Winters in Alaska and particularly here on the Kenai Peninsula have been dramatically different in the past three years. Call it global warming or the El Nino effect but whatever it is, we have definitely seen a difference in our winter weather patterns. Whereas the mountains would typically see tens of feet of snow, now they are lucky to get a few feet and in the lower elevations which normally saw snow cover October-April, there is no snow even in January. While this lack of white stuff certainly puts a damper on normal winter activities like skiing and snow machining, it does make for ideal fishing conditions on the Kenai river. Temps in the mid thirties are perfect for targeting giant rainbows as they defend strategic food funnels behind the thousands of spawning silver salmon. Also present is the always aggressive dolly varden and they will keep you on your toes between the harder fighting and more selective rainbows. Another added bonus is also lurking in the winter waters of the Kenai: steelhead! Not a lot is known about these sea going cousins of the rainbow but one thing these warmer waters have revealed is there are significant numbers of them present and just like the rainbows and dollies, they seem to be taking advantage of loose spawn from the prolific numbers of spawning coho. These nomadic feeders are incredible to catch on a fly rod and really offer a special reward for mid-winter in south central Alaska. It may not be the same as a coastal metalhead from the pacific northwest but it is right here in our backyard and on a river that could easily be covered with ice. So as they say…” you take what you get and don’t throw a fit,”and I can assure you, nobody has been pouting on my boat.
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