Welcome to your guide to Cooper Landing Alaska. Enjoy planning your trip!
Cooper Landing is an amazing place to spend some time. Check out these resources to help you with your planning. Please let us know what questions you have and how we can help you with your trip planning.
Trails- Chugach National Forest
Trails- Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Before Your Trip
(Heads up: We have some affiliate links in this section. If you do your pre-trip shopping here, we get a few pennies at no extra cost to you. Cheers!)
Learn about the area! Study the geography of the area you will be visiting and the waters you will be fishing. Do some reading up on the fishery, the culture/history, the climate/forecast, and the other area attractions you might want to check out while you are here.
Let us know at the time of booking your requests. We will use this information to formulate a strategy using the right flies, covering the right type of water, and sometimes even scheduling your trip during the right time of year to maximize the chances of meeting your goals. Do you prefer fly fishing or spin fishing? What species do you want to target? Do you have a special shoe size that we need to know about? Do you want us to pick you up from your campground?
On the day of your trip, when you meet your guide, remind him about your preferences, expectations, and limitations. Would you rather fish dry flies on top than nymph, even if it means you may catch less fish? Tell your guide. Are you hiring a guide so you can learn how to fish streamers? Tell your guide. If you don’t have specific expectations, rest assured, we will make the best call possible to ensure you end the day with a smile.
Make sure you have everything you need in preparation for your trip. You will want to be warm, dry, and comfortable not only while out on the water but also during the rest of your travels in Alaska. We will provide you with all the gear you need for our trip, but you’ll want to make sure you are dialed for all your adventures. Many of your stops might be pretty remote, with little chances for adding that extra crucial piece of gear to your kit. We have some great recommendations here for you!
Gear We Use and Love
(A quick note: Patagonia is our favorite gear by far for waders, wading boots, technical base layers, warm mid layers, shells, and just about everything else. The Patagonia links just go to their site, they are not affilitate links for us.)
Other Gear Recommendations
Spinning rods: We find 6-12lb with medium-light action to be a versatile setup.
Rods we use: St. Croix, Sage, G. Loomis
We prefer mono for the stretch for spinning & fly, 12 lb to 6lb-8lb.
Spring Patterns for Trout: Spring water is still cool and rising so usually flesh flies work well, white/gray/brown sizes 4-10.
Early Summer Patterns for Trout: Leeches (egg sucking/standard) in black & purple, sizes 4-10.
Late Summer Patterns for trout: Late summer sunshine will bring some bugs, just depends on the day, top water or bottom- bead head prince nymph size 12-14, coachman, humpy, parachute adams, size 12-16.
Fall Patterns for trout: Beads or glow bugs, any pattern that looks like fresh roe with a few washed out pale ones thrown in as well, size 8mm-10mm.
Patterns for Salmon: Sockeye don’t bite, so any bucktail style “Russian River Fly” in any color will work. Bright colors help you to see your fly in shallow waters for sight fishing. Silvers- streamers in pink, purple, or chartreuse, the bigger the better.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get a fishing license?
Fishing licenses are sold at most stores in Alaska and they are also available for purchase online by the Alaska Department of fish and game. We have our local fly shop, Alaska Troutfitters, just across the street from our location, so many folks come a few extra minutes early and walk across the street to purchase one before their trip. To purchase online, use the link at the bottom of the page.
Do I need a King Salmon stamp?
We will not be fishing for king salmon on any trip, so you do not need to purchase the additional king salmon tag for your trip with us.
Where do we meet for the trip?
Please meet us at our shop in Cooper Landing for your trip. You can park your car or RV there while we shuttle you to the boat ramp and back at the end of the day. Our address is 18251 Sterling Hwy, Cooper Landing, AK . 99572.
What time do we meet for the trip?
Please meet us at our shop 15 minutes prior to the start time listed on your booking invoice.
What time do your trips go out?
Our half day trips generally depart at 7am and 2pm. Our full day trips can start anywhere from 5am to 10am, depending on the time of year, section of river we are fishing, and your personal preferences. We are flexible, so if you need a specific start or end time just let us know and we can work around your schedule if possible.
When will we be done with our trip?
Our half day trip is 4 hours on the water and our full day trip is 8 hours on the water. We do have some time on either end driving, launching, and retrieving the boat. We generally pull out of the river 4.5 hours after the start time on a half day and 8.5 hours after the start time for a full day. Depending on where we fish, there could be anywhere from a 10 minute to 45 minute van ride back to our shop.
When is our remaining 50% balance due for our trip?
Your trip balance due will be collected by Heather in person at the shop directly following your trip. You are always welcome to pay your balance due at any time prior to your trip through your booking invoice.
Can you pick us up from our lodge or campground?
We are happy to pick you up from your lodge or campground anywhere within Cooper Landing. Please make these arrangements at the time of booking so we can schedule it in advance.
Do you take young children on your trips?
We are happy to host the youngest clients on our trips! We will even take infants on trips as long as the weather is nice and you are willing to keep your infant wearing our sweet little baby lifejacket the entire time on the boat. We love kiddos and really enjoy getting them hooked on fishing young.
Can you accommodate people with special needs?
