May 2004



During May you can fish for king salmon with David Dickson, our newest guide, for this special per person price – You save $$ per person on our guided 6 hour king salmon fishing trip. Space is limited, so call us soon at (907) 376-3687 to join us for May king salmon fishing at this special price.

Little Susitna River — I talked with two people who reported Little Su Access Road needs additional drying out and that there is one section of fairly deep ruts on the way to the River. However, they both drove to the river with 4-wheel drive trucks towing boat trailers. Neither of the people I talked to fished, although, one of them told me he saw 4 other boats at the river with fishing gear, so some people are already out fishing the Little Su.

I glanced at the USGS water gage chart for Little Susitna River and noticed, with our recent warm weather, the water has risen to the level where past experience has show us king salmon should be moving up river. As some people know, last year I caught our earliest king salmon ever on Little Susitna River, and I caught that king salmon on May 1, with another king salmon hooked and lost on the same trip. Last year`s early king salmon and the present optimum water conditions indicate a few king salmon should already be available for harvest in Little Susitna River. Neal Sanderlin, one of our most experienced guides, has already taken his boat out for an early spring check drive, and is now available to guide king salmon charters if you or someone you know would like to fish for early May king salmon in the Little Su.

As mentioned earlier, the water is now at an optimum level for moving king salmon upriver, part of the road to the river is in rough but driveable shape, and very few people have started fishing. On guided trips in early May we usually fish lots of prime holding water searching for king salmon we can get to bite. Since few anglers fish this early, we get to fish nearly all if not all of our very best king salmon spots with little competition from other fishermen.

While we cover lots of water and fish hard for king salmon we catch before mid May, early season trips provide one of our best opportunites to see wildlife along the river banks as low spring vegetation levels allow people to view animals back off the river a ways. Incidental to king salmon fishing, we also catch more rainbow trout in May than any other month on Little Su. We release these fish back into the river, but they are fun and exciting to catch.


Little Susitna River — I talked with Nathan Drake, another guide who operates on Little Susitna River, and Nathan told me that even though Little Su Access Road is in good enough condition that several boats were launched at Little Susinta River Public Use Facillity boat launch this past weekend, Alaska State Parks has shut and locked the gate on the last mile of road headed into the campground and boat launch. Nathan said a woman with State Parks told him they could keep the road locked for as long as two weeks. This, of course, creates a major problem for anyone who would like to drive in to access Little Susitna River and Susitna Flats State Game Refuge. So, if you are planning to drive to the lower Little Susitna River anytime soon, please call State Parks at their Finger Lakes Headquarters 745-3975 and ask if they will have the gate open before you drive most of the way to the river only to discover you`ve been locked out.


Little Susitna River — I talked with Dave Rutz, the area fisheries management biologist, today, and he said he`d request that State Parks open or reopen the road to lower Little Susitna River. This evening I talked with Scott McIntosh who told me he`d driven to the river on Little Su Access Road today. He said the road is dry, but there is about a hundred yards of deep ruts. Scott is planning to fish the river tomorrow and said he`d give me a call and let me know how he does — So check in tomorrow and I should have a report from a fisherman who spends a lot of time fishing the Little Su and catches his share of king salmon.

I`m franticly trying to get as much work as possible done at the house before I start guiding trips and do not have time to do anything else. We are still planning to start fishing Little Su ourselves early next week – either Monday or Tuesday. I`m planning to fish with David Dixon, and Neal Sanderlin is also available starting Monday for guided trips. Just a note we`re getting interest in the May King Salmon Special I listed in the May 1 report, and we have scheduled to run our first charter on Thursday of next week.

Deshka River — Dave Rutz told me the Susitna River is clear between Deshka Landing and the Deshka, but he does not know if the Landing is in good enough shape to launch boats yet. According to Dave the Fish & Game Department has a man scheduled to boat over to the Deshka this weekend and the plan is to leave from Deshka Landing, but if conditions are too poor at Deshka Landing he will launch at Susitna Landing. Currently there is an ice jam on the Susitna River between Susitna Landing and the Deshka, but with our super warm weather recently, everyone I`ve talked to expects that ice jam to be long gone by this weekend.

Eklutna — I heard of another king salmon caught at the Tailrace today. It is still early for many kings to be available there, but it is an easy place to go and fish for an hour or two off the bank. Worth a try if you have a few extra moments – on a warm sunny day like today it`s good just to be fishing.


Little Susitna River — Scott McIntosh fished the lower river for about 5 hours today, and did not see or hook any king salmon. Scott said the water came up a bit since yesterday and is somewhat dark colored. He saw no other boats on the river, so he was able to fish all his favorite holes.

