Thursday, September 6, 2012

TLTFF Trip Report: Kenai River Alaska

The excitement of being invited to Alaska to check out a few airplanes was overshadowed by the fact that I had two days to plan both my work trip and a fishing trip before it was time to depart. I spent a large portion of Friday and Saturday working out trip details to get me in and out of Anchorage, a quick search for Alaska Trout in the Anchorage area lead me to read about the Kenai peninsula about 2.5 hours South Anchorage. Located within the Chugach National Forrest the town of Cooper Landing has plenty of guides and hotels in the area. With the  best part of the season beginning, I thought that sounded just about perfect.  I emailed several guides and being the busy season and a last minute request, I got back a lot of “sorry no room” messages  from lodges, hotels and guides.

I was lucky enough to hear back from Kyle from Keen eye anglers. Turns out he had a cancellation and could fit me in for a day of fishing. I traded several emails with him and departed for Anchorage without any confirmed fishing trips or hotels. When I finally confirmed a hotel and spoke to Kyle directly on Tuesday afternoon I was satisfied with my last minute arrangements and looking forward to fishing on Thursday.  Up until that point I was having a phenomenal trip. Having visited Deadhorse Alaska, taken a flight tour of the Tundra, flown over the Artic Ocean, and Geocached above the artic circle. Seven flights in the three days made for some killer days with a lot of mileage covered.  Had my fishing trip been a bust I would have had no room to complain. Fortunately, I was due for a smooth trip after the many nightmares I have had on the road.  

Kyle was ready to fish bright and early, he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He has that rare trait only the very best guides have that make you feel like you are fishing with an old friend. An experienced fishing buddy that knows a hell of lot more then you do and gratefully passes the knowledge along in an easy,  patient way. With just enough smack talk thrown in to keep it fun.

The mist was just beginning to clear of the water when we launched and not ten minutes into our float I hooked into my very first Alaskan Rainbow. I was shocked at the simplicity of the set up. A long leader, 3 split shot, a bead with a hook suspended six inches below it is all it takes to entice Kenai river Rainbows and Dolly Vardens to take. Kyle ‘s custom made drift boat top of the line RL Winston rods and beutifull Galven reels make it a pleasure to chuck lead all day and  play large fish on. The 70 degree sunny day mother nature blessed us with added to the joy of spotting bears and bald eagles along the banks when my reel wasn't screaming.

We waded several times during the day, on our first stop I hooked and lost two fish after a jump or two. I then caught the bottom on a drift. I snapped and tugged and couldn’t pull lose but could lift the rod just enough to see the hook was caught on what look like a fly line. I called Kyle over and he waded out while I kept tension on the line. He says, “it’s a fly line”. “It would be cool if there was a rod on the other end of that” I say as he continues hauling in the line. “Dude there is a rod at the end of this” another 30 seconds of hauling and  Kyle says "you made our like champ congrats you got a new rod". Really??? "You caught it you keep it"…. So, several fish in,  two hours into the fishing day and I am now the proud owner of a TFO BVK 5wt rod with a Lamson G20 reel.  Can your day get any better you ask……why yes, yes it can

The theme of the day for me was “set the hook”. After setting the hook lightly fishing nymphs in past trips to other places I had a hard time dialing in the hook set on the bead set up.  The long leader, lead and bead they take is six inches above the hook. Requiring a solid hook set to lift all that quickly.  I had somewhere in the 15-20 range come unbuttoned.  The tug is the drug and a long distance release is just as fun for me. The steady action really left me little time to regret the last lost fish. Only once did I wish I could have landed one that came unbuttoned. He gave me three impressive runs that made me immediately dig for my camera. 
 I had one of those rare days where the Zen of fishing over takes you and you don’t bother to count the hook up or landed anymore. Where taking a picture is just going to take too long and I want my line back in the water. Lunch was had on the run, between fish takes. The lunch spread included  in the charter price is well worth mentioning. We fished hard for the 8 hours moving quickly from good spot to better spot and wading at prime locations during the day. By the time the take out location was approaching we pulled into the last chance hole. I got out to get my last few cast in. Normally, the last chance hole is a location that fills me with that dreaded feeling…that little voice that says “make this one count because your casts are numbered friend”…..a moment  of pause…hey Kyle…yeah…. I am all done buddy...I have had more then enough.

It was my pleasure to fish with Kyle, Owner and Operator of keeneyeanglers. One of the very best guides I have had the pleasure of fishing with. Keen eye anglers can be reached at their home page of

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 Kyle is currently booking a trip to Christmas Island for Giant Trevally next Feb. 26 - March 5, 2013 Six days guided fishing, all lodging, and meals for $2320 per person....a possible option to add a day of Bone fishing in Hawaii the day before heading to Christmas Island. He has a few spots open for a trip of a life time. Please contact Kyle for details. 


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