Most of the fishing on the Upper Kenai is for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and silver and sockeye salmon. Expect to pay at least $150 for a half-day on the water and more than $200 for a full day.
In a place that’s mostly natural and wild, there are few sights more unnatural than what happens each summer wherever Alaska’s best salmon rivers meet a busy road. When the fish are running, the banks become a human frenzy – a ceaseless string of men, women and children hip-to-hip, hundreds of fishing rods whipping to and fro, the air filled with curses and cries of joy. This is combat fishing.
As with any form of combat, there are subtle rules that guide the chaos. Among them: don’t wade out in front of other anglers, or snap up their spot on the bank if they briefly step away. (On the other hand, don’t let the glares of the earlier arrivals dissuade you from taking your proper place in the fray.) Try to give your neighbor space – and whatever you do, don’t foul your line with theirs. Most importantly, if you get a bite, shout, ‘Fish on!’ so others can reel in their lines and give you room to wrestle your catch. In combat fishing, you don’t ‘play’ a fish; you land it fast, so others can rejoin the fight.
Cooper Landing is the starting point for two of the Kenai Peninsula’s loveliest multiday trails: the 39-mile Resurrection Pass Trail to Hope; and the 21-mile Russian Lakes Trail, a favorite for fishers and families. This is serious bear country. It is recommended that you bring good bear protection and make a lot of noise while hiking in the area.