By Ralph Crystal

Alaska! The name alone triggers the imagination. Who hasn’t dreamed of exploring the last frontier, the “Great Land!”

If you cut Alaska in half, it would make Texas the third largest state. It has 17 of the 20 highest mountains in the United States and 19 peaks over 14,000 feet, one of which is Denali, the highest mountain on the North American continent, standing at 20,230 feet above sea level. There are 29 active volcanoes, days with 24 hours of daylight, some with 24 of night, over 100,000 glaciers, three million lakes, more coastline than the lower 48 states combined and the Aurora Borealis, the spectacular Northern Lights Show!

Kent Danjanovich with a bruiser rainbow on the upper Kenai River.

At the Gone Fishin’ Lodge, we decided in the beginning that we wanted to give people the opportunity to experience not only the tremendous fishing that we have, but to also experience the exhilarating beauty of Alaska combined with their fishing trips. I always tell people who want to go sightseeing that we do that every day, we just have a fishing pole in our hands while we’re sightseeing.

The Gone Fishin’ Lodge is located in south central Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula, 150 miles south of Anchorage in a small town called Soldotna. Our lodge sits on the banks of the world-famous Kenai River. The Kenai River is famous for its great fishing, but more importantly, the world record king salmon was caught on this river on May 17th, 1985, weighing in at 97 lbs. 4 oz. The Kenai River is also unique in that it has two runs each year of king, sockeye and silver salmon.

Silver salmon are the target on a flyout across Cook Inlet. The scenery is spectacular and the fishing isn’t too bad either

There are only five major highways in Alaska and only a few more minor roads throughout the entire state. One of these roads leads south from Anchorage, down to the Kenai Peninsula and right to us on the Kenai River. Much of Alaska is inaccessible and can only be viewed by plane or from a boat. The nice thing about the Kenai Peninsula is that the road coming down from Anchorage splits, with one fork going to Seward, which is on the eastern side and the other fork continuing down to Soldotna and then on to Homer on the western side. This gives visitors a chance to see beautiful scenery as soon as they head south out of Anchorage and all throughout their travels, while on the peninsula. This also allows us to access many great places to fish and sightsee, generally at reduced costs over other areas in Alaska.

Neal and Marguerite Matthews with a couple of nice halibut to show for their day on the water.

Our “niche” is that we offer a wide variety of fishing and sightseeing trips to allow our guests the opportunity to see and fish our area the way they want to. We have many different plans to choose from or we can customize your trip to fit your desires.

Our season gets started in early June. Halibut and king (Chinook) salmon fishing in Cook Inlet can be excellent this time of year, with both species migrating to the Inlet, with the kings eventually making their way into the river systems that they were born in. We fish both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers at this time of year for kings arriving during the first run.

Brooks Hansen is all smiles as he hoists up a big, spawning sockeye during his drift boat trip on the upper Kenai River.

Red (sockeye) salmon also start entering the rivers at this time. We start using float planes to fly across the Cook Inlet to fish for these great fighting fish. On our fly-out trips, we will be fishing in an area that brown bears generally like to frequent, as they too are looking for salmon. This gives you an excellent chance to see and photograph brown bears in the wild. It’s our number one most popular trip. So, including a fly-out in your trip is highly recommended.

Halibut fishing is excellent as the long daylight hours give us a chance to fish the best tide movements of the day. Trophy rainbow trout and Dolly Varden fishing opens June 11th on the upper Kenai River and remains open throughout the rest of the season, offering a great opportunity to hook into a true fish of a lifetime. And of course, red salmon are making their way up the Kenai and fishing in the Kenai and Russian Rivers is world renowned.

Moving into July, the second run of kings gets underway on the first, followed by the second run of reds making these two rivers hotbeds for fishing action. King salmon of the Kasilof average 15-30 pounds and can be fished from shore or by using a drift boat. Kings on the Kenai river average 30-50 pounds and can be fished from a drift or power boat. It is very tough to hook into a king on the Kenai and land him from shore. These fish are powerful and anglers generally don’t have enough backing on their reels or enough riverbank to run with the fish when it takes off. Trust me, use a boat! Conversely, red salmon are almost exclusively caught from shore. Pound for pound, they are one of the toughest fighting fish you will ever hook into. They will give any angler all they can handle!

A multiple species trip to Seward can include halibut, lingcod, yelloweye, sea bass and silver salmon.

Not far from us, over in Seward, the lingcod season opens up on July 1st. Lingcod are prehistoric looking fish, but their white meat is excellent table fare. Lingcod hang out in depths of 60 – 140 feet and are taken on salmon rods using jigs. Silver salmon start returning to Resurrection Bay in early July and into September and of course, big halibut are also available all summer long. With all of the varieties of fish available, it gives us the opportunity to do combination trips for halibut, lingcod, silver salmon, yellow eye and black bass all on the same trip. You will be fishing in the midst of pristine glaciers and picturesque scenery, while having the opportunity of seeing wildlife such as whales, porpoises, sea lions and puffins. Seward is one of the most beautiful places in all of Alaska.

King salmon season ends on July 31st. By late July and early August, the feisty silvers (Coho) are entering both the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. These fish range from 8-20 pounds and are hard fighting, acrobatic fish that are fun and exciting on light tackle. Our fly-out trips across the Cook Inlet are now targeting silvers in various remote areas. HALIBUT FISHING REMAINS EXCELLENT THROUGH AUGUST, WITH LIMITS SET AT TWO PER PERSON PER DAY. The fishing on the Upper Kenai only gets better throughout the summer, as the rainbows and Dolly Varden start to fatten up on freshly laid salmon eggs.

A great and very popular sightseeing trip that runs throughout the season and can be added into your package is the Kenai Fjords National Park tour. It is an eight-hour wildlife and glacier cruise, giving passengers a chance to view an active tidewater glacier and as you can imagine, an abundance of wildlife viewing and outstanding scenery can be seen in every direction.

As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s great fishing any week of the season, so it is truly up to you when you want to make the trek north. Check out our website at www.gonefishinlodge.com for more information on our great packages and make sure you check out the special “Sportsman’s News August Trip” designed to give you a chance to experience a little bit of everything on your next trip to Alaska. Sport fishing on the Kenai Peninsula continues to exceed every angler’s wildest dreams. Let us help make your dreams come true! Give us a call today at 877-462-5752.