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Picture Of The Month

SD2OR with a trophy fall walleye

Topic: Kenai River Drift 8-8-18  (Read 1349 times)

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  • Herring
  • **
  • Location: Soldotna
  • Date Registered: May 2018
  • Posts: 21
Nothing really picture worthy, but I did have some lessons learned floating down the Kenai. First off: the master plan of launching at Eagle Rock and going to Beaver creek would have been fun getting there, but it would have been miserable on the way back. A friend caught up with me and said that it wasn't likely that the tide shift would have pushed me back to the launch. That leaves the option of hoping for some help on the muddy banks of Cunningham, or floating all the way just past the bridge. I planned ahead for my failure and had a tow set up with a river buddy, but most people wont have that!

Instead, we opted to go from Centennial to Pillars. Launching is super easy there with that lagoon to float around in to get set up before leaving All in all it was a great float that had a lot of good slack water spots behind every island and around Poachers Cove and Big Eddy. There are a lot of football shaped trout by the cleaning tables and this time of year, they are pretty aggressive on flesh. I did all my fishing with a fly rod, but a spin rod would have been more practical in the wind we were in. It would have also probably been better overall fishing dragging a slinky weight, but the chances of me getting snagged up would have been higher. Pretty much say bye-bye to your set up if you do get snagged up with trout gear in a kayak.

The rest of the water was kind of fast to get a good float and each time I found swirly spots, there wasn't much control to be had. The wind also had direct effect on which direction I would be facing at any given time. If there was any kind of good gust of wind, it made it impossible to stay where I wanted to fish toward the bank. Also, as soon as your rudder would catch a different current, or swirl, you would be at the mercy of said current or swirl for a second.

*Safety note*
Kind of a "duh" moment when I was trying to tie up about mid drift to a friends dock, absolutely DO NOT ever try to let the current push you into the dock. You will probably get sucked under if the current is fast enough. I didn't really try to do that, but I was trying to pull up along side the to tie up and pulled in a little early with a wind gust. I made it to the side after doing a mini bounce off the front side, and found out that didn't work at all either. I was able to grab on to a kleet, but the bow of the yak kept turning into the current which would pull me off the dock.

The best approach was to pull in "behind" the dock where the current is slower. There is usually some slack water to be found there. If you do tie off, TIE OFF THE FRONT OF THE YAK! Do not tie off the side since it will just make your bow go side to side in the current that is there.

The flip side of this was actually getting into Pillars with that fast water. Just roll right up into the boat launch spot of there is room. The current is slow enough that you wont get pulled under the dock and it was actually pretty easy to get into. Missing your pullout would definitely be a fight to get back around for another shot since you would be fighting that current. So then you would have Eagle Rock in any case afterward, which isn't really that much further down the road if you needed to hitch a ride.

Another situation I found myself in was directly behind a big rock. I thought it would be kind of cool to sit in that slack water and fish toward the bank. It did work alright, but that swirl behind those big rocks literally pulls you into the rock. It wasn't hard enough that it gave me any kind of worry, but it did surprise me a little. I was able to sit there in the swirl and not move for as long as I wanted to. In Hindsite, I think it would be really unsafe with faster moving water though and would not recommend it.

The friend I went with had a Hobie and I have the Pescador 12, so there were some actual differences in how each yak handled the current, swirls, and wind.

-Larger rudder would make it more easy to keep strait or pointed how you want to fish the bank.
-No real reverse! You either have to make a big circle to get away from the bank or plan to point upriver and pedal while you fish to hold a good spot.
-It seemed like the Hobie had more overall drag which made for a better drift(slower).

-Faster overall drifts in the water. I think the prop system has less drag in the water than the Hobie drive system and lets the current push you more.
-Reverse is a pretty good tool to get away from the bank in a hurry, but the rudder swings you around anyways so its not like you can back bounce or anything peddling backwards against the current.
-Slower "get up and go" for turning going against the current. It felt like 2 or 3 full peddles was needed to really change direction.

I would like to try this drift again when I come back from work, and I would like to "anchor" up so to speak in the slack water. I inherited an old, smaller downrigger set up and I have a 4lb ball for it. I am thinking that I can drop that ball down near Poachers in the slack and actually hang out to play with silvers and pinks. If I run into trouble, my down rigger actually fits into the flush mount rod holder, so if I really had to I could cut loose by tossing it out with a float on it. BUT! I am thinking its going to let me point downstream and fish off the side without any real issues.

13 more days!
Pescador Pilot 12.0
Raymarine Dragonfly Pro 4
Scotty holder on Mighty Mount
Scotty Flush mounts x 2
Yak Attack carry handle x1 off back.


  • Lingcod
  • *****
  • Location: Kodiak, Alaska
  • Date Registered: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 271
Sounds fun, always wanted to try it, but never get the time.  Do you think a drift sock would work to slow you down enough to back-bounce?
"If your hands ain't bleeding, you ain't fishing hard enough!"


  • Sturgeon
  • *******
  • Perseverance Pays!
  • Kayak Fishing Southcentral Alaska
  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Date Registered: Mar 2011
  • Posts: 4216
Some great observation.  I have done centennial to cunnigham park a few times.  I have also launched at cunnigham, pedaled up on a large incoming tide to Eagle Rock, then drifted back down.  Its kind of a PITA this time of year to utilize cunningham park due to it being a popular coho spot.

I would definitely try Eagle Rock rather than the pillars.  Landing at pillars sounds scary.  Plus you miss a lot of semi productive slow water on the opposite bank of the pillars launch.   

Akfison. I think s drift sock would speed up your descent.  I would do this float more often if A) there was a shuttle service or if I was reliable enuf to meet someone.  B) and if the Rivers didnt scare the heck out of me.  I would rather be in 3 foot seas than gok down a big busy river like the Kensi from a safety point of view.

On that last note, the largrr sailing rudder many of us upgrade to on the Hobies is great for turning fast, but the downside is that if it catches an eddy and the bow is in faster water or vice versa,  it sure feels like it could tip you.
Personal Chauffeur for Kokatat & Hobie Fishing Team member, Ryu .

Personal fishing sites of Alaska Kayak Angling adventures of my son and I. I am NOT a guide.


  • Herring
  • **
  • Location: Soldotna
  • Date Registered: May 2018
  • Posts: 21
I agree with Kardinal on the drift sock. It would just pull you down river faster and not really help too much.

Maybe I will give Eagle Rock another glance. I thought I might have been right in thinking I could pedal back up on a bigger incoming tide, but my buddy was pretty much saying no way, so I went with the guaranteed drift down instead of a push up.

Another option for a pull out would be Stewart's Landing if you aren't going to fish that water across from Pillars anyways. That one is pretty easy to nose into. (Its the one down Cheechako News Dr then Fish Trap off the spur)

Another fun one I was thinking about was Izaak Walton to Centennial. I actually saw a couple guys hanging out in the john boat right there at the mouth of the Moose flipping around playing with pinks. There is some pretty great silver fishing right there on a fly right where the waters meet.
Pescador Pilot 12.0
Raymarine Dragonfly Pro 4
Scotty holder on Mighty Mount
Scotty Flush mounts x 2
Yak Attack carry handle x1 off back.