fishing guide Jason Lesmeister holding Dolly Varden char

8 Essential Questions to Ask Your Kenai River Fishing Guide

A fishing trip to the Kenai River is an exhilarating experience that promises the thrill of the catch and breathtaking natural vistas. Whether you’re angling for the mighty silver salmon or the elusive rainbow trout, the success of your trip often hinges on the expertise of your fishing guide. A knowledgeable guide can enhance your outing by taking you to the best fishing spots, offering insights into effective fishing techniques, and ensuring your safety in the unpredictable Alaskan wilderness.

Choosing the right fishing guide, however, requires careful consideration and clear communication. To help you make an informed decision and maximize your chances of a fruitful expedition, here are eight essential questions you should ask any potential Kenai River fishing guide. These inquiries will cover their experience, knowledge, and operational specifics.

Let’s set the stage for a successful adventure on one of Alaska’s most famed rivers!

1. How Much Experience Do You Have on the Kenai River?

Ask potential guides about the length of time they have been guiding, specifically on the Kenai River. Fishing guides with several years of experience are typically more adept at navigating the river’s challenges and can provide a safe experience.

Inquire about their familiarity with the river’s various conditions throughout the fishing seasons. An experienced guide should have a deep understanding of how the river’s conditions change with the weather (including water levels, flow rates, and clarity) and how these conditions affect fish behavior. This knowledge is essential as it dictates the fishing strategies to employ at different times of the year.

For instance, during early spring, when water levels are high and currents are strong, different techniques and safety measures may be necessary compared to late summer, when the water is lower and clearer.

An experienced fishing guide should also be able to adjust fishing tactics based on real-time observations and conditions. This adaptability can dramatically enhance your chances of a successful catch.

2. What Kind of Fishing Can I Expect?

fishing guide Jason Lesmeister holding a fish with an angler

The Kenai River is renowned for its rich diversity of fish. To prepare appropriately for your trip, inquire into the type of fishing you’ll be doing. This could be fly fishing, spin fishing, or a combination of both (depending on what’s best for the time of year and the current river conditions).

3. What Does the Trip Include?

Understanding exactly what your guided trip fee includes is essential in planning your budget and expectations for the day. Most fishing guides offer various packages. However, every package doesn’t include gear, bait, or fishing licenses (which are necessary for fishing on the Kenai River). Clarify these details upfront to avoid any unexpected expenses.

Ask about the inclusion of safety equipment, e.g., life jackets and first aid kits, which are essential for ensuring a safe trip on the water.

Inquiring about the trip’s duration is also important. Typical guided trips on the Kenai River can last anywhere from a half-day (4–5 hours) to a full day (8+ hours). Understanding the timeline will help you plan other activities around your fishing trip and ensure that the experience meets your expectations.

4. What is Your Policy on Catch and Release?

Catch and release is a critical practice for sustainable fishing (especially in ecosystems as sensitive and regulated as the Kenai River). A responsible guide should be well-versed in the correct techniques for safely handling and releasing fish to minimize harm and stress to the animals. This includes using barbless hooks, handling fish with wet hands, and keeping the fish in the water as much as possible.

Inquire whether the guide supports catch and keep under legal limits or strictly practices catch and release. This information will help you understand the guide’s commitment to fish conservation and whether their practices contribute to the health of fish populations.

A fishing guide who is proactive about sustainable fishing practices is likely to have a deeper understanding of the river’s ecology.

5. How Many People Do You Accommodate?

a family posing with sockeye salmon on their Kenai River fishing trip

The number of clients a guide is willing to accommodate per trip can significantly affect the quality of your fishing experience.

Some guides specialize in one-on-one sessions or small groups (which can provide a more tailored and intimate experience). Others are equipped to handle larger groups spread across multiple boats (which is ideal for big family outings or corporate events).

Ask about the options for private trips versus shared expeditions. Private trips usually offer a more customized experience but at a higher cost. Shared trips, on the other hand, can be more economical and offer the fun of meeting new people.

Understanding the group dynamics and the guide’s capacity will set the stage for the social atmosphere of the trip. Ensure the guide’s boat and gear capacity matches your group size to avoid any last-minute issues.

6. What Gear and Clothing Should I Bring?

Most Kenai River fishing guides provide necessary fishing gear and bait, but if you have personal preferences or specific needs, discuss them with your guide ahead of time.

For instance, if you are an experienced angler, you may prefer using your own gear tailored to your style of fishing. Ask your guide about the types of gear and bait that will be used during the trip.

