Head to Cooper Landing on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground for an epic hike or fly fishing adventure on the Russian River. It’s a beautiful time of year to get out and enjoy your stunningly beautiful backyard!
Or if you just want to enjoy a good hike and views of the river, you can always park at the campground or the confluence (aka the ferry) and enjoy a beautiful stroll riverside.
Another excellent hike in the area is the Russian River Falls trail. The trailhead is located in the campground turnout off the Sterling Hwy in Cooper Landing. This area is known for having lots of bear activity, however – so be careful and always be prepared for an unexpected sighting. The parking fee at the campground is $11 of a 12 hour day and you can fill your vehicle full of as many people as legally possible. So load up your friends/family and make it a point to check out this incredible area.
Fly fishing this time of year is quite the treat. During the weekdays you’ll notice that the crowds have begun to disperse and the area feels like the real, raw Alaska that you’ve surely come to fall in love with. You also might be incredibly surprised to learn that you very well might have the entire river to yourself.
This time of year, the river is filled with brilliantly colored salmon that are starting the spawning process. We even stumbled upon a huge king salmon on a low riverbed that was turned totally white and spawned out. It is a rare occurrence to see those huge fish so far upstream in the Russian River, but it is always cool sighting to behold. We started upstream and walked down over the course of about five hours. In most areas the water was only a couple feet deep so we were able to walk back and forth from each side and fish both banks thoroughly.
It’s pretty easy to fall in love with the Russian River. Unlike the Kenai, it is very shallow in many areas (especially the upper) and you can actually see into the water all the way to the bottom. The beautiful multi-colored rocks on the riverbed are very slippery, so it’s important to use extreme caution when in the water so that you don’t fall over.
Pretty frequently the bright red salmon would move quickly and splash up out of the water, which can also alarm you and throw you off a bit as you are meandering through the quick currents. We couldn’t stop catching fish! It was epic, to say the least. We hooked several nice little rainbows, but nothing too big in size. They are a blast to catch because they run like the wind and are very feisty.
We also had great success with dolly varden (dollies), grayling and even a couple beautiful silvers. We primarily used beads on a fly or threw a couple fly’s on there solo to switch it up every so often.
Everything was catch and release (this was definitely not a “meat run”), just a fun day with a little finesse and a fly rod.
In true Alaskan fashion, we fished until the very last moment and soaked up every ounce of sunlight. And luckily, we had a phenomenal sunset to close out a picture perfect day of fishing. Talk about one of those moments that make you have to *pinch* yourself because it’s almost unbelievable to live in such a stunningly beautiful place. So grateful to live in (truly) the most beautiful place in the last frontier!
Have you been fishing this summer? Where are your favorite spots to go on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground? We’d love to hear about all your epic adventures! Wishing you tight lines, water babies and adventure hounds!