ALASKA: Salmon Fishing w/ Kenai Riverside Lodge

cagkt3

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Alright, since I went to Alaska for a few weeks and did a little fishing I figured I would get some practice in for my report writing skills. The majority of the trip was a cruise, followed by 4 days at Kenai Riverside Lodge. The lodge was great. Nothing fancy – no TV, WiFi, and only spotty cell service – but that’s exactly what we were looking for. The food was amazing and the beer was cold. Not to mention the deck area that was literally 5’ (if that) off the bank of the Kenai River. The group consisted of the wife, my older brother, and my aunt.

I’ll skip the days we spent hiking, but needless to say Alaska is gorgeous. We spent a total of 10 days in Alaska (+2 days cruising where we didn’t stop, plus another 2 days travel) and it was nowhere near enough time for me. I will definitely be going back at some point, hopefully to do some hunting and more fishing. We hiked 30-some odd miles, biked another 15 (actually my wife did 25, but my backside was so sore I turned back), saw 6 glaciers, a handful of sea lions, dozens of bald eagles, untold number of salmon and 1 young moose bull casually standing along the highway feeding. And so much more.

Our guide Brian met us the afternoon before our fishing trip. We’d be fishing for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River, just down the road from the lodge. He got us sized up for chest waders and boots. This was going to be a new experience for me. All the fishing I did growing up was from the bank, in a boat, or ice fishing from a fish house. The only time I’d used waders was duck hunting. But this is how the fishing was done – standing knee to hip deep in the glacier fed river. When I asked about water temps, I was told anywhere from f&#*@!^ cold to about 42° F.

Next thing he talked about was how we’d be fishing – with a fly rod. Great. Only time I’ve held a fly rod was in Bass Pro or Cabela’s. Thankfully, Brian insists the technique we will use is much simpler than what I’m imagining. We talk about getting up early, meeting for breakfast by 3:50am to get on the river as soon as possible. The state had just upped the limit for sockeye from 3 to 6 fish for the daily limit – the river was packed when we drove past it earlier in the day. And I mean packed – people standing 15’ for hundreds upon hundreds of yards.

Anyways, early to bed and up even earlier. We hit the lodge for a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast. We pile in the van and head down the road 10 minutes to the launch. One other thing that will make our travels a little more fun – no motors allowed on this part of the river. Everything is drift boats with oars. Didn’t matter to us, but kind of sucks for Brian have to paddle us around! We head out to stake out our spots. Brian quickly gets us set up and shows us the technique they (and many others) use. Basically the concept is to flop the leader out perpendicular, or even a little upstream, of yourself and let the river carry it downstream. Once the line travels downstream a ways, you “rip” the line back across. They calling it “flossing”, and basically you are trying to catch the fish on bottom with their mouths open and as you rip the line back across the river, hooking into one. Similar to snagging for any that have ever done it, except Alaska only allows you to keep fish you hook in the mouth. If you foul hook them in the back or tail, you have to turn them loose.

By the time he shows us how they do it, and gets us all geared up, the section of river we are on is pretty well full. We were not the first ones out by far, and there are more coming. According to Brian, it is a common practice for the locals to come out starting around 8 or 9 pm. They catch the daily limit by midnight, then catch the next day’s limit in the early hours of the morning (possession limit is twice the daily limit).

Anyways, we get fishing and after a few minutes my aunt lands the first fish. Then another, and another, and another. She caught 4 dang fish in about 30 minutes and I hadn’t even had a fish on. Turns out there was a nice little honey hole downstream of where I was. My wife took over that spot, and pretty soon she was into fish also. She always got the best face when she hooked up with one – sheer panic with a hint of I just shat myself. The folks further upstream of me were also starting to hook quite a few. They had fished the day before with Brian, and were now with another guide (Rob). At first I told myself that they had a jump start on me so I didn’t feel so bad. Then another hour into I was pissed. My wife had caught 4, my brother had 1 and I was still batting zero.

