Exploring the Kenai Peninsula
The Kenai Peninsula has a special place in the heart of most Alaska residents; Alaskans for miles around use the peninsula just as any other tourist for its fishing bounty, beautiful boating locations at Whittier, Homer and Seward, as well as nature trails, hiking and wildlife viewing, and community events.
Probably the best known fishing is for Salmon – see a listing of our guides here. The season actually starts in late April when Rainbow Trout start coming in. In addition to rainbows you’ll see Alaska Dolly Varden and Alaska Arctic Grayling. Rainbows get up to 10 pounds – nothing like their cousin the King Salmon, but for sheer beauty and an enjoyable fishing experience they can’t be beat.
Alaska King Salmon fishing begins in Mid-may, and closes on July 13th. The record King Salmon is nearly 100 pounds, and a huge 68 pound King was caught on the Talkeetna River which may have been the largest King catch of 2005. After the King Salmon season comes to a close, the season for Silver Salmon (Cohos), Sockeye Salmon (Reds), Chum and Pink Salmon begins. This runs well into September, followed by trout fishing somewhere in October. There are various methods of fishing for salmon, but the most popular freshwater method is snagging. Salmon which swim upstream to spawn are typically in “fasting” mode and do not “strike” at bait. It is more a matter of “flossing their teeth” with a hook as they swim up the stream. It makes all the difference to have a good guide to show you how!
On the ocean, salmon fishing is permissible with bait, and can be done with a standard rod and reel or by trolling a line from a slow-moving boat. Salmon are enthusiastic fighters when caught and can really put a smile on your face if you a new fisherman.
As the salmon move, ocean halibut move along with them. Halibut are considered “white gold” and represent a large part of the Kenai peninsula with more than a few fisherman’s dreams of catching a “barn door” halibut – one weighing over one hundred pounds or more. Truth be told, “smaller” halibut and by that we mean in the 60 pound range are actually better eating; also, almost all large halibut are females and should be considered breeding stock if at all possible. We can recommend several reliable halibut charters, click here for more information.
If you want a really exciting experience for your children, go to clam gulch. It doesn’t take many of these typically large clams to make a great chowder. We recommend using our specialized clam digging shovel and bucket, instructions included. You can think of the clams as low-calorie given the work you’ll put into finding them. Click here for more information on Razor Clams. Click here for tips on how to dig for clams effectively without breaking the shell.
Sights to See
CHALLENGER LEARNING CENTER OF ALASKA, Kenai Alaska. Is a non-profit corporation that opened in April 2000. We are the 39th of 52 centers in the Challenger Learning Center for Space Education international network. This is a network created in 1986 by the families of the astronauts lost in the Challenger 51-L mission. The purpose of this network, is to continue that crew’s aim of engaging students in the study of science, math and technology.
The River Center, Soldotna Alaska. Was created to increase coordination and communication between permitting agencies in order to streamline the permitting process for landowners and improve protection of the Kenai Peninsula’s natural resources. The River Center is also designed to serve as a source of information and education for landowners and others concerned with resource management.
Alaska Sealife Center, Seward Alaska. Alaska’s only public aquarium and ocean wildlife rescue center is celebrating ten years on the shores of Resurrection Bay. Visitors to this “window on the sea” have close encounters with puffins, octopus, sea lions and other sealife while peeking over the shoulders of ocean scientists studying Alaska’s rich seas and diverse sealife
The Pratt Museum, Homer Alaska. On the shores of Kachemak Bay, approximately 200 miles south of Anchorage, on the Kenai Peninsula. Kachemak Bay, located on the southeast part of Cook Inlet, is circled by mountains, glaciers, and active volcanoes. The region’s four national parks, five national wildlife refuges, state parks and critical habitat areas support a diversity of wildlife, from seabirds and sea lions to brown bears and the endangered humpback whale. Kachemak Bay is the largest of 23 sites in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) in the nation, and the only one in Alaska.
If you have a boat, we recommend the newly-opened Whittier tunnel. For about 20 dollars round trip, you can go from either Anchorage or Soldotna area of the peninsula, through a two mile tunnel into a glacial mountain, and out the other side into Whittier Alaska. From Whittier’s harbor you can explore the Prince William Sound area. There are several chartered boat lines which run for a day, and cruise ships regularly port in Whittier. See sea lions, otters, and other creatures, as well as calving glaciers and amazing coastline. If you go ashore, remember to take mosquito repellent – the mosquito is sometimes referred to as the “state bird of Alaska”
More Than Just Fishing in July
For the adventurous, the months of September, October and November provide for stunning change of colors, wildlife viewing and hiking, and occasionally cross country skiing toward November. To the north there is Alyeska Resort, hiking along Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountain Range. To the south there are historic Homer and Seward, along with Exit Glacier