The fishing guides at Tower Rock Lodges are experts at fishing for trout in Alaska. Here is their insight:
For Rainbows: long 10-12 ft. leaders with a 17 lb. fluoro-carbon Tippet is the trick. #8 Flyrod with dry line, spin cast #10 test monofilament. Alaskan trout are usually focused on salmon fry, bait fish, flesh patterns and salmon eggs aka "Da Bead". #6610 Mustad hooks and plastic beads from 6-12 mm. in different shades of red and pink are used to resemble the natural egg in the river water, but different water conditions, clarity and light diffusion, all dictate the "bead" to use.
Mike Tuhy, Tower Rock Lodge owner, developed "Da Bead" some 25 years ago while working as a fly-fishing guide at an Alaskan fly-out lodge. It was then called the "Tuhy Buoy" and was recognized by the famous author and fly-tier Lee Wulff as being "the most creative and innovative fly he had ever seen." He was awestruck by the simplicity of the design and its effectiveness and efficiency for all trout, Steelhead and even Silvers. This concept was combined with the effortless technical cast for throwing heavy line called the "Kenai Roll" which was developed by another local guide named Kurt Trout. Make sure you don't leave Alaska without trying "Da Bead" and the "Kenai Roll."
Rainbow Trout fishing on the Kenai River is among the finest in the world. Kenai rainbows are indeed the most wild and beautiful fish you will ever see. Since rainbow trout are one of the river's year-round inhabitants and not a harvest species, it is catch and release. Every year the Kenai River produces some of the largest rainbows in all of Alaska. Fish over thirty inches are largely unheard of in most waters, but on the Kenai they are caught on a regular basis. The weight varies from 5-20 pounds with the Alaska state record being 42 pounds .3 oz.
Dolly Varden, or "Dollies", are a native resident and are actually a char, not a true trout. They are plentiful and found year round in Kenai Peninsula streams and lakes. Unlike the early spawning rainbow, the char enter their "spawn colors" in the fall. Males have a hooknose as well as a dark body and orange/white spots. The Dolly serves a useful purpose in maintaining the health of other salmon species as these "footballs" gorge themselves and feed actively on diseased or dead salmon eggs on the river bottom. The majority are from 3 to 8 pounds in weight. The bigger fish, when hooked, typically run to the middle of the river and sit, testing line strength and the angler's ability.
Steelhead are ocean-going rainbow trout, and all steelhead fishing on Kenai Peninsula rivers is catch and release. They enter the river system in late spring and early fall before and after the freeze. These fish are big and bright and very aggressive and will take the bead, spinners and flies.
Skilak Lake is formed from the waters of the Kenai River and the melt-off from Skilak Glacier on the easternmost end of the lake. As both main feeder streams into this lake are of glacial origin, Skilak waters are somewhat cloudy from suspended glacial silt. This bluish gray coloring diminishes due to settling as you travel down the lake and by mid-lake the water has cleared considerably. Just south of the lower campground, the lake dumps out into a winding waterway that begins the middle section of the Kenai River. Fish the shallows in early fall for giant rainbow trout and Dolly Varden.
The Anchor, Ninilchik, and Deep Creek are the most popular freshwater sport fisheries on the Lower Kenai Peninsula for "walk in" steelheading and King fishing. These streams provide good fishing throughout the summer and fall with runs of King, Silver and Pink Salmon, Dolly Varden Trout, and Steelhead. The Steelhead begin arriving in late August and peak in September and October. These rivers are narrow and only about 15-25 yards at their widest point, which makes them easy to fish from their riverbanks. All rivers are crossed by the Sterling Highway road system. The Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River share the honor for the oldest and most traditional King Salmon fishery on the Kenai Peninsula.