We do our best to accommodate all anglers including those with special needs and disabilities. Please let us know what particular arrangements we can make for your group at the time of booking. We can take seats out of the boat to fit in a wheel chair and can give extra assistance for those with visual or hearing impairments. If you suffer from back pain and need to get out and stretch your legs more often or if there is anything we can do to help make your trip more comfortable just let us know.
We have never fished before, is your trip good for beginners?
We welcome anglers of every skill level. We are very happy to provide patient instruction and lots of practice to get you dialed in and hooked up.
What is included with the trip?
We provide all the gear you will need for your trip including fly rods and reels, spinning rods and reels, all terminal tackle, chest waders, heavy duty rain gear, personal flotation devices, and safety equipment.
What should we bring for the trip?
You need to bring your fishing license, whatever you would like to eat or drink on your trip (feel free to bring a cooler), any personal items you need (medication etc.), polarized sunglasses if you have them, camera, and a great attitude for a fun day on the water.
What kind of boat will we be on for the trip?
Our boats are 20 foot Fish Rite custom aluminum drift boats. They are 6 feet wide and can accommodate 4 anglers (sometimes 5 for trips with young or small people on the Upper Kenai) plus your guide. The Upper Kenai is drift only, so we will be rowing this section. We generally also row on the Middle River as well (although it is a motorboat fishery).
How should we dress for the trip?
Please dress in warm, light layers that you can shed throughout the day on your trip. We recommend a synthetic base layer (top and bottom) and some nice thick socks. On top of that you can layer with a fleece top or sweatshirt and then a good light weight rain jacket/shell. If it is really rainy, we will give you some heavy duty commercial rain gear to put on top. Mornings are generally much chillier than the afternoon, so you will be adjusting your outfit as the day warms up. For early and late season trips, we recommend a hat and gloves and maybe another layer. For half day trips in July, if the weather is hot and sunny, feel free to dress lightly and bring your extra layers along with you in a backpack or dry bag. On these trips we may just put waders in the back of the boat (if we get a quick storm and need to throw them on) and otherwise wear sandals/warm weather clothing in the boat. Let the forecast be your guide, but do plan on being cold and wet, as we get plenty of both in AK.
Can we book a private trip as a group of 4?
A private trip is a special rate for one or two people that want to pay extra and have the whole boat to themselves. Three people can pay a bit more and be guaranteed no single angler will join them for their trip. As there are only 4 seats on the boat, a group of 4 fills the boat, and we charge per seat.
We can accommodate a group of 4 on our two boats with both John and Adam guiding, for groups of 4 looking for private trips with 2 in each boat.
Someone in our group wants to go on the trip but is not interested in fishing. Can they ride along?
We do offer a scenic trip rate when there is a group of 4 and one person doesn’t want to fish. For groups smaller than 4, or with more than one scenic rider, we charge the same rate per person for fishing and scenic.
I'm used to fishing rocky mountain style in a 16 foot drift boat with 2 people. Isn't your boat crowded with 4 people?
It is the industry standard on the Kenai River to fish 20 foot drift boats with 4 anglers up front. This may seem strange if you are used to a much smaller boat fishing one up front and one in the back. Our boats fish 4 people comfortably, and with a little teamwork and communication, we get everybody casting and hooking up well. If you prefer to have the whole side of the boat just to yourself for advanced casting techniques, we recommend booking a private trip.
Will we be fishing mostly out of the boat, wading, or both?
We fish mostly on the drift out of the boat on a half day trip. On a full day trip, there is opportunity to get out and do some wade fishing on gravel bars along the way. We are flexible, though, and if you have a preference about wading more or less, just let us know and we will tailor your trip to your request. We do fish for sockeye salmon while wading from shore.
Where do we go when nature calls?
There is an outhouse at our shop and one at each boat launch. You are welcome to use the bushes for #1 (we pack out all toilet paper, ladies). For #2 while you are out on the river, we have a wonderful pack-potty that uses wag bags that we can set up in a private place for you to use. We pack everything out.
Can I bring my own rods/reels/waders on the trip?
Absolutely! You are welcome to bring whatever gear you want to use on the trip. For waders, please be advised that felt soled waders are banned in Alaska. We also appreciate if you do not wear cleats in the boat as they tear the floor up. We like foot tractor wading bars by Patagonia, as they work just as well but don’t damage the floor as bad.
Do you guarantee we will harvest our limit of salmon on our trip?
Our sockeye salmon runs have had off-timing and low abundance the last several seasons. We can certainly use as much time of your trip as you would like to target sockeye, but we cannot guarantee your success or a limit. Some days they just aren’t running by, some days it is like a fresh grocery bonanza and we can get a fresh limit, other days you can hook and land many but they are all too sexually mature and not good to harvest. We do recommend booking a full day trip if your goal is to harvest salmon. If you want a more sure limit, a trip out on the saltwater is probably your best bet and we are happy to make some recommendations on a saltwater charter.
Is there somewhere we can bring our salmon and have it cooked for us for our dinner?
Gwin’s Lodge in Cooper Landing currently offers to cook your catch for you as part of a meal option.
Where can we have our salmon vacuum sealed, frozen, and shipped home for us?
There are two good processors in Cooper Landing. We recommend the Kenai Cache as well as Salmon Run Lodge, they both do a good job.
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