Well Brian felt bad and move me up to the honey hole. I hooked a fish on my first cast. Let me tell the folks that haven’t done this before a couple things. 1) Your arm and wrist will feel like falling off after the first hour or so. 2) Sockeye in this area swim about 50 miles from the bay to reach this point – they are crazy strong even after that swim. 3) After spending all my fishing life setting the hook upwards, it’s really tough to set it pulling sideways and keep your rod tip low and to the side. The last one got me, as it did for 5 other fish that day, and the fish came off. The fight these fish have for their size surprised me a little, but it was awesome.

Soon after, I got into another fish and got it landed. While Brian netted mine, my wife had to show me up and hook what would be her 5th. They are beautiful, incredibly tough fish. Just standing in that freezing water, trying not to fall over, it hit me that these fish swim against that strong current all the way back to their spawning grounds. Crazy. I went on a little tear, landing several and missing out on a few more, and had a blast.

Long story short, everyone limited out – my wife first, then myself, my brother and my aunt. She started hot, but her wrist wore out pretty quick. Plus she had to stop for smoke breaks. Most of the fish were between 7-10 pounds, had a couple heavier than 10 though. It was only 9:30 am – not too bad for beginners.

Salmon fishing when they are running like that is addicting. Can’t wait to get our fish (should be here the 6th) and try it out. I can’t say enough about the lodge and our guide. Both top notch, and we definitely regretted only booking 1 day of fishing. We’d go back in a heartbeat for more fishing, fine food, and of course some beer and wine.

Well I think that is plenty long enough for my first go. I’ve got a few pictures below.

DSC_0882.JPG

The Crew - Me, my wife, my aunt and my brother
DSC_0867.JPG

Only picture I could get while the van was moving - this stretch wasn't as full as others. Really crazy to see hundreds of people packed in like this.
DSC_0879.JPG
One of many eagles we saw.
DSC_0829.JPG
Gorgeous little lake we hiked to.
DSC_0732.JPG
Salmon mid-flight at Russian Falls.
DSC_0454.JPG

Hubbard Glacier.
DSC_0543.JPG

Hubbard Glacier up close.
DSC_0530.JPG

Glacier calving - which is the term they use when a chunk of ice comes off the main glacier.
 

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Good report. You have skills in hunting, fishing, reporting and finding great buys on ammo.
 

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Happy writing practice. Thanks for sharing.
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Alright, since I went to Alaska for a few weeks and did a little fishing I figured I would get some practice in for my report writing skills. The majority of the trip was a cruise, followed by 4 days at Kenai Riverside Lodge. The lodge was great. Nothing fancy – no TV, WiFi, and only spotty cell service – but that’s exactly what we were looking for. The food was amazing and the beer was cold. Not to mention the deck area that was literally 5’ (if that) off the bank of the Kenai River. The group consisted of the wife, my older brother, and my aunt.

I’ll skip the days we spent hiking, but needless to say Alaska is gorgeous. We spent a total of 10 days in Alaska (+2 days cruising where we didn’t stop, plus another 2 days travel) and it was nowhere near enough time for me. I will definitely be going back at some point, hopefully to do some hunting and more fishing. We hiked 30-some odd miles, biked another 15 (actually my wife did 25, but my backside was so sore I turned back), saw 6 glaciers, a handful of sea lions, dozens of bald eagles, untold number of salmon and 1 young moose bull casually standing along the highway feeding. And so much more.

Our guide Brian met us the afternoon before our fishing trip. We’d be fishing for sockeye salmon on the Kenai River, just down the road from the lodge. He got us sized up for chest waders and boots. This was going to be a new experience for me. All the fishing I did growing up was from the bank, in a boat, or ice fishing from a fish house. The only time I’d used waders was duck hunting. But this is how the fishing was done – standing knee to hip deep in the glacier fed river. When I asked about water temps, I was told anywhere from f&#*@!^ cold to about 42° F.

Next thing he talked about was how we’d be fishing – with a fly rod. Great. Only time I’ve held a fly rod was in Bass Pro or Cabela’s. Thankfully, Brian insists the technique we will use is much simpler than what I’m imagining. We talk about getting up early, meeting for breakfast by 3:50am to get on the river as soon as possible. The state had just upped the limit for sockeye from 3 to 6 fish for the daily limit – the river was packed when we drove past it earlier in the day. And I mean packed – people standing 15’ for hundreds upon hundreds of yards.

