of deep waters, whereas others are found in shallow streams. Learning about these habits can significantly improve your ability to locate and catch fish.

For instance, understanding that trout often feed in currents where food is abundant will help you choose the best spots for casting your line.

The spawning cycles of fish are also critical to understand. Many species have specific times of the year when they spawn (which can greatly affect their feeding patterns). Knowing these cycles can help in planning your fishing trips and choosing the right strategies.

Environmental factors such as water temperature, light levels, and weather conditions also play a significant role in fish behavior. Fish may feed more aggressively before a storm or during cooler parts of the day in warmer seasons. Adapting your approach to these conditions can make your fishing more effective.

Elevate Your Angling Journey with Expert Guidance

fishing guide Jason Lesmeister and a fishing enthusiast holding Dolly Varden char

While we’ve delved into the intricacies of precision casting, unraveled the secrets of reading water, tied complex knots, explored diverse fishing styles, and understood the subtle behaviors of fish, there’s an invaluable element that binds all these fishing skills together: expert guidance.

This is where our services become instrumental. At Jason’s Guide Service, we offer you the wisdom and experience of seasoned professionals. Our expertise in the varied landscapes of the Kenai River and our understanding of its diverse aquatic life are at your disposal. Whether you’re perfecting your cast, deciphering the river’s language, or exploring new fishing frontiers, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Are you ready to plan an exciting fishing trip on the Kenai River? Book now! We plan salmon fishing tours, guided rainbow trout trips, and so much more. Our fly fishing guides are ready to take the reins and show you a terrific time.

an angler smiling as he poses with Dolly Varden char on the Kenai River

Fish Photography 101: How to Capture the Perfect Shot of Your Kenai Catch

There’s an old saying: “Pictures or it didn’t happen.” As any angler will attest, there’s a particular sting when a grand tale of a hard-fought battle with a behemoth from the deep lacks visual proof.

How can you capture the glittering scales, water’s dance, and raw emotion of the moment? Join us as we help you transform your angling anecdotes into visual masterpieces. It’s time to catch the perfect shot of your Kenai catch like a seasoned pro!

1. The Golden (Hour) Rule

The golden hour is the period shortly after sunrise and just before sunset. The sunlight bathes everything in a soft, warm, and golden hue. This lighting can transform your photos from ‘good’ to ‘mesmerizing.’

Why does this matter in fish photography? Well, during the golden hour, the sunlight’s angle accentuates the details and colors of your catch. Whether it’s the iridescent shimmer on a salmon’s side or the intricate patterns on a trout, this magical light ensures that every scale and splash shines brilliantly. It avoids the harsh shadows and blown-out highlights that the midday sun can cause.

The Kenai River becomes part of this photographic symphony during the golden hour. The water reflects the sky’s hues, adding depth and drama to your shots. Envision your fish reflecting the pink and orange skies while the calm river provides a perfect mirror image. It’s a recipe for a photo that’s worth more than a thousand words.

2. Get on the Fish’s Level

anglers smiling and holding Dolly Varden char

One of the most common rookie mistakes in fish photography is taking shots from a standing position (i.e., looking down at the catch). Sure, this angle gives a full view of the fish, but it often lacks dynamism and fails to capture the surroundings adequately.

To truly bring your photographs to life, get down and go eye-to-eye with your aquatic adversary. This perspective emphasizes the fish’s size and features. It also incorporates the environment: the water’s sheen, the riverbed, and even the horizon if you’re near the riverbank.

3. Focus on the Eyes

There’s an age-old saying in photography: “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Even when your subject is a fish, this remains surprisingly true. The eyes can convey the vitality and essence of your catch.

Fish eyes, with their unique structure and sheen, can be incredibly expressive. When well-focused, they can reflect the surroundings, be it the sky, trees, or even the angler. They become the focal point, draw the viewer into the photo, and provide depth and dimension to the image.

How can you ensure sharp focus? Use a camera or smartphone with a good macro mode. Get close enough, but not so close that you spook the fish or cast a shadow. Use a shallow depth of field to blur the background slightly, ensuring that the eyes remain the star of the image.

4. Use Natural Props

Nature provides a bountiful and ever-changing stage for your photos; the wise photographer knows how to leverage it. Forget about artificial backdrops; natural props can elevate your fish photography to an art form!