Clothing is another critical aspect to discuss. The weather can be unpredictable on the Kenai River. Needless to say, appropriate attire is essential for comfort and safety. Typically, you will need waterproof and windproof clothing. Layering is key, as mornings can be chilly, but midday might be quite warm, especially in direct sunlight. Waterproof boots or waders, sunglasses for UV protection, and a sturdy hat are also advisable.

The guide may provide life jackets; always confirm beforehand. Additionally, inquire if you should bring other personal items like sunscreen, insect repellent, and a camera to capture your catches.

7. What Are the Safety Measures?

Safety should always be a priority on any fishing trip. When selecting a fishing guide, inquire about the comprehensive safety measures they have in place.

Start by asking about life jackets. Ensure that the guide provides appropriately sized life jackets for all members of your party, including children, and that they are in good condition.

Next, discuss the guide’s qualifications, particularly in first aid and CPR. A guide prepared for emergencies with up-to-date first aid training is indispensable. This is because medical emergencies require prompt and effective response (especially in remote areas like the Kenai River, where hospitals are not immediately accessible).

We also recommend asking about their experience with and strategies for dealing with wildlife encounters (which are not uncommon in the Alaskan wilderness).

Verify that the fishing guide is equipped with reliable communication devices, e.g., satellite phones or two-way radios. These are essential for any emergency that may require external assistance (particularly in areas where cell phone service is unreliable or nonexistent).

It’s also wise to ask about the guide’s emergency protocols, including evacuation procedures, nearest access points for emergency responders, and how they handle sudden changes in weather conditions.

Set the Hook on a Premier Fishing Adventure

anglers holding sockeye salmon on the Kenai River

Choosing the right guide for your Kenai River fishing trip can make all the difference in the world. At Jason’s Guide Service, we pride ourselves on providing top-notch, informative, and safe fishing adventures that cater to anglers of all skill levels and ages.

Our fishing guides are experts in fishing techniques and the local river conditions. They also have a deep respect for the Kenai River ecosystem and a commitment to conservation practices.

When you book a guided fishing trip with us, you’re securing a comprehensive educational resource that will enhance your understanding of the river and its inhabitants. Whether you’re teaching a child their first cast or perfecting your own technique, our guides are there to assist you every step of the way.

We specialize in:

  • Guided rainbow trout trips
  • Salmon fishing
  • Dolly Varden char catch and release

Bait, Tackle, and Childhood Laughs: A Guide to Kid-Friendly Fishing on the Kenai River

Introducing your kids to fishing on the Kenai River is like opening the door to a world of adventure filled with hearty laughs, hands-on learning, and the thrill of the catch.

The Kenai River, with its clear waters and abundant fish, is a playground for young anglers. But fishing with kids is a different ball game. It’s less about the perfect cast and more about making memories, teaching skills, and sharing laughs.

Here’s a straightforward guide to making your family fishing trip on the Kenai a story worth telling. Let’s begin!

How to Get Your Kids On Board

Introducing your kids to fishing on the Kenai River can be an exciting adventure. But the trick lies in getting them as hooked on the idea as they will be on the fish.

Start by sparking their interest with tales of the river: stories about the mighty salmon that swim its currents or the eagles that soar above it. Show them pictures or videos of the river and the fish. This is a great way to ignite their curiosity and excitement about the adventure ahead.

Next, involve them in the preparation process. Let them help in picking out their gear or packing the snacks. This involvement will give them a sense of ownership and anticipation for the trip. Before you hit the river, practice some basic kid-friendly fishing skills in your backyard. Teach them how to cast and reel in. Turn it into a fun game or friendly competition!

Most importantly, set realistic expectations. Fishing requires patience, and for kids, the concept of waiting quietly for a fish to bite can be challenging. Explain that it’s not just about catching fish; it’s about spending time in nature, learning new skills, and enjoying each other’s company.

Teach them the importance of celebrating small victories (whether it’s a good cast, a nibble, or just spotting wildlife along the river).

The Right Equipment for Junior Anglers

a fishing guide and child smiling as they proudly hold a big fish on the Kenai River

When it comes to equipping your junior anglers for a fishing trip on the Kenai River, the right gear can make all the difference.

Start with a kid-friendly fishing rod (one that’s easy for them to handle and maneuver). The reel should be simple and easy to operate; consider a spincast reel for younger kids.

