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Alaska fishing in Drift boats on the Kenai River and Kasilof River
with Great Alaska Adventure Lodge
Great Alaska Adventure Lodge has been drift boat fishing the Kenai river and Kasilof river for nearly three decades. Our guides fish every nook and cranny of these two amazing fisheries with spinning and fly rods to produce great catches of Kenai and Kasilof river King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Trophy Trout and even the occasional early season steelhead.
In mid May, the Kenai river receives the first of the great King Salmon returning to spawn after 2, 3, 4 or even 5 years in the ocean feeding on sardines, herring, shrimp and most everything else they can get their mouths around. They hit the river hungry and move upstream quickly, working their way towards the Killey river where most of them spawn. Driftboats are a perfect way to fish for these great fish- backtrolling wiggling plugs and various spinning lures behind diving planers. The shallow early season water is great for this style of fishing and the very light fishing pressure makes for great days on the water. The first Run of Kings continues all the way into June, with the Second run of Kings beginning in early July and peaking in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th weeks of the month. The Higher waters of late July make for some physical days for our driftboat guides, as the rushing waters require lots of rowing to keep those lures on the bottom! Techniques for the second run of fish include backtrolling plugs and Salmon eggs, as well as "bottom Bouncing" and even some side drifting.
In May, June and July, the glacial Kasilof River hosts a great return of the only hatchery salmon targeted by our guests. Kasilof river fish average 15 - 35 pounds during the early season, moving upriver on the huge tidal swings in Cook Inlet. Many of the early season fish spawn in Crooked Creek, the the return trip upriver is a short one, as is our daily float to target these fish. Natural non-hatchery fish also return with the clipped-fin, which mover farther upstream to spawn.
Unlike the Kenai River, the Kasilof River allows for the use of bait after the 1st of June, so our main technique for accessing these great fish is called back-trolling. Backtrolling is a downstream trolling technique developed in the Pacific Northwest for salmon and steelhead. With the Kasilof River closed to the use of Motors, drift boats are the perfect vehicle to present these great wiggling plugs (wrapped with sardine fillets) and cured salmon eggs to the waiting salmon. your guide will stroke against the quickly moving Kasilof river with 10' counter-balanced oars while you pay out the exact distance he prefers, then as you lock the drag in the gear will dive to the bottom of the shallow, fast moving river. (much of the Kasilof is only 4-6 feet deep!. As you work your way through the holes you'll feel the plug or bait move up into the faster water at the middle of the column, and then hit the slower water near the bottom (the "sweet spot"!). You and your guide will work together as a team to slowly back the gear down to the fish...strikes are usually savage and this style of fishing is known to be very addicting!
In July, the native Kings return to the Kasilof and the average size goes up substantially. Our guides have taken dozens of 60 pound plus fish over the years, with 4 or 5 stretching to the 67 pound mark. With the Kasilof Kings notorious fighting characteristics (Kasilof fish are famous for fighting like crazy!) these larger native fish are a true battle to get to the boat. The Kasilof is closed on Sundays in July for all guided angling to protect these great gamefish.
The King season, like everywhere on the peninsula, closes on the Kasilof on the final day of July, but August isn't the end of the season. The Kasilof has a great run of Silver salmon that begin entering the river on the final few days of July and peak around the 2nd and 3rd weeks of the month. With the Kasilof''s glacial water, Bait fishing the most effective technique for taking these fish, although we also take them on fly rods on from shore.
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