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.