Next, consider the tackle. Use smaller hooks and lures; these are easier for kids to handle and are sufficient for the kinds of fish they’ll be catching. Ensure the tackle is safe and appropriate for their age. A lightweight tackle box that they can carry will make them feel like a true angler.

For clothing, dress them in layers. The weather on the Kenai can change quickly; it’s important to ensure that kids are comfortable through and through. Waterproof boots or shoes are a must. We also recommend packing a hat and sunglasses to protect them from the sun. Always have rain gear on hand.

Safety is paramount. Ensure they have a well-fitting life vest whenever they are near the water. A life vest is a must in a river environment (even if they know how to swim).

You should never provide a fishing setup to kids that you wouldn’t personally use (i.e., don’t buy them junk and think they’ll have fun). Equipping kids with subpar fishing gear underestimates their potential to genuinely enjoy and succeed in fishing.

Quality gear makes the experience more enjoyable and effective; it allows young anglers to feel the thrill of a catch and learn proper techniques. This investment in decent equipment shows them the respect and seriousness you attribute to their involvement in the sport.

Keeping Things Fun!

The key to a successful kid-friendly fishing trip is keeping things fun and engaging. One way to do this is to turn fishing into a game. Who can spot the most wildlife? Who can cast the farthest? Friendly competitions can keep their interest levels high.

Take breaks from fishing to explore the surrounding areas. The Kenai Peninsula is rich in wildlife and natural beauty. Go for a short hike, have a picnic, or play a game by the riverside. These breaks will help you make the most of your time in nature.

Another way to keep things fun is to teach them about the river and its ecosystem. Turn it into an educational experience. What kind of fish are they catching? Why is catch and release important? This is an excellent way to keep them engaged and instill a sense of respect and appreciation for nature.

The goal is to create a positive and memorable experience. Celebrate their catches, no matter how small, and always be patient and encouraging. Top of Form

Making Memories: More Than Just Fishing

a child and fishing guide high-fiving on the Kenai River

A family fishing trip to the Kenai River is an opportunity to create lasting memories. It’s the early morning excitement of heading out, the shared sense of adventure, and the stories that will be told for years.

To make these memories stick, involve your kids in every aspect of the trip. Let them help with setting up the fishing gear or picking the perfect spot on the river. These small moments of responsibility can make them feel valued and part of the adventure.

Capture the moments, not just the big catches, but also the candid instances. Bring a camera or use your phone to snap pictures of your day. From the morning prep to the triumphant smiles with their catches, these photos will be treasured reminders of the time spent together. When your kids look at pictures of themselves or photos they took after the trip, they’ll feel compelled to fish more. This is another victory for you!

Encourage your kids to keep a journal or make drawings of their experiences. This will allow them to express their adventure creatively.

Take some time to simply enjoy the surroundings. The Kenai Peninsula’s breathtaking scenery is a playground for exploration. Watch the wildlife, dip your toes in the water, and take in the fresh Alaskan air. These moments of quiet appreciation can often be as rewarding as the thrill of the catch.

End each day by sharing your favorite moments. Whether it’s around a campfire or during dinner, talk about what you enjoyed the most. This will reinforce the day’s experiences and strengthen family bonds. These shared stories and experiences, both big and small, can turn a simple kid-friendly fishing trip into a cherished family memory.

It’s Time to Start Planning!

At Jason’s Guide Service, we understand that a family fishing trip is about more than just catching fish. It’s about laughs, learning, and creating moments that your family will talk about for years.

We’re here to make sure your trip is safe, enjoyable, and full of the kind of hands-on fun that the Kenai River is known for. Whether you’re teaching your kids the basics of fishing with a guided silver salmon fishing adventure, introducing the concept of catch and release with a guided rainbow trout trip, or walking them through the importance of conservation and preservation, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Book your trip today! Our fly fishing guides are ready to take the reins.

a group of people hiking

How to Combine Fishing and Hiking on the Kenai Peninsula

Find your fishing rod and strap on your hiking boots; we’re going on an adventure on the Kenai Peninsula: a place where rugged trails meet world-class fishing spots!

This isn’t your average walk in the park; it’s where the wilderness of Alaska challenges you, rewards you, and leaves you in awe.

In this guide, we’re blending two of Alaska’s greatest outdoor activities: fishing and hiking. This blog is for those who crave the satisfaction of reeling in a big catch and the thrill of a hike through pristine landscapes.

Let’s break down how to make the most of both on the Kenai Peninsula!

