Alaska Board of Fisheries Meeting
The Board is meeting in Anchorage at the Coast International Inn for the purpose of updating fishing regulations and management plans. New regulations and plans will then be in effect for the next 3 years. There is still opportunity for the public to become involved by writing and submitting their thoughts on how the Upper Cook Inlet area fisheries should be changed. Such written comments need to be submitted at the meeting area as a RECORD COPY. 20 copies are required to be submitted, however, there are copier machines available for the meeting that the public is allowed to use.
The public may also have some opportunity to directly discus their concerns with individual Board of Fisheries members in the halls or near the meeting room. This is the public`s opportunity to weigh in on how this area of Alaska should be managed, and I continue to encourage people to participate. I am cautiously optimistic that positive changes will be made during this Board meeting.
I am currently scheduled to stay involved in the Board of Fisheries process through February 12. Although the meeting and final decisions on some issues will continue to be made throughout the remaining time, I would strongly suggest people provide their input as soon as possible in order for their thoughts and ideas to be given as much thought and consideration as possible.
Small lake near Palmer — I fished with Frede a couple hours today and we caught several nice landlocked silver salmon, perhaps 5 rainbow trout, and 1 Arctic grayling. Ice depth was about 2 feet. We chummed with a mixture of Fire Cured salmon eggs and Pautzke`s Krill Scent. It took a while to attract the fish, so I suspect without the chum fishing may have been quite slow. For bait all of our fish were caught on Balls O` Fire single salmon eggs.
Small Lake near Palmer — I took 6 people fishing who caught a mixture of silver salmon and rainbow trout on Pautzke`s Balls O`Fire salmon eggs. The largest fish were about 12 inches and the group caught a total of about 30 fish before the action slowed.
Kepler – Bradley Lake System — I took 2 people fishing and we caught lots of fish including silver salmon, king salmon, rainbow trout, and Arctic char, however, most of the fish were quite small and we released all of them. Like usual I chummed with a mixture of Fire Cured salmon eggs and Pautzke`s Krill Scent, and we fished using Balls O` Fire single salmon eggs for bait.
Small lake near Palmer — I took two people fishing today who caught a total of 8 fish — 6 rainbow trout and 2 landlocked silver salmon. All of the fish were caught on Balls O` Fire single salmon eggs. Conditions were particularly nasty as the wind was blowing and temperatures were warm enough that it was also raining. After driving to the first two lakes where we originally planned to fish we simply left and looked for locations with better conditions. Because of the warm temperatures melting the snow and ice there was a considerably amount of water pooled in various spots on the lake ice making it quite slick to walk around on the ice, so consequently we may not have moved around as much as we might have if walking conditions had been better. Lake ice itself remained plenty strong and was about 2 feet in depth.
Open water Salmon Fishing — There were some good tides this week, and I had a new spinning rod I wanted to test out, so I drove to the Eklutna tailrace and fished open water for the first time this year. There was a big eagle perched just downstream of where I was fishing, but neither of us found any fish. I spent about a half hour casting a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner from the bank, but had no bites and did not see any fish. The new rod worked well, and I enjoyed the chance to cast, but realistically, I expect it to be close to mid May before there will be much chance of success for catching ocean run salmon in our local rivers. I plan to have at least one of my guide boats out on a river and fishing for salmon by May 15, if not earlier.
Kepler -Bradley Lake System near Palmer — I fished with 3 visitors from out of state and we caught more than 50 fish which were a combination of Arctic Char and rainbow trout. The largest 3 fish were all char measuring about 15 inches each. Most of the fish measured somewhere between about 6 – 12 inches and all were caught on Balls O` Fire single salmon eggs. The ice remains over 2 feet in depth and very solid.
