SUSTAINABILITY / BARBLESS / COMMUNITY / BEST PRACTICE
PRESERVING THE KENAI!
Here at Lakeview Outfitters we are working to raise awareness about conservation efforts, proper fish handling, and catch and release practices, and the importance of reducing our impact on the ecosystem. We consider conservation first in all decisions in our shop, from carrying only barbless flies, to providing effective alternatives to lead weights and anchors, and running our shop completely on clean solar energy.
In an effort to give back to the waters that give us so much, we are actively involved in the Stream Watch Ambassador program, which coordinates volunteer efforts on Kenai Peninsula streams. A day of volunteering usually consists of time spent cleaning up trash in and around our rivers, maintaining fencing to protect critical habitat and educating visitors about fishing regulations, bear safety and more. This is time well spent, investing in the future of our rivers and meeting great people, we have a lot of fun with it! if you are interested in becoming a Stream Watch ambassador visit their website.
It is the responsibility of any catch and release angler to take every possible measure to protect their catch, and release them unharmed. The first step a C&R angler can take is to fish with a barbless hook. This simple step results in less stress and handling time, reduces injury from hook extraction and gives the fish a higher chance of survival.
Barbless hooks also penetrate easier, resulting in more hook-ups than barbed hooks. At Lakeview Outfitters, all of the flies that we sell are barbless, or pre-pinched for your convenience. These flies are guide select, and proven to work well!
The Kenai River sees a lot of lead fishing weights and anchors every year. Weights snag and break off in the river, anchors shed lead every time they are used, and are sometimes lost completely to the river. At Lakeview Outfitters, we have sourced non-toxic tungsten alternatives to lead. Tungsten fishing weights, a clean alternative to lead weights, actually work better because of their faster sink rate. We also manufacture and sell steel cased “animal” anchors, which don’t shed lead when used, stop your boat faster, so you don’t tear up the river bottom and outlast traditional lead anchors by years. Stop by the shop, or give us a call to check out some of these products.
Lakeview Outfitters has partnered with Ethical Angler. Ethical Angler’s mission is to promote good stewardship, conservation and angling awareness within the fishing community. Their goal is to spread the word on why it is so important to fish responsibly. They strive to better educate all anglers on the principles, practices and procedures of being an Ethical Angler. Every angler should not only know the basics of fishing but have the knowledge of how to fish ethically. Their hopes and dreams are to have the entire fishing population practice the code of ethical angling.
Fish of the Kenai
The Kenai River is home to one of the largest concentrations of wild Rainbow Trout in Alaska. The Kenai River Rainbow grow about four inches every year until about 14 inches and two inches per year thereafter. Kenai River Rainbow reach spawning age at around 14 inches in length and can live as long as 18 years or even longer.
Dolly Varden (Arctic Char)
Dolly Varden grow at a similar rate to Rainbows and have been documented frequently at sizes well above 32 inches in the Kenai River. The Dolly Varden is from the Char family as evidenced by its dark skin and bright spots. Dolly Varden take on a variety of colors from olive colored to silvery with pink spots. Many believe the the more time they spend in the salt of in the estuary the more silver they become. Dolly Varden are fall spawners and as such many area rivers and tributaries are closed from the middle of September through the middle of November.
Grayling and Whitefish
The Kenai Peninsula host a healthy population of Grayling and they are typically found high in the surrounding mountains in Alpine Lakes. Grayling make great table fare especially when eaten fresh as they do not freeze well.
Sockeye Salmon (Reds)
Like all species of Pacific salmon, Sockeye Salmon live in the ocean but enter fresh water to spawn. In Alaska, most Sockeye Salmon return to spawn in June and July in freshwater drainages that contain one or more lakes such as the Kenai River. As Sockeye Salmon return upriver to their spawning grounds, their bodies turn brilliant red and their heads take on a greenish color, hence their other common name, “reds”.
Chinook Salmon (King Salmon)
The Chinook salmon is the largest of all Pacific salmon hence its common name on the Kenai as "Kings". Typically measuring 36 inches in length, Chinook often exceed 30 pounds. Adults are distinguished by the black irregular spotting on the back and dorsal fins and on both lobes of the tail fin. Colors of spawning Chinook salmon in fresh water range from red to copper to deep gray.
