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Ask the Pro's: Two Weeks of Fly Fishing & Nature on the Kenai Peninsula

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  • We are 2 kin (fly) fishermen from Belgium. We are organising a self-guided fishing trip to Alaska during the first 2 weeks of September 2020. It will be our 4th time visiting Alaska. We plan to spend a good amount of time on the Kenai Peninsula (Cooper Landing). This time we would like to undertake some lake fishing. On smaller lakes we could access from the road system via a walking trail or via a canoe trail. If possible we would like to rent a cabin to camp overnight. We hope to enjoy some productive trout/grayling fishing while spotting a moose and listening to the enigmatic sound of a loon…

    • Which areas and specific lakes would be most suitable to bring us close this ideal picture?
    • Where/how to rent a cabin+boat on a lake accessible by foot (up to 2/3 hours walk from a road)?
    • Who would you advise for canoe/cabin rental?
    • Any other areas (between Anchorage and Talkeetna) we should consider for lake fishing?

    Thank you so much for responding and providing some guidance. We love Alaska, even more the friendly Alaskan people.

    - Koen & Frank

  • Two spots I can think of right out of the gate, that fit your description, are Crescent Lake & Russian Lakes. Both of these lakes you can hike into and both have a boat that you can use. Crescent will provide great Grayling fishing, while the Russian Lakes will provide great Rainbow Trout fishing. Both lakes are located in Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula. You will need to look into booking these places at https://www.recreation.gov.

    Another option would be the Swan Lake canoe system, but I am not sure that there are cabins to use along the way. Contact Alaska Canoe Rental this is where you would rent a canoe and Max will have more insight on the Swan Lake trip as well as other options down there.

    Heading North to Talkeetna, there are a million lakes up there. But I am not sure what lakes have cabin rentals available. I believe if you look at Alaska State Parks, you can find maps and rental options there. Another great source for Mat-Su valley information would be 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle. Mike and AJ both fish the lakes in that area a lot and are very helpful.

    Anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.

    Thanks - Mike

    Mike Brown - Owner of Mossy's Fly Shop in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Hey Koen and Frank! Thank you so much for your question and welcome to Alaska in advance!

    There are numerous lakes with numerous species (as you can imagine) on the road system in Alaska.

    The sheer variety of lakes can be overwhelming. There are lakes you can take a short hike to and fish from the banks, there are also lakes with longer hikes that have US Forest Service Cabins with boats available, there are also huge lakes that require power boats and special equipment to fish as well.

    There are also lakes with a large variety of species like northern pike, rainbow trout, burbot, arctic char, arctic grayling, etc...

    The best place to start is the US Forest Service Cabin Rental listings. This will give you a good idea of which lakes offer forest service cabins (which also have boats).

    Most lakes within hiking distance are generally only accessible on foot or by float plane, thus making it impossible to use a boat (unless boats are already there). A really great option for these and a lot of lakes is the use of float tubes.

    Float tubes can be very lightweight, easy to carry and quite versatile fishing vessels. Some fly shops rent float tubes like Troutfitters in Cooper Landing.

    On the Kenai Peninsula and specifically around Cooper Landing, there are several lakes worth the hike. The Russian Lakes can be excellent in the fall and also have service cabins. Crescent Lake is another great one and can be accessed via the Crescent Creek Trail - known for its trophy grayling fishing with a service cabin.

    Other gems on the Kenai Peninsula around Cooper Landing are the Upper and Lower Paradise Lakes. Both feature cabins and row boats as well and are in quite picturesque and pristine environments.

    Smaller lakes without cabins, like the fuller lakes (on the Fuller Lakes Trail) and Grayling Lake are accessible on foot, can be fished for the day and are great for float tubes.

    Other areas that should be considered are the Swanson River Canoe Trail (a literal canoe trail of 40 connected lakes) Here is a good resource for this sytem: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Kenai/visit/visitor_activities/swanson_river.html

    Keep in mind that most lakes within hiking distance with cabins and boats can be moderately popular with respect to reserving the cabins and boats. You'll definitely want to reserve in advance.

    I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck on your lake fishing adventure around Cooper Landing!

    Dave Lisi - Owner/Guide for Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC located in the small mountain town of Cooper Landing, Alaska where he is a year-round resident, guide, carpenter and trout bum. On any given day, you will most likely find Dave on the banks of the Kenai swinging for trout with his best friend and future wife, Jackie. Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC was built in early 2017 with the goal of sharing the love and passion Dave and Jackie have for the Kenai Peninsula and the fish that live there.
  • Koen & Frank,

    Congratulations on making another trip to our beautiful state! Still water fishing is an amazing niche in flyfishing and something overlooked by a lot of anglers. There are countless lakes in our state and can be somewhat daunting on how and where to fish them. I will give some advice but a great resource comes from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. If you go to ADF&G's website they have the Alaska Lake Database. In this database one will find a map of the state and the particular region you want to fish. On the map there are icons of all the known lakes. You can "click" on these icons and find out information on each specific lake such as directions to the lake, stocking info, and even maps that show varying depths of the lake. This is a great resource and you should spend some time going over this.

    A good lake that provides incredible Arctic Grayling fishing is Crescent Lake outside of Cooper landing. There are several Forest Service Cabins that you can sign up for through the Forest service. At these cabins there are also row boats/canoes. This is a super beautiful location and amazing fishing.

    A little further south in the town of Sterling there is Sterling Canoe and Kayak. They rent multiple types of watercraft and have staff that can also help steer you into the right locations. There are lots of lakes in this area and also lot's of migratory birds such as Loons. Their call in the early morning mist is truly awesome! A little south of Sterling is the town of Kasilof, in this direction there are lots of lakes such as Johnson lake that provide great fishing.

    There are also larger lakes such as Tustumena and Skilak lake. These are larger beautiful lakes but demand huge respect. Larger lakes such as these can be almost ocean like with huge swells and waves and can be hazardous to even large watercraft. So, keeping an eye on weather and especially wind will help ensure a safe fun fishing trip.

    Cheers - Adam

    Adam Cuthriell - Part owner of FishHound Expeditions. His wife Kathryn Cuthriell and business partner Dave "Reps" Repta make up the rest of the company as well as their dogs Hatch, Rado, and Pike. They fish, live, and guide in Alaska year-round. When not guiding on the rivers they guide ice fishing on Alaska's numerous lakes. Originally from Colorado, he began guiding at the age of 19 while receiving a degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership. Adam is also a current state of Alaska EMT.
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