The Pearson Family

 

What happens when two young dreamers make their way ‘North to the Future’ and meet in a small town Alaska tackle shop? A love story, a company, a family, and big plans for the future are born! We have been so blessed and are appreciative and grateful of the fact that we’ve had the helping hand of many wonderful Alaskan old-timers along the way. Many have since left this earth, but we thank them for all they have taught us, done for us, and been to us. We couldn’t be here where we are today without those wonderful people.

Below you will find some photos of the last fifteen years of us living the dream. We know you have many choices when it comes to hiring your Kenai River guide, so we’d like you to see where your hard earned dollars go! Besides, when you support our business, you support our family directly, and we thank you for that.
John has been a fishing enthusiast since he was big enough to cast a rod. He grew up fly fishing the fine western mountain streams of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico & Wyoming for trout and hitting up some sturgeon fishing in Washington, as well as some good old pike fishing at a favorite family spot in South Dakota.

 

John started planning his trip to Alaska as part of his 5th grade class project with his best friend Adam. Then, after graduating high school, he and Adam packed up a truck and hit the road. As soon as he crossed the bridge at Kenai Lake he felt the tug of the Kenai River on his soul and a feeling of home. Within a couple days, he had fished the river, made new friends, and landed as a Kenai River guide for Howard Mulanax at Cooper Landing Floating & Fishing Company.  Subsequently the next summer, he met his bride-to-be while buying some tackle.

 

Heather grew up surf casting for stripers off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina and fly fishing in the tiny mountain streams of Western VA. She was raised in a boatyard, spending weekends with her dad and brother enjoying lightly supervised salty days messing about boats, piers, barges, machine shops, fishing, catching crabs, and climbing an old crane at her grandparents’ home on Scott’s Creek. The love of flowing waters and the sea grew in her heart from a very young age.

 

A crossroads in life presented itself after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Biology and having worked for the VT Stream Team supporting research in stream ecology for a few years. Was it grad school or travel? Travel won and having read Michener’s Alaska a couple years before while doing field work in Costa Rica, Heather was inspired to venture north for the destination! Serendipity provided a job in Cooper Landing selling tackle. It wasn’t really a job in the field of stream ecology, but close enough!

John and Heather were married in the summer of 2003 by the wonderful Native Alaskan Rev. Willie Johnson in Cooper Landing, rest his soul.

 

Kenai River Float-n-Fish was born the following winter and opened the door for business in 2004. 15 years later we are dreaming big dreams and looking forward to more adventurous years ahead!

 

In 2018 we welcomed our very dear friends and chosen family members, Adam and Danette Snyder to our company and we are grateful for their help!

 

Our Values

Conservation

Proper Catch & Release

Each second you keep a fish out of water decreases its chance of survival.  The responsibility of sustainable fishing falls on the shoulders of every individual angler.  Always use barbless hooks when fishing the Kenai.

We follow the principles of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics while on our guided trips.  All trips are well planned and organized, we travel only on designated roads, trails, and established paths, and do not trample vegetation.  We are careful about where we wade and do not stir up sediment or trample spawning beds.  We pack out everything we pack in, as well as some things left behind by others.  We properly dispose of all human waste.  We leave things the way that we found them and do not collect rocks, driftwood, artifacts, plants/flowers, or alter the environment in any way.  We are respectful to wildlife.  Finally, and probably most importantly, we are courteous and respectful to other user groups.  We believe in naturalness, solitude, and primitive recreation, and do our best not to impact anyone else’s enjoyment of the Mighty Kenai River in a negative way.

We encourage trout anglers to voluntarily practice catch and release because of its proven benefits to trout populations.  Although it is permitted by ADFG regulations to harvest one rainbow trout and one dolly varden per person under 16″ per day, we discourage harvest of these species.  We fear the impact to our resource would be too great if we as guides promoted the harvest of these fish.  Collectively we all hook up our hundreds of clients per season very successfully, and if we were to all harvest those fish on our guide boats, it would not be sustainable.  Catch and release is very useful on streams and rivers where there are highly valuable populations that are facing heavy fishing pressure. Curtailing harvest in these situations can help increase and sustain trout populations, and has done so in most situations where catch and release has been used.
“Thank you fish for your fun and for your flesh.” No matter your religious beliefs, killing an animal offers an opportunity to give thanks.  We believe that it is a sacred honor to be able to hook, land, and harvest a wild salmon for your dinner.  In recognizing that the salmon has given up its life to provide you with sustenance and sportsmanly pride, the very least you can do is say “thank you.”

