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.

Shipping Fish

There is nothing as mouth watering as the smell of a wild caught salmon as it sits in a layer of sizzling oil. There’s nothing that gets the stomach rumbling like a big slab of wild caught salmon sitting over a bed of charcoal. It’s one of the main reasons anglers from all over the world come to Alaska. We have great salmon runs.

A question I get all the time is, how do I get my fresh Kenai River salmon home?

When you fish with Jason’s Guide Service we fillet any salmon you catch and keep.  After your day on the water we will direct you to a reputable fish processor who will vacuum pack your fish for you.  Once you have your fish packaged you have the option of paying the processor to freeze and store your fish, or you can bring them to where ever you are staying.

After you have packaged and frozen fish the best two options for transporting home is shipping through FedEx or bringing it home as luggage.  The FedEx option is great for people who are on the front end of their vacation and don’t want to travel with fish.  The luggage option is my favorite because it costs a lot less.

How much it costs exactly to ship salmon by Fed Ex, varies depending on weight.  The cost of bringing it home as luggage depends on what airline you fly and how many checked bags you have.  With a couple phone calls you should be able to come up with a ball park estimate of cost and budget it into your trip.

Once you get your fish home the only logistic left is making sure you don’t let the secret out that you have some Kenai River salmon on the menu or you may discover you have loads of close friends and neighbors who will just happen to arrive at your door around dinner time.


Common Questions

Is there a toilet in the boat? Will flip-flops work on my feet? Are those albino eagles?


These are not common questions, but I get them on occasion. And there is really no question that doesn’t warrant an answer. Because there is nothing scarier than the unknown. Having all the answers mean you have all the solutions to anything that can arise during your trip and this means smooth sailing, or in our case, is a smooth drift.


One key question is, “How long have you been guiding?” Now I agree that experience is a major benefit, and I’ve been on the rivers in Alaska for 30 years, but there are some old, cranky, burnt-out and impatient guides out there that have a lot of experience but little tolerance and even-temperedness anymore. So, experience is only as good as the personality and passion of the guide.


On the other hand, Through experience I realize there are some phenomenal young guides on the Kenai River. I have them working for me. I firmly believe that a well-trained young guide with a high level of motivation to treat their anglers with the best trip possible.


Young guides are inspired to produce by many differing emotions. The quest to be the best on the water can be driven by their fear of failure, their desire for prestige among their peers and elders, and their determination to prove they can get the job done.


The only way to ensure a young guide is capable of becoming an all-star and providing anglers with the experience they deserve is through a rigorous training program. My guides all start training well before the season begins beginning with boat safety, and ending with customer satisfaction.


I get asked a lot, “Are there restrooms on the river?” The Kenai River has restrooms at the boat launches, but that’s it. If you have to answer nature’s call while we’re drifting I can easily pull the boat over to the shoreline.


How do I get my fish home? That’s one that everyone loves to hear my answer. Because, I fillet your salmon right on the river. I will recommend the best processor in Cooper Landing where you can have them vacuum packed, paying by the pound. Your fillets can either be taken on the plane as luggage in a cooler or freezer box you purchase from the fish processor, or you can ship the fish by FedEx. Most all fish processors can store your fish and will arrange the FedEx shipment.


How do I get a fishing license? The easiest way is get it online at ADFG.com. You DO NOT need a king salmon stamp when you fish with Jason’a Guide Service. You can also purchase a license at any sporting goods store in Anchorage when you arrive. Even some grocery stores will sell you a license in Alaska. Just check at the Customer Service desk.


How much do I tip my guide?  Millions in stock. Cryptocurrency works well too. All kidding aside. There is an industry standard. This is ten to twenty percent. Many tips are directly related to the amount and size of fish that were caught. While this makes sense to many, what people don’t realize is when the fishing is good, it’s really easy to be a great guide. When the fishing is tough, and it can be in a fair-chase environment where the resource gets a lot of pressure, a great guide will dig deeper and work harder to put a fish in the net.


