Nothing more bitter sweet than winter fishing. It's a tough pill to swallow to fish in sub-freezing temperatures. Chasing your favorite fish while enduring ice cold breezes and frosty toes might make people question your sanity.
The Kenai River still holds some big resident rainbows and hold-over Dolly Varden during the winter months and the solitude of the experience can give you the sense that you have the entire river all to yourself.
My favorite method to chase rainbows during the winter is swinging flies with a spey rod using a downstream swinging method. It's a great way to cover a lot of water and put a fly in front of a lot of fish.
This time of year, fish tend to hold in different spots than they do in the summer, so it takes a bit to locate them. Both depth and speed of your fly are critical!
I find a wide variety of colors and styles of flies can work this time of year, but my all-time favorite is a fly I designed a few years back. I call it the Jr. Schmolty. A small smolt or fry pattern that is simply deadly!
I tie this pattern much differently than the original pattern, but it has evolved into a proven winner.
If you can stand the cold for a few hours, winter fishing on the Kenai can offer the bold angler a chance at getting away from the summer crowds and hustle and bustle. Many days, you'll be the only angler on a particular run. The trophy fish don't come on every trip, but they're out there if you're willing to hunt.
Good luck out there!