Anyways, early to bed and up even earlier. We hit the lodge for a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast. We pile in the van and head down the road 10 minutes to the launch. One other thing that will make our travels a little more fun – no motors allowed on this part of the river. Everything is drift boats with oars. Didn’t matter to us, but kind of sucks for Brian have to paddle us around! We head out to stake out our spots. Brian quickly gets us set up and shows us the technique they (and many others) use. Basically the concept is to flop the leader out perpendicular, or even a little upstream, of yourself and let the river carry it downstream. Once the line travels downstream a ways, you “rip” the line back across. They calling it “flossing”, and basically you are trying to catch the fish on bottom with their mouths open and as you rip the line back across the river, hooking into one. Similar to snagging for any that have ever done it, except Alaska only allows you to keep fish you hook in the mouth. If you foul hook them in the back or tail, you have to turn them loose.

By the time he shows us how they do it, and gets us all geared up, the section of river we are on is pretty well full. We were not the first ones out by far, and there are more coming. According to Brian, it is a common practice for the locals to come out starting around 8 or 9 pm. They catch the daily limit by midnight, then catch the next day’s limit in the early hours of the morning (possession limit is twice the daily limit).

Anyways, we get fishing and after a few minutes my aunt lands the first fish. Then another, and another, and another. She caught 4 dang fish in about 30 minutes and I hadn’t even had a fish on. Turns out there was a nice little honey hole downstream of where I was. My wife took over that spot, and pretty soon she was into fish also. She always got the best face when she hooked up with one – sheer panic with a hint of I just shat myself. The folks further upstream of me were also starting to hook quite a few. They had fished the day before with Brian, and were now with another guide (Rob). At first I told myself that they had a jump start on me so I didn’t feel so bad. Then another hour into I was pissed. My wife had caught 4, my brother had 1 and I was still batting zero.

Well Brian felt bad and move me up to the honey hole. I hooked a fish on my first cast. Let me tell the folks that haven’t done this before a couple things. 1) Your arm and wrist will feel like falling off after the first hour or so. 2) Sockeye in this area swim about 50 miles from the bay to reach this point – they are crazy strong even after that swim. 3) After spending all my fishing life setting the hook upwards, it’s really tough to set it pulling sideways and keep your rod tip low and to the side. The last one got me, as it did for 5 other fish that day, and the fish came off. The fight these fish have for their size surprised me a little, but it was awesome.

Soon after, I got into another fish and got it landed. While Brian netted mine, my wife had to show me up and hook what would be her 5th. They are beautiful, incredibly tough fish. Just standing in that freezing water, trying not to fall over, it hit me that these fish swim against that strong current all the way back to their spawning grounds. Crazy. I went on a little tear, landing several and missing out on a few more, and had a blast.

Long story short, everyone limited out – my wife first, then myself, my brother and my aunt. She started hot, but her wrist wore out pretty quick. Plus she had to stop for smoke breaks. Most of the fish were between 7-10 pounds, had a couple heavier than 10 though. It was only 9:30 am – not too bad for beginners.

Salmon fishing when they are running like that is addicting. Can’t wait to get our fish (should be here the 6th) and try it out. I can’t say enough about the lodge and our guide. Both top notch, and we definitely regretted only booking 1 day of fishing. We’d go back in a heartbeat for more fishing, fine food, and of course some beer and wine.

Well I think that is plenty long enough for my first go. I’ve got a few pictures below.

View attachment 193982
The Crew - Me, my wife, my aunt and my brother
View attachment 193983
Only picture I could get while the van was moving - this stretch wasn't as full as others. Really crazy to see hundreds of people packed in like this.
View attachment 193984 One of many eagles we saw.
View attachment 193985 Gorgeous little lake we hiked to.
View attachment 193986 Salmon mid-flight at Russian Falls.
View attachment 193987
Hubbard Glacier.
View attachment 193988
Hubbard Glacier up close.
View attachment 193989
Glacier calving - which is the term they use when a chunk of ice comes off the main glacier.

