Kenai River Red Salmon Fishing

World Record Red Salmon

The world record Sockeye Salmon was 16 pounds and was caught on the Kenia River. The Kenai River boasts runs that are over one million fish per year of Sockeye Salmon averaging between 8 and 12 pounds. Sockeye Salmon, sometimes called Red Salmon, are very abundant with 40 to 75,000 per day running the Kenia River. Red Salmon are known as a fun fighting fish. They let you reel them in until they see you, then they run like crazy dragging line, then it’s a slow haul back to repeat the crazy line dragging run.

When to fish the Kenai for Sockeye Salmon

Red Salmon arrive in late May and continue steadily well into August. With a run total of 3.8 million in 2014 and daily totals from 14,000 to 75,000 fish per day, many fishermen caught their limits. For 2015, the predictions are for another solid run with escapements remaining at 2014 levels meaning there should be very little change from 2014 season in terms of regulations on limits and methods.

How to fish for Red Salmon on the Kenai River

Red Salmon are a strong scrappy fish. Your setup on the end needs enough weight to get your line on the bottom of the river and bounce it off the rocks as the Kenai River has a swift current. Then after the weights, you’ll need about 18 inches of leader with a single barbless hook. Then add a little color. Now you are all set for a great time.

Red Salmon usually run about ten feet from the bank in about three feet of water almost dragging their belly’s on the slick bottom river rocks. You need to drag your setup on the bottom bouncing off the rocks so your hook is tinkering on the bottom of the river. You’ll feel a little tug, set the hook and reel them in slowly. They have a tendency to run as soon as they see you so be ready for a couple reel-stripping runs.

Here’s how I fish the Kenai River for Red Salmon

My personal choice is a eight foot ugly stick with a sturdy spinning reel. I use 30 lb test line. I put three .3o oz pressure lead weights about 18 inches from the hook using 20 to 15 pound test line as leader. Then I put a red single barbless hook and add a little color like a pink salmon egg bead or a red piece of yarn to hide the hook. The trick is to get your rig on the bottom of the river and your hook bouncing off the rocks. I fish about ten feet from the bank in about three feet of water on the fast-water Kenai steams. Reds seem to run these steams on the slower water side of the steam.