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From the majestic scenery to the crisp turquoise colored water
that hold world record Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden Char,
and an amazing number of four species of Salmon,
fishing on the Kenai River can't be beat.

The Kenai River

Nestled between mountains in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula, Kenai Lake is at the head of the Kenai River. From here, the Kenai River flows through the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge westward approximately 17 miles (28 km) into Skilak Lake.  From Skilak Lake, the river flows approximately another 50 miles (80.5 km) into the Cook Inlet.


The Kenai River is home to an abundance of wild animals. It is not uncommon to see Brown Bears, Black Bears, Moose and Bald Eagles along the river.  Many different species of birds and plants also flourish along the Kenai River.

Every year, people from around the world travel to the famous Kenai River to experience epic Salmon runs and the wilderness that surrounds it.  Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden Char can be found in the Kenai River year-round. When there is a lack of food in the river, the fish move to the lakes where it's easier for them to find food without using up precious energy.  When the Salmon arrive, the eager Trout follow the Salmon up and down the river in anticipation of fresh Salmon roe filling the water.
At these times of year, there is a bounty of trophy Trout and Char.

Upper Kenai River

The Upper Kenai River starts at Kenai Lake (mile marker 48.4 on the Sterling Hwy.) where it flows westward into Skilak Lake (approximately 17 miles or 28 km) through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  The upper section of the river is about 8 miles long with a few rapids.  Trout fishing is typically done from the boat on this very scenic trip.  There are many hidden spots in this section holding hungry fish that await your cast!


The Refuge is a section of the Kenai River that starts just above the confluence of the Russian River and flows to Jim's Landing.  This unbeatable stretch of river holds a huge number of Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden Char as well as the many Sockeye Salmon and Coho Salmon that come to spawn.  A limited number of permits are given for this section of the river. If possible, this is an opportunity not to be missed.


The Kenai Canyon is a very scenic stretch of river that starts at Jim's Landing and continues to Skilak Lake. 

It's wild and full of rapids, providing many great fishing opportunities that produce epic fish.  When we reach Skilak Lake, we'll use a motor to go the 7 miles to the first take out.  Be sure to look out for bears on the north side of the lake! The Canyon trip is weather dependent due to high winds on Skilak Lake.


Fly fishing and spin fishing are the most popular styles on the Kenai River.  Boatman's specializes in certain fly fishing techniques for Salmon and Trout and is also equipped with quality spinning rods and reels for spin fishermen.  More important than good fishing gear, Boatman's is equipped with the tools to teach first time anglers and helpful technique tips for more advanced anglers.


Each year, Salmon shoal in droves from the Pacific Ocean to the Kenai River as well as to tributaries that flow into the Kenai River, where they were born, to spawn.  It is because of Salmon that the Trout here get as big as they do.

The limit for Salmon varies depending on species, time of year and location.  Boatman's provides filleting services for all Salmon.  We are proud to practice catch and release of Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden Char for our future generations. 

There are no motors on the upper section of the Kenai River, making fishing here a serene experience that is hard to find anywhere.  The middle river is where big water and big fish come together. Motor boats are allowed on this section to give quick access to the best fishing spots.  Time of year, water and weather conditions all factor into where and what we fish. Boatman's is on the Kenai River every day.  We are in the know on where to find the fish.


Prime dates fill up fast.  Contact us for more information or to book your trip now. 


Boatman's Alaska Kenai River Boat Launch Map
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