The Kenai River is home to World Champion Rainbow Trout. 30 inches? No problem! Twenty pounds? Happens every year. While good Rainbow Trout fishing is available throughout the river system, and in the waters of the Lower Kenai River, the truly trophy Rainbow fishing is on the Upper Kenai and the waters around Skilak lake and the Upper Kenai in Cooper Landing. Remember, this is an eighty mile long river, flowing through a major glacier fed lake, and each section of the river is world famous for it’s own reasons!
This trophy size Rainbow Trout
was safely released back into the Kenai River to breed more trophy
Experience unparalleled Trophy Rainbow Fishing on the Kenai with an incredibly scenic float trip on the Upper Kenai (no motors allowed) or a power boat trip launching from Skilak Lake or Bing’s Landing with a professional Rainbow Trout lovin’ guides. The season runs June 11 through the winter, but the hot time for Rainbows (and Dolly Varden) is the latter part of summer and fall from August~October. The reason why is simply ALL THOSE TASTY Salmon Eggs freshly spawned and concentrated in the upper and middle Kenai River, particularly near the lake inlets and outlets and adjoining streams like the Russian River.
(Scroll Down to see some of the incredible “Rainbow Hall of Fame” catches.)
Our sweet young Alli caught this beautiful Dolly Varden off the shore at age 8, and safely released this beautiful fish back into the Kenai River!
October 2008–“Rainbow River”
“…what a fine way to end a season of fishing in Alaska, Rainbow fishing with friends after the first snow! With temperatures hovering in the high teens and low twenties by ‘morn, we set out on the Kenai River’s clear, shallow water with high hopes and warm gear from head to toe. We were not let down. Eagles soaring overhead, caribou swimming across the river, a huge brown bear on the beach and an all-you-can-eat-smorgasbord of “steak & eggs” for these hungry bows & dollies. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. If not, put this on your list of must do’s in the fishing column and give us a call–we’ll set you up. High-jumping, hard-fighting, I’ll bite your hook when I feel like it kind of trout. And bite they did, on every pass, as we drifted beads and flesh of every variety in front of their beautiful speckled heads. Silvers showed too, hitting flesh flys with gusto, even though they were late in the spawn phase. Clear skies one minute, fog the next, but little wind made the conditions perfect overall. Off the water now, waiting for another year to pass to do it all over again. These fish get under your skin.”
End of the Rainbow 2007–“Winter Wonderland”
“…the snow is here, but never fear, the Rainbows didn’t seem to mind, at least the big ones didn’t! With one more tank of gas left to burn up, we hit the snowy river and gave it one last shot. I’m glad we did, really glad. Mike hadn’t fished like this before, and early on he hooked into the biggest rainbow of his life and had a ball fighting it to the boat. Shortly afterward, I had one hit that just about spooled me, all the way down to the backing! Mike started the boat up and we chased this one up river a bit, then I sat back and watched this beautiful trout dance on the water and jump several times before joining me for a photo op. As if that wasn’t thrilling enough, on our next pass I hooked into the biggest one I’ve ever caught in my life. It came to the boat a half dozen times, took one look at me, and screamed back upriver and away. I finally managed to bring her close enough for a smile and a kiss before sending her back to the river for winter. Hope to meet her again next year!”
October 21, 2006–“One for the Mama”
“…it’s not over till…well, you know, till the Mama catches a big fat trout. Look at this one, the larger of two very nice fish caught on my float plan, my fishing pole, my rigging, by my wife. Arggghhh, I should have taken her up on her offer to let me fish for a while, but I knew there were big fish lurking, and I like a happy crew. This was the day for it. Drifting the Kenai under warmish blue skies on a late late fall day, no wind, and everyone on board for a family fishing adventure–even Rondy-boy our lab. It was pretty uneventful at first, except for Taylor’s big catch (shown below), but after we roasted some hot dogs and ate some Grandpa cookies things seemed to heat up a bit. The captain declared that we weren’t going home until the Mama and Jillian each caught a trout, and for a moment it looked like that may take all day into the night, but then a quick double header that turned into a double rainbow! Nice fish, Jillian’s for the fry pan, and Mama’s was released, a medium sized brightly colored Rainbow Trout. Then, it was time for the dreaded last drift of the day, and I decided to make it a short one, through a patch of river where the sun was still lighting up the water, and wham, this monster hit the Mama’s line and the fight began. Well, it was kind of anticlimactic at first, as I underestimated the fish which was hunkering down and not showing itself. Anticipating that this was the last fish of the day, and possibly the season, I encouraged each of the kids to take the pole and fight it for a bit, giving them all a taste of the action. Then, the Mama said ‘I think it’s a big one!’, and I saw it roll, and holy wah! it was a big one. So I got the net out. I started to sweat a little. Then I saw my opportunity and was barely able to slide the net under the beast and fit him in it. He measured around 32″ and was very girthy, and had a fat lower lip, indicating that he’d been caught and released a time or two before. He posed nicely for a few pictures, then went back from whence he came to recuperate and prepare for the long winter ahead in Skilak Lake. Hope to meet him again someday, you’d never forget his face!”