We provide you this experience, to learn the where, when, and how to target this majestic fish.  For so long, sockeye salmon have been abundant in the Kenai River to the point that harvesting a limit was not only possible, but down right easy some days.  Due to the management policies of the last several years coupled with unknown ocean conditions, it is now impossible to plan for the timing or abundance of the sockeye salmon runs on the Kenai.  For this reason, we can not guarantee a date that has been historically a peak day for successful harvest will be good next year or the year after.  We will do our best, but if the fish aren’t running, they aren’t running.  If your goal is to learn about fishing for salmon and enjoy the pleasure of being out on the water, with a chance at hooking what runs by and making a small harvest for dinner, our trips are a good fit for you.  If your goal is to maximize harvest up to your bag limit (or the total bag limit of your party) and fill a cooler up to ship back home, then we strongly suggest a charter on the saltwater.  That being said, we do recommend booking a full day trip for the greatest success for a salmon focused river trip.

A note on King Salmon:

King Salmon are what made the Kenai famous. However, you need to be aware of the current condition of Chinook stocks both statewide and on the Kenai. Kenai River king salmon and other king salmon stocks throughout Cook Inlet are experiencing a period of low productivity and, since 2008, below average run strength. That trend is anticipated to continue during the 2019 season. In the spirit of good stewardship and of conservation of this resource, we no longer guide for or recommend fishing for king salmon.

Sustainable Travel

Support Local Communities

Your travel has an impact on the communities you visit.  By doing business locally and spending money within the community, you can have a positive effect.
We think that dining out and getting your groceries from the local mom-and-pop establishments and markets is a great way to make sure your tourist dollars go straight to the townspeople’s pockets!
You’d be amazed at the local talent and the handicrafts of artisans that you can discover in the community you are visiting.  Buying souvenirs from local artists benefits them directly and also gives a boost to the local economy.
We encourage visitors to avoid online travel services and deal directly with the local company providing the service.  It adds to your experience to make an intimate local connection with lodge and vacation home owners, small motels, and tour providers.  Most companies that list with booking agencies are reputable businesses that also have their own websites and advertisements, so make a little extra effort to locate them online and deal with them directly.  It is a great way to cut out the middle man and save yourself some booking fees!  You also get great advice on the area you are visiting as local businesses are a wealth of knowledge and happy to share information with you.
It is good to be aware and respectful of local cultures and traditions.  Observe and respect property boundaries and be generally aware of your surroundings.  Do as others do.  Observe and respect the environment.  Conserve resources, minimize the waste you generate, avoid single use plastics, and recycle.  (In Cooper Landing, our recycling center is located at the Cooper Landing Community Hall and Library on Bean Creek Rd.)

It’s nice to meet you!

John Pearson

John Pearson

Professional Fishing Guide

John is your enthusiastic and smiling guide! 2018 marks John’s 18th year guiding clients on the Kenai River, right in his own backyard. You will appreciate his skill, intimate knowledge of the river and the area’s history, ecology, and old-timer folklore, as well as his sense of humor and patience.
Heather Pearson

Heather Pearson

Director of Operations, Sailing Charter Captain

Heather wears many hats and is happy to help you with what you need!  Heather enjoys sailing, gardening, photography, fishing, adventure travel, long walks on the beach, and sleeping on boats.  Legend has it that she could back a trailer through the eye of a needle.
Monica Pearson

Monica Pearson

Head Boat Scrubber

Born to fish, what else can we say? Monica has mastered the spinning rod, is getting dialed in on the dry fly, learning to be an oarswoman, and is absolutely loving every minute! She looks forward to seeing new faces in the van everyday and is happy to share with you what she is currently reading. Monica wants to be a pastry chef and study at Le Cordon Bleu Paris when she grows up.
Cecilia Pearson

