The Kenai River is the most popular sportfishing destination in Alaska. Each year there are two runs each of king salmon, silver salmon, red salmon, plus a run of pink salmon on even numbered years. The world record king salmon, which weighed 97.25 lbs (44 kg), was caught in the Kenai River on May 17, 1985 by Les Anderson of Soldotna. Four of the five largest king salmon caught on rod and reel were caught on the Kenai River. Many kings in the 60-70 pound range are caught on Jimmie Jack's boats every season.
The Kenai is also the home of trophy size rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Stretching to sizes over 30 inches (76.2cm). The months of June, August, and September are very exceptional for fishing Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden.
The king salmon fishery is world class on the Kenai River, and is known for its large fish. A typical king in the second run, beginning in July, weighs 40-85 pounds (18-23 kg), with considerably larger specimens not uncommon. The "Lower Kenai" is notorious for its runs and size of Kenai king salmon which begin at the end of May.
The silver salmon runs occur in early August and late September. The red salmon (sockeye) runs are in late-June and late-July to early August. The pink salmon run occurs in August on even numbered years only. These fish are considered as secondary by many anglers targeting silver salmon. Nevertheless, using super-light tackle (e.g., 6 wt. fly rod) angling for pinks can be a real treat. On a heavy day, even a casual fisher might catch several dozen of the species.
Along with Kenai's fish, the Kenai River area is home to other wildlife, including moose, bears, and multiple species of birds. In the spring, Beluga whales will travel as far as a mile 5 upstream from the mouth of the river to feed on schools of spawning Hooligan fish.