Imagine the rough texture of driftwood against the sleekness of sockeye salmon. Or the contrast of vibrant autumn leaves next to the muted tones of rainbow trout.

In its lush and wild beauty, the Kenai River area offers an endless array of props: smooth pebbles, rustling reeds, colorful flowers, and even the occasional curious insect or amphibian. These elements can add depth, contrast, and context to your image.

5. Be Quick, Be Gentle

a young fishing enthusiast releasing fish back into the water

Fish photography isn’t just about getting a stunning shot; it’s also about ensuring the health and safety of the star of your photo: the fish. Keep in mind that every second a fish spends out of water can cause it distress.

Always wet your hands before handling the fish; this protects their delicate slime coat. Keep the fish above soft surfaces to minimize injury if they slip out of your grasp. If possible, avoid taking the fish out of the water altogether; many stunning shots are captured with the fish half-submerged.

Be prepared before you make the catch. Have your camera settings adjusted, props ready, and angle in mind. The quicker you can snap that shot, the sooner the fish can be safely returned to their home.

Recommended Read: It’s About Getting the Best Image and Preserving the Resource

6. Practice Makes Perfect

Like any art form, mastering fish photography requires time, patience, and practice. And yes, while the moment’s spontaneity can sometimes yield the most breathtaking shots, a practiced hand and a trained eye can consistently capture the beauty of the Kenai River’s aquatic treasures.

Start by observing. Look at other photographs and discern what makes them stand out. Is it the lighting, angle, or composition? Try replicating shots you admire to understand the technique behind them.

But don’t just stop there. Experiment. Play with angles, lighting, and settings. Sometimes, the most unexpected techniques can yield the most memorable photos. Each fish and catch tells a unique story. With practice, you’ll capture the emotion,thrill, and reverence of the moment.

7. Editing: Enhance, Don’t Exaggerate

Post-production can be the difference between a good shot and a great one. However, there’s a fine line between enhancing a photo and changing its very essence. When it comes to fish photography, the goal should always be authenticity. You’re capturing an interaction with nature that deserves to be showcased in its genuine glory.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with editing tools. Whether you’re using Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, or mobile apps like Snapseed or VSCO, make sure you know the functions like the back of your hand. Start with basic corrections: adjust the exposure if the image is too dark or too bright, correct the white balance to ensure the colors are true to life, and sharpen the image just enough to make it crisp.

One of the most common pitfalls is over-saturation. While it may be tempting to make your salmon’s pink more vibrant or your rainbow trout’s stripes more pronounced, excessive color adjustments can make the photo look unnatural. Instead, aim for subtle enhancements that highlight the fish’s natural beauty.

We also recommend cropping the image to improve composition. Maybe there’s an uninteresting patch of water on one side, or perhaps cropping can help center the fish more effectively. But remember, every crop reduces the resolution, so ensure your final image remains sharp.

Lastly, consider the story you’re telling. If your image captures the serene moment of a sunrise fish, a slight warmth in the tones can amplify the emotion. But if it’s the raw energy of a mid-day catch, cooler tones may be more apt.

Connect with the Kenai Experts

There’s an unparalleled thrill in capturing the perfect fish photograph. But why stop at photographs when you can dive deeper into the authentic Kenai River experience?

At Jason’s Guide Service, we provide Kenai River guided fishing trips to help you enjoy the epitome of serenity, excitement, and adventure. Beyond fish photography, our experts can enrich your journey with stories, local lore, and the science of the river. Whether you plan a guided rainbow trout trip, a salmon fishing adventure, or a personalized guided fishing trip, we’ll ensure you leave with a pocketful of knowledge, stories, insights, tips, tricks, and memories.

Our Cooper Landing fly fishing guides have dedicated their lives to understanding every ripple and eddy of these waters. They know where the fish bite, when they leap, and how they shimmer under the Alaskan sun.

Whether you want to understand the river’s rhythm, get hands-on fishing tips, or find that picture-perfect spot, connect with Jason’s Guide Service to amplify your Alaskan adventure. It’s time to dive deeper, fish smarter, and capture moments that leave an indelible mark on your heart and lens! Book now.

The Art of Fly Fishing on the Kenai River: Techniques & Strategies

There’s something utterly captivating about the rhythmic movement of a fly rod, the delicate dance of the line through the air, and the tension as the fly lands on the water’s surface.

