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Ask the Pro's: Late May Alaska Fishing Advice

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  • Going to Alaska in late May, do I want to river fish in Cooper landing or ocean fishing in Homer?

    My wife and I will be there a week, we will have 1-2 days of fishing. We are also doing a day of bear viewing and other sight seeing with some hiking. I've never fly-fished and at home we love to fish for bass and crappie!

    We are just not for sure what would be best that time of the year? I'm sure the river fishing would be much more scenic?

    - Tim

  • Tim,

    One thing to consider this time of year is the closure of the Kenai River from May 1st until it re-opens on June 11th. The river is closed to allow Rainbow Trout to spawn. However, there is definitely some quality river fishing to be had on the Kenai Peninsula and as you suspected, it is quite scenic and always an adventure!?

    There are options for both fly fishing and conventional fishing for King Salmon on the Kasilof River. Generally speaking, it is a healthy run of fish and they are usually in the 15lb - 35 lb range and can be a blast to fish for on lighter tackle. This is one of my favorite times of year as it gives us a chance to get out early and get after it!

    Out of Homer and Seward, you can take a charter for halibut and rock fish as well as king salmon if they are in. My favorite group to fish with out of Seward is with Miller's Landing. Chance (Co-Owner) is a great guy and grew up on the ocean.

    I hope you have an awesome time in Alaska!

    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.
  • Hey Tim! Thanks for asking, and that's a good question! I hate to make things more complicated for you, but my advice would actually be to visit Seward during that time. Here's why: Seward gets a run of Red Salmon usually starting end of May and lasting through June until early July. There are guided trips for these early season salmon, or you can self guide. Basically, you wade out into the creek and during the tide change the fish push up, where you can see and snag them. You may already know, but Red or Sockeye Salmon eat zooplankton, they won't bite bait and the like as a general rule. We can't really target them off of a charter boat because of that, but it's also one of the reasons Red Salmon are so darn healthy for you to eat in the first place and what helps give their flesh such a deep color. That said, you might be able to get after a drift fishing trip in the Kasilof for the early run hatchery King Salmon, I know some guides take people down as early as May 15th on the Kasilof as the Kenai is closed May 1 - June 11th.

    Halibut fishing in Seward vs Homer any time of year is a conversation harboring strong opinions from each side. My thoughts are completely bias as a born and bred Seward fishing guide but the truth is both places have world class fisheries. I would say that it's fair to state if you're already in Seward you'll be happy to save the drive and have just as much success fishing halibut out of Seward as you would out of Homer.

    As I imagine your bear viewing trip leaves out of Homer, the best thing for you might be to drift the Kasilof for Kings and head to Homer for a Halibut Charter! I'd recommend looking for a full day charter there if you do go that way. The half day trips will get you catching, but the full day trips are worth the opportunity for a big one for sure. Whatever you do I'm sure you'll have a blast, end of May is an excellent time to visit the Kenai Peninsula, and everyone will be happy to see you. Thanks for your time and I hope I was able to help!

    Best - Chance Miller.

    Chance Miller - Chance Miller, Owner/Guide for Miller's Landing Inc located in the community of Lowell Point just South of Seward, Alaska on their family homestead. A year round resident and lifetime guide, Chance had his captain's license the week after he turned 18 and has spent every summer of his life guiding the waters out of Seward. After years working winters on research boats in the Arctic and Antarctic, in 2015 he and his brother Tom retired his parents from the family run operation completely and enjoy taking the next generation of visitors fishing, kayaking, camping and adventuring in their custom built multi purpose aluminum boats.
  • Hello Tim,

    Upper Kenai drift is beautiful. That early in the season there will probably be a few dolly varden around and possibly some other trout, but still early for the river. It would be highly unlikely to catch any salmon in the river that early.

    Homer- Most likely will catch a limit of halibut and maybe even get lucky and get a king salmon. Halibut would be your best bet and will have some fillets to take home when you leave.

    Don't forget about Seward! Halibut and seabass and Fjords. Have a great time, enjoy your visit and thanks for visiting Alaska.

    Captain Hill Norvell - Owner & Charter Captain at Fish With Hill Charters & Lodging
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