Kenai River Silver Salmon Fishing
Silver salmon fishing on the Kenai River is one of the best times of the year for fishing on the Kenai. The rush of the summer crowed has diminished, the river is at a good flow rate, fall colors begin to show themselves all over the river, and one of the best fighting fish begin to show up in consistent numbers year after year.
We're going to tell you all about how we fish for these Kenai River silvers and what you can expect on a day of fishing with us. And if you're not fishing with us, we're happy to simply share what we can!
If you'd like to see the lower Kenai River in the early fall, and the exact same shots from the middle of winter, check out the videos below that show off the entire lower Kenai River with all the fishing holes annotated.
How we fish for silver salmon is really best described in the context of how we target king salmon. We provided a very in-depth explanation of how we target king salmon on our Kenai River king salmon fishing page and the details about targeting silver salmon reference that material quite often so if you have not check that out our Kenai River king salmon fishing page consider giving that a read before continuing.
You can't catch what's not there so the #1 rule is to show up when the fish do! We always try and be as scientific and data driven as possible but silver salmon fishing on the Kenai River is a little less data driver than king salmon and sockeye salmon. Due to a variety of factors it's not practical, or possible, to get a good silver salmon count coming up the river as we can we king salmon or sockeye salmon.
Although we don't know the exact historical fish counts for silvers like we do for kings and sockeye, we do know that the silvers experience a bi-modal run (first run & second run) much like the king salmon. The first run of silver salmon begin to show up in late July to early August and the first silvers we catch of the season are usually caught while we're targeting kings and sockeye. It's possible to catch silvers while flossing/flipping for sockeye and it's equally possible to catch them while back-trolling for kings.The late run of silvers start to enter the river in late August and go until October with some of the best and strongest fishing taking place in mid-late September.
One of the nice parts about silver fishing on the Kasilof and Kenai is that the rivers have already come up in flow rate for the summer so the entire length of the river is available into October.
The Alaska Fish Counts page provides very specific details as to the best times to fish the Kenai River, Kasilof River, Russian River, and several other of Alaska's most popular rivers.
Silver Salmon Behavior & Biology
Silver salmon, like all salmon spawn in the fresh water, migrate to the salt water for a number of years, and eventually return to the same spawning grounds. Like all salmon, as their biology begins to change entering the fresh water they undergo the same processes as all other salmon with an extremely reduced diet and a strong desire to focus on getting to their spawning grounds.
Unlike sockeye salmon, silver salmon are really aggressive towards lures and bait, second in aggression to only the pink salmon. Why silver salmon are so aggressive towards lures and bait when compared to sockeye salmon, for example, is not understood but it makes for fantastic fishing when the silvers are in and moving up the river. Ranked in order of overall salmon size, population size, aggression towards lures and bait, and seasonal info for the Kasilof & Kenai Rivers can be found in the table below:
How To Target Silver Salmon
We target silver salmon in exactly the same manner as we target Kings, using bait-wrapped Kwikfish and eggs on Spin-n-Glo lures, or back-bouncing eggs but we can also add some new techniques for targeting silvers. As we explain on our Kenai River king salmon fishing page, king salmon tend to move in the deepest parts of the river so this is where we will troll for kings. The silver salmon are usually not quite as deep as the king salmon and therefore we will move our boat closer to the banks edge where the water is a little less swift and a little less deep. We're looking for slightly slower moving water, medium depth, and where we can get good action on the Kwikfish after anchoring up, which is something we can't do while targeting kings. It makes for a very relaxed day of fishing.
Since anchoring is now allowed, we will anchor with a quick release & buoy that will allow us to come off of anchor if it is a particular big silver salmon and we would like the flexibility of fighting it with the help of the boat. Many times this is unnecessary but it is very nice to have the option.
One thing we can do differently with silvers than we can do with the kings is target them casting spinners which is a really great way to stay involved and active while fishing.
Kenai River Silver Salmon Regulations
Silver salmon regulations are far more relaxed than king salmon regulations. This is primarily due to less pressure on the silver salmon fishery that has consistently made for healthy runs of silver salmon. Some of the (general) changes in regulation between king and silver fisheries are:
Anchoring the boat is allowed
Treble hooks are now allowed unless restricted by emergency order to protect later arriving kings
2 fish per day until Sept 1 when the limit becomes 3 fish per day
Silver Salmon Rods, Reels, Line, Hooks, Swivels
We use 90% the same rods, reels, lines, and general techniques for silvers as we do for kings detailed on our king salmon fishing page when we are trolling plugs and eggs. There are really only a couple of differences when it comes to gear, tackle, and lures. Silvers are smaller than kings so we'll go down a couple sizes in Kwikfish plugs and Spin-n-Glo lures, and they are more aggressive so we can also grab a spinning rod and cast spinners in slower moving water as well. And more or less, those are the only differences!
While bank fishing for silvers is possible, using a boat is still the most preferred method of targeting silver salmon because it provides the ability to access perfect moving sections of water that you can't get to from the bank, relieve congestion if things get crowded and it's simply a more productive and efficient method of fishing.
Landing A Kenai River Silver Salmon
Landing a Kenai River silvers salmon is generally a pretty straight forward process using same basic techniques of letting the fish run a few times before trying to net it, netting it from the head and avoiding the tail, and coming off anchor to use the boat if it's a particularly big silver.
We tend not to lose these fish too often because we're now using treble hooks that the fish have aggressively struck at. The hook is usually fairly well set and more than one of the hooks on the treble hook have set making it a far more difficult hook set for the fish to dislodge.
Let's Go Fishing!
Hopefully this information gave you some insight into what fishing the Kenai River for silver salmon is like, how we use biology, river conditions, gear and tackle, regulations, boats, and more to target these amazing fish. And what your day would be like on one of our silver salmon fishing charters. Some really great deals can be had at this time of year as well as lodging capacities and the premium fishing charges for summer have decreased.
You likely still have lots of questions and we'd be happy to answer them. Give us a call!