Kepler – Bradley Lake System near Palmer — I fished with a friend of mine for about 4 hours this morning and the first fish we pulled through the ice was the largest fish caught on one of my ice fishing trips this season. The fish was a heavy bodied Arctic Char that made several drag pulling runs under the ice before it could be gently led up through the hole. I estimated it`s length at about 24 inches. In addition we also caught several smaller rainbow trout and char during the trip measuring in the 6 – 12 inch range. I attracted the fish by chumming with my usual combination of Fire Cured salmon roe, Pautzke`s liguid Krill scent, and Pautzke`s Nectar. For bait I caught all of my fish on either Balls O`Fire single salmon eggs or Pautzke`s Fire Corn. Scott caught all his fish on a jig with a Powerbait grub tail. Was a beautiful and warm day windless day for fishing and I spent most of my time soaking up sunshine in jeans and a t-shirt. This was the first trip this season that I left my winter boots at home and wore tennis shoes with great results. Ice remains solid, but there is a freeze-thaw cycle going every day now, and the ice was making lots of loud cracking noises while we were out fishing on it. Ice depth remained at about 2 feet. With the coming outdoor shows and obligations of getting ready for the summer open water salmon fishing season my ice fishing will be wrapping up for the year before long.
Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show in Wasilla — Frede and I walked through the show today before I presented my second show seminar on How to Clobber Salmon with Bobbers and Bait. Perhaps 25 – 30 people attended the seminar which had purposely been scheduled as the last seminar of the day, so we could go long if people had additional questions. Rather than 45 minutes we went about an hour and 15 minutes, and then those of us still remaining felt a need to pick up and leave as Tony Russ was busy setting up for the show dinner for exhibitors.
Although the show in Wasilla is considerably smaller than the one in Anchorage, I`ve been there two days already and am thinking about going back the final day (Sunday) simply to get a better feel for what all is there. Between 10 – 12 in the morning on Sunday admission is free and there is free admission throughout the show for military folks.
I`ve now completed my seminars at the Wasilla show, but for those interested George Krumm and I will also be presenting similar seminars at the Great Alaska Sportsman`s Show in Anchorage that runs Thursday – Sunday of this coming week.
Great Alaska Sportsman Show — This show runs from Thursday April 3 – Sunday April 6. The weeks just before, during, and after the Anchorage show are our busiest time of the year for booking trip reservations, and NOW is the best time to reserve a guided fishing trip while prime king salmon and silver salmon dates are both available. If you would like to join us on one of our guided Alaska salmon fishing trips in 2008 please call us at 907-746-2199 so we can reserve the time and date that best fits your needs.
During the Sportsman Show I will be working in the Pautzke Bait Company Booth — Booth 200 in Sullivan Arena — and I will have the opportunity to discuss and make fishing trip reservations at the booth.
In addition, George Krumm and I will be presenting a seminar on how to Clobber Salmon with Bobbers and Bait. Our joint seminars will be located in the Sullivan Arena V.I.P. Lounge and are scheduled at 7 p.m. on both Thursday and Saturday Evenings
I will also be presenting, Bobbering Deshka River King Salmon, at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon in the V. I. P. Lounge, and George will present, Bird Creek Silvers — Getting Dialed In, at 7 p.m. Friday in Sullivan Arena stage 4 .
As usual there will be plenty of good deals on fishing gear available at the show. A few products that I use in my charter business and I`ve heard of already — 1. Chris Shaffer tells me there should be a show special available on Pautzke Bait Company product(s) — the buying opportunity will be located at a local vendor booth. 2. There will be a rebate offer for both Sufix Performance Braid and Sufix monofilament lines located at B & J Sporting Goods` space. New this year some Sufix lines come guaranteed to be the best line of their type that you`ve fished or your money back — I am definitely impressed with this promotion. 3. Quantum Reels purchased at the show will have special show pricing and also come with free line (B & J). 4. ESB Bobbers should be available at 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle (booths #35 – 37 Sullivan Mezzanine level) — I would add, that 3 Rivers is the only Alaskan retailer, I know of, currently selling Everlasting Slip Bobbers (ESBs).
Of course there will be much more too see, seminars to attend, new products to check out, and great show buys to purchase than I could mention in this report. The Great Alaska Sportsman Show hours will be 4 – 9 p.m on Thursday April 3, noon to 9 p.m. on Friday April 4, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturday April 5, and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday April 6. I`m planning to be there all day, every day, hope to see you at the SHOW!