Cecilia Pearson

Shuttle Greeter

Cecilia is our littlest fisher lady. She has a wild heart and a deadly rod! She loves to give the fishies a nice, big kiss before she lets them go. She is both a summertime river fisher and ice fishing master, and is teaching us a thing or two every single day, whether we like it or not!  Cecilia wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
Adam Snyder

Adam Snyder

Professional Fishing Guide

Adam started his Kenai River guide career working for Howard along with John when they arrived to Cooper Landing in 2001.  Adam has been John’s best friend and brother since they met at age 10.  He is a joy to fish with, a patient instructor, and has many fishy tricks up his sleeve!  You will enjoy his broad knowledge of fishing techniques as well as his deep respect for the river. 

Danette Snyder

Danette Snyder

Logistics Specialist

Danette is Adam’s beautiful bride and keeps our fish camp running like a well oiled machine.  When she is not running shuttles and keeping us all fed she is out running trails and climbing mountains with the Snyder family dog pack.  She finds time to knit us woolen hats while waiting at the boat ramp and make us chicken pot pie from scratch on a busy Saturday in July, all with a smile!

Our Location

Kenai River Float-n-Fish

The address of our shop is 18251 Sterling Highway, Cooper Landing, AK . 99572.  Meet us here for your trip 15 minutes prior to your trip start time.  If you are just in the neighborhood, swing in to say hi and check out our Alaska Tent & Tarp wall tent office and custom painted Sioux tipi which we used to call home sweet home.

Hours & Availability

 

We’re Open: Most days about 7 or 8. Some days as early as 4 or 5, but occasionally as late as 12 or 1.
We’re Closed: About 5:30 or 6. Occasionally about 4 or 5, but sometimes as late as 11 or 12.
Some days or afternoons we aren’t here at all, and lately we’ve been here just about all the time, except when we’re someplace else, but we should be here then, too.

Sunday is our day for family time, holy worship, and rest, so we generally take Sundays off.

During fishing season (June 11-October 31) we are in and out, launching boats, running shuttles, gardening, and doing who knows what else is on our list to complete in all those hours of daylight. If we aren’t at the shop, please give us a call. We receive many calls during this time, so if we are on the other line leave a message and we’ll call you back ASAP.

During winter season (November-February) we do tend to hibernate a bit. We are either at our winter office and will get back to you soon (but we are moving very slowly) or we are out gallivanting around the globe, likely off the grid, with a response as soon as feasible.   Nevertheless, coffee consumption is at an all time high.

During the spring (March-fishing start) we are rip roaring ready to go. Call us as early or as late as you like!

Driving Directions

From Anchorage:

Take Seward Hwy South for 87 miles. Exit at Sterling Hwy on right towards Homer/Kenai. Cross bridge at Kenai Lake after 11 miles on Sterling Hwy. Turn left at our sign 0.5 miles after bridge on left (south) side of hwy. We are across from Grizzly Ridge Gas station, driveway directly after the Lodge at Grizzly Ridge.
Driving time approx 2 hours

From Homer/Soldotna:

Take Sterling Hwy North for approx. 40 miles. At the Mile 53 bridge you will see the Cooper Landing town sign on your right.  Continue on past Gwin’s Lodge and Kenai Cache at Mile 52.  You will go around another set of “s” turns at Mile 49.  At Mile 48.5 is our driveway.  The road to our driveway is just after the Hutch B&B on your right.  We do not have a sign coming from this direction.  Just after our shop is the Lodge at Grizzly Ridge.   If you get to the bridge, you passed it.
Driving time approx 1 hour from Soldotna, 2.5-3 hours from Homer.

From Seward:

Head North on Seward Hwy for 36 miles. Turn Left onto Sterling Hwy. Cross bridge at Kenai Lake after 11 miles on Sterling Hwy. Turn left at our sign 0.5 miles after bridge on left (south) side of hwy. We are across from Grizzly Ridge Gas station, driveway directly after The Lodge at Grizzly Ridge.
Driving time approx 1 hour