Better than fall?

Better than fall?

Early August Rainbows on the Kenai

It is widely known fall is the time for trophy trout on the Kenai River, and it makes sense. Several species of salmon are spawning and dying creating a bounty of highly nutritious food for hungry trout. Our photo page is littered with pics of folks holding big bows grinning ear to ear, dressed for winter, in the background golden leaves decorate the tress, all of which supports the thesis that fall is the time for big trout.

What if there is another time when anglers can target big fish with less pressure and typically stellar weather?  I know it sounds too good to be true, but end of July through the first weekish of August can offer trout enthusiasts some phenomenal fishing with fall quality sizes.

The Reason

The Kenai River has seen a huge decrease in the return of King salmon over the past few years. Many guides and sport anglers have been switching to Sockeye fishing as an alternative especially when Fish and Game shut the river down to Kings. The result is Sockeye madness from Skilak Lake to Eagle Rock.

Fish cleaning protocol suggest to fillet the fish then throw the remains into the river. This is where a light bulb should come on in your head. Skilak Lake to Eagle Rock is 40+ river miles of anglers lined up catching Sockeye and “chumming” the river with food for hungry trout.

By late July/early August Kenai Trout have had three weeks of easy feeding and look like they time warped out of September. During this time high numbers of trout are being caught and trout over 10lbs are hooked daily.

guide and client holding trophy kenai trout in early August


Dead drifting egg and flesh patterns in various sizes and patterns will be the go to. The day, water temp, and amount of Sockeye running will dictate what to use and how aggressive the trout will be.

Locating trout will not be hard, find a line of anglers swinging for Sockeye, and fish behind them. Trout will not stray too far from places where salmon are consistently being filleted.

The window of Opportunity

Unfortunately, there is only a 2-3 week window of awesome. Mid-July through about August 8th th is the window with the peak being July 20 – August 5.    As with all things on the Kenai the timing and amount of salmon in the river dictate trout behavior.  Too early and there are not many carcasses floating, too late and most of the sockeye carcasses have washed out.  However, when the planets align this sleeper trout fishery can and will rival the fall.  It is well worth your time to experience trophy trout fishing during the middle of the summer!

guide and client holding a plump early August trout on the Kenai River