Quartz Creek used to be a local secret, often overlooked as anglers headed for more popular salmon fishing spots. Then the Sterling Highway was upgraded and with more visibility from the road and several new access points, it has become a popular fishery for Dolly Varden and a few Rainbow Trout. Quartz Creek flows into Kenai Lake and is located adjacent to Cooper Landing, Alaska. Cooper Landing is a major destination for fishing the Upper Kenai and Russian Rivers.
Salmon fishing is not permitted in Quartz Creek, as it is a major spawning tributary for Kenai River System Sockeye. For that reason alone, it will never be as popular a destination as the Russian River. Some of the access points near the campgrounds and along the highway can get busy, but there is usually plenty of stream to spread out in.
Most of the salmon arrive ripe and nearly ready to spawn. As soon as they show up in late July, the Dolly Varden will be right behind them. While a few dollies and rainbows will be in stream before the salmon, the big show starts with the spawn. When the salmon spawn is on through August, and the “reds” are not too thick, fishing can be fantastic. Quartz Creek is clear and fast flowing with beautiful riffles, runs, plunge pools, log jams, and cut banks. If you walk a little ways from the road, you will hear only the rushing of water and experience the feel of wild Alaska. While brown bears fish the river, they usually do so at night and are typically feeding on berries away from the creek during the day. Staying alert and carrying pepper spray is still recommended if you venture far from the campgrounds.
After the salmon spawn tapers off in early September, some dollies will migrate further upstream above the Sterling Highway bridge to spawn. For this reason, the water above the bridge closes September 15. Some of the fish will drop back toward the mouth and others on down to the Kenai. By late September, many of the Dollies will be gone, but a few nice rainbows will remain, feeding on salmon carcasses.
Fly fishing Quartz Creek used to be as easy as tying a glo-bug. Over the years and as the pressure has increased, the fish have become much more selective. To be successful, you need to match your egg not just to some of the naturals, but to the ones the fish are taking. The best way to get dialed in is to sight fish. Pick a few fish and watch them. Once you have the right egg imitation, work the water.
Other Waters of Interest: