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The Kenai on a Budget

The dream of hooking onto one of those 50 plus pound king salmon on the Kenai River is often just that, “A Dream”. Not because it isn’t possible, but because it is out of our price range. A quick internet search about Alaska and the hundreds and hundreds of fishing lodges and resorts will reveal just how much a person can spend on one of these dream trips. The total price tag can easily reach into the five figures range when it is all said and done. If you do manage to scrape together the needed dollars for this adventure, figuring out where to go, when to go and who to go with, creates another major decision.

Here at the Sportsman’s News office, we don’t have an unlimited budget either, so we are always looking for outfitters and operations that provide a good product and service at an affordable price. We travel the world evaluating outfitters to put our “Platinum Approved Outfitter” stamp on and the Salmon Catcher Lodge in Kenai is one resort in Alaska that fits the bill. To become one of our endorsed outfitters, you obviously have to run a good operation and deliver on what you promise. The things within your control need to be very well taken care of and if something does go wrong during your trip, the outfitter must always be willing to make it right. We call this “putting people before profit”. Our final litmus test is; if time or money were no object, we would come back and visit this operation each and every year. Cost and value of a trip is always a consideration and Salmon Catcher Lodge gets an A+ in this department as they are truly one of the best values for fishing lodges in Alaska of any of our Platinum Approved Outfitters.

With fishing packages ranging from $1195 out to $2195, there is definitely something that will fit the majority of people’s price ranges. These start in May and run into September to catch all the major runs of pacific salmon and come in Alaska fishing lodge packages of 5-nights lodging with 3-days of fishing all the way out to a full week of lodging and 5-days of guiding fishing.

We visited this operation during the heat of the sockeye (reds) season in 2014. Sockeye are one of my favorite salmon to eat because of their bright red color and unbelievable taste. In fact, fresh sockeye is probably my favorite meal.

The Kenai River gets more than its fair share of these great fish each year, with over 1.5 million of them making their way up the river from July 1st through August 14th in 2014, which made for some unbelievable fishing during our stay. However, this is only one aspect of the fishing and the reason people choose to come to this area. The main reason to come to the Kenai Peninsula is because of the diversity of opportunities to be had here. Just about every type of fish and fishing in Alaska is available in this area. Most lodges in Alaska are focused on one specific type of fishing due to their location and the runs of fish they have available. If you don’t know what type of fishing suits your personality and what you enjoy most, this is a great way to see Alaska and figure out what is your favorite type of fish and fishing.


During a trip to Salmon Catcher Lodge, you have the ability to experience all different kinds of fishing and target species. You will be able to do this with some of the very best guides on the Kenai Peninsula as well. The relationship with these guides has been built over years of having a successful operation.

With fishing lodge owner, Terry Johnson and his family living here and being part of the community, he has the ability to see these guides year around and truly get to know them. This allows him to pair his clients with the very best guides this area has to offer. These trips consist of power boat trips on the world famous Kenai River. It got its’ popularity over the years from its giant king salmon, but big numbers of sockeye, pinks and silvers also come up this massive river each year as well. You might do some back trolling for kings or flossing for reds. The pink salmon and the silvers will bite aggressively, so you might be throwing spinners or flies at them. Regardless of your method of fishing and time you are there, the Kenai river will also have a lot of people sharing the experience with you. It is truly worth it because of the numbers of fish coming up this river.


But if seclusion and privacy is a bit more up your alley, the Kasilof River might be a better selection. This river is a short drive from the lodge and significantly smaller. It has smaller runs of fish, but it also has significantly less people on it as well. Powerboats aren’t allowed in the upper section of this river which made for an extremely peaceful day of fishing where we only saw a couple other groups of fishermen during our trip.

The limits on this river were more liberal during the time we were there and we were each able to keep six sockeye instead of the limit of three on the Kenai during the same timeframe. The Kasilof River also usually has a good run of king salmon and many of the locals target this area so there are significantly more people on this river during the early king run than during prime sockeye time.

Most people love halibut and a hundred pound fish will quickly fill a fish box to take home. These trips are done out of several places on the Kenai Peninsula. Trips out of the Homer area and Seward are both available on these Salmon Catcher Lodge packages. Each trip is over an hour’s drive from the lodge and provide an opportunity to see different areas of the Kenai Peninsula. This is ocean fishing at its finest and can yield numerous different kinds of fish which include halibut, salmon, ling cod, yellow eye and various different types of rock fish, all of which provide great table fare when you get home. Early season ocean fishing can be extremely productive on big kings as well.

There are a good number of rivers in the area that produce some excellent rainbow and Dolly Varden fishing as well as big numbers of silver salmon. These are walk-in style trips where you will be fishing in medium sized rivers and smaller streams while wading with your guide. If you want to experience a float plane ride to a more remote location, this is available as well. At the end of each day of guided fishing, if you still haven’t had your fill, there are plenty of walk-in areas close to the lodge which will allow you to fish well into the night and beyond. Terry provides all the gear you will need for these do-it-yourself adventures including top of the line Gary Loomis Edge rods. If fishing isn’t your thing or if you come with a family that is like mine and half want to do one thing and the other half want to do another, this is possible as well. Fly outs for bear viewing as well as other ecotourism types of adventures are always available. So, the experience here is extremely diverse and provides something for everyone.

When you are done with your daily fishing and travels, you will enjoy just relaxing at the Salmon Catcher Lodge. Terry Johnson spared no expense providing quality lodging for his guests. The entire fishing lodge and resort in Alaska is situated on several acres near the Kenai River and is designed to accommodate guests in an at home feel. Whether you travel as a group of two or a huge corporate group of 46, you will have all the comforts of home in your Alaska fishing lodge and resort. There are numerous different cabin rental on the Alaska property which accommodate groups with your own private getaway. Each facility has a full kitchen where you can prepare all of your meals. There is a barbeque area which has multiple barbeque units, more than enough to accommodate everyone on the property even if they all decided to cook at the same time. Having your meals and their timing in your control is a big benefit to you and allows Terry to keep the cost very affordable to all. It allows you to tailor your trip to your own desires and timeframe and if you don’t want to cook, you can enjoy one of the many restaurants in the area. A visit to their website at will give you a complete description of the entire fishing lodge and resort in Alaska.

When you are looking to experience Alaska and all it has to offer, you really need to watch each and every penny. Terry Johnson and the Salmon Catcher Lodge is a tough place to beat. They are definitely a top-end lodge and worthy of our Platinum Approved Outfitter status. Being able to have the best guides already secured with a set schedule suited for your needs and quality lodging makes this a true Alaska vacation. All you need to worry about is your food and fresh fish can be had each and every night. As with all great things at a great value, there is limited availability at this fishing lodge and resort in Alaska on the Kenai river. So, my one recommendation is to book your cabin rental as early as possible to secure a great trip with Salmon Catcher Lodge. For more info, visit them on the web at or call Terry Johnson personally at 907-335-2001.