Sockeye SalmonAvailable: Early Run (June 11-Early July), Late Run (Mid July-Mid August)
Average Size: 6-8 lbs.
Limit: 3-6 per day
Fishing Techniques: Drifting flies from the bank
The annual return of Sockeye salmon (also known as red salmon) to the Kenai River drainage is probably the most highly anticipated sport fishery in Alaska. Sockeye salmon enjoy the reputation of being the hardest fighting salmon (pound for pound) of all the Pacific salmon species. These chrome-bright fish are notorious for thrashing reels and breaking even the beefiest rods! Not only do these fish have a reputation for being hard fighters -- they are also highly regarded for their rich and flavorful meat. Many consider Sockeye salmon to be the best tasting of all the Pacific salmon species. With an annual return of over one million fish, fishing for Sockeye salmon gives anglers ample opportunity to experience plenty of arm-burning action!
The Kenai River receives two separate runs of Sockeyes, the first beginning in mid-June and the second in mid-July. The first run fish are headed directly for the Russian River, a small clear-water tributary of the Kenai River, and represents the smaller of the two runs with an annual return of 30,000-60,000 fish. The early run Sockeye begin stacking up in noticeable numbers at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers by mid-June, peak during the last week of the month and taper off during the first week of July.
The larger late run boasts an annual return that typically exceeds one million fish. Late run Sockeye start inundating the mainstream of the Kenai River (and its many tributaries) in mid-July and continue in strong numbers until mid-August. When this run is in full swing you'll literally see Sockeye salmon everywhere! Aside from the red-hot red salmon fishing during this time, it's worth the trip just to witness the incredible natural phenomenon of migrating salmon.