When you log 150 days on the water a year you realize that only a small percentage are truly phenomenal. With that in mind you can grasp that a great guide is there to provide you the best experience based solely on the conditions that are present when you are on the water. The best guides will use every resource at their disposal to guarantee your trip was a complete success.


With that in mind, tip according to the overall experience.


Oh, and how about those albino river eagles?  In states where you see real eagles you’ll know immediately that those are just big sea gulls.



No (KNOW) Hidden Costs

They told me the trip was a thousand bucks. I was handed a bill for twelve hundred. And that didn’t include the tip. What? Where did the extra come from?

It was hidden costs. Added fees. Charges for additional equipment. All ways to squeeze more money out of someone who has never used a guide service before.

They might charge you extra for waders and boots. You might end up paying for lures or equipment rental. They might try to stick you for parking or the ferry costs.

Know exactly what you are paying by asking, “What is the final bottom line?”

Every state or region has their own customs as to what is included in the price of a guided trip. I include everything in the cost of a trip. Waders, tackle and flies, flotation devices, rods and reels, everything but your fishing license, food and drink and rain gear. We even fillet your fish. But this is not always the case with everyone.

So, be sure to ask, “What is the actual total cost?” And, don’t feel embarrassed to ask more than once. It is your right to know how much you will need to budget and ensure there are no surprises.

Figuring Out Your Accommodations

It looked like the Taj Mahal on the web site, but when I got there it had morphed into a cockroach infested flophouse with two neighboring roosters and six barking dogs on chains next door.

What you need to know is what accommodations fit you best. Do you want a kitchen to cook your own meals, or will you be dining out for every meal. Do you want water front or are you looking for an economical option. Is this a base camp where you will be venturing out every day and just need a bed and a shower, or do you want deluxe accommodations where you might wish to spend some time utilizing the amenities. You’re needs will dictate your shelter so knowing what your parameters are before doing the research will not only get you the best deal possible, but put you in the perfect location for your plans.

To be right in the middle of all that is happening on the Kenai Peninsula, I chose Cooper Landing as my base of operations. This incredibly beautiful town, that is nestled where the Kenai River begins and the mountains cascade down to the valley floor, allows me quick access to the Kenai River, the perfect ocean habitat for halibut and rockfish and lakes to recreate on.

I have researched every possible lodging facility from Homer to Seward and I can attest to many well-run operations on the Kenai Peninsula. I can also confirm there are many that I wouldn’t recommend with good conscience. This is why I would recommend that once you know what your program consists of, call your guide.

The guide you are working with is going to understand how to help you schedule your lodging needs to fit the logistics of your trip. It’s that simple. Once you know what you want, ask for some recommendations to get you what you need.

Finding the Guide That Will Suit Your Needs

I have heard too many horror stories about ornery or aggressive guides that have ruined what could have been a great day on the water. That is a crying shame. It is my personal belief that people book a guided fishing trip in Alaska for one reason; and that is to have fun. Everyone has their own dream of what a good day on the water means to them. Some want the most fish, some the biggest, some just want to see the wildlife and watch their friends and loved ones enjoy themselves. When you are fishing on the Kenai River it should be a low-pressure enjoyable experience.

The best way to find that perfect guide who can give you the experience you want starts with research. The world-wide web gives you the opportunity to look at reviews of businesses after you look at someone’s web site. Be a little weary of the reviews, some outfits have lots and lots of vanilla reviews, and some have very few and those were probably from friends and family. Being able to discern the reviews that are from the heart, versus the family reviews or the forced follow-up reviews, is important.

After you look at web sites and reviews, the next thing to do is get on the phone or even FaceTime or Zoom with your guide or outfitter and talk to them. It is important that you feel some connection or have a feel for the honesty of your guide, because for some this may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip and having a connection is important. If someone can’t or doesn’t want to answer your questions, in person, be wary. It is easy for a desk jockey to promise you everything you want and then pawn you off on a guide who has to try and deliver the impossible, or meet unrealistic expectations. Don’t be fooled by the person who tells you, you will get limits everyday or catch the trophy of your dreams no matter what.