October 21, 2006–“First Fish of the Day!”
“…size doesn’t matter so much, especially when your a 5 year old young man and you have bragging rights over your twin brother, big sisters, your mom AND your dad, for the first fish of the day! Just look at Taylor James and how proud he is of this fine Kenai River Rainbow Trout that he insisted we dispatch and serve him on a platter! He was smilin’ and shoutin’ the whole time as he reeled in this fish, saying ‘I caught the first fish, look Dad, I caught the first fish!’ A very nice way to start ANY day. You made Daddy proud TJ.”
October 17, 2006–“Biggest Ever”
“…shortly after a hearty Moose Bratwurst, potato and fried egg breakfast on the Kenai River this morning, when I heard Gabe (a friend visiting from Portland, Oregon who works for Mountain Hardware and was up visiting Walter’s store Wilderness Way here in Soldotna) say he was down to the backing on his fly line, I knew he was into a nice fish–exactly the one we had rolled out of bed for at 0630. I’d seen it splash a little on takeoff, and it looked like it had some size, but watching his line scream upriver I was certain it was either a Silver Salmon or one of the legendary huge Kenai River Rainbows…and Gabe couldn’t have smiled bigger when he saw it was the latter as it came close to the boat on one of several runs over the twenty minute battle. On one run this behemoth ran for the prop, but Gabe saved it just in time as the fight raged on. While you can usually, eventually yard in just about any trout you catch here, even on a #5 fly pole like Gabe’s, a big one like this takes quick action at the wheel, using techniques more similar to fighting a Kenai River King Salmon than a Rainbow. Measuring approximately 36 inches, and weighing an estimated 15 pounds, this is one for all of our memories, and top of the list in Gabe’s record book. Several other Rainbows, Dolly Varden and Arctic Char, like the one seen here caught by Walter, rounded out a nice morning on the river–hopefully not the last of the season after all!”
October 9, 2006–“Rainbow Wonderland”
“…imagine a river with Salmon-sized Rainbows, no crowd, and fall leaves blowing in a Chinook wind…a real Rainbow Wonderland! With snow capped mountains in the distance, and the blue green water of the Kenai all around, we drifted the Kenai River and hooked into some more beautiful bows, but with the weekend over, the crowd was gone, and for the first few hours we had this Rainbow Wonderland all to ourselves. Memories of summer become kindling for winter days by the fireplace.”
October 7, 2006–“River of Rainbows”
“…I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t lived it myself. My pal Stavros (that’s Steve for you non Greeks out there) and I had to go check out the Rainbow & Dolly fishing up by Skilak Lake hearing tales of some big Bows caught yesterday, just to make sure our fishing friends weren’t stretching things a bit if you know what I mean. Sure enough, the fish were there, and hungry for our secret potion, well it wasn’t a potion at all, but I can’t tell you what we used because you aren’t staying here at Kenai Riverfront Resort right now! There, that’s some incentive to Request a Reservation quickly and easily online today, eh?! Anyway, we had an awesome day, even with the rain, wind and snow dusted mountains; and, we caught more Rainbows & Dollies than we could begin to count. I had three monster Rainbows break off my line and jump to show me their size, as if to say, nice try pal, and I landed this nice Dolly and Steve landed countless beautiful Rainbows and Dollies. Obviously he’s done a lot of fishing on those Greek Islands in Seward :). Get Hooked, eh!?!