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Water levels generally go up from their spring lows by mid-June, and once the high, muddy water passes through, water clarity and fishing success generally improves.
What's Open? What's Closed?
To protect spawning rainbow trout, many of the flowing waters on the Kenai Peninsula are closed to rainbow trout fishing through June 10, and many are closed to all fishing through June 10. Please check the regulations carefully before heading out to fish.
Following is a partial list of some of the more popular destinations.
The upper Kenai River (above Skilak Lake) re-opens at 12:01 a.m. June 11 (except for the Russian River "sanctuary area."). Outside the fly-fishing-only areas, legal tackle is one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure with gap between point and shank no larger than 3/8-inch. In the fly-fishing-only areas, the terminal tackle must be one single-hook unbaited fly with hook gap no larger than 3/8-inch.
The Russian River sanctuary area is not scheduled to open until July 15, but watch the website for Emergency Orders affecting the opening date.
The lower Kenai River (below Skilak Lake) opens for trout fishing 12:01 a.m. June 11. In June, the lower Kenai is open for king, sockeye, and pink salmon, as well as Arctic char/Dolly Varden. Legal fishing tackle is restricted to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure, any size hook.
There are also several confluence areas with special tackle,, king salmon, and boating restrictions, so paying careful attention to the regulation booklet is a good idea before heading out on the water.
In June, the Kasilof River is open to fishing for king salmon, rainbow/steelhead trout, and Dolly Varden. However, rainbow/steelhead trout may not be retained and must be released if caught. Bait and treble hooks are allowed in June. Fishing in Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Kasilof, is not open until Aug. 1.
King Salmon — Kenai River
King salmon fishing continues to improve, with the early run peaking around the second or third week of June. Once the sonar is installed, sonar estimates are posted on our website. For king salmon fishing from a boat, try single-hook Kwikfish™, Mag/Wiggle Warts™ , or Spin-N-Glos™. Casting from shore, try Spin-N-Glos™, Pixees™, Tee-Spoons™, or L'il Corkies™. Kings tend to run in the deeper channels, down the middle of the river. Be sure you have enough weight on your line so that your lure crosses their path.
King Salmon — Kasilof River
In the Kasilof River, early run king salmon fishing continues to build to the mid-June peak. Excellent catches of 15-25 pound fish are often reported. Bait and treble hooks may now be used throughout the Kasilof River. Crooked Creek remains closed through July 31.
June is the month that early run sockeye salmon begin to return to the Russian River. June 11 is the opening day, but good numbers of fish aren’t usually present until the last week of June.
Legal tackle in the Russian River area is a single-hook, artificial fly, with hook gap no larger than 3/8 inch. Most anglers use a bucktail streamer fly, such as a Russian River Coho Fly, with enough weight at least 18 inches ahead of the fly so that the hook travels close to the bottom of the river. Oftentimes, best success is early morning or late evening, when the sun is not directly shining on the river. Sockeye also tend to hug the bank, and long casts are not necessary.
This small run of early sockeye does not present much of an opportunity to harvest fish in the mainstem Kenai River downstream of Skilak Lake. Minimum escapement above the weir is set at 14,000 sockeye.
When the Russian River weir is installed, daily counts are posted on our website.
With the flowing water closures to protect spawning rainbow trout, it can be a great time to concentrate on one of the Kenai Peninsula's stocked lakes. There are over 25 lakes throughout the northern Kenai Peninsula stocked with trout and/or salmon. Fishing is usually excellent in these lakes in June, using small spinners, flies, or, where legal, fresh shrimp or preserved salmon roe. A free pamphlet describing these lakes is available from Department of Fish and Game offices in Anchorage, Soldotna and Homer. Also check out our Fish Stocking Updates page and our Stocked Lakes Map page.
All other lakes of the Kenai River drainage are open to fishing, with the exceptions of Crescent Lake (closed to all species May 2 – June 30) and Hidden Lake (opens June 11, and closed year-round to burbot fishing). Bait may be used in all lakes except in a few areas of Kenai Lake: check the regulations carefully!