Coho Salmon (Silvers)
Coho salmon are in healthy populations in Alaska. Adults in salt water or newly returning to fresh water are bright silver. During their spawning phase, their jaws become hooked and after entering fresh water, they develop bright-red sides, bluish-green heads and backs, dark bellies and dark spots on their backs. Mature adults have a pronounced red skin color with darker backs.
Pink salmon are the smallest of the Pacific salmon found in North America. As adults get closer to returning to fresh water, they develop a lot of large black spots on their back and all over their tail. When pinks approach their spawning streams, males turn brown to black on their back with a bright white belly developing a very large hump and hooked jaw. Females turn an olive green with dusky bars or patches that can be lavender or a dark gold.
Wildlife of the Kenai Peninsula
Black & brown bears
Both black and brown (grizzly) bears are found on the Kenai Peninsula. Overall, black bears are more abundant, although in some areas and times brown bears predominate. Both black and brown bears spend six to eight months a year feeding heavily, and the rest of the year fasting. They store this food energy as fat, and summer in Alaska is a critical feeding time.
Wolves & coyotes
Wolves are very elusive, but it may be possible to see wolves in the early morning or evening. If you are hiking, look for dog-like scat filled with hair (their population is estimated at around 200). Coyotes are also fairly abundant on the Kenai Peninsula, but their presence here may be a fairly recent event. After the extermination of wolves on the peninsula around the turn of the 20th century, the region’s coyote population began to rise. Today, these human-tolerant canids are particularly abundant at the edges of the human world—a place that wolves avoid. Coyote howls are higher-pitched than those of wolves.
Otters & squirrels
Fairly common along the shores and rivers of the Kenai Peninsula, the river otter is the same playful aquatic weasel found throughout North America. River otters live in freshwater systems and in coastal waters, denning just inside forest edges and foraging on beaches and close to shore. Otters may live in close proximity to humans, but they tend to be wary. They are delightful to watch when foraging and will usually come on land to eat their catch. They’re very social, sometimes seen in groups of five or more. Otters play often, wrestling, hiding and chasing each other on land and in the water.
Wherever you find spruce trees on the Kenai Peninsula, you’ll find red squirrels. The small, oil-rich seeds of the spruce provide a critical food for these hardy arboreal rodents, especially in winter, when other foods such as berries and fungus are scarce.
Mountain sheep & goats
The Kenai Peninsula hosts two species of white, mountaineering ungulates (hooved mammals): the Dall sheep and the mountain goat. Both species share the same general range of distribution on the Kenai; they are primarily found in the high Kenai Mountains in the northeastern part of the peninsula. Cooper Landing is a good place to look for them. Although both species can occasionally be seen together on the same mountainside, sheep tend to prefer drier south-facing slopes. Goats can tolerate deeper snows on the wetter north-facing slopes.
Moose & caribou
Huge and imposing, gangly yet oddly graceful, moose are among the quintessential animals of the north country around the globe. Moose are abundant on the Kenai Peninsula, where they’re not restricted to backcountry habitats—they often venture into suburban areas and are even known to stroll the streets of Cooper Landing. Since they’re common, human-tolerant, and active year-round, it would be unusual to spend more than a couple of days wildlife watching on the Kenai Peninsula without seeing moose. Caribou are more inconspicuous and spend most of their lives in open country such as tundra, with occasional trips into boreal forest.
Big, powerful, sharp-eyed and dominating, bald eagles are perhaps the most famous members of the Kenai Peninsula’s bird world. You may find them year-round, anywhere on the peninsula and there are several nests to view from the Kenai River. For the best eagle viewing, visit a salmon stream during spawning season, when scores at a time gather to feast. Other large birds, although not comparable to the eagle are ravens and their kin—crows, magpies and jays. These curious have the capacity to solve problems. This serves them well in the wild—and also around people.
Smaller forest birds
Spend time birdwatching on the Kenai Peninsula in summer and you’ll notice smaller birds in the tree tops. Only a little bigger than hummingbirds, warblers dart like insects among the leaves, or perch to shout their surprisingly loud songs to the world. The chickadee, instantly recognizable by their natty dark caps and black bibs, are also common on the Kenai Peninsula. Because of their bold dispositions and acrobatic natures, they’re a great species to observe. On the ground you can often spy spruce grouse. They feed on a variety of berries, leaves, flowers and insects in summer.
In the forests - bears, wolves & coyotes
On the water are goldeneyes, mergansers, and buffleheads which nest in hollow trees near ponds and lakes. These diving ducks submerge completely as they seek out the fish and aquatic insects that make up their diets.