January – April 2004


Welcome to Fishtale`s Fishing Reports for 2004!


Taku Lake in Anchorage: Frede and I went ice fishing with my brother-in-law and his 8 children from about 2 pm until 4 pm. There were schools of small hungry king salmon eager to grab everyone`s bait or lures. All of the kids caught several fish including the 2 year old and the 4 year old. Most of the fish were caught with homecured salmon eggs, but the older kids and all 3 adults also caught plenty of fish jigging with unbaited lures. The lures that produced the most fish for us were a small pink Super Duper and a #3 black Flashtrap Spinner. The fish were really biting on this day, the temperature had warmed up to around 30*, and everyone had a wonderful time. Infact after the trip home , the kids kept asking there dad, “When can we go ice fishing again!” Ice depth was over 18 inches.


Kepler-Bradley Lakes near Palmer: I guided one man visiting from New Jersey and he caught plenty of small king salmon, 1 rainbow trout, and 1 Arctic Char. After my guest had caught several king salmon I also fished for a while and caught some small kings as well. I had my guest start out fishing with salmon eggs and he caught the first few salmon which we released on bait. The fish were biting well, so I asked if he would like to try jigging with a lure and no bait which would be somewhat more of a challenge. He then proceded to catch the rest of his fish on a #3 black Flashtrap Spinner. My guest kept the rainbow trout and Arctic Char along with several of the landlocked king salmon for a meal or two. We had originally planned to fish a different lake, but fairly heavy snowfall the night before looked like it would make access difficult, so we opted for a lake closer to the main highway. A slight breeze was blowing so we drilled our holes in an area of the lake where we were protected from the wind and enjoyed a very pleasent afternoon of ice fishing. Ice depth was approximately 2 feet.


Kepler Bradley Lake System near Palmer, Alaska — I guided two women who caught 1 Arctic char, 4 rainbow trout, and several small landlocked king salmon. All the fish were caught on home cured salmon eggs, although I fished a little myself and also caught a few small king salmon on a #3 black Flashtrap Spinner. Daylight hours continue to get longer and temperatures should be reasonably warm for the remainder of our ice fishing season. It snowed the entire time we were fishing today, but accumulation amounted to only about 3 inches. Ice depth was about 2 feet so may have been slightly less than the last time I fished this lake about a month ago. Other anglers looked to have been fishing one of my favorite spots recently from the number of frozen over holes we found in the area. I drilled our first two holes in the area anyway, but action was slow and even though the women fished for at least a couple hours we never seemed to attract a reasonable number of fish to get a good bite going. We moved to another area where I drilled 4 more holes and fishing was significantly better with much quicker action. We should have more than a solid month of ice fishing remaining and I hope to get out and enjoy ice fishing on some of the warm sunny days we usually get in March — I`ve already missed a few such days this year as I`ve been working on other projects. Give us a call at (907) 376-3687 if you would like to join us for a spring ice fishing trip.


Irene Lake in the Kepler Bradley Lake System near Palmer, Alaska — Dane Parks and I fished both Canoe and Irene Lake. We did not fish Canoe Lake long before heading over to try Irene Lake. We did not hook any fish at all in Canoe Lake and and for most of the time we were out Irene produced the same results. The day started out beautiful relatively calm and sunny, but the wind was blowing hard before we quit. I ended up catching 4 nice rainbow trout measuring 12 – 15 inches and a couple smaller Arctic char which I released. All the fish were caught on home cured salmon eggs. The ice was approximately 30 inches deep and I drilled about 10 holes and fished all of them. Dane did most of his fishing in one spot and only had one bite. It looked like there had been considerable fishing effort on Irene Lake so one wonders if the fish were just not hungery or if people had caught most of the ones eager to bite. Hope to do better on the next trip.