Planning Your Adventure: Routes and Spots

Embarking on a fishing and hiking expedition on the Kenai Peninsula demands some solid planning. You can’t just wing it; you must know where you’re heading and what you’ll find when you get there.

When selecting your route, consider the length of the hike and the difficulty level. The Kenai Peninsula is a diverse area, offering a range of experiences, so choose a route and spot that aligns with your family’s abilities and interests.

Always plan to fish first and hike afterwards. If you do the opposite, you may find yourself too fatigued and unable to enjoy your time on the river. Fishing, especially in the dynamic waters of the Kenai River, requires focus, precision, and sometimes a fair amount of physical effort. Tackling this after a long hike can diminish your ability to stay alert and responsive to the subtle bites and rapid movements of the fish.

You must approach your fishing experience with as much energy and concentration as possible to make the most of your time on the river. By fishing first, you’ll ensure you’re at your best when it matters most, ready to engage with the challenges and joys of fishing in one of Alaska’s most famed rivers.

Gear Up: Packing for the River and the Trail

a man trekking with a green backpack

Packing for a dual fishing and hiking trip on the Kenai Peninsula means striking a balance between being prepared and not being weighed down.

Your backpack is your best friend here; it should be large enough to carry your essentials but comfortable enough for a long trek.

Start with your basic fishing gear: a collapsible rod and a small tackle box with just the essentials; think a variety of hooks, lures, and line. If you plan to wade, lightweight waders or waterproof boots are a must. Keep in mind that every extra item adds weight. Pack smart accordingly.

For your hiking necessities, opt for a map and compass for navigation, enough water for the day, high-energy snacks, and a compact first-aid kit. Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable; make sure you include rain gear and layers for warmth. A good hat and sunglasses will protect you from the sun, and insect repellent will keep the bugs at bay.

Lastly, don’t forget a waterproof bag or container for your phone, keys, and any other valuables. And while it’s tempting to bring along every gadget, remember that the point of this trip is to immerse yourself in nature. Keep the tech to a minimum.

Hiking Etiquette and Safety

Hiking on the Kenai Peninsula is as much about enjoying the great outdoors as it is about respecting it. Stick to marked trails to minimize your impact on the environment and avoid getting lost.

Be mindful of noise levels; loud voices and noises can disturb wildlife and other hikers. If you’re hiking in a group, keep it tight, especially in areas where the trail narrows.

Safety is paramount in the Alaskan wilderness. Remember that the Kenai is bear country; educate yourself and your group on bear safety. Make noise as you hike, especially around blind corners, to avoid startling any wildlife. Keep a safe distance if you encounter any animals.

Always check the weather before heading out and be prepared for it to change quickly. Let someone know your plans and expected return time (especially if you’re venturing into remote areas).

Pack out what you pack in. Littering isn’t just disrespectful; it can be harmful to the wildlife and the Kenai’s pristine environment. Leave the spots you visit as beautiful and natural as you found them to ensure they remain that way for future adventurers.

The Role of a Fishing Guide

A fly fishing guide is more than just someone who shows you where to fish; they’re your gateway to a truly enhanced outdoor experience. Fishing guides bring a wealth of local knowledge about the best fishing spots, terrain, wildlife, and history of the area.

A guide will help you access the hidden gems of the Kenai: spots off the beaten path that you may never find on your own. They’ll provide you with the right techniques and tackle for each location and type of fish. This will significantly increase your chances of a successful catch. This guidance is invaluable for families or less experienced anglers.

Fishing guides also emphasize the importance of safety and conservation. They’re trained to navigate the wilderness safely, recognize signs of weather changes, and pick up on wildlife activity that could impact your trip. Their presence will allow you to relax and fully immerse yourself in the hiking and fishing experience.

How to Keep the Fun of Fishing and Hiking Alive

Combining fishing and hiking on the Kenai Peninsula is an adventure that should be as fun as it is rewarding.

To keep the enjoyment levels high, pace yourselves. Plan your trip so that it’s challenging but not exhausting (especially if you have kids in tow).

Keeping things interesting is key. Encourage kids to learn about the fish they’re catching and the ecosystem they inhabit.

Lastly, don’t let the focus on catching fish overshadow the experience. Celebrate the small victories: the first fish caught, a new skill learned, or simply enjoying a meal by the riverside. These are the moments that create lasting memories and instill a lifelong love for the outdoors.