But what if we told you there’s a place where this serene art form meets the exhilarating rush of battling some of the world’s most sought-after fish? Welcome to the Kenai River, a fishing paradise nestled in the heart of Alaska’s wilderness and the starting point of an adventure you won’t forget!

When you think of the ultimate fishing experience, what comes to mind? Perhaps you envision the glassy surface of a remote lake or the sun-dappled waters of a babbling brook. But the Kenai River offers so much more than just picturesque scenery.

The 82-mile-long river winds through the Kenai Peninsula, teeming with diverse fish species and offering unrivalled opportunities to master the art of fly fishing.

Are you ready to dive in? Let’s explore the techniques and strategies that’ll transform you from a novice to a seasoned angler in no time!

1. Understand the Kenai River Ecosystem

Before diving into the specific techniques and strategies, make sure you develop a good understanding of the Kenai River itself. The river is divided into three sections: the Upper Kenai, Middle Kenai, and Lower Kenai. Make sure you know where you’ll be fishing and the particular species present. This will help you tailor your approach and enjoy a successful fishing trip.

Recommended Read: The Best Time to Fish the Kenai River

2. Select the Right Gear


Invest in a high-quality fly rod and reel suitable for the species you target and the water conditions you encounter. For rainbow trout and Dolly Varden, a 6-8 weight rod is recommended, while a 9-10 weight rod is better suited for salmon.

Length is another critical factor to consider. 9 to 10-foot rods are the most versatile for the Kenai River. Invest in a durable and reliable fly reel that matches your rod weight and line requirements. A smooth drag system will help you pull in strong fish easily.

Larger arbor reels are recommended as they allow for faster line retrieval and better line management. Select an appropriate fly fine for the type of fishing you plan to do on the Kenai River.

Weight-forward floating lines are the most versatile as they’re suitable for both nymphing and dry fly fishing. However, sinking tip or full sinking lines are excellent for targeting fish in deep water or during high water conditions.

Use the right leader and tippet material for your chosen fly fishing technique. For dry fly fishing, use a tapered leader that provides a delicate presentation and turns over the fly efficiently. For nymphing or streamer fishing, opt for a level or slightly tapered leader with a heavier tippet.

Fluorocarbon tippet is recommended for its abrasion resistance and low visibility in the water. Equip yourself with a well-organized fly box that contains a variety of patterns to imitate the local insect life and baitfish. Use dry flies, nymphs, and streamers.

3. Learn the Essential Casts

Master various casting techniques to achieve fly fishing success on the Kenai River. Start with the basic overhead cast, perfect your timings, and gradually move on to more advanced casts like roll cast, single and double haul, and reach cast.

Each cast has its specific application. Understand when and how to use them to significantly improve your chances of hooking into a trophy fish.

4. Read the Water

If you want to master the art of fly fishing on the Kenai River, learn how to read the water like a seasoned pro. Identify the areas where fish are likely to hold, e.g., seams, riffles, and deep pools. Look for structures like rocks, fallen trees, and undercut banks that provide cover for fish.

Once you develop a good understanding of where fish are most likely to be found, you’ll be able to focus your efforts and maximize your chances of success.

5. Master the Drift

anglers mastering their drift

A natural, drag-free drift will help you present your fly in a way that entices fish to strike. By controlling your line, mending, and adjusting your casting angle, you can achieve the perfect drift. Use these tips to master the drift:

  • Mending: Mending is the technique of repositioning your fly line on the water to minimize drag and achieve a natural drift. As your fly line moves downstream, it’s influenced by varying currents that can cause it to move at different speeds.

By lifting and flipping your line upstream, you can counteract these currents and maintain a drag-free drift. Practice mending both upstream and downstream to adapt to different fishing situations on the Kenai River.

  • Casting Angles: Adjusting your casting angle can significantly impact the quality of your drift. By casting slightly upstream, you can give your fly more time to sink and allow it to drift naturally with the current. Experiment with different casting angles to find the most effective approach for the specific water conditions and target species.
  • Line Management: If you want to maintain a natural drift, proper line management is crucial. Make sure you have the right amount of line out and that it is free of tangles or loops. Keep a close eye on your line and be prepared to strip or feed out additional line as needed to maintain the desired drift length.
  • Strike Detection: Pay attention to your strike indicator, the end of your fly line, or any subtle movements in the water that may indicate a fish has taken your fly. React quickly and set the hook with a firm but controlled motion to increase your chances of landing the fish.
  • Adjusting for Depth: When fly fishing the Kenai River, you may encounter various water depths and current speeds. Adjust your rig and technique accordingly to present your fly at the right depth for the target species. This may involve changing the length of your leader, adding or removing split shot, or switching between different fly patterns or line types.