Kepler-Bradley Lake System near Palmer — I fished with my sister`s family on a beautiful sunny March day. We had a total of 10 kids and 5 adults fishing and playing out on the lake. We caught several nice Arctic char of about 16 or 17 inches, a few rainbow trout about 15 inches, 1 landlocked salmon about 10 inches and a few smaller fish which were released. All of the fish were caught on homecured salmon eggs. The highlight of this trip was that the fish were larger than what we`ve been catching out of some of the other local lakes. Fishing was slower and all of the kids did not manage to catch a fish, but the ones we did catch were definitely a larger size for eating without as much mess as a bunch of smaller fish. Ice is about 30 inches thick and solid. It is getting toward spring making it important to check ice before venturing out too far on the lakes, but it looks like we could have decent ice for another 3 or 4 weeks of ice fishing.


Eklutna Power Plant Tailrace & Knik River — Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) issued an emergency order opening the Eklutna Tailrace and a small portion of the Knik River to king salmon on April 15, 2004. ADF&G has established a hatchery run of king salmon returning to the tailrace and expects about 3,000 kings to return to the area where they can be harvested this year. Dave Osgood and his wife Linda drove to the tailrace to fish the opening day, and report that while it was a wonderful sunny day for fishing, they saw no king salmon caught and did not see any fish moving in the water. Still, the new fishery provided them and several additional anglers their first open water king salmon fishing opportunity in 2004, and I`ll venture out on a limb and predict some lucky (or persistent) angler should catch a king salmon from the new tailrace fishery during the month of April. I`m planning to try it myself during the last week of April — after all, in order to catch an April Mat-Su Valley king salmon I must go fishing! We`ll be keeping tabs on the Eklutna tailrace fishery, so check future fishing reports to learn of new developements.


Some of you know that last year we caught our earliest Little Susitna River king salmon ever on May 1. One doesn`t expect to catch a new record every year, so this year I`m anticipating we should be running king salmon trips (and seeing or catching our first king salmon) on the Little Susitna River starting around May 10. When it happens it will be in our fishing reports. Concerning the Eklutna Tailrace king salmon fishery – I`ve heard of several people trying their luck – but have not heard of any king salmon caught, yet.


Eklutna Tailrace and Knik River — Dave Rutz, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game area fisheries biologist stopped by the Eklutna Tailrace this morning for about half an hour and saw a big fish surface. Dave talked to an angler who had been fishing at the confluence of the Tailrace and Knik River for about an hour and a half and the angler told Dave he had seen a salmon roll as well. Some early king salmon have arrived, and since there is still more than a week of April left, I rest my case that someone should catch a king salmon from this new king salmon fishery before the first day of May. According to Dave the Knik River is still somewhat clear and has not yet turned opaque with glacial silt like it will later in May, so there is currently opportunity to fish in the main river for a ways up and down stream from the tailrace. If you decide to go fishing for king salmon at Eklutna be sure to read the current regulations before you go so you know where you are allowed to fish for king salmon.


Eklutna Power Plant Tailrace — With exactly one week left to the month of April I made my first trip to the tailrace to try to catch an April king salmon. I arrived about 4:45 p.m. and fished about two and a half hours, but did not see any fish or get any bites. I fished the entire time with a #5 Flashtrap Spinner, but while I was there I also watched about half a dozen other anglers fishing with Spin-n-glos, salmon eggs, and flies and nobody hooked or saw fish. It would have been fun to at least see a salmon jump, but even if a few king salmon have been seen here already, when fishing this early in the season, chances are greatest that people will not see or hook a fish. Even so, it was good to be outside and fishing open water for the first time this year. I now have only 6 days left if I`m going to catch my first Mat-Su Valley king salmon in the month of April. If it happens it will be written in these reports. One last comment about the Eklutna fishery, I saw quite a bit of litter scattered along the banks so next time I go I plan on taking a bag to haul out some trash. There is a relatively small area to fish, so it shouldn`t be too hard if all of us anglers do our part to keep it clean. As I was driving back and forth across the Palmer Hay Flats, I noticed the Knik River Access off of the Glenn Highway is now open and several airboaters were active around the makeshift launch area. I also spotted a moose, several groups of Canadian Geese, and a pair of swams while driving accross the flats. It`s always a bonus to see wildlife, and this time of year is a good time to see a variety of critters so keep a look out – you never know what you might see.


