Expanded Fishing Opportunities for 2005. The Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted two regulation changes that will provide signficantly increased fishing opportunities for Mat-Su Valley salmon.
The Deshka River will open to bait fishing on May 15 in 2005, which will increase the number of king salmon anglers catch from mid May to early June. Deshka River is one of the earliest king salmon producing tributaries of the Susitna River system, and some of the largest Deshka kings are taken in late May and early June. Every year there are reports of 50 lb. king salmon caught during this time, and last year a 66 lb. Deshka River king, hauled in over Memorial Day weekend, ended up as the top fish in the 2004 Mat-Su King Salmon Derby. I am so confident bait will dramaticly increase catch rates of early Deshka River king salmon, and of the large fish available, that I am predicting the 2005 Mat-Su King Salmon Derby winning fish will also be caught in the Deshka, and it will be taken between May 20 and June 10. Some large salmon are available before May 20, however, the Derby does not begin until May 20.
The silver or coho salmon limit for Westside Susitna River tributary streams (excluding Alexander Creek) will increase to 3 silver salmon per day. We guide silver salmon trips on Little Susitna River (where 2 coho may be kept daily) and to Westside Susitna River tributaries where the limit has increased to 3. Our least expensive $100 silver salmon trip is available primarily on Little Susitna River, however, groups of 6 guests fishing Susitna River tributaries will also be guided for $100 per person in 2005. 6 hour Susitna River tributary trips for 5 or fewer guests will cost $120 per person. Guests interested in more remote fishing, where they can keep a higher limit of silver salmon, should seriously consider our Susitna River Tributaries trip.
Now is the best time to reserve your space on our 2005 Alaska salmon fishing trips. We currently still have prime king salmon fishing space available and space available for all dates in our July, August, September silver salmon season. Feel welcome to call or send us an e-mail if you would like to discuss a trip or make reservations. Our phone numbers and Url are located on the “Contact Us,” page of this website or you may also fill out and submit the reservation form on our “Prices and Costs,” page.
Mat-Su Valley Lakes – I`ve been watching the ice on several local lakes, and this evening Echo Lake in the Kepler – Bradley Lake system near Palmer became ice free. The ice on Kepler Lake and Bradley Lake is receeding rapidly, and if our warm weather and wind continues they may be ice free by Saturday afternoon or sometime Sunday as well. I`ve seen a few people out fishing the open water already, and more lakes will becoming ice free and fishable shortly.
Knik River – I`ve also noticed the ice chunks rapidly melting along the lower Knik River, and folks will start fishing for king salmon where Eklutna Tailrace runs into the river before long if they haven`t started already. Last year I learned of a very few early king salmon that were caught at this location in late April. Open water fishing time is finally starting to arrive, and I`m planning to go out at least a time or two next week. Stay tuned.
Eklutna Tailrace — I drove to the tailrace today, and walked the bank, but saw no fish. Spring is further along this year than it was last year when I visited the tailrace on the same day. The tailrace itself is completely ice free with hardly any snow remaining even back under the trees. The tailrace water was flowing well and looked beautiful to fish, but during times of low water draws through the power plant, the tailrace water source slows considerably and becomes shallow enough this early in the season that large salmon can be reluctant to swim upstream through the shallows. Thus perhaps the best times to fish the tailrace would be when average or larger flows of water are being drawn through the powerplant, at high tides when the Knik River water can be backed up all the way upstream to the tailrace outflow, and during periods of low light late in the evening or early in the morning when salmon feel less vulnerable in shallow water. It seems probable to me that a very few early king salmon should show up at the tailrace within the next week – before May 1. If you decide to fish the tailrace, there is parking just across the Old Glenn Highway from the Eklutna Power Plant. The new parking and day use site is currently gated shut, but there is also a limited amount of space for a few vehicles to park off the highway and in front of the gate. I plan to fish Eklutna Tailrace for the first time during this last week of April.
Talkeetna River — Tom Cloninger from 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle (907) 373-5434 told me that a few people have been fishing off the bank near the railroad bridge for trout, char, and grayling, but that he had not heard of many fish being caught, yet. The last he had heard there was too much ice and too little water to run a boat up to Clear Creek, but that should change before long. Tom had also talked to an angler who caught a couple trout this spring at Willow Creek.
Little Susitna River — Scott MacIntosh attempted to drive to Little Susitna River Public Use Facillity Campground and Boat Launch on Saturday, only to discover that Little Su Access Road had been baricaded closed. The road past the baricade is likely still wet, soft, and vulnerable to being torn up by vehicle traffic. Since I know of no one who has been to the river this spring, it is a guessing game as to what river conditions are at this time, however, according to the USGS waterflow website the upper Little Susitna River has risen approximately 8 inches in the past week, so it seems likely to me, that ice should have broken and the river should be flowing freely all the way to Turnagain Arm. If that is infact the case, the first early arriving king salmon could be moving into lower Little Susitna River any day now.
Mat-Su Valley Lakes — Echo Lake in the Kepler – Bradley system remains the only lake I know of that is completely ice free, but ice continues to receed on other lakes as well. I had a report that Finger Lake was breaking up near the state campground and boat launch area and it provides one of the best places to check out boats and motors before venturing out on one of the local rivers.
Little Susitna River — Neal Sanderlin hiked into the Little Susitna River Public Use Facillity Campground and Boat Launch today, and reported the baricaded off portion of Little Susitna River Access Road is soft, wet, and muddy. At the river he found the water clarity and height at good levels for king salmon fishing. If our present warm weather pattern continues expect the road to dry out and firm up considerably by early May.
Finger Lake — I drove to Finger Lake and arrived just in time to see a large jet boat being towed out of the lake and up the boat ramp, and although there is still some ice left on the lake, there is plenty of open water to run a large jet boat around. People were also fishing from the campground dock, but I did not ask how they were doing.
Parks Highway tributary streams of the Susitna River — Mike Hudson from 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla reported that the streams crossing the Parks Highway between Willow and Talkeetna are ice free, but water levels are high and muddy with spring runoff, and fishing success for trout, char, and grayling has been limited.
Eklutna Tailrace — I casted Flashtrap Spinners for about two and a half hours this morning in hopes of hooking into an April king salmon, but did not see or hook any fish. The water is a beautiful emerald green color, and it was comfortable fishing out in the sunshine.
Unlike last year, there seems to be very few people fishing Eklutna this early. Conditions seem ideal for bringing in the first fish out of the saltwater, and the Tailrace is so close to the saltwater, that the current backs up on some high tides. Stay tuned to learn more.
Deshka River Landing — I talked with a lady at the landing today, who told me that the ice has started flowing on the Susitna River, but there are still several large ice jams at this time along the river. She said they expect the ice to flush downriver before long, and to have the landing open for boat launching by next weekend (May 7 & 8).
Susitna Landing — Marilyn Wilson told me the ice had started flowing early this morning near Susitna Landing. She expects the ice will have cleared off enough to where people will be fishing off the bank near the landing for trout by next weekend, but was uncertain if boaters would be able to launch boats by that time. Marilyn said with the ice breaking up, the water is currently high and muddy at this time.
Stay tuned for the next report.