Preparing for a safe and productive fishing season

The fishing season may be here, but there is more on a fisherman’s to-do list than grab a pole and hit the water this early in the season.

A summer of hard fishing followed by an Alaskan winter can quickly fatigue the wide array of equipment used on the waters of the Kenai Peninsula. Luckily, the peninsula is also home to guides who have spent many of their springs getting ready for the non-stop action that comes with summer on the Kenai.

“People tend to go out in the early season and, sometimes, they can have some issues,” Mike Fenton of Fenton Bros. Guided Sportfishing Alaska in Soldtona said. “Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people out on the water in the early season to help you in the worst-case scenario.”

So, to avoid the worst-case scenario, Fenton recommends a few housekeeping items to take care of before the season gets into full swing.

“One thing to remember is to make sure all your battery terminals and connections are good,” Fenton said. “Just some good general boat maintenance is fairly important.”

Randy Berg, of Rod N’ Real Charters in Soldotna, echoed Fenton, highlighting that a good fuel check is also important.

“Check your fuel and see that you haven’t got water in it because of the condensation over the winter,” Berg said. “And check that you have up to date flares and good life jackets. Your life jackets should be dry and in workable condition, and everybody going on your boat should know how to put one on in case they have to abandon ship.”

Berg also recommends checking the charge on your battery, having a good paddle handy and a radio on board.

“In case you get in trouble, you need some sort of communication,” Berg said. “And make sure you have a good first aid kit before going out.”

Both Berg and Fenton highlighted the importance of boat maintenance before hitting the water, especially if gear wasn’t put away properly.

“In regard to general boating, some people tend to neglect their motors and boats,” Fenton said. “They’re in a rush in the fall to put their stuff away without maintenance… so before you go out just have some general boat maintenance.”

It’s also important to maintain fishing equipment — no one wants to lose the big one over a faulty reel.

“Go through your gear, checking your rods and reels is important,” Fenton said. “Make sure all of the gears on your reels are clean of dirt, sand and oil and make sure your drags are all good.”

Time and winter weather don’t just affect gear — they can also impact the fishing conditions.

“This year, it seems like we’ve had a fairly cold spring, so the water levels are quite low compared to normal for this time of year,” Fenton said. “We seem to be a week to 10 days behind schedule so be very wary of the water levels and rocks and what not.”

Fenton also said the water is more clear this year than in past years and the early season is a good time to hone fishing skills, before the river and banks are filled to the brim.

“You might want to adjust your fishing strategy accordingly, maybe use some smaller presentations and go out in the morning or evening,” Fenton said. “A lot of times the fish get a little bit spooked in the middle of the day, with the sun, when the water is super clear.”

But, the clear water gives anglers a chance to see what kinds of mistakes they’ve made in the past and adjust accordingly.

“It’s interesting running around the river and going over spots where you normally can’t see the bottom,” Fenton said. “With the water being so clear, you can see why you snagged up there.”

Acccording to Fenton, the most important tip to the early season on the Kenai Peninsula is to enjoy it.

“It’s really pretty being out here this time of year,” he said. “It’s so quiet. It’s amazing how it’s 180 degrees different than what it is in July… a lot of people don’t get to realize how great and beautiful things can be this time of year.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at

More in News

Alaska Department of Fish and Game logo. (Graphic by Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Board of Fisheries approves Kenai River king salmon action plan

The plan adds bait restrictions for in-river fisheries, doubles the sport bag limit for sockeye salmon, and adds a swath of restrictions to the commercial setnet fishery

The Kenai Municipal Airport is seen on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
New Grant Aviation planes to double service’s flight capacity

The first of two Cessna 208B EX Grand Caravans will start transporting passengers on Monday

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Most Read