Alaska Fishing Reports January – March 2017
While I guide a fair number of ice fishing trips during the winter of 2016 / 2017, I did not get many trips reported on after the new year. Each of my groups caught fish during each trip this winter, although some of the catches were not as high numbers as some of my better winters. On all of our winter trips we fish Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs on single hooks. We usually start fishing near the bottom, but sometimes further up in the water column if the fish seem to be suspended higher and biting up from the bottom.
This winter I spent a considerable amount of time preparing for and attending the Alaska Board of Fisheries Meeting for Upper Cook Inlet in Anchorage. It was a long 15-day meeting with the end result that most sport fishing regulations for the Mat-Su Valley remained unchanged. Some of the changes that were made: the Jim Creek salmon fishery will be open only during the hours of 5 am – 10 pm daily ( I believe this regulation will go in effect starting August 1). The same 5 am – 10 pm hours will now also apply to the Wasilla Creek / Rabbit Slough, Cottonwood Creek, and Fish Creek salmon fisheries. These hours are a reduction of legal fishing hours on Jim Creek — but an expansion of legal fishing hours on Fish Creek, Wasilla Creek, and Cottonwood Creek. The Larson Creek salmon fishery will also have restricted hours during the entire season the hours will be 6 am — 11 p.m. daily. These hours are the same hours that apply to king salmon fisheries in the area.
March 30, 2017 — Matanuska Lake Ice Fishing
I went ice fishing with my nephew in hopes of getting some photos of some nice sized fish. We only fished for a couple hours — and we caught several landlocked salmon, however, they were all small. The largest was about 10 inches, but most were only about 6 inches — if that. While on the lake we had a bald eagle visiting and landing in some of the large cottonwood trees near where we were fishing. Ice still remains very solid and over 2 feet in depth. Weather is pleasantly warm — spring is starting to arrive. All of our fish were caught on Pautzke’s Balls O’Fire salmon eggs fished just above the lake bottom.
March 26 — Preseason Trip Reservation Opportunity
Now is the time to make preseason king salmon reservations while we still have good availability of prime dates. I still have good availability in my boat through most of May, and about half of the afternoons in the first half of June. In the last half of June more than half of my morning spaces are still available, and most afternoon trips are available as well. Charter space for the first half of July has just started to get reserved. In addition, we have more June morning space that we can reserve throughout the month in two additional guide boats. We will be guiding some of theses trips on both the Deshka River and the Little Susitna River — where our guests will be allowed to keep king salmon 7 days per week during the 2017 season. Give us a call at 907-746-2199 if you would like to get in on the fun!
March 25, 2017 Free Admission to Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show
For the first hour of the show — between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Menard Sports Center in Wasilla all show goers will have free entrance into the show. This is the last day of the show — so come see us at the Fishtale River Guides booth if you get a chance. Later in the day at 1 p.m. I will be presenting a seminar on Casting Spinners for Salmon. You are also welcome to give us a call at 907-746-2199 if you can not make it to the show this weekend.
March 24, 25, 26 Mat-SU Outdoorsman Show in Wasilla
I am promoting our business with a booth at the show — and talking with guest and potential guests about what we have to offer in summer salmon fishing trips for the 2017 season. I am also presenting a seminar each day of the show. On Friday I presented, “Clobber Salmon wIth Bobbers and Bait.” This same seminar will presented again on Saturday at 4 p.m. in conference room #2. On Sunday I will present, “Casting Spinners for Salmon” at 1 p.m. in conference room #2.
March 23 — I guided a group of 3 people on an ice fishing trip and they caught some rainbow trout, one large arctic char, and several very small landlocked coho salmon. Ice remains solid and over 2 feet in depth. The action on the lake we were fishing seemed rather slow as can occur late in the ice fishing season when smaller lakes sometimes become oxygen depleted. All of our fish were caught by fishing Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire a crank or two up from the bottom. During the trip we saw 5 bald eagles near the lake.
Alaska Board of Fisheries Upper Cook Inlet Meeting
During the February 23 — March 9 Upper Cook Inlet meeting the board made several changes to Mat-Su Valley fisheries. This year the weekend salmon fisheries on Wasilla Creek / Rabbit Slough, Cottonwood Creek, and Fish Creek will be open 5 more hours per day. The new hours on these fisheries will be 5 a.m. — 10 p.m. on the weekends. In addition the same hours were also adopted into regulation for part of the season on the Jim Creek salmon fishery.
The Fish Creek personal use dip net fishery for Alaskan residents may open when the Department projects a sockeye salmon return over 35,000 fish rather than the old level of 50,000 fish. It is hoped this chance will allow the fishery to occur on a more regular annual basis. Personal use permits will still be required to participate in this fishery, and the same limited fishing area will be in regulation.
The Larson Creek salmon fishery (in the Talkeetna River Drainage will see an extension of the same fishing hours in place during king salmon season. Legal fishing hours will be 6 a.m. — 11 p.m. It is hoped this will provide more opportunity for daily salmon passage upstream and that this change may result in less emergency restrictions to the fishery.
Ice Fishing in the Mat-Su Valley near Palmer
I’ve guided several ice fishing trips during January and February. Ice thickness is more than 2 feet, and solid. My guests have been catching rainbow trout, Arctic Char, and landlocked coho salmon by fishing 3 or 4 single Balls O’Fire salmon eggs on a single hook about a foot above the lake bottom. Sometimes we’ll work our way up from the bottom and catch fish higher up in the water column, but we almost always start near the bottom. The exception to this — when guests are dropping their line down sometimes a fish grabs the bait and takes off. At such time there is no need to continue letting line out — we simply shut the bail and set the hook. Although we are often having to work a while to catch fish, my guests have caught fish every trip this winter. Most of the rainbow trout have been running about 8 -12 inches and we have also caught some larger ones. Most of the Arctic Char have been running about 16 – 20 inches (we often catch 1 or 2 of these nicer fish per trip. Most of the salmon are so small that my guests simply release them. Also during the trips we have seeing bald eagles most of the time. On days when it has been very cold or when its been snowing we have seen few eagles. Give us a call if you would like to learn more about our ice fishing trips 907-746-2199.