Fall/Late Season Fishing on the Kenai Peninsula
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Fall fishing in Alaska has to be atop most trophy fly angler's bucket lists. This is the time of year when the big fish come out to play, especially on the Kenai Peninsula!
Whether targeting Silver Salmon (Coho) or Trophy Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden, the Fall fishing can be some of the most productive fishing of the year. During late August and into mid-September, most King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon and Pink Salmon spawn throughout the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. This spawning activity brings the biggest and most highly sought-after trout out of hiding, giving eager anglers a shot at a fish, or multiple fish of a lifetime. On any given cast, in the right spot, it is conceivable to hook a 30+" Rainbow Trout or a giant 25"+ Dolly Varden.
Not only do you have a shot at a world-class trophy fish, the action can literally be non-stop. Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden throw caution to the wind this time of year and bite anything that resembles a salmon egg. This is not only the perfect time for a trophy trout hunter, but it is also a great time for beginners and kids to get hooked on fly fishing.
Fall Fly Fishing for Silver Salmon
As if hooking double-digits of fish wasn't enough, the fall is also when Coho or Silver Salmon begin their migration from the ocean into the river systems. Silvers are plentiful and aggressively strike at most flies that get in their way. Known for their acrobatic jumps and epic fights, Silvers are probably my favorite salmon to fish for on the fly (aside from giant King Salmon of course).
When targeting trophy trout, it is best to come equipped with a 7 or 8 wt rod and a large arbor reel with plenty of backing. Most successful trout anglers this time of year are using 6 millimeter or 8 millimeter beads (resembling salmon eggs), pegged 2-3 inches above their hook. The beads are pegged above the hook to prevent trout from swallowing a hook and potentially suffering life-threatening injuries. Fluorocarbon Tippet in the 10-12 lb range is also highly recommended.
For Silvers, 8 or 9 wt fly rods should have plenty of power, and similar to the equipment for trout, you will want a large arbor fly reel with plenty of backing and floating line. Typically, silvers can hang out in slower water, so sinking flies work well. Anything from Egg Sucking Leeches, to Moal Leeches, String Leeches, Intruders, Flash Flies, etc, will be very effective for them. Usually swinging flies or casting/stripping flies are the two preferred techniques. If you happen to be into spey fishing, a two-handed spey rod in the 13' 8wt size range would be perfect and a T-8 to T-14 sink tip selection should get the job done. Silvers will also take topwater flies, so experimenting with wogs and skating flies can always be a blast!
Take Advantage of Fall Activities & Sightseeing
If the fish are wearing you out, there are plenty of things to do on the Peninsula. Though things are starting to slow down a bit and some operations close down for the year after September 15th, there are still opportunities for bear viewing, ocean cruises, hiking, mountain biking, rafting and plenty of other outdoor activities.
Hopefully this helps shed some light on all the great fishing that is available on the Kenai Peninsula during the late season. It's a great time to be in Alaska, that's for sure!