EARLY KING SALMON SCHEDULED TO ARRIVE SOON
The month of March was unusually warm, and although we had a recent snow and temperatures have cooled in early April, I remain confident local rivers should be ice free earlier than normal. Currently I`m thinking Little Susitna and Deshka Rivers should both be ice free, and holding a few early king salmon in about a month.
It`s time for me to catch up on paperwork, and start getting fishing gear and boats ready for the coming season. Now is also a good time to make a reservation for some of our better summer salmon fishing dates if you would like to fish with us this summer. Give us a call at 907-746-2199 for more information or to make your reservation.
Kepler – Bradley Lake System near Palmer — Frede and I checked out the ice on one of the lakes and found it to still be quite solid with approximately 2 feet of ice on the shady side of the lake and approximately 18 inches on the side of the lake receiving the most direct sunlight. We drilled 5 holes and fished for an hour or so, but only caught one rainbow trout and one Arctic char, both of which we released. Both Fish were caught on our usual ice fishing bait — Pautzke`s Ball`s Fire salmon eggs. I`m planning to take my brother and his two daughters fishing on Friday — but we`ll like try a different Kepler – Bradley system lake this time in hopes of finding hotter action.
Kepler – Bradley Lake system — I fished with my brother and his two daughters, and each of us caught plenty of pan sized rainbow trout, some landlocked salmon, and Arctic char. We also saw a pair of bald eagles checking us out from their perches in cottonwood trees beside the lake. Lake ice was still nice and solid, but ice is definitely thinner on the side of the lake that receives the most sunlight. Was a beautiful sunny day with afternoon temperatures above 50 degrees. In addition to the smaller fish, I caught on king salmon of about 16 inches, and faught a nice large fish for several minutes, before breaking off the leader trying to work the fish up hole and through the ice. I never got a really good look at the fish, but it felt heavy, and battled well, making my reel`s drag sing and pulling plenty of line off the spool. We chummed with a mixture of Borx O` Fire cured salmon roe, Fire Cured salmon roe, Pautzke`s nectar, and Pautzke`s krill scent. After dropping a scoop of chum down each hole we caught almost all of our fish on either Balls O` Fire salmon eggs or Pautzke`s Orange Deluxe salmon eggs. If the weather stays warm the lake covering ice could deteriorate rapidly over the next week or two. Ice is already considerably thinner near the shoreline, and should be checked/tested before venturing out too far. One of the holes we fished today had remained open since another angler had fished it, and I found the same thing yesterday, so it looks to me like the ice is currently melting more in the daylight than it freezes during the overnight colder temperatures.
Frede and I took 5 of my nephews and a niece ice fishing for a couple hours. Altough the ice is still plenty thick, it is definitely getting softer with a lot higher water content to the ice — I`m thinking this will likely be my last trip out on the ice this year. The auger drilld very quickly through the ice, after which we chummed several holes with Pautzke Fire Cured salmon roe, Pautzke Nectar, and liquid krill scent. Most of the fish we caught were smaller pan sized rainbow trout, landlocked king salmon, and Arctic char, but two of my nephews each caught a fish over 20 inches. The first larger fish was an Arctic char that faught a long hard battle before it was ld up through the ice. The second larger fish was a thick rainbow trout, which looked heavier than the char, but did not but up near the struggle that the char did, Most of the fish were caught on Pautzke`s Balls O` Fire salmon eggs, a few on Orange Deluxe salmon eggs, and a few on Fire Corn. It was a beautiful warm sunny day out on the lake, and the weather forecast calls for more of the same for the next several days.
Eklutna Tailrace — I drove to the tailrace today and fished for maybe 45 minutes. There was plenty of water coming through the power plant, which can be unusual for this time of year. The water flowing down the tailrace channel is quite clear indicating that the glaciers draining into Eklutna Lake must not be melting much yet. I spent all my time casting with a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner, but did not see any fish or get any bites. On the way home I stopped on the lower Knik River below the Glenn Highway Bridge and watched the river for a few minutes, but did not see anything that would indicate fish were swimming around. There were still some large ice chunks under and downstream from the bridge, but with our recent week or more of warm weather, it looks like Spring is progressing nicely. Best bet to catch fish in the Mat-Su Valley right now, might be to fish along the ice edges on local lakes. People are fishing the shallow water between Bradley and Kepler Lake, and there was also enough open water on the highway side of Echo Lake that a person could likely catch some landlocked salmon or char there as well.
