The Kenai Peninsula is a large peninsula jutting from the southern coast of Alaska. The name Kenai is derived from the word “Kenaitze”, the name of the Native Alaskan tribe that historically inhabited the area.
The peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240 km) southwest from the Chugach Mountains, south of Anchorage. It is separated from the mainland on the west by Cook Inlet and on the east by Prince William Sound. Most of the peninsula is part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Gerasim Izmailov was the first European man to explore and map the peninsula in 1789, though Athabaskan and Alutiiq Native groups have lived on the peninsula for thousands of years.
The glacier-covered Kenai Mountains (7,000 ft/2,130 m) run along the southeast spine of the peninsula along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska. Much of the range is within Kenai Fjords National Park. The northwest coast along the Cook Inlet is flatter and marshy, dotted with numerous small lakes. Several larger lakes extend through the interior of the peninsula, including Skilak Lake and Tustumena Lake. Rivers include the Kenai River, famous for its salmon population, as well as its tributary, the Russian River, the Kasilof River, and the Anchor River. Kachemak Bay, a small inlet off the larger Cook Inlet, extends into the peninsula’s southwest end, much of which is part of Kachemak Bay State Park.
The Kenai Peninsula has many glaciers in its eastern and southern areas. It is home to both the Sargent Icefield and Harding Icefields and numerous glaciers that spawn off them.
The peninsula has a coastal climate that is relatively mild, with abundant rainfall. It is one of the few areas in Alaska that allows for agriculture, with a growing season adequate for producing hay and several other crops.
Sport fishing for halibut in Alaska is a very popular activity; it is a strong fighter and one of the world’s largest bony fish with an impressive yield of lean and firm white flesh. Over 65% of the effort and harvest occurs in Cook Inlet, southeast Alaska, the Kodiak area, and near the mouth of Deep Creek in the Lower Cook Inlet.
Halibut taken by sport anglers are generally 15 to 20 lb (6.8 to 9.1 kg) in weight; but fish over 150 lb (68 kg) are often caught. The current Alaska state record for a sport-caught halibut is 459 lb (208 kg), and a fish must weigh at least 250 lb (113 kg) to qualify for the state’s trophy fish program.
Anglers generally use stout saltwater gear to catch halibut. Most anglers prefer to fish with bait, especially herring, but also squid, octopus, cod pieces, or other small bottom fish. To get the bait down to the halibut, it is usually fished on a wire spreader or a sliding-sinker rig with sinker size 4 oz (113 g) to 4 lb (1.81 kg), depending on such factors as depth and current.
In 1899, wealthy railroad magnate Edward Harriman arranged for a maritime expedition to Alaska. He brought with him an elite community of scientists, artists, photographers, and naturalists to explore and document the Alaskan coast.
The Harriman Alaska Expedition explored coast of Alaska for two months, from Seattle to Siberia and back again.
He contacted Clinton Hart Merriam, the head of the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy at the United States Department of Agriculture, and one of the founders of the National Geographic Society. Harriman told Merriam that he would cover the expenses of scientists, artists, and other experts who would join the voyage. He asked Merriam to choose the scientific party.
Merriam held a flurry of meetings and sent out dozens of telegrams. He organized a broad range of experts: arctic experts, botanists, biologists and zoologists, geologists and geographers, artists, photographers, ornithologists, and writers.