The river is at a good water level to bring fish in from saltwater and up the river, but also high enough that king salmon would feel comfortable stopping to rest in just about any bend of the river. Under such conditions there is an overabundance of good holding water to fish, and one of the keys to catching early season king salmon is persistently working as much good holding water as possible.

Eklutna Tailrace — Dave Rutz was working at the tailrace fishery for about an hour today, and reported he saw about a half a dozen people fishing, but did not see any king salmon surface or get hooked.


Deshka River — I talked with Rose Knowles, the wife of former Deshka River guide, Bruce Knowles. Rose said she and Bruce boated down the Susitna River to the Deshka on May 5th, but the Deshka was high enough that rather than fishing they decided to go for a long boat ride up and back down the Deshka. Sometimes king salmon can be caught in the glacial Susitna River early in the season before the water gets too silty, but Rose reports that the Susitna is already running plenty of silt. She said there was still ice along the Susitna and ice drifting down the river at times, although she added that there was hardly any ice along Deshka River. Our wonderfully warm spring weather is creating higher than normal runoff levels and making tougher than normal fishing conditions on both Deshka and Little Susitna Rivers, but I`m planning to take a boat out either May 10 or 11 – check back then to see how I do on my first fishing trip with my guide boat this season.

Eklutna Tailrace — On my way home from Anchorage today, I stopped by the tailrace to see if any king salmon were being caught. With what I know about Susitna, Deshka, and Little Susitna River water levels currenly running higher than normal for early May, it was a shock to arrive at the tailrace and see hardly any water flow and very low water levels in the tailrace channel. The obvious conclusion is the folks generating electricity upstream at the power plant must not be letting much water through – at least not when I was at the tailrace. I did not see any fish activity, but talked with an angler who told me he`d caught and released about a 5 pound king salmon on Monday, May 3, which was the first time he`d fished the tailrace this year. Just goes to show if a person is in the right place, at the right time, king salmon are available to be caught. Some people may say that 5 pounds is not a very big king salmon, but remember that the Eklutna Tailrace fishery is for stocked fish, and a full complement of age classes will not be available until 2005. When king salmon that have spend a full 3 or 4 years out in the saltwater start returning to the tailrace, Eklutna anglers will be catching a significant number of 20, 30, and, perhaps, even 40 pound king salmon.


Little Susitna River — The USGS water chart for Little Susitna River shows the river has risen about half a foot in the past two days. This sudden rise in water level should make difficult fishing conditions for the next couple days at least.

Susitna River at Susitna Landing — I talked with Marilyn Wilson and she said some large flows of ice drifted down the Susitna River today, and perhaps more could be on the way down from further upstream tomorrow. Because of our unseasonally warm weather, conditions look especially difficult for people attempting to catch king salmon fishing this coming weekend.


Little Susitna River — I talked with Michelle Booth who briefly fished the river while her husband was hunting bears out there. Michelle reported the water was lower and cleaner than she expected it to be and that it was plenty clear to catch fish. She did not catch any fish, but mentioned seeing several vehicles with boat trailers at the parking lot, and saw one group of people fishing when they drove by.

We are scheduled to guide our first king salmon fishing trip on Little Susitna River, tomorrow, so check back Monday evening to learn our results from fishing as much prime holding water as we can during the trip.

From past experience, and with the river`s water conditions, I am confident a few king salmon are scattered in the holes up and down the river from the boat launch. With some persistent effort I like our chances tomorrow.


Little Susitna River — Neal Sanderlin guided 4 people on a 6 hour morning trip, and although they backtrolled lots of prime holding water they did not get any strikes or see any fish. They did see one moose along the river while they were fishing, so that added a little excitement.

The water is higher than normal for this early in May, but Neal reported the visibility was about 3 feet – plenty clear for catching king salmon.

Deshka River – I talked with Sam Ivey, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, who spent the weekend over on the Deshka River. Sam did not see any king salmon break the surface while he was on the Deshka, although he spent plenty of time on the water. Sam did not fish, but he saw a few boatloads of people out trying their luck. Sam said the Deshka is high, but dropping and clearing up, and the Susitna River is high backing up the lower Deshka so there is very little current in the lower mile or two of the Deshka. Sam also mentioned that Deshka River Landing had openned to the public for launching boats on Friday May 7.

Eklutna Tailrace — I fished the tailrace for about an hour and a half and did not see any fish nor get any bites. Once again water at the tailrace was extremely low and there was hardly any current. The water was so low and slow below the tailrace it looked to me like no king salmon would want to even attempt swimming through the shallows until the water comes up a bit. I only saw two other fisherman who walked a long ways down the river channel below the tailrace looking for deeper water, but finally turned and walked back without finding any good deep holding water.


