The Anchor River is one of Alaska’s premier road system accessible fishing streams. It is located on the Kenai Peninsula just north of Homer. King Salmon draw the most angling pressure, but strong runs of Silver Salmon and anadromous Dolly Varden round things out. Outside of Alaska and for fly fisherman, the Anchor is probably best known for wild Steelhead.
The King Salmon run begins in late May and peaks during the second week in June. While it can get very crowded and is not fly-fishing only water, don’t overlook the Anchor River if you want to catch a King on the fly. Most anglers are pretty easy going and if you can work your way into a run with other fly fishers, you should be able to get some drifts in prime water. When the bite is on, it is not uncommon to hook several fish in an hour.
Dolly Varden begin returning in early July and remain frequent into the fall. While overshadowed by the big three (Kings, Silvers and Steelhead), and often an incidental catch, dollies can be fun. Anglers that target dollies will find that lighter fly rods are much more enjoyable. The same can be true for catching Pink Salmon. They move in shortly after the dollies and run into August. Larger runs of pink salmon occur on even numbered years.
Silver Salmon begin showing up at the end of July but are most frequent after mid August and into early September. If you time it right on an incoming tide, you can see waves of fish pushing upstream during peak days.
The Steelhead begin trickling in during the later half of August with the run building in September and continuing into October. By mid September, fish are typically spread throughout the river and provide anglers with an opportunity to find solitude on some good holding waters. It is truly amazing to be able to drive right up to a small stream and have a chance to catch multiple wild Steelhead. Many of the fish run 26-30”, but fish of 32” and larger are not uncommon.
While the Anchor River is best known outside Alaska, there are two other significant streams nearby. The Ninichik River is the smallest of the three and at times can be the best. The King Salmon run is enhanced with hatchery fish. The Ninichik River is less affected by water changes due to rain and runoff and can be the only stream of the three to fish at times.
Like the Anchor, Deep Creek Kings are all wild. Deep Creek is probably the most temperamental of the three streams, but when the water is right and the fish are moving or pooled up, it can be excellent. Many of the locals prefer Deep Creek for Steelhead.
The Anchor River is located about 16 miles north of Homer Alaska and 60 miles south of Soldotna. The Ninilchik River and Deep Creek are located adjacent to the small village of Ninilchik, approximately 40 miles from Soldotna. All three streams have Alaska State Parks campgrounds and access points adjacent to the Sterling Hwy.
Because the streams are road accessible and despite the fact that they are amazing fish producers, there are strong regulatory measures in place. During King season, the waters are typically open to angling Saturday through Monday only. There are exceptions, with the Ninichik recently opened to 7 day fishing and the Anchor additionally opened on Wednesdays. Before planning a trip, make sure to check the regulations carefully, to be certain you won't arrive during a closed day or time.
Other Waters of Interest: