As Old Man Winter starts loosening his grip, the first thing that comes to my mind is salmon fishing. A great option for early season action would have to be Alaska’s Kasilof River. The Kasilof River starts its life as the waters of the massive Tustumena Lake in the heart of the Kenai Peninsula. The Kasilof River spills westward only 15 miles, when it reaches the deep waters of Cooks Inlet. Alaska’s most popular drift boat fishery, the Kasilof River provides the highest king salmon success rate on the Kenai Peninsula. Early run kings begin making their appearance in early May. However, fishing doesn’t really begin to pick up until mid-May, when the river opens to the use of bait. By the last week of the month, king fishing is in full swing with the run peaking around the second week of June. The early run of kings on the Kasilof River is primarily of hatchery origin. These fish are returning to Crooked Creek, about five miles from the rivers mouth. This fishery provides the rare option in south central Alaska, for keeping two king salmon per day.
Early season Kasilof kings normally average around 20 pounds and will often reach 30-40 pounds. Hard fighters, they often leave wakes behind them in their sizzling runs across the early-season shallow waters of the Kasilof.
Most of the early season fishing will consist of back trolling sardine-wrapped kwikfish or jet diver/spin ‘n glo / egg combos. Although when the time is right back bouncing eggs right along the boat can be stellar.
So when you’re looking for that early season king, don’t over look this great river. The Kasilof offers some amazing tidewater fishing along with a drift boat-only setting, great scenery, rich abundant wildlife, and through most of the season, lighter fishing pressure than the nearby Kenai.