Little Susitna River –FIRST KING SALMON CAUGHT. Mike Hudson of 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle told me a customer weighed a 33 pound king salmon taken from Little Susitna River yesterday – May 10. This is the first king salmon I`ve heard of that has been caught from Little Su in 2004.


Little Susitna River — I heard of another king salmon that was caught yesterday, May 11, from the Little Su. David Dixon, our newest guide, will guide me and his brothers on a fishing trip this afternoon. We`ll be fishing during the middle of the day, but check back this evening if you`d like to know how we do.

It`s about 9 p.m. and we fished most of the afternoon without getting a bite or seeing a fish roll, but when we returned to the Little Su Boat Launch we talked to 3 other anglers who drove up in a boat and had caught a king salmon of about 20 pounds.

We have a charter scheduled on the Little Susitna River tomorrow, and should have a report posted tomorrow evening.

Deshka River — I talked with Ron Wilson and he`d been fishing the Deshka today, and reported seeing some salmon roll, but he and the people with him did not manage to catch any.


Little Susitna River — I guided 3 people who caught 3 rainbow trout and one king salmon which weighed 18 pounds. We backtrolled the entire day, and all the fish were caught on K-14 Kwickfish silver with a chartreuse bill. During the trip we saw several arctic terns, lots of ducks and shore birds, and some eagles. Driving to the river in the morning the guests and I each saw a moose along the road as well.

Neal Sanderlin will be guiding a trip tomorrow, and David Dixon is planning to go out and fish for 5 or 6 hours tomorrow afternoon, so I should have results from those trips posted in the evening.


Little Susitna River — Neal Sanderlin guided 2 guests on a morning charter, and they did not get any bites or see any fish. Neal said there were several other groups out fishing the river today as well, but he did not know how anyone else had done. With the return of hot May weather (70 degree days) I`ve noticed the USGS gaging station located on the upper river has been showing rising water levels for the past couple days, so I expect the lower river water to rise as well over the next couple days. Should still be good fishable conditions, but more water and probably not as clear.

David Dixon took a friend fishing on Little Susitna River this afternoon, and they did not get any bites or see any fish. He said there were more people out fishing the river today than earlier in the week.

Good News, Little Su Access Road has been graded so most of the ruts are gone, and it is considerably smoother driving.

Deshka River — I talked with 3 different sources today who reported people caught some king salmon at the mouth of the Deshka today. I also heard from 2 sources that people have been catching king salmon at Alexander Creek as well, so the lower Susitna River tributaries are starting to see some kings.

On Sunday I will be attending the Susitna Landing Season Pass Holders` Picnic. Of course, I`ll take my boat, so I will not run a charter on Sunday, but Neal Sanderlin is available if someone would like to try catching a mid May king salmon that day.

We also currently have good availability for the remainder of the month of May so give us a call at (907) 376-3687 if you would like to reserve one of these trips. Note: the number of king salmon available in the rivers should be increasing on a daily basis now, and we usually consider May 20 as the approximate date where we start expecting to see, hook, and catch king salmon on about every trip.


Deshka River — I fished the Deshka River with two friends and I caught a silver salmon sized king salmon on a K-13 silver Kwickfish with a chartreuse bill. One of the other people hooked a second king salmon with the same size and pattern of lure, but we lost it close to the boat when the hook pulled loose. The third person caught a nice rainbow trout on a K-14 Kwickfish. We also saw several king salmon jump or break water, and saw a couple other king salmon caught near where we were fishing. There is more water than there will be later in the year, and it has a light stain of color, but it is plenty clear for catching fish. I would guess we probably saw at least 30 other groups of boaters out fishing and navigating the river.

David Dixon will guide a trips on Little Susitna River the next two days, and we should have reports from those trips posted in the evenings of both days.


Little Susitna River — David Dixon reported the one gentleman he guided this morning caught a 38 pound king salmon on a K-14 silver and green Kwickfish. These early season fish often have lots of fight, and David said it took quite a while before the guest tired the fish out enough to lead him to the net. David said the water is higher and not as clear as the last time he fished and they fished about two and a half hours before his guest hooked the king salmon they caught. From looking at the USGS internet water chart I would guess the water level will stabilize and possibly even drop slightly in the lower river over the next two days.

Neal Sanderlin guided 2 guests who caught one king salmon, Neal estimated would weigh about 20 pounds, and hooked and briefly faught another king salmon before it simply came off the hook. Both of the fish were hooked on Kwickfish plugs.