Very Cool! Which cruise line did you come up on? I probebly unloaded your luggage from the ship
 

cagkt3

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Very Cool! Which cruise line did you come up on? I probebly unloaded your luggage from the ship
We were on Royal Caribbean - got in to Seward on the 23rd. I love the setup there in Seward! We did a cruise out of Galveston TX and it was a nightmare getting off the ship and finding our luggage....I think it took us 5 minutes this time, if that.
 

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Hello cagkt3,

Glad you were able to enjoy a bit of our sometimes excellent fishing here.
Looks like you hit it lucky, when a salmon run was peaking.
Red salmon (or, aka "sockeye" in the vernacular of our cheechako / tenderfoot friends), are one of the world's finest tasting seafoods, probably at least partly due to the high oil content in their muscle structure.

They are a delight smoked up over alder or birch or just name your favorite sweet sap tree.
My personal favorite way to do reds, (kings or silvers), is to cut them into thick steaks, rub with olive oil, shake on a powdered product from The Rub With Love company, called "Spicy Tokyo Rub", then grill until just done (over-cooking is the most common disaster when preparing any seafood).

IMO filleting wastes too much of the meat, especially the collars and bellies (aka, the best parts).
Another great recipe is to marinate your salmon steaks in Yoshida's original sauce for at least 24 hours and 48 is none too much.
Rinse once in cold water and immediately place on a hot grill.
If you cant find Yoshida's, you can mix soy sauce, molasses (or honey), ginger and garlic to taste (plus a little water, otherwise it's too salty).

Anyway, blah, blah, blah.

Glad you had a good vacation to the best one of all 50 states.

Cheers,
Velo Dog.
 
Last edited:

cagkt3

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Velo Dog

We did indeed catch the tail end of the first run according to our guide.

I appreciate the recommendations on grilling up the red beauties. The lodge did fillet them, but I did have them save me some bellies for smoking! I'm going to have to do some digging for some good smoking wood - we have mesquite and hickory by the loads, and fruit woods (apple, peach, etc) are pretty easily found, but I have yet to see alder or birch.

I will have to see if I can order some of the rub - it sounds good. Thankfully we have plenty of fish (around 40 or 50 lbs I think) to work with, and it's just me and my wife!

As always, appreciate your responses - they are always some of my favorite reads on here.

Thanks
-Cole
 

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Velo Dog

We did indeed catch the tail end of the first run according to our guide.

I appreciate the recommendations on grilling up the red beauties. The lodge did fillet them, but I did have them save me some bellies for smoking! I'm going to have to do some digging for some good smoking wood - we have mesquite and hickory by the loads, and fruit woods (apple, peach, etc) are pretty easily found, but I have yet to see alder or birch.

I will have to see if I can order some of the rub - it sounds good. Thankfully we have plenty of fish (around 40 or 50 lbs I think) to work with, and it's just me and my wife!

As always, appreciate your responses - they are always some of my favorite reads on here.

Thanks
-Cole

No worries man.
Likewise I definitely enjoy your posts as well.

All of the woods you mentioned are good for salmon smoking but, apple would be my choice of them there.
Alder mostly and birch to a somewhat lesser degree are very traditional here but,
Salmon is a strange meat, in that when smoking it, one needs to sweeten it somewhat or, it gets a slight bitter taste to it during the smoking process.
Venison, waterfowl, goat, lamb and beef are exactly the opposite, if you sweeten any of those before smoking, they are not very good.

The Internet is festooned with endless "brine recipes" for soaking your salmon to then smoke up but, the best ones contain either brown sugar or molasses, among various other ingredients.
One thing that is worth mentioning; as I mentioned previously, salmon get a not pleasant "fishy" taste to them, if you forget to rinse them in cold water after a long time in whatever brine recipe you have soaked them in.
After "brining", just rinse and place on the racks in your smoker and soon as the smoke wafts through the area a bit, every neighbor for miles around will suddenly want to be your friend.

At any rate,
Cheerio.
 

cagkt3

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I'll give apple a try, seem to have a few logs still in the back. That will give me some time to see what else I can find to experiment with. I'll keep in mind to rinse it well prior to going on the smoke.

Thanks again
 

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