The Russian River is a tributary of the Kenai River, which drains the central Kenai Peninsula. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, some 60,000 "angler days" are spent fishing the Russian each summer. The clear water Russian is one of the most popular red salmon fisheries in the state of Alaska. The area often gets so crowded it spawned the phrase "combat fishing" to describe anglers lined shoulder-to-shoulder up and down the river banks. We decided to go and see what all the hype was about. There was a lot of traffic waiting anxiously to get in so we decided to park the truck on Sterling Highway before the entrance of the Russian River Campground and walk in, knowing that we had a little bit of a walk ahead of us.
It was really cool watching all the people fishing. It wasn't as crowded as we thought it would be but there was still quite a few people. I'm sure the weekends are much more crowded. At times more than 1,000 anglers a day can be fishing the Russian River! This is a really big day for many people. It was really nice to see people having a good time and being happy. Who wouldn't be happy pulling a big salmon out of the river! It was also nice seeing families doing this together, including the mother and the kids! These photos only show a certain area of the Russian River. I'm sure we passed hundreds of people walking up and down the river.
When we got to Skilak Road we saw some cars pulled off on the side of the road. Thinking maybe they spotted a bear we stopped. There was no bear but we did meet a nice attorney from Missouri named Matt. He had just arrived in Alaska and was heading towards Homer for the night. Matt didn't have any protection from bears, and not knowing for sure how bears felt about attorneys, we invited him to hike Skilak Lookout Trail with us.
Skilak Lookout Trail is about 4 miles round trip. The high point is about 1400 feet. We didn't know this when we started! The trail wouldn't have been bad under normal circumstances but considering we just ate and we had to have that stupid ice cream cone, it was a little strenuous to climb up hill. Not to mention scary, not because of bears but because of the fear of my seams ripping out! So holding my stomach in so I wouldn't pop a button on my pants, I lead the way. No stress here!
The view at the end of the trail is spectacular. Skilak Lake, the Kenai Mountains, and the lower portion of the Kenai River can be seen from here. It was well worth the effort and the stress of getting there.