David Dixon will be guiding another trip tomorrow morning, so we`ll post a report when I hear from him after that trip. We have good availability for the next 2 weeks, so give us a call at 907-376-3687 if you would like to join us on a late May king salmon fishing trip.


Little Susitna River — David Dixon guided one woman who managed to hook a king salmon on a K-14 Kwickfish, but she lost the fish before it could be netted. David reported visibility of about 20 inches, and saw another salmon break water along the river, but his guest did not manage to hook any other fish.

I should have a new Deshka River fishing report after a trip we have scheduled for the Deshka on Thursday, May 20. It might also be worth mentioning that May 20 is the first day of the Mat-Su King Salmon Derby. To learn more about the derby visit the King Salmon page of our website and click on the derby link.


2 FOR 1 Mat-Su King Salmon Derby Special

The Mat-Su King Salmon Derby runs from May 20 – July 13. During past years several Fishtale guests have caught prize-winning derby fish during May. So we`ve decided to provide a special offer for people fishing with us in May who would like to participate in the king salmon derby:

Purchase a $5 or $20 derby ticket for use on May Fishtale River Guides fishing charters, and we`ll provide a 2nd ticket of equal or lesser value for a companion on your trip. Give us a call at (907) 376-3687 if you would like to get in on the Fun!


Deshka River — I guided Dave Osgood and 3 guests on the Susitna River system and we fished several locations on our Deshka trip. The guests caught 2 king salmon weighing 28 and 39 pounds. Both fish were caught while trolling with K-15 Kwickfish, silver with chartreuse bill. In addition the guests briefly hooked 2 more salmon and caught a rainbow trout all on the same pattern Kwickfish.

At one time while we were fishing at the mouth of the Deshka I counted 15 other boats of fishermen, and we saw king salmon tied to stringers on several boats, so other folks were catching fish as well.

On the boat ride along the Susitna and Deshka Rivers our guests had the opportunity to take pictures of Mt. McKinley, bald eagles, geese, and a moose we saw swimming the Susitna River. We were able to get fairly close to the moose when it took a break from swimming by climbing up on a gravel bar. We also boated up the Deshka to look at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game`s salmon counting weir, and saw a crew of people installing the weir, but at about 2 p.m. the floating portion of the weir only extended about a third of the way across the river.

Overall we had an exceptional king salmon fishing trip, we fished hard to get bites, caught some fresh silver kings, saw some wildlife, and enjoyed a warm sunny May day.

When I got home from the trip we had no phone messages and I noticed I`d left a fax machine on. So for people who tried to call and only got a fax tone, my mistake caused the problem, and the phone should now ring through once again.


Little Susitna River — Neal Sanderlin guided 4 guests who caught one king salmon which weighed about 30 pounds. The fish was caught on a magnum Wiggle Wart. Neal said his group also had anther strike which they did not hook, and that he saw a couple smallish salmon roll whire they were fishing. The river seemed to be rising and visibility was about 16 inches – he thinks the river will be higher tomorrow (and a look at the USGS water chart for Little Susitna River indicates he is likely correct).

David Dickson guided a group of 3 guests on Little Su as well, but I have not heard how they did. When I hear from him I`ll post their results.

Susitna River tributary streams — I guided 3 guests who caught a 29 pound king salmon on a yellow and orange spinning cheater, and a king salmon of about 10 pounds on a K-15 pink and white Kwickfish. One guest had one other bite on a Kwickfish, but the salmon only pulled the lure down once and did not hang on, so the guest did not even get a chance to set the hook.


Susitna River tributaries — I guided 3 guests who caught 3 king salmon weighing 7, 10, and 19 pounds. We fished hard for every bite, and the guests decided to keep each fish. We also missed one bite, but may have caught the same fish when we caught our final king salmon in the same hole a little later. It was raining and few people were out fishing so we were able to fish every hole I wanted to try. We got 4 strikes on the trip 2 on a K-15 silver and chartreuse Kwickfish, and 2 on a yellow and orange Spinning Cheater.

Little Susitna River — the USGS water chart shows Little Su continuing to rise, although when I drove over the river on the Parks Highway it still looked fishable.


Susitna River tributaries — I guided one guests who caught a 31 pound king salmon in the second hole we fished. She had one bite and caught her salmon on a K-15 silver and chartreuse Kwickfish. After heavy rains yesterday some of the tributary streams are high and muddy, while others are still running with visibility of 3 to 4 feet.


Little Susitna River — Only one person showed up for Neal Sanderlin`s charter this morning and he caught a king salmon of about 20 pounds on a K-15 Kwickfish. Neal said the water is high, but clear enough to catch fish.