Recommended Read: 10 Simple Activities That Will Make Hiking Fun for Kids

Let Jason’s Guide Service Show You the Way

fishing guide Jason Lesmeister fishing on the Kenai River

As a fly fishing guide who’s spent countless hours on the Kenai Peninsula, I can tell you there’s no better way to experience this stunning part of Alaska than by combining fishing with hiking. It’s an adventure that tests your skills, fills your lungs with fresh air, and rewards you with unforgettable sights and catches.

And if you’re looking to make the most of this experience, our team at Jason’s Guide Service is here to help. We’ll guide you to the best spots, share our local knowledge, and ensure your adventure on the Kenai Peninsula is as rewarding as it is exciting.

Whether you’re in the mood for a guided silver salmon fishing expedition, a guided rainbow trout trip, or catch and release, we’ll plan an adventure that leaves lasting memories. And, of course, we’ll add hiking to the festivities. Book now!

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.

For Sockeyes You Gotta Swing

The technique we use for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River is called the Sockeye Swing. It takes just a little practice to get good at it.

A question I get a hundred times each summer is,  “When I fish for sockeye salmon using the Sockeye Swing on the Kenai River, am I really just snagging fish or are the sockeye biting my fly?”  Snagging a fish usually means you are ripping a treble hook through the water and trying to hook a fish anywhere you can. Sockeye fishing – doing the sockeye swing, flipping, or flossing as we call the technique on the Kenai River – is a lot more civilized and specific in its presentation.  We are allowed to use one single hook for our presentation and on the Upper Kenai River that hook must have a 3/8 inch gap or smaller. 

The Sockeyes, or “Reds” as they are called in Alaska, run up the river in schools along the shoreline until they reach staging areas to rest as they migrate to their spawning grounds.  The sockeye salmon like to swim as close to the shoreline as possible so they can stay out of the heavy current.  When a salmon runs up the river they take breaths by having water run through their mouths past their gills to pull oxygen out of the water into their bloodstream.

The objective of the Kenai River salmon angler is to present their fly in a manner in which the leader attached to the fly drifts or swings down and through the water column where the sockeye are running and the fly ends up in the salmon’s mouth before the angler swings their rod into the next cast. 

When the fly is presented properly and the salmon are running good you end up with a positive connection and have a hook up that results in a landed salmon for the stringer and grill, or a quick photo and release.  When you learn to present the fly with precision, to the depth and speed of the water you are fishing, you will have lots of hook-ups and landed fish. 

The water speed and depth you fish will dictate the leader length from the weight to the fly and the amount of weight used.  The kind of line and pound test you use will also dictate buoyancy of your fly.  When the sockeye have seen lots of flies swinging past them they can become leader and line shy which makes a heavier fluorocarbon a good bet. When buoyancy is needed a limper monofilament line doesn’t drop as fast as the fluorocarbon is the best option in a heavier diameter test. 

Sockeye or red salmon are pound-for-pound one of the hardest fighting, best eating fish that the Kenai River and Alaska has to offer.  The fact that the limits on the Kenai River are usually liberal with a three or six fish bag limit – depending on the time of year and escapement goals met – makes them a great fish for sport or table fare.  The best way to learn the sockeye swing quickly is hire a guide and get out on the water as soon as you make it to the Kenai Peninsula on your Alaskan vacation.  Don’t hesitate to book a trip with Jason’s Guide Service to learn the ins and out of the sockeye salmon fishery and learn that Sockeye Swing.

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.

The Best Time to Fish the Kenai River

If you ask a guide in the Lower 48 when the best time to fish a particular species on their body of water would be, they will always say, “When they’re biting.” In Alaska when you ask a guide when the best time to be fishing is, they will tell you, “At the peak of the run,” if you are fishing for salmon, and “Anytime,” if you are fishing for trout or char.

Every summer droves of anglers show up from all corners of the world to try their hand at catching one of Alaska’s pacific salmon. Sockeye salmon, and silver salmon are the most sought after with king salmon being a close second or third. The chum and pink salmon are fun to catch but don’t make the best table fare compared to the others.

Summer time is when the sockeye salmon are moving up the Kenai, but that can be a very busy time both on and off the river. Silver salmon start showing up in numbers at the end of August and run good until the end of October.

The big masses of visitors starts to wane as school starts and the weather cools which leaves lots of opportunity for the angler who wants less crowds and great fishing.  The fall fishing on the Kenai is also when the rainbow trout and Dolly Varden char fishing is hitting it’s peak.