It is important to remember that when you are fishing the Kenai River it is a natural resource and you will be in a fair-chase scenario where timing, technique, and skill-set all play a part in your success. Guides are just that; guides. Guides are not miracle workers and all we can do is control the controllable’s and let Mother Nature do the rest.

Is There a Nightmare in Your Bucket?

If you look in the buckets of everyone who has a bucket list you’ll quickly discover that many, if not most, have a trip to Alaska as one of the objectives. I can understand that. Alaska is the last frontier and fishing in this state amongst all the amazing resources found here is something that every outdoor enthusiast would hope they could one day experience.

But, if not planned properly, that once-in-a-lifetime dream will become a nightmare due to all the logistical considerations. The old adage to keep it simple rings true when planning your trip, but with a few phone calls and some online research with your favorite search engine you will make that dream a reality.

First, you must realize that many online businesses (lodging, guides, eating establishments, etc.) have a great virtual persona and when you arrive you discover it was all smoke and mirrors. The only way you can know for sure, is through direct contact with the business unless you are referred by a trusted source. The truly great businesses want to hear from you. They want you to call them so they can know for sure they will be delivering on all your expectations. If someone doesn’t answer their phone or call you call you back promptly, then write them off. Only book online if you are completely sure through direct contact, recommendations, or adequate research that the business is going to meet your expectations and be absolutely sure you can cancel without being penalized.

This is important information in getting you started on the path to an incredible fishing trip to Alaska . In my future blogs I’m going to discuss targeting specific species, researching your costs, finding the best guides for what you are targeting, setting up the best accommodations and why it is necessary to have a back-up plan.

2021 was an amazing fishing year

2021 was an amazing fishing year; plenty of fish, tons of laughs, and we’re thankful for all of our fishing guests that joined for another special year of fishing the Kenai River in Alaska. We’re looking forward to the 2022 Kenai fishing season which is rapidly approaching. Please give me a call to get your preferred fishing dates in the books. Please contact me today to book your next fishing trip to Alaska with Jason’s Guide Service offering only professional Kenai River fishing guide services.

Other Places to Review Us

You can find Jason’s Guide Service all across the internet.

Here are a few places you probably didn’t know about!









We Launched Our New Website

Jason Lesmeister, owner of Jason’s Guide Service, has 20 years of experience as an Alaskan fishing guide, ten of them on the Kenai River, so he is well qualified to help visiting anglers shorten the necessary learning curve for a successful trip.

He has just launched his new website, www.JasonsGuideService.com.The website was redesigned from the ground up and now contains helpful information about the fish to be found in the Kenai River, the best season for each, and the services and equipment Lesmeister offers.

When asked about the upgraded website, Lesmeister said, “I love everything about our new web presence. It’s going to allow me to provide more detailed information about the gear we use and what we are catching day in and day out. I will also be updating my blog on the website on a regular basis so you can read up on our guests’ adventures.”

Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden appeal to fishermen because they bite readily, put up an aggressive fight, and are plentiful all year. Red (sockeye) salmon, silver (coho) and other salmon species migrate up the Kenai River at certain times. Sockeye salmon peak from mid-July through the first week in August. Silver salmon fishing is best from the third week of August through the end of October.

Lesmeister’s Kenai River guiding service provides all the equipment you might need, including custom built 20 foot drift boats, G. Loomis, Sage, Lamson and Shimano rods and reels, and all tackle and baits. They will also clean fish and offer other expertise necessary for a quality trip.

Ice fishing the Kenai and surrounding lakes is also outstanding and Jason’s Guide Service is one of the few serious organizations serving this type of fishing and implement the latest technology to locate the fish and keep you warm on the ice.

Jason is headquartered in Cooper Landing, Alaska, and covers the entire Kenai River resource – Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, Skilak Lake, Kenai Lake, and the Cooper Landing Area. Fishermen are encouraged to bring their cameras so they can post photos of their catch with the others on the website’s “Braggin’ Board”. It is a good idea to make reservations for prime seasons as far in advance as possible.

For more information, visit the website and send questions via the contact form or push the handy “Push to Call” button to initiate a direct call.


Jason’s Guide Service
Mile Marker 48
Cooper Landing, AK 99572
(907) 351-3036


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