King Salmon on the Kenai River
We were in the second week of our vacation and it was the week with all our chartered trips and we were excited. We were notified that our river trip had to be cancelled with our guide and to be honest I was pretty bummed. This was part of the reason we booked the trip and booked for the dates we did. Chris prefers fishing the river and I had heard for months as we planned before the trip how excited he was to drift the river in Alaska. We were able to hit the salt for some kings rather than the river for our booked trip.
However, I was determined to get my husband on the river. Thankfully one of my classmates and friend from high school works in the outdoor industry and he frequently travels to Alaska and happened to know some guides in the area where we were staying. Brian got me a contact and I secretly was able to arrange a trip on the Kenai River for my husband.
Once our trip was confirmed I told Chris that I had booked this trip and he was excited as he was looking forward to getting on the river to do some fishing. The only downfall was at that time King Salmon fishing on the Kenai was catch and release only. In all reality it didn’t matter we were in Alaska on a vacation we had dreamed of and being able to have the experience was what it was all about for us.
We met at the boat launch at 0530 and got our day started. We had a full boat that morning. Monte our guide, Chris, myself and two other guys!
We all got in the boat and got settled. My rod had a pink hot shot on it and the first thing I said was can I have a different color, pink is my least favorite color and I avoid it as much as I can. Everyone on the boat laughed at me and Monte assured me to deal with the pink that morning.
Dolly Varden were rolling like crazy that morning as we navigated the river. The other guys caught a couple nice steelhead. It was truly a beautiful morning.
In one spot we had a young moose make his way down to the river for a drink while we were fishing. What a neat experience that I had only hoped I would witness in person.
We all sat in the boat with our lines out pluggin’ as we waited for a hit. Then it came, my pole got hit hard and it was game on! Come to find out pink isn’t such a bad color after all.
Let me take a step back for a second and share with you all that this was first BIG fish on the river, ever!
I grew up trout fishing many of the Coastal lakes here in Oregon alongside my dad from an early age. We spent a lot of time with tight lines making memories and competing for the biggest trout of the day!
It wasn't until about two years ago that the thought of fishing for other species came into play, my husband has fished his whole life and has shared many great stories with me. We finally broke down and purchased a drift boat. Chris would tell me stories of hooking into salmon and steelhead and how they would run the river and put up a fight. In my head I had an idea of what to expect but it wasn’t until this day on the Kenai that I would experience it firsthand.
With my hook set and the rod in hand I was reelin’ and reelin’ and I could tell that fish was getting closer to the boat and I was getting excited! The line counter on my reel was getting less and less aiding in my excitement. I seen the liter come just out of the water then she took off and took more and more line from me. That’s when she ran and she ran and ran some more. I was like the hell, she was just next to the boat and now she’s gone. I remember looking at the line counter and seeing 246. That 246 meant that damn fish just ran down the river 246 feet, away from the side of the boat where she was seconds ago.
At this time Monte began navigating the boat downstream as I continued to reel and keep the pressure on so I wouldn’t lose my fish. This being my first experience with catching a fish with some fight on a river I truly had no idea what I was doing.
“Reel, reel, reel.” Is what Monte keep repeating to me as he guided me to keep my rod up and get my line tight. The guys in the boat were joking with me asking if I really wanted to change the color of my hot shot after all. At one point we had to navigate around a rock in the river and let the fish come around the rock so I wouldn’t lose her. It all happened so fast but after about 5 minutes I was able to get my fish to the boat and we were able to net it.
My first King Salmon on the Kenai River out of Soldotna, Alaska was nice 28# hen.
One of the other guys on the boat hooked into a nice hen as well shortly after I did. Chris got a nice bite but unfortunately didn’t get one hooked.
All in all it was a wonderful day and an extra expense during our trip that was well worth it!
Thank you Monte with All Alaska Outdoors Inc. for my first encounter with a nice King Salmon on the Kenai River while in Alaska and for a great day on the river.
And thanks Brian for the referral!
❥ - Stacey Sutherlin
Co-Founder Huntin' Wives
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