Herbert Hoover won America's hearts and votes when he promised a college-educated chicken in every pot and a fishing boat in every garage. Get a taste of the American dream with today's Groupon: for $125, you get one admission to a full-day fishing charter from Kenai Experience in Cooper Landing (a $250 value).
Kenai Experience owner and guide Alec Lamberson taps into years of waterway-wandering experience while guiding anglers through the bountiful salmon runs and crystal waters of the Kenai River. Floating through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, passengers cool heels as Lamberson leads them toward the river’s choicest fishing grounds at the helm of an intimate 20-foot drift boat. Each eight-hour pursuit sends fishermen hot on the aquatic trail of notable species including coho and sockeye salmon, rainbow trout, and trainees from the state police’s frogman division. Lamberson cheerfully imparts basic instruction to amateur anglers or insightful pointers to the more advanced as they scour the depths for an evening meal from both boat and shore, pausing only to regard the occasional passing brown bear, moose, and eagle framed against the backdrop of the Chugach Mountains.
Based 100 miles south of Anchorage in Cooper Landing, Kenai Experience thoughtfully provides driving directions in the trip planning section of their website, as well as date ranges for species runs to ensure that adventurers have a chance to catch the fish they wish. Alaskan authorities insist everyone carry a valid fishing license and a trout-to-English phrasebook.
Gossamer threads dance over the Kenai River, where wild salmon paddle upstream to spawn in clean, shallow waters. These strands aren't spiders' webs or grizzlies' dental floss, but are the lines of fly fishers on Alec Lamberson's drift boat. A professional guide since 1999, Alec ushers groups down the river to share his love of the outdoors, his labyrinthine knowledge of fishing techniques, and the sense of wonder that led him to Cooper Landing more than 15 years ago. As Alec navigates the rapids, moose and black bears may gather on the shore. Eagles often swoop in to retrieve their dinners, and swans float by to display their elegant plumage. In addition to luring fish and fowl, Alec has garnered the attention of television cameras by appearing on Larry Csonka's North to Alaska.
During full- and half-day treks, Alec shows anglers of all ages how to wield rods and reels, imparting fly-casting techniques to net salmon, char, and rainbow trout. To make the experience fun and family-friendly, Alec treats fishing as a relaxing art rather than a competitive sport. His 20-foot boat holds up to four passengers and can accommodate fishers in wheelchairs. Each trip comes with all the gear necessary to catch an entire school of fish, including rods, tackle, life jackets, and waders.