Eklutna Tailrace — I drove to the tailrace about 6:30 p.m. and on the drive I saw 3 mosse on the Palmer Hay Flats, some geese out there as well, and a spruce hen strutting across the Old Glenn Highway in front of my truck. At the tailrace I fished for about an hour and a half and picked up a garbage bag full of litter. There were about half a dozen people fishing all the time I was there and nobody had any luck while I was there. I once again fished with a #5 silver blade Flashtrap Spinner, while I saw other anglers using Pixie Spoons, Spin-n-glos, plastic squid, and salmon eggs. One of the anglers told me he had fished the tailrace about 10 times already since it opened on April 15 (an average of once a day), but he had yet to see a king salmon. Another angler told me he saw someonelse catch a jack king salmon of about 17 inches about 11 p.m. last night. Only 5 days left in April and I still haven`t seen a king salmon myself or talked to someone who has caught one. The fishery has been enjoyable since with only about a half dozen people fishing there is room to spread out along the tailrace. Several people have mentioned this fishery can be quite crowded when the salmon arrive in good numbers.


Little Susitna River — Neal Sanderlin drove to the river today and reported the road is muddy and rutted from the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge boundary into the Little Susitna River Public Use Facillity Campground, so we would suggest anyone curious about the Little Susitna River keep from driving out that way for another week or so to avoid tearing up the road more. Neal said there is a large ice dam right at the boat launch, so boats could not be launched at this time, but he estimated the river should be mostly ice free in a day or two. A good rule of thumb for Little Susitna River is that king salmon should be in the river within a week or 10 days of the ice going out, so the first kings should be available soon — perhaps as early as the first week of May.

Talkeetna River and Clear Creek — I talked with Tom Cloninger at 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle, and he reported a few people had already benn fishing Clear Creek, but there were ice jams and drifting logs making navigating the Talkeetna River with a boat difficult or at times impossible. It should only be a few days, however, before boats can run to Clear Creek. Tom reported rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Arctic grayling are available at Clear Creek if people can get there.

Echo Lake in the Kepler-Bradley Lake System near Palmer — I drove by on the Glenn Highway today and noticed the ice was nearly gone so people should be able to fish open water here for stocked fish by tomorrow. On the other side of the highway, Kepler and Bradley Lake were a little slower getting thawed out, but open water was showing on them as well. I also noticed that Junction Lake on the Parks Highway was ice free, and heard a report that Finger Lake is starting to break up as well. The long awaited time of year when open water fishing options are showing up all over the valley is finally here!

Eklutna Tailrace — Dave Rutz told me he stopped by the tailrace on the way to work this morning and only saw one fisherman working the water near the confluence of the Tailrace and the Knik River. No king salmon to report today.


Eklutna Tailrace — I arrived at the tailrace about 9:15 p.m. and fished for about an hour, but saw no fish. I talked with a couple fly fishermen one of whom told me he`d caught a jack king salmon on his previous trip to the tailrace. By arriving late in the evening I was hoping to see some fish moving around, but my strategy did not work on this trip, however, I did spot 5 moose while driving across the Palmer Hay Flats to the tailrace and 4 moose on the Flats during my drive home. Only 2 days left in April, after today, and I don`t know if I will fish either of them.


Eklutna Tailrace — I made one last attempt to catch a Mat-Su king salmon in April, arrriving at the the fishery about 9 :50 and fishing for about 45 minutes. I fished a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner this time, but did not see or hook any fish. I talked with a few anglers near the confluence of the Tailrace and the Knik River channel, but even though they had been there several hours longer than myself, they hadn`t seen anything either. It keeps getting more like spring/summer every day. On the drive to the tailrace I saw some cars and people fishing at some of the Kepler Bradley lakes, and going across the flats I saw some geese and 3 moose. Some of the grass is starting to green up, and some trees are starting to swell with leaves which are getting ready to pop out before long. No April king salmon for me this year — maybe next year.