Chilkoot and Chilkat Rivers, Haines, Alaska — Frede Stier and I started fishing on the Chilkoot River directly below Chilkoot Lake. We saw a few salmon rolling and saw other anglers catch a few nice big silver salmon — probably averaging about 15 pounds, but all Frede and I caught was several fat Dolly Varden which averaged about 12 – 14 inches each. We caught the Dollies on salmon eggs fished below ESB Bobbers, but also fished a spoon and a spinner without any luck. The lure of choice for the anglers catching salmon seemed to be about a 3/8 ounce Pixie Spoon. We also fished near the bridge in the tidal area near the mouth of the river after the tide had come in, but we did not even see a salmon there — although we did spot a large sea lion which evidently had come up the river looking for a salmon dinner of his own. There were also a few bald eagles flying over the river.
After lunch in Haines, we fished in several spots along the Chilkat River, once again using the same lures and bait. On the Chilkat we saw several salmon rolling in different spots along the river, but could not get any salmon to bite. At the first place we stopped we saw an individual with a couple large silver salmon, but after that we did not even see other anglers with fish — however, there were numerous bald eagles along the Chilkat River and we also spent plenty of time simply watching them. The Chilkat river was definitely muddier than the Chilkoot, but looked clear enough to catch salmon.
We were both impressed with the number of anglers out attempting to catch salmon, as we were fishing a week or so past the peak of the silver salmon run — but as our hostess at the Mountain View Motel where we were staying explained, it was an exceptionally good year for silver salmon in the Haines area and people were still enthusiastic about catching those big silvers. Our hostess mentioned that the largest silver salmon she knew of from the Chilkoot this year weighed 24 pounds!
Chilkoot and Chilkat Rivers, Haines, Alaska — Frede Stier and I got up even earlier to try fishing around first light on the Chilkoot River today. People were already fishing around the bridge near the mouth of the river, so we drove on up to the lake and fished the river near the outlet. We arrived earlier today and were able to fish a good spot that looked as if no one else had fished it yet in the morning, but we did not hook a single fish and only saw a couple salmon roll in the entire morning while we fished the Chilkoot River. IT had rained fairly heavy the night before, and even though the water was still a nice glacial green color the river level had risen noticably from the day before. Frede and I also tried another spot where we hiked in along the Chilkoot, but with the same luck of no detectable bites. It was quite windy and rainy at times while we fished today, and other anglers seemed to be having even less luck than the day before as well. In the whole morning we only saw one angler loading a couple large bright silver salmon into his vehicle along the river, and one other angler land a foul hooked silver salmon, which he released.
After stopping for lunch in Haines, we once again headed for the Chilkat River to fish the afternoon. Conditions had changed on the Chilkat significantly since the day before. The overnight rain had brought the river up considerably, and also turned the Chilkat a darker gray color. We once again saw an angler with a couple salmon along the Chilkat, but conditions were so bad with high muddy water and a strong wind kicking up whitecaps along the lower river, that we switched gears and simply went for a drive along the river and Frede shot lots of eagle pictures and also got some even better photos of a family of trumpeter swans. We had hoped to catch some of those big fall silvers on our trip to Haines, but had an enjoyable trip even though we never even managed to hook a salmon.
Little Susitna River — I am currently working on paper work to nominate Ayrshire Road and Little Susitna Access Road for road work under the Matanuska Susitna Borough`s Capital Improvement Project List. Today I drove out to the river simply to examine exactly were I could identify that the roads needed work the most. I did not fish or see any wildlife on my drive, but did see several sets of bear tracks in last nights snowfall on the last couple miles of Little Su Access Road before it reaches the campground and boat launch area. The river looked higher than I expected, but on closer examination, I decided it looked low enough that it might be difficult to launch and load a boat off a trailer if the trailer had relatively tall tires.
If you would like to support my efforts to encourage the borough to improve these two roads, stay tuned to this report for future reports, or give me a call about the end of the first week of November at 907-746-2199. The Borough`s nomination form for Capital Improvement or Tourism Infrastructure Projects is Novemeber 15, so I`ll need to get busy contacting the right people with the borough to help me fill out the form between now and about November 7.
Hopefully, with some support from other folks, we may be able to drive the last few miles to lower Little Susitna River on better roads sometime this coming summer.
Mat-Su Valley Lakes — I drove past several lakes in the Palmer and Wasilla areas and even drove all the way to Big Lake. Even though temperatures have dipped below freezing for the past 10 days, most of the lakes only have a thin skim of ice and some of the larger or deeper lakes did not seem to have any ice at all. If the cooler weather holds for a while, I would expect to have sufficient ice for ice fishing by Thanksgiving or near the end of November. Some anglers may try and get out on the ice earlier, but even at the end of the month, I advise checking the ice thickness before venturing too far out on the lakes. I like to have at least 6 inches of solid ice before I feel comfortable moving out very far from shore.
Kepler-Bradley State Recreation Area near Palmer — I fished for a couple hours with my nephews and niece before Thanksgiving Dinner with family today. Ice thickness plenty at about 12 inches, although since the temperature was right around zero degrees we heard the ice groaning and cracking quite a bit. Fishing was decent as the kids caught 5 Arctic Char – Dolly Varden and 2 landlocked salmon which were decent sized keepers to about 15 inches and also caught some smaller fish which we released. All the fish were caught using salmon eggs for bait, and if we`d had more time to fish I am confident the kids would have caught considerably more fish — if the cool temperature did not freeze them out first– definitely nippy out on the lake today.
Kepler-Bradley State Recreation Area — I took two guests fishing and they caught several smaller landlocked salmon and 5 nice Arctic Char / Dolly Varden which they kept. All the fish were caught on salmon eggs fished with one small split shot sinker and about a size 4 single hook. The largest fish I esitmate measured about 23 or 24 inches and put up a very impressive fight including a couple long drag pulling runs before it could be pulled up through the ice. A word of caution to fellow anglers, if you want to release fish caught through the ice I highly suggest keeping them in the water of the ice holes before releasing them, and being drug out on the ice where scales stick to the ice and pull free in these cold temperatures is quite hard on the fish. I estimate ice thickness now at over 12 inches. Weather was quite cold down on the lake — especially before the sun came up, which occurred about noon.
Kepler Bradley Lake System — I fished with one other person for about 3 hours and we caught 4 Arctic Char, 1 landlocked salmon, and 1 rainbow trout all measuring 13 – 15 inches. We also caught some smaller fish which we released. All of the fish were caught on single salmon eggs or salmon egg roe fished on a single hook close to the bottom. Temperatures had warmed up to about 30 degrees and there was only a little wind, so it was a warm experience compared to my last trip
Kepler Bradley Lake System near Palmer — I fished with one of my nephews for a couple hours and we caught 3 fish, 2 of which we kept to eat. The larger fish were both rainbow trout, measured 15 and 19 inches, and were both caught by fishing homecured salmon eggs near the bottom. Ice continues to grow thicker and it takes a little longer to drill through now. With the recent snowfalls the water is overflowing a little onto the ice after a hole is drilled, but not enough to create any problem. For some reason we definitely had a tougher time getting quality bites today.
Kalmbach Lake — We did something different and fished North of Wasilla today. I fished with two of my nephews and none of us got even one good bite. The weather was relatively warm, but the wind out on the lake cooled a person off before long. We moved around and fished about 8 different holes using salmon eggs for bait like usual, but could not scare up a single fish — fortunately we still had some turkey left from Christmas dinner when we got home. Was good to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but somewhat of a let down not to catch any fish, as this was the first outing this winter that we had been blanked. Ice depth seemed to be about 2 feet.