The USGS water chart shows the upper Little Su remains high, but the water level has stabilized and started dropping, so while there is plenty of water it should be clearing and fishing conditions are improving once again.

We`ll be guiding trips on both the Little Su and Big Su tomorrow (I`m planning to go to Deshka River depending upon conditions) so check back tomorrow evening for our latest reports from two or more different rivers.

We have charter availability for the next week, so if you`d like to fish with us while we have the opportunity to fish most of our prime spots with little competition, give us a call at 907-376-3687. Now is a good opportunity to catch a prize winning King Salmon in the Mat-Su King Salmon Derby, so remember to ask about our DERBY SPECIAL.


Deshka River — I guided 4 people to Deshka River today, and each person caught and kept a king salmon, the largest of which weighed 20 pounds. In addition one guest also caught a rainbow trout. 3 king salmon were caught on K-13 silver and chartreuse Kwickfish, and one king salmon and the rainbow trout were caught on a K-14 silver and chartreuse Kwickfish. The water on the Deshka is a bit high following our recent rain, but nice and clear.

Little Susitna River — Neal Sanderlin guided an afternoon trip that got one bite and caught one king salmon of approximately 25 pounds.

David Dixon guided an afternoon charter that got one bite, but did not catch a fish. Water should definitely improve tomorrow.


Susitna River tributaries — I guided my sister and her kids and they caught a 28 pound king salmon on a K-15 green and blue Kwickfish and hooked and lost a second king salmon on a white and red K-14 Kwickfish. The water looked good and they hooked a fish on each of the first two drifts. After that we did not hook another fish for the remainder of the trip even though we fished plenty of holes and a couple different streams.

Little Susitna River — Dave Osgood and his wife fished the Little Su and Linda caught a 31 pound king salmon. Dave is scheduled to run his first guide trip tomorrow.

David Dickson guided one guests and they worked lots of prime holes, but did not manage to catch a king salmon.


Deshka River and Susitna River tributaries — I guided 2 guests who caught a 16 pound king salmon on a K-13 silver and chartreuse Kwickfish at the Deshka River. In addition they also caught and released 2 rainbow trout on the Deshka and a third rainbow trout on another stream. Deshka River openned to bait fishing today, and one of the guests also hooked and lost a king salmon while fishing with salmon eggs.

Little Susitna River — David Dickson guided a group of 4 guests who caught one 39 pound king salmon on a Kwickfish plug, briefly hooked another king salmon on a Kwickfish, and landed and released a foul hooked king salmon.

Dave Osgood guided 4 people on his first trip of the season and one of them caught a king salmon of about 25 pounds on a Spinning Cheater. David was having engine trouble through out the trip and is hoping to get his boat back from the shop sometime on Tuesday June 1.

Neal Sanderlin guided 4 guests who each caught a king salmon. 2 of the salmon were caught on magnum Wiggle Warts and 2 were caught on Kwickfish. The largest fish weighed 40 pounds and the smallest one Neal estimated over 25 pounds. Water remains high, but has been clearing up.


Little Susitna River — I guided 4 guests who caught 2 king salmon weighing 8 and 28 pounds. We fished lots of prime holes, but those were the only two fish we managed to hook. One fish was caught on a pink and white K-16X Kwickfish and the other was caught on a silver and chartreuse K-15 Kwickfish. The water is a good height and color for catching king salmon right now, and the numbers of fish are starting to build, as we saw other people who had caught kings as well.


Susitna River tributaries — I guided 3 people who caught 3 king salmon. One king salmon weighed 25 pounds and was caught on a silver and chartreuse K-16X Kwickfish. The other 2 king salmon probably weighed about 8-10 pounds a piece and were caught on a green and chartreuse K-15 Kwickfish. Water conditions looked wonderful, but after catching the 3 kings soon after we started fishing, we fished lots of good holes, but did not hook any more salmon.

Little Susitna River — Neal Sanderlin guided 4 guests who caught 2 king salmon right near the end of the trip. Both of the fish were caught on K-15 Kwickfish. Water conditions are now down to normal level on the Little Susitna River for this time of year, and likely to drop even lower in the next few days.


Little Susitna River– I guided 5 guests in the morning who caught 3 king salmon. Two of the fish probably weighed between 20 – 25 pounds and the third fish weighed about 8 pounds. One king was caught on a silver and chartreuse K-16X Kwickfish, one was caught on a green and chartreuse K-15 Kwickfish, and one was caught on a silver and chartreuse Flatfish.

I guided 3 guests in