Recommended Read: Putting the Bullseye on Your Target Species

6. Choose the Right Flies

Familiarize yourself with the local insect life and baitfish that make up the primary food sources for the fish you’re targeting. Stock your fly box with various patterns that imitate these natural food sources, and be prepared to switch flies based on the time of day, water conditions, and fish behavior.

7. Adapt to Changing Conditions

boats on the Kenai River

The Kenai River’s conditions can and will change rapidly. Pay close attention to changes in water levels, clarity, temperature, and weather. Adjust your approach accordingly. This may mean switching fly patterns, adjusting your leader length, or changing your casting techniques to suit the current conditions.

8. Observe Fish Behavior

Keen observation of fish behavior will help you refine your fly fishing techniques on the Kenai River. Look for signs of feeding, e.g., rising fish or birds diving into the water. Observe how the fish react to your fly and make adjustments in your presentation, fly pattern, or retrieve speed as needed. Understand the nuances of fish behavior to fine-tune your approach and increase your catch rate.

Are you ready to catch your dream fish? Jason’s Guide Service should be your first stop! Our experienced, dedicated, and skilled fly fishing guides help you enjoy an exhilarating fishing experience and achieve fly fishing mastery.

Whether you’re interested in pink salmon fishing, a guided rainbow trout trip, or guided silver salmon fishing, we’re here to take you under our wing. Book your Kenai River fishing trip today!

Float fishing in the Kenai River

My earliest memories of fishing are when I was a young child, knee high to a grasshopper.  I remember going to the reservoirs and lakes in Iowa with my Dad, uncles and grandparents. My grandmas were great anglers in their own right.  We would fish together as a family and I would sit next to one of my grandparents or dad and cast a nightcrawler on a hook under a red and white bobber with my Zebco 202 and fiberglass rod laying that bait into the still waters that were loaded with fish.  We would catch panfish, bass, bullheads, catfish, carp, anything that bit, and keep most everything we caught.  When I was a little older I was allowed to fish the rivers with faster currents with my uncles where I would cast the same bobber rigs out for anything that bit.  

Forty plus years years later I still fish bobbers, but now I call them floats, or indicators, and do it with ten-and-a-half and eleven-and-a-half foot GLoomis float rods with Shimano spinning reels spooled with floating line designed for float fishing on the Kenai River and other various rivers in Alaska.  The long rods and floating line allow for longer drifts with less drag from the current so we can get a dead drift with out the drift speeding up due to submerged line in the current.  Though all this sounds a little technical, it’s actually very easy and fun.

Not every angler that fishes with Jason’s Guide Service wants to try fly fishing so we have these float rods set up for dead drifting flesh flies, egg patterns, nymphs, and leeches, all techniques that are deadly on the Kenai River.  Long float rods and floating line paired with a slip or fixed float makes it easy to present your chosen fly to the hungry rainbow trout, Dolly Varden char, and silver salmon.

Float rods fished out of the drift boat require short casts and very little mending of line because the boat and the float are moving the same speed down the Kenai.  When we fish float rods from shore we can cast to all the different water columns in the river and run long drifts or short depending on your preference and the water fished.  The versatile technique of float fishing allows you to run drifts in deeper water with a slip float or you can fish a fixed float in the shallower water with a shorter leader.  There are many ways to fish the float rod for all the species of salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden char on the Kenai River and the fishing guides at Jason’s Guide Service fishes them all.

I’ve come a long way on my journey as an angler and feel blessed to have a great family that took the time to get me outdoors and fishing every waking moment we could find when I was growing up in Iowa and Minnesota.  The journey has lead me down many rabbit holes in my quest to be a great angler and guide, and float fishing is one of my favorite most effective ways to fish for salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden char there is. I may call a bobber a float, or an indicator, and sometimes I call an indicator or float a bobber, but at the end of the day no matter what you call it or what rod and reel you attach it to, the bobber, or float, is a great tool or technique to put up numbers of trophy rainbow trout, Dolly Varden char, and silver salmon on the Kenai River and is a real fun way to fish.  Watching that float get tugged down into the aqua blue waters of the Kenai River and then setting the hook with a long float rod and feeling the tug of that monster fish as they run into the currents of the might Kenai is an experience everyone should enjoy once in their lifetime.

