Fishing on the Kenai River in Alaska is a dream that many individuals have. Seven Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing disabled veteran participants from Texas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Alaska traveled to Soldotna and fished for three days with Alaska Fishing and Lodging.  The guides, Tyland and Damond, asked everyone what they wanted to catch.  Since Cohos were present in the lower river, all participants wanted to catch some and take them home.

 

A spectacular evening along the Kenai River

Everyone experienced the joy and frustration of hooking fish and losing them. The secret to landing them includes keeping the rod tip low while slowly reeling them into the net.  Raising the rod tip too high or reeling too fast actually causes the fish to fight more and jump out of the water, which results in losing the fish.  Cohos have very soft mouths and the hooks can pull out easily. Everyone caught numerous Cohos and took them home to share with their families and friends.  It is amazing how many new friends they acquired when they posted photos of their catch….

Unloading Cohos

Mike looking at his 12+ pound Coho

George showing off one of his Cohos

 

Tyland filleting the fish that still have sea lice on them

Some individuals also explored fishing in the Middle Kenai River, which is renowned for rainbows, Dollies, Sockeyes, Cohos, and whitefish. They traveled 30-minutes up river to Skilak Lake and then fished their way back down the river.  Lots of rainbows, Dollies, and Sockeyes were caught and released along with several whitefish. Cohos were not targeted here because they spawn in this section of the river.  The scenery was spectacular with all the fall colors alongside the unusual azure blue color of the river caused by glacial silt.

 

We were very fortunate on this trip.  Forest fires started in this area on June 5th and as of September 21st, it has burned 167,000 acres but it is now 68% contained.  Some smoke was still visible over the mountains and we drove through smoke on the highway. Heavy rains during the past several days are really helping to control the fires.

Morning sky with smoke hanging in the mountains

A special “Thank You” goes out to Smokehouse BBQ and St Elias Brewing Company for giving us substantial discounts on our meals. The food and service were outstanding!