Eklutna Tailrace — I tested out a brand new fishing rod at the Tailrace by casting a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner for about 45 minutes, but did not see or hook any fish. Most of the snow from the previous day had already melted by Sunday evening when I was fishing, but spring seems to be a few days later than last year, and considerably later than some years we`ve experienced recently. With the heavy snow we had, I`m thinking there should be higher water levels in some of the rivers we fish — especially during early king salmon season and that should be a good thing. On the drive home I saw 4 moose feeding on the Palmer Hay Flats and also spotted several flocks of geese returning for the spring.
Eklutna Tailrace — I casted a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner for about 20 minutes early this morning, but did not see or hook any fish. During my trip I spotted 2 moose beside the highway, and also saw a pair of bald eagles, flocks of geese, and a group of ducks.
Kepler – Bradley Lakes system — When I drove by the lakes this morning, Kepler Lake has a large section of open water and Bradley Lake a smaller section of open water. There is currently enough open water to use a boat in both lakes, and I suspect if it gets warm again today and if the wind comes up in the afternoon both lakes could be mostly ice free by evening. Across the highway, Echo Lake is almost entirely ice free. Recently I`ve been seeing fishing or going fishing just about every evening I drive past these lakes.
Finger Lake — I talked with a friend of mine who lives on the lake and learned that it is still mostly ice covered, so I will not be launching any boats for a check run at this early season launch site for at least a few days.
Talkeetna River — I talked with Bob Meals, owner of Tri River Charters in Talkeetna, and while he told me there was some open water flowing in the Talkeetna River, he also said the boat launch had not been plowed free of snow yet, and that the launch operator was traveling and not expected back until next week. Bob is expecting to have a boat in the river and running trout fishing trips by sometime next week. For more information you can give him a call at 907-733-2400.
Little Susitna River — I`ve heard from a couple sources that the river is open at the Parks Highway, but I`ve yet to talk with anyone who has been down to the Little Susitna Public Use Facility on the lower end of the river. After the heavy snow we had this weekend, I suspect that Little Su Access Road going to the boat launch is likely extremely wet, muddy, and soft — if not still snow covered. I hope to check it out with in a week or so, but don`t want to drive all the way out there only to discover that the road is still in terrible shape.
Willow Creek — Mike Hudson of 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle told me the water is open and people have been catching some trout at the mouth of Willow Creek. For more information call 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle at 907-373-5434
Susitna Landing — Marilyn Wilson at the landing said they still have about a foot of snow in the area, and that the Susitna River is still ice covered near them. For the latest update you can give Susitna Landing a call at 907-495-7700.
Bottomline — there are a few Matanuska Valley trout fishing lakes starting to provide some open water fishing opportunities. Concerning king salmon fishing — my guess it will be at least 10 days before a person could reasonably expect to launch a boat at the lower Little Sustina River, Deshka Landing, or Susitna Landing. Depending upon how the ice breaks up and river levels things could be even later.
Eklutna Tailrace — I fished the tailrace again today, because for several years now it has been a goal of mine to catch a Mat-Su Valley king salmon during the month of April. I cast a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner for about half an hour , but did not see any fish or get any bites. Driving across the Palmer Hay Flats I saw a moose, some sandhill cranes, geese, ducks, and a couple of bald eagles. On my drive I also noticed that Kepler and Bradley Lake are now almost completely ice free along with Echo Lake directly across the Highway. I also drove over and took a look at Matanuska Lake which is now about half ice free.
A friend and I have been talking about driving out to the lower Little Susitna River, but decide to wait at least a few days, as everything still seems kind of damp from spring melt in the Palmer area, and out near Pt. Mackenzie and the lower Little Susitna River the road to the boat landing is likely to be extremely wet, soft, and rutted.