Why the Kenai River is the best place to learn how to fly fish

In 1992 Robert Redford directed the movie, A River Runs Through It. Brad Pitt, the lead actor was a master fly angler and the film became a box office hit. Soon after the movie premiered, everyone and their brother and sister wanted to try their hand at fly fishing.  The movie romanticized fly fishing with it’s breath-taking beauty and spectacular fly fishing scenes where Pitt would make 100 foot casts and catch huge trout in fast water. As cool as the movie was, the average fly fisherman never has to swim a class four rapids to land land a big trout or cast a fly rod a country mile.


The Kenai River boasts some of the best fly fishing in Alaska, and the world.  The Kenai has all five species of Pacific salmon as well as rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char.  We target sockeye salmon, silver salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden char with fly rods on the Kenai River.  We target these fish in user-friendly aqua-blue water that is nestled into the Kenai Mountains of the Chugach National Forest and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.


Fly fishing on the Kenai River consists of 80 to 90 percent nymph-style fishing with an indicator and doesn’t require the long casts that can be necessary when fishing salt water flats or when you are starring in the movies.  Nymph fishing with indicators as we do on the Kenai River is a very simple cast and presentation where you dead-drift your fly or beads the same speed as the current to emulate a natural dead drift.  The dead-drift is achieved by managing your fly line on top of the water after a good cast from the drift boat or shore.  Line management is as easy as “high sticking” with your rod, which is keeping your rod tip pointing to the sky to keep most of your fly line off the water and/or mending your line by flipping your loop or belly in your fly line up stream of your indicator.


The other styles of fly fishing we do on the Kenai River are dry fly fishing for rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char, and swinging flies for trout, char, and silver salmon. We also strip flies for silver salmon. The dry fly fishing is a purist’s dream and for good reason.  It can be some of the most fun a person can have fly fishing. 


Dry flies work best when there is a good hatch of insects on the river.  The Kenai River’s best dry fly hatches in the summer months are the caddis hatch and the may fly hatch.  When fishing dry flies you do a traditional cast and watch your fly on top of the water until the big rainbow trout or Dolly Varden char comes to the surface and slurps up your fly.  Watching a trout or char suck up a bug you are casting is an exhilarating experience that won’t soon be forgotten. 


The swing technique is probably done the least on the Kenai River, but is a fun way to really feel the hit or take from the salmon, trout, or char.  Swinging flies on the Kenai consists of casting your streamer fly into the current and letting it swing through the water column that the fish are in and waiting for the big tug.  The fish generally crush the streamers and try and rip the rod right out of your hands.  Stripping flies for silver salmon is a fun and explosive way to catch fish that weigh on average between eight to twelve pounds and spend as much time out of the water as in it.  We cast and strip flies for silver salmon both from shore and the boat. 


Fly fishing the Kenai River doesn’t require long casts or hours and days of practice.  Nymph fishing with an indicator is the easiest technique to learn because shorter casts are the norm especially from the boat.  The swinging, dry fly fishing, and stripping are techniques where you are required to cast a little farther than nymph fishing, but we put you on the fish so you don’t have to cast a country mile to present your fly to the fish.


Jason’s Guide Service provides highly trained professionals that teach you the ways of the fly rod and fly fishing techniques in a fun no pressure environment.  Jason’s Guide Service believes that everyone comes to the boat for one reason and one reason only, and that is to have great time.  The joys of fly fishing are many, it’s as much about the journey of learning and being a part of nature and flowing with the river as it is catching fish.  The first few fish you catch on a fly rod no matter the size or species will be fish you never forget.


If fly fishing is on your to do list but you have always been a little intimidated by it look no further and wait no longer, come to the Kenai River and fish with Jason’s Guide Service and we will make memories that last a lifetime.

Everything Works – Sometimes
Shortening Your Learning Curve to Catch More Fish

There’s not an angler on the planet that hasn’t dreamt of fishing for salmon or trout on one of the rivers in Alaska. Except for those that have done it, and they just keep coming back for more.

Many of the anglers who come to Alaska have a preconceived idea of how they are going to choose to target a particular species on a given resource, but there are those with questions as well. “Do I have to use a fly rod?” or “Do I get to use a fly rod?” or “Will I be in the Combat Zone (an area on a river where anglers congregate and it gets crowded) when I fish on the Kenai River?” or “Do I get to stand in the river and fish?” The list goes on and on.

The simple answer is:” YES,” you might get to do all of the above because everything works – sometimes.

Jason’s Guide Service takes pride in the fact that we fish all the techniques needed to catch sockeye salmon, silver salmon, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char. There is no right or wrong way to fish, but there are times when certain techniques with certain gear will work better for certain species.

When we have high and fast water on the Kenai River, and we are fishing rainbow trout and char, the spinning equipment can be a better choice at times. When the water is low and slow the fly rods are usually the better choice. Average water levels and current flow means fly rods or conventional gear are both going to work great.

When we chase the sockeye salmon we will use fly rods and wade fish. We don’t wade out past our knees into the river because it isn’t safe, and it impacts your fishing in a negative way by pushing the running sockeye salmon out into deeper, faster water making them harder to catch. When conditions are right, or we have people who have mobility issues, we will fish sockeye from the boat running plugs and back trolling for the salmon. This technique only works well in certain types of water at certain times of the year.

The silver salmon are a fish that allows anglers to be more versatile in our approach to catching them. We use both fly rods and spinning gear when we target the silver salmon. Fly fishing for silver salmon is is pretty cut-and-dry with a cast-and-strip technique with streamers, but we also dead-drift and swing flies for silver salmon as well. When we get out the spinning gear we back troll, cast spinners and spoons, jig, and float fish. The key to being a successful salmon angler is understanding the species and conditions of the river.

Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char are two species that can be targeted with any rod and reel combo of your choice. Fly fishing is a style of fishing that gets lots of hype, both good and bad.

Fly fishing the Kenai River is both fun and easy. Like any new sport there is a learning curve. When fly fishing with Jason’s Guide Service we shorten the learning curve in a fun no-pressure environment. We fly fish for rainbow trout and char from the boat and, on shore wade fishing.

Spinning gear opens up lots of techniques that can be used, and is a versatile way to catch fish. Jason’s Guide Service back-trolls crankbaits, side drifts from shore, drift fishes from the boat, float fishes from the boat, float fishes from shore and incorporates some jig fishing when that is the preferred technique. We can also drift fish from the boat or wade fish from the many gravel bars with both fly and spinning gear. So you see, the options are many but the species that are being targeted dictate what we use.

The best thing any angler can do when they book a trip on the Kenai River with Jason’s Guide Service is pick the species of fish they would like to pursue, as well as a technique or techniques they want to try and come to the boat with an open mind and desire to have a great time on the river.

We will soon be writing a series of blogs, detailing in depth, each technique mentioned for each species. When you are done reading these blogs you will have a much better understanding of what you will be doing on the water, and what to expect on your guided fishing trip on the Kenai River.

Kids on the Kenai

There is never a shortage of questions when it comes to booking a guide on an Alaskan adventure. Clothing, gear, available species, what to bring to eat or drink, just to name a few. One question that always surfaces when a parent wants to bring one or two of their children is if their child is welcome on a guided fishing trip on the Kenai River. The answer to that question at Jason’s Guide Service is always going to be, “Absolutely.”  The question you will get back from us is, “Will your child be able to handle the rigors of an Alaskan fishing excursion?” The answer to that one will always revolve around the child’s age and whether they can spend a number of hours restricted to a small space in a fishing boat.

There are some considerations when bringing your child on a guided fishing trip. How long is the trip? What kind of fishing will we be doing? What species will we fish for?  What will the start time be?  These are just some of the factors that need to be considered.

The Kenai River offers many opportunities for different species and techniques and it is very important to pick the right species and technique that best suits your child’s needs.  The species that Jason’s Guide Service fishes for are the sockeye salmon, silver salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden char, the most targeted species by anglers on this river.

The sockeye fishery is the hardest for your kids to participate in because we wade in the river and fish with eight-weight fly rods doing what we call “The Sockeye Swing.” The youngest I recommend for sockeye fishing is 10 years old if your child is well developed and has good coordination. At 12 years of age they are definitely developed enough if they have the desire to attempt this rigorous style of fishing.

The silver salmon get bigger than the sockeye but are mostly fished from the boat and can be fished by children of any age that can cast and retrieve an open-faced spinning reel or can take a rod out of a rod holder.

The rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char are the best bet for kids younger than 10 because they can spin fish for the trout and char and all the young kiddos need to do is hold on to a rod and reel the fish in.  I always recommend back trolling or plug fishing – as we call it on the Kenai – for the younger kids because it’s an easy way to put up numbers and keep the kids into the fish and happy.

There is a huge misconception that kids can’t fly fish for trout or salmon until they are older. I find the exact opposite to be true.  Kids are amazing when captivated or interested in something, and when a kid wants to learn something new the learning curve is real quick, much quicker than teaching an older person.  Don’t let the hype or stereotype of what a fly angler is supposed to look like dissuade you from taking a fly fishing trip with your kids, because I can almost guarantee you that they will learn the sport quickly and be hooked for life when taught in a low pressure, fun environment like we have at Jason’s Guide Service.

The moral of this story – I mean Blog – is that, yes, you can and should take your kids on a guided fishing trip on the Kenai River when you visit Alaska. There is nothing better than quality family time on the water.

Full Day or Half Day Which One Should I Book?

When you book a guided fishing trip on the Kenai River with Jason’s Guide Service you have a choice between a half-day guided trip or a full-day guided trip.  The difference between the two is time on the water and where you can fish.

Booking a half-day fishing trip, whether it be for sockeye salmon, silver salmon, rainbow trout, or Dolly Varden char, allows you to get enough time on the water to target a species of fish, either the salmon, or the trout and char. The half-day trip doesn’t allow for enough time to do a combo-trip and target multiple species and it doesn’t allow enough time to use multiple techniques like fly fishing and spin fishing.

When you book the half-day trip you are booking a four-hour trip from boat ramp to boat ramp and need to book a species and technique and stick to it.  We offer the half-day trip for family’s with younger kids, or people with friends or family that don’t really fish much but they want a guided fishing trip.  The half-day trip is a great way to expose youth to fishing and make sure you get a little time on the water even if the rest of your party aren’t avid anglers.  The other bonuses are the fact you get to float eight miles of the Kenai River and enjoy all of its beauty and maybe see some wildlife like bears, moose or eagles.

The full-day trip is a six to eight hour trip (your choice) down the Kenai  River.  The full-day trips are longer so we have more options on whatever stretch of the Kenai we fish.  The full-day guided trips give you an opportunity, time-wise, to do combo trips for the salmon, rainbow trout, and char, and we will use fly fishing and or spin fishing gear on that outing.

We always recommend the full-day trips for people who want a better shot at limits for sockeye and silver salmon because sometimes it takes time on the water to make things happen or to give the migrating salmon time to get to the gravel bars you are fishing.  The rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char don’t eat vigorously all day everyday. They have different feeding habits and times from day to day and more time on the water means better odds of fishing when the bite is on.

Both trips are great trips to book depending on your group, time schedule, and desires.  Both trips give you an opportunity to see the Kenai River in all her glory and experience a taste of the good life in Alaska.  The difference in the guided trips is time on the water to allow things to happen, where you fish, and the ability to try multiple techniques and fish for other species.  You should book what ever guided fishing trip meets your needs and enjoy your ride down the Kenai River.

Cast Out a Fly and Enjoy the Ride

Every year the Kenai Peninsula has millions of visitors from all over America and the world. Fishing for trophy rainbow trout or one of the many species of salmon on Alaska’s Kenai River is on many of these people’s wish list.  So, every year I get hundreds of calls from people coming to the Kenai River to fish for salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden char and a question I get a lot is, “Should I fly fish?”  Then they tell me how little if anything they know about fly fishing, and want to give me their beginner resume if they have one.

My answer is always the same. You should try and fly fish if you want to, and we don’t care how much experience you have because it’s our job to teach you in a low-pressure fun environment.

When an angler comes to us with zero experience it means they don’t have any bad habits and that’a a good thing.  Sometimes the journey of learning and flowing with the river as you run a dead drift from the boat is as exhilarating as hooking into a trophy rainbow trout or Dolly Varden char.  The learning curve can be as rewarding as catching a huge silver salmon or sockeye salmon.  Fishing isn’t always about catching the most, the biggest, the fastest. It’s also about the camaraderie and the pure enjoyment of being out in nature. Alaska’s Kenai River is one of the most beautiful places on the planet to learn how to fly fish so no matter what your skill level is, so don’t hesitate to book a fly fishing trip on the Kenai and enjoy the ride.