Activity of the Week: Fishing on the Kenai, one for the record books

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Few bucket-list items compare to the triumph of tackling a 60-pound king salmon. From the first jerk of your pole to the cry of “fish on!” Your hand cranks the reel. As your heart races and your eyes lock on the bow of the pole tip, following the line into the waves — a silent prayer to the fish gods, pleading for a steadfast hook. Your hand cranks. At the first sight of shiny silver in the water you begin to taste his defeat, and your arm aches from your white-knuckled grip on the reel. Your hand cranks. Finally, he breaks the surface of the water alongside the boat and your cramping hand rejoices. As the net envelops him, you breathe relief, a sensation only bested by the distinct thud of the massive beast hitting the boat deck. Victory.

There are multiple options to land the big one while lodging at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. Located just outside of Cooper Landing, the Kenai lodge provides access to both the upper and lower sections of the Kenai River, each offering a different experience. The Kenai Lower River Sportfishing trip takes guests straight to the hot spots of the mighty king salmon on the lower stretches of the Kenai or Kasilof rivers. The king run is May 15 to July 31 or you can also try a cast for silver salmon — who also put up a good fight — from Aug. 1 through Sept. 16. The Kenai Upper River Sportfishing trip takes guests to the location of trophy-sized fish on a non-motorized drift boat or raft. In the shadow of some dazzling mountain scenery, fish for either sockeye salmon, and Dolly Varden or rainbow trout (depending on the time of year, catch and release only).

The jubilation of a victorious day on the river continues back at the Kenai lodge, for the ritual weigh-in and retelling of the harrowing battle (slightly altered for dramatic effect). It’s a story you’ll tell for years, and one to add to the history books — and bulk to your freezer — of your Alaska adventures.

If you go:

You can book these adventures from the Tour Desk at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. The Kenai Lower River Sportfishing trip is 4 – 5 hours and the Kenai Upper River Sportfishing Trip has a half-day (3 – 4 hour) and full day (7 – 8 hour) options. Prices start at $259 per person.

“Activity of the Week” is a weekly blog series that profiles adventures, destinations and tour operators from across Alaska.”