Travel And Vacation

Catch Trout and Salmon at Skilak Lake

Located on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, Skilak Lake offers anglers a wide range of trout, as well as sockeye and Chinook salmon on the nearby Kenai River. Skilak Lake fishing offers variety and beautiful scenery.

The 18-mile long lake is extremely deep, making it hospitable for a variety of fish. It is connected to Kenai Lake by the Kenai River, and in fact Skilak is often referred to as Upper Kenai.

What Can You Catch?

When you fish the lake and the nearby river, you can catch trout of all types, plus several other species. Here is a list of the most popular:

  • Kenai rainbow trout
  • Dolly Varden
  • Mackinaw lake trout
  • Sockeye
  • Chinook salmon
  • Whitefish

Most Skilak Lake fishing is done from boats, though it is possible to fish from shore. Many anglers opt for river fishing since the lake can at times get brackish. Since the lakes and rivers are interconnected, it is easy to find the most productive spots quickly and easily. Ice fishing is popular in the winter.

Fishing Tips

Lake trout like lures with fish patterns in blue and chrome. Bait like herring is effective, as are patterned flies in the shape of smolt or leeches.

Kenai rainbow trout are great sport fish. They respond well to dry lies and small nymphs. Dolly Varden like flies, including the glo bug, wolly buggers and flash fry.

Sockeye and Chinook do well with trolling lures. Whitefish like all types of artificial lures.

Where to Stay

There are three hostelries close to Skilak Lake and cabins that are part of the Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Here is a look at them:

  • Great Alaska Adventure Lodge, offering all-inclusive packages. It specializes in guided adventures.
  • Kenai Backcountry Lodge, with all-inclusive packages and “leave no trace” eco-tourism.
  • Alaska Bear Camp, which hosts 16 guests at a time and offers an up-close look at the local bears.
  • 14 cabins with outhouses. Some are accessible only if you hike in, others require a boat. In winter you can get to them with a snowmobile.


The Kenai Wildlife Refuge, which contains Skilak Lake Alaska, is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Bird watchers love the eagles and thousands of shorebirds.

Mammals include Dall sheep, caribou, brown and black bears, mountain goats, lynx, wolves, wolverines and especially moose. In fact, the refuge was originally called the Kenai National Moose Range.

Other Attractions

Recreational boating is popular on Skilak Lake in Alaska. Camping along the shore draws families and those who like the outdoors during the summer. Kayakers are drawn to the area since it is easy to move from Skilak to the Kenai River and on to Kenai Lake.

The entire area is wilderness but still accessible by road, just 100 miles from Anchorage. This is a big draw for anglers and tourists who can’t afford the rising cost of spots that require you to fly in. Hunters take advantage of the great variety of fowl and wildlife.

The Kenai Wildlife Refuge is often called “Little Alaska” because it encompasses examples of every type of Alaska habitat within its borders. Hiking is a great way to experience this landscape.

Skilak Lake fishing appeals to anglers who like remoteness and solitude, compared to Lower Kenai, close to the small towns of Soldotna and Kenai. Skilak has great fishing, beautiful scenery and a remote feel to it.

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