We arrived at Soldotna in the midst of the salmon frenzy. Mid-July happens to be the the second salmon run for King Salmon (Chinook) and Red Salmom (Sockeye). Fishing seems to be on everyone’s mind for locals as well as tourists, as you see them swarming along the banks and in Kenai the river. Steve reported that the hardware/fishing supplies store was jam-packed with folks buying gear, and it seemed like every boat was heading to/from a launch loaded with supplies. Most anglers and tourists alike are here, since Soldotna is the central hub of the Kenai Peninsula and home of the World Record King Salmon caught, at 97.4 lbs.
Fishing regulations are complicated and well regulated. You can only fish during a certain period of time, at certain river locations and for a certain species of Salmon in particular. You have to know the fish you catch and know when to throw it back in case you got the wrong one. Fishing in the Kenai river is extremely popular and on these days quite crowded. The glacially turbid streams flowing into the Kenai river support the largest recreational fishery in Alaska.
It’s fun to watch the beautiful fish being reeled in, and even for “non-fisherpeople” like us it can be exciting. We are considering scheduling a salmon tour during our stay in this area. We still have plenty of time to do it, and our freezer is pretty small so we may have to eat fish for every meal – not a problem! We’re getting spoiled on the best salmon you can imagine, and we’re afraid of how much we will miss it while sitting in the desert during the winter months. Oh well, by then we will have switched our diet to fresh scorpions and cactus- yum yum!
We really like Soldoltna. Even though it is very busy during July, it is basically a small town but big enough to have decent stores and services that make life a lot easier. We took a long bike ride on their nice paved trails paralleling Kalifornsky Beach road and went all the way to the mouth of the Kenai river which is about 11 miles away. There we saw more people fishing for the tasty salmon. On this ride we caught the first glimpse of the active volcanoes and with nary a cloud. We were gazing at Mt Spurr, Mt Redoubt and Mt Illiamna, all viewed from the mouth of the Kenai River. Just beautiful ! We wished the nice sunny weather will hold up for more days to come.