USGS Stream Data

Kenai Rvr @ CooperLndg

  • Water Temp: 35.24 ° F
  • Flow: 514 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 5.21 ft

Middle Kenai @ Skilak

  • Flow: 941 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 6.15 ft

Talkeetna Rvr

  • Water Temp: 32 ° F
  • Water Level: 3.14 ft

Situk Rvr

  • Water Temp: 42.44 ° F
  • Flow: 185 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 65.59 ft
Ask About Fly Fishing

Earliest 1st Trip Ever

The First Day of Spring in Alaska is usually acknowledged with an understanding wink between those of us that live here, as we know “spring” is still four to six weeks away.

Boats loaded and ready by mid-morning

Boats loaded and ready by mid-morning

However, this year we’ve had an unbelievably mild winter, and with virtually no snow and lots of day time temperatures in the low 40’s Lance & I decided we needed to go fishing. Besides, a fishing trip is good for what ails you.

I had driven to Homer on March 5th and the Upper Kenai was as low as I’ve ever seen it. No bank ice, clear water (for the Kenai) and a spurt of late run Silvers that arrived in the upper river in really late, all promised for as good of fishing as you could hope for. Now we were not after the Silvers; the season for them is closed, but where there’s spawning salmon you can be sure there will be Rainbows, and since we were going to be by the lake, possibly Dolly Varden.

As luck would have it, Friday March 20th was the earliest day we could get together that the temperatures were going to be near the 40 degree mark; the First Day of Spring. This would be the earliest first trip of the year I had ever been on, and by no small margin. However, as usual, Murphy started to mess with us. (Murphy is a regular on lots of our fishing excursions. He seems to just invite himself.) Lance ended up with a doctor’s appointment first thing Friday morning. No biggie, we’ll just leave later; that will give the day time to warm up. Dennis discovered a leak in one of his tubes Friday night and can’t find his patch kit. Ok, off to Alaska Raft for a patch kit (and some advice about the fishing at the bridge because the guys at AK Raft are like that). I had friends that came in from Nome Thursday afternoon and back off to Texas at 3:00AM Friday morning. Deal with it; a couple of short naps are way better than no sleep.

But as it turned out we were buying sandwiches at Subway just after 12 Noon, and didn’t get onto the water until about 3PM.

Lake side of the bridge with Kenai Mountains as a backdrop.

Lake side of the bridge with Kenai Mountains as a backdrop.

With the advice we’d been given earlier, and then reinforced by an angler leaving as we arrived, we decided to fish above the bridge for a while before floating down to Sportsman’s where we had the truck and trailer transferred to by Wildman’s shuttle service. It was a pretty day and we enjoyed bobbing in the sun at the outlet for a couple of hours. None of us tagged a native species; but both Lance and I had Silvers strike our flies.

Female Silver salmon

Female Silver salmon





Mine snapped at the Tubular Smolt I was swimming through the current just up from the bridge, Lance’s took an egg pattern. I decided to bring my fish to the shore as I didn’t want to lose the fly (they’re time consuming to tie); whereas Lance decide to break his off once he knew it was a Silver, besides, he was using his 6wt.


Upper Kenai River Inn B&B dock that’s high & dry


About 5:00, we decided we need to head downriver. Sunset was going to be about 8:30 and we wanted to be off the river by dark. This is where we discovered that Murphy was once again with us for the ride. As I said earlier the water is extremely low this year. There was a slight breeze blowing upstream, and that combined with very little current due to the low water, meant we had to row non-stop against the wind for the next hour just to make our way down river through Cooper Landing.

We decided to take a short break just down river from Drifter’s and up from Princess rapids. We had started to pick up some current, and wanted to give our out of shape “winter” arms a break from the rowing before heading straight to the truck. This is when Lance picked up a nice Rainbow. It took an articulated black leech pattern at least 6” long. No photos as Lance didn’t want to over stress the fish by hauling it back to his raft, and I was downstream a bit and on the other side of the river with my camera. Measured against his net, the estimate is at least 20” maybe a bit more. Nice color and in great shape without any catch & release marks.

Lance's truck clock as we hit Anchorage.

Lance’s truck clock as we hit Anchorage.

Once back on the river we moved non-stop until we hit Sportsman’s, rowing most of the way. With the river as low as it, the water is moving much slower than we’re used to. Places we’re use to drifting through we were rowing over and around rocks. As Lance said later, he was hitting rocks he didn’t even know existed. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the truck by sunset. And at this time of year, it gets dark and cold fairly fast after the sun is down. The last forty minutes of the float we stayed together in a tight formation, bouncing and dragging over rocks we couldn’t see. It wasn’t dangerous, just a PITA. Once at the landing, Lance had to pull the truck down onto the ramp so we could see by the headlights to unpack our rafts.

Our summer daylight spoils us.

I have to try to remember that next spring.

Now that it’s two days later, Lance and I are planning another trip down as soon as he’s back from Juneau. Dennis has decided that next time we leave at 9:30AM or don’t float the river. (Lance & I seconded and thirded that sentiment.) Lance has decided that some exercise would have helped his arms with the rowing, but really… go to a gym??? And I’ve decided that as much as I enjoy my first trips of the year, being on the river after dark can suck the fun right out of it; so the bridge area is fine with me on our next trip. Even if I have to line haul the raft back upstream a bit because I can’t row back against the current, at least I can walk to our vehicle.

Swans from the river

Swans from the river


All bad?

Not at all!        It was a very nice day with great company.


One of the many eagles we saw.

We saw a group of swans, caught a couple fish, saw a ton of eagles, took some video of the rapids at Princess Lodge, and saw the upper part of the river as we had never seen it before.

But I am going to buy a headlamp.

Just in case.


Leave a Reply