From the last 10 days of August until October 31st, I spend 90 percent of my time on the water doing combo trips for silver salmon, rainbow trout, and char.  We usually trout fish from one great spot to another great spot catching as many huge trout and char as possible. Then we float into the silver spots and fish the salmon until we catch them all out of that hole or they get lock jaw and won’t bite anymore.

Silver salmon are no different than any other fish. Somedays they are hard to keep off the hook and other days they make you work hard to get a sniff, but with time on the water you can usually make something happen.

The truth is I love fishing the Kenai River all year long, but my favorite time to fish this incredible resource is in late fall starting the last two weeks of September through October for Silver salmon, rainbows, and char.

The most enjoyable part of silver salmon fishing is the fact that I can incorporate a lot of different options to catch them. I can use my fly rod, casting and stripping line for them. I can cast spinners and spoons with my spinning gear or run plugs with my casting rods by back trolling. There’s nothing like running big drifts with my float rods and I can do this and all the others the same day.

Of course, I’m blessed to get lots and lots of days on the Kenai River every year and love to use all the tools in my tool box. I’m a purist and I just love to fish and believe a good guide should master all the disciplines of the sport in order to create the best possible time on the river with my anglers.

If you want to see Alaska and the Kenai River with less people and fish the scrappy silver salmon, the fall time is the right time to come to Cooper Landing and fish with Jason’s Guide Service. Fall is without a doubt the perfect time for that combo trip where we fish for silver salmon, target some trout and add some char to the mix. Trust me when I say it doesn’t get any better.



Kids on the Kenai – Part 2

This is Part Two of a pair of blogs that dig into the logistics of bringing children on an Alaskan fishing adventure on the Kenai River. At Jason’s Guide Service we love to have kids in the boat, but there are some considerations that will make the trip enjoyable for everyone.

My first tip is to bring lots of snacks and beverage for the kiddos. If or when they get bored, food and drink is always an excellent diversion.

I see a lot of parents being almost militant at times about their kids fishing non-stop or staying completely focused on fishing for the entire trip. I believe this to be a mistake.  When I’m not fishing or in the outdoors I have an attention span of a five-year old so I know all about daydreaming or getting bored easily.  When your kid gets bored or fidgety let them put the rod up for a minute and hang out or daydream. I always love to make sure a kid has access to the family phone to take photos of the trip.

If your kid needs to move around I can bring them to a gravel bar and let them throw rocks and explore.  It’s always better to have them happy and enjoying themselves by doing something on the water that is fun for them. If they enjoy their maiden voyage they’ll keep coming back for more trips and develop a love and passion for the sport. Having a bad experience will ensure them not wanting to come back.

Everyone who floats the Kenai River has different ideas of what a great fishing trip is. When taking kids out on the water it’s important to know their interest level for fishing and if they have a technique or species they want to target.  Never underestimate a child’s ability to learn and when you fuel that desire you can help create a passion for fishing that never goes away.

There is no age too young to get that kid on the water whether you are putting a fly rod in their hands or a spinning rod. It doesn’t matter if you are targeting rainbow trout, char,  sockeye or silver salmon, just make sure they are having fun and getting the opportunity to try what they want on their guided fishing trip.

The biggest thing to remember, no matter what, is that fishing is supposed to be enjoyable. It doesn’t matter if you are chunking rocks in the river, writing your name on a sand bar with drift wood, exploring gravel bars for bear tracks and spawned-out salmon, or running the perfect drift with your fly rod, make sure your guided fishing trip on the Kenai River is about the young ones and you will be doing fishing trips for life.

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.

It’s About Getting the Best Image and Preserving the Resource

I am often asked, “Why do you and your guides hold the fish in all your pictures?”  The short answer is that proper handling of fish means the difference between mortality and catching the same trophy fish year after year. We are also holding the fish so that you see the fish, not your hands, when we take the photos.

The term trophy means different things to different people. In our boats they are all trophies, or future trophies depending on the fish and the angler.  The Kenai River is a glacial river that has cold water and has a very low mortality rate due the cold water most of the year.

Every guide at Jason’s Guide Service is a highly trained professional and is trained and educated in handling fish and knowing when a fish is healthy enough to take pictures of.  Our goal is to get a photo of your trophy fish for that image that lasts a lifetime, as well as getting the fish back into the Kenai River quickly to live and hopefully bite another day. We are always happy to teach and educate our anglers in the proper handling of trophy rainbow trout, Dolly Varden char, silver salmon, and sockeye salmon.