Located on the west shore of the Kenai Peninsula, the town of Kasilof is a fishing village centered around its boat harbor on the Kasilof River. Located just 12 miles south of the town of Soldotna, residents enjoy a small-town atmosphere with easy access to services in larger nearby communities.
Fishing is the lifeblood of Kasilof, which supports a small commercial fleet and fish processing plant. Locals also participate in a subsistence red salmon dip-net fishery on the Kasilof River. Long before the Russians established a fort on the banks of the river in 1786, nomadic Dena’ina Athabascans spent time in the area to take advantage of the river’s bounty. Later, salmon canneries and fox-fur farms led to population growth, but by the time the Sterling Highway was built in the mid-1940s, the population had become relatively stable and centered around sport, commercial and subsistence fishing as it still does today.
Things to do
Kasilof features dozens of guides and outfitters catering to resident and non-resident sport fishers, who congregate from late May to early July to launch drift boats and troll for king salmon. There’s plenty of great fishing in the area all summer long, however, and several premium sportfishing lodges offer comfortable accommodations for visitors. Thanks in part to sport fishing industry, Kasilof offers most visitor services including accommodations, campgrounds, a grocery store and gas stations.
Access to the river and nearby lakes is available at a handful of state recreation areas and campgrounds, including Kasilof River State Recreational Site on the south side of the Sterling Highway Bridge at Mile 109. The popular day-use area has a boat launch on the river, a picnic area and nature trails. Other nearby recreation areas near Kasilof include Crooked Creek State Recreation Site and Johnson Lake State Recreation Area.
Charter fishing captains based out of Kasilof often utilize drift boats to float the Kasilof River and allow their clients to fish runs and holes filled with king salmon from late May to early July.