Bucket List: Destination, Alaska

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kenai river

That's me, holding a silver salmon caught from the Kenai River. Bucket list, check!

Sometimes, being a member of the press has serious advantages. Especially when folks invite you to go somewhere unexpected and utterly awesome, like the Kenai River, in Alaska. Last summer Yamaha brought me up there for the Kenai Classic, and while it’s a long, long way from Texas, believe me, this place belongs on every angler’s bucket list.

kenai river

That’s me, holding a silver salmon caught from the Kenai River. Bucket list, check!

It’s hard to describe this place, except to say that the amount of life the river supports is beyond belief. More than once, I could look over the side of the boat and see literally dozens of salmon in the five to 15 pound range, swimming directly below. With four anglers on the boat, we caught our eight-fish limit in less than an hour. And there were hundreds of boats doing the exact same thing, every day. The river can somehow support it.

Not to get all preachy, but a big part of this is due to some serious conservation efforts by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association and the state of Alaska. They’ve gone so far as to install walkways along the shoreline wherever anglers go, simply so people don’t trod down the grass and change the environment. While we all hate to have our freedoms curtailed by regulation (even private land owners must install these “fishwalks” on their shoreline), the Kenai’s wealth proves that regs like these can have a huge impact.

Okay—preaching over. Here’s what happens when you go fishing on the Kenai: eagles soar overhead constantly. Salmon are everywhere you look (and cast). Trout are all over the place, too. Bears prowl the shorelines, otters swim past, and an occasional moose makes an appearance. The sun shines overhead until 10:00 or so, and then the Northern Lights make their appearance. Just breathing the air feels good. Add this place to your bucket list—believe me, you won’t regret it.

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