A lot of people think that the later in the year it gets, the more fishing slows down — False. Some of my best fishing moments have been in the fall and late fall. Alaska gets some super late runs of Coho salmon. The Kenai gets a Christmas Run of coho salmon that does not spawn until December to February. These are spawning salmon so no there are not good to keep. Here are a few examples of places to fish in late fall for edible salmon to keep.
Late run coho salmon in Seward is amazing. One of my most memorable moments in Alaska was in Seward the fall of 2018. I went for late run coho salmon which is legal to snag them in saltwater. So, there I was, walking around with a headlamp on and in the middle of the night.
Coho tend to move around at night super close to shore. I was literally spotting coho salmon two feet off the shore and casting out enough to put my weighted treble hook in their side. I was the only person out there crazy enough in the middle of the night to be doing this, so I thought. I never looked up most of the night, trying to keep my attention to the water. When I finally ran into somebody he told me, “OMG have you looked up at the sky yet?”
I of course had not since I was so focused on catching fish. When I looked up, It was the most amazing Northern Lights show I’ve seen since I moved to Alaska some 10 years ago. I had a limit of coho salmon in my right hand and thank god I didn’t have no more responsibilities to do after seeing such an amazing sight. There was only a few of us on the beach at the time so what we shared as humans was pretty special, so much so that fishing became secondary. This is one of those situations that made me realize that Alaska is my home. Seward will remain fishable up until September. Most people fish at that creek mouth, which is also called the pay and park. It has outhouses and a an easy campground to stay in.
Another option for fall fishing is to head south on the Kenai Peninsula. The Anchor River can lead to some fun fishing for multiple species in a day. Early run Steelhead Trout (trout that go to the ocean and come back multiple times to spawn) return every year to the Anchor River and surrounding streams. Coho salmon is the main target at this time but having a secondary catch of steelhead makes for a pretty fun fishing trip. For coho, which are in many holes on many of the southern Kenai Peninsula rivers at this tie is any bright fly if you are fly fishing. Coho tend to strike most bright flies such as hot pink and chartreuse colored articulated leeches at this time. If you are targeting steelhead then the main choice is a brightly colored trout bead (hard plastic bead sold at most fishing stores) painted with some sort of pearlized nail polish which is just the same as mimicking salmon eggs on the Kenai River.
Some of my best days in Alaska have been in early-to-late fall in the southern Kenai Peninsula rivers. It’s all wade fishing, except for the Kasilof River, which has an incredible sliver run just a bit smaller than the Kenai River late sockeye and coho run. The fall colors of the plant life on the Kenai Peninsula are unheard of anywhere else. It’s one of the things that keeps me in Alaska. The vibrant colors of fall on all the foliage and trees that are in the area create a very unique color experience.
Also mixed in with the late salmon spawning is the very voracious trout and dolly varden. These fish will follow any species spawning at the time which will lay eggs and feed off such eggs all spawning season long. This creates an excellent bi-catch for targeting salmon when salmon fishing is slow.
Fall is absolutely my favorite time to fish the Kenai Peninsula. Between the colors of the foliage and the multi-species of the available fish to catch, it makes for a completely remarkable experience.