floating upper river

Getting Started 


Fishing on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is a great angling challenge as each body of water has its own unique fish ecology and regulations. Obtain a current copy of the Sport Fishing Regulations Summary for Southcentral Alaska and keep it handy while fishing. The key to using this booklet is to first locate where you want to fish, and then follow the regulations that apply to each specific area. 

You must purchase a valid sport fishing license if you are age 16 or older. These are available at local sporting goods and grocery stores. They can also be purchased online at If you have detailed questions on fishing regulations, please contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) office in Soldotna at 907-262-9368. For information on the status of fish concentrations and emergency closures use the ADF&G Soldotna Fishery Hotline (updated weekly) at 907-262-2737.


Fishing Away From the Crowds  

Good areas for quiet fishing near the road system are found in small lakes such as Lower Ohmer, Watson, Kelly, Petersen, Forest, Dolly Varden, Rainbow, Paddle, and many areas of the Swan Lake and Swanson River canoe systems. Fishing from a canoe or small inflatable boat is highly recommended to successfully fish for rainbow trout in these waters.   

One of the few areas to fish for grayling is Lower Fuller Lake, a steep 1.5-mile hike from mile 57 of the Sterling Highway.


Fishing in Bear Country 

  • If a bear approaches you while you have a fish on the line, cut the line and leave the area.   
  • Fish remains attract bears. Toss all fish waste into deep, fast-moving water. Do not put in dumpsters or on shore. Cut fish carcasses into small pieces so the water current can carry and disperse them more easily.
  • When you carry fish out, store them in sealed plastic garbage bags to decrease odors that could attract bears on paths and trails. 
  • Store all food, bait, line and tackle, fishy clothes, and garbage in bear-proof containers in your vehicle.
  • Avoid fishing during times of low visibility (dawn, dusk, and at night) to prevent bear encounters.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash and under control to prevent negative bear encounters.