The Kasilof River, a majestic glacial system that flows into Upper Cook Inlet, offers an incredible opportunity for personal use salmon fishing. Located approximately 180 highway miles south of Anchorage, this pristine river is home to both dipnet and gillnet fisheries. In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the essential information you need to make the most of your Kasilof River fishing experience.
Permit and Regulations
Before diving into the details, it’s important to note that a permit is required for fishing in the Kasilof River personal use salmon fishery. Additionally, all salmon caught must be properly marked. For more details on obtaining permits and regulations, visit the “Permits & Regulations” tab.
Set Gillnet Restrictions
If you choose to partake in the Kasilof River personal use set gillnet fishery, there are specific requirements to be aware of. These requirements go beyond the regular set gillnet regulations. Keep in mind that the placement of signs, lines, stakes, buoys, or dry nets on the beach doesn’t guarantee a net location. There are no inherent rights to a fishing site, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the set gillnet restrictions outlined in the “Permits & Regulations” tab.
Dipnetting Seasons and Times
For those interested in dipnetting, mark your calendars! The Kasilof River personal use salmon dipnetting season runs from June 25 to August 7. You can dipnet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during this period. It’s important to note that king salmon are not allowed to be kept in the Kasilof River personal use dipnet fishery. Please be aware that fishery management is subject to in-season emergency orders, which may result in closures. Always check the recorded phone message or contact your local ADF&G office before heading out.
Run Timing and Peak Harvest Times
To make the most of your fishing experience, it’s helpful to know the general run timing and peak harvest times. The Division of Commercial Fisheries operates sonar equipment upstream of the Sterling Highway bridge to estimate the in-river return of Kasilof River salmon. Based on sonar data, Kasilof River salmon can start passing the sonar site as early as June 15 and as late as July 31.
It’s important to note that the daily sonar estimates don’t reflect the number of fish present at the mouth of the river on any given day. Unfortunately, there is no concrete research on the time it takes for a salmon to travel upstream from the mouth to the Sterling Highway bridge. However, the Department does have harvest data reported on the personal use permits. According to this data, peak sockeye salmon harvest for set gillnetters at the mouth of the Kasilof River typically occurs between June 17 and June 23, while peak king salmon harvest occurs between June 16 and June 20. For dipnetters, peak harvest time at the mouth of the river falls between July 11 and July 21.
Accessing the River
When it comes to accessing the Kasilof River, there are two options: the north shore and the south shore.
North Shore Access
To access the north shore, take Kasilof Beach Road, located off the south end of Kalifornsky Beach Road. It’s important to respect private property signs at the cannery and find parking within the road right-of-way. As the sand off the driving surface can be soft, it’s recommended to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Please refrain from parking on the sand dunes, as it can harm the beach grasses.
South Shore Access
For south shore access, turn west on North Cohoe Loop Road, off the Sterling Highway. Continue straight on the rough, unpaved dirt road when the pavement turns south. The mouth of the Kasilof River is approximately a quarter-mile north along the beach. Remember that a four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary to reach the mouth from the south shore. Avoid driving vehicles that may get stuck, such as motorhomes, down the beach to prevent expensive towing charges.
Dipnetting from a Boat
Dipnetting from a boat is allowed during the same open season and times as dipnetting from shore. Ensure that you have the appropriate permit and adhere to the harvest limits and marking requirements. All personal use fish must be recorded on the permit, and their tail fins must be clipped before leaving the designated fishing area to avoid fines. The open area for boat dipnetting is the same as that for shore dipnetting. Please note that there are no public boat launches nearby. The public boat launch is located just upstream of the Sterling Highway bridge.
Camping and Services
While there are no public campgrounds at the mouth of the Kasilof River, you can find accommodations at the nearby Crooked Creek State Recreation Area or at one of the local commercial lodging facilities. As there are no trash or toilet services provided, be prepared to pack out everything you bring in. Remember that open fires are only allowed below the high tide line on the beach during times of low fire danger and at least 25 feet away from any vegetation.
Dune’s and Don’ts
To protect the delicate ecosystem surrounding the river, it’s essential to follow some important guidelines. Avoid driving trucks, cars, or ATVs/4-wheelers across the dunes, as this causes damage to the beach grass. The dunes play a crucial role in maintaining the river’s mouth and preventing flooding of lowland areas. Driving on the dunes can lead to erosion and disrupt the roots of the grass that anchor the dunes.
To access the fisheries by vehicle, drive along the shore above the high tide mark but below the dunes. By adhering to this guideline, you’ll help preserve the beach grass and ensure the long-term protection of this incredible natural resource.
For more information on Upper Cook Inlet personal use fisheries’ historical harvest and effort, please visit our cumulative harvest and effort data by fishery page.
Remember, the Kasilof River personal use salmon fishery offers an unparalleled experience for fishing enthusiasts. Whether you prefer dipnetting or set gillnetting, this beautiful river promises an adventure you won’t soon forget. Plan your trip, gather your gear, and get ready to reel in the catch of a lifetime!