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Ask the Pro's: Fishing for Sockeye Salmon on the Russian River

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  • Our family are planning to fish for sockeye salmon at the Russian River and we were wondering when the best time was to go. Preferably, a week during the middle-end of June to the beginning of July. Also, if you could recommend the best fishing techniques for sockeye on the Russian River that would be great. And in addition, where the best bank access points are.

    Thanks so much, Michael

  • Hi Michael,

    The typically the best part of the 1st run of Sockeye Salmon would be from the June 11th opener to the 25th. This timing can be all over the board, just depends on when the fish show up. As far as access goes, I would say go in to the Russian River Campground and get day parking. You can access the entire river from that point. Lots of holes to fish.

    As for techniques. Most people are going to tell you that they won't eat a fly and that you have to line them, this method definitely works. I like to fish a ultra heavy sink tip and a small shrimp fly, they will eat a fly. I would recommend an 8 or 9wt rod. You typically do not have a lot of room to play the fish, so you need to be able to put the wood to them and bank them. You can do some walking and find some quieter water to fish, you might have to wait for pushes to come through. Be bear aware, they tend to be around quite a bit. They are more interested in the fish than you but you definitely want to be aware and paying attention. Also note, any pack you bring has to be on you, you can not leave them on the back and walk away from them.

    Anything we can do to help, please let us know.

    Thanks - Mike

    Mike Brown - Owner of Mossy's Fly Shop in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Hey Michael!

    I'd be happy to help! Usually the best window on the Russian River and/or the Russian River/Kenai River Confluence is best from June 11th until the first week or so of July. The peak is usually around the 18th or so of June; however, that can change sometimes daily and year to year. The best bank access points are from the Russian River Campground where you can hike down to the Russian River. You can also access the Russian River as well as the Kenai River from the Russian River Ferry at Sportsman's Landing here in Cooper Landing. Be sure to check the regs as you can not use bait, your hooks have to be 3/8" gap or less and it is "fly-fishing only" in those areas.

    Hopefully this helps and good luck!
    - Dave

    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.
  • Michael,

    Congrats on you and your family's upcoming trip to Alaska! The Russian River is very user friendly and is adequately signed with trails, access, and parking. It is also a smaller river and very easily navigated. Salmon run timings always vary a little from year to year but generally the first part of July is a pretty good bet. You should definitely consult Alaska fish and game regulations before fishing. In the regs they have stipulations on how rigs can be fished legally. The main tactic used is called "flossing" or "lining" and it is a unique tactic all in to itself. There are flies named "russian river" flies. They consist of a very stout hook and a minimally dressed fly with some flash. They are easily found at tackle and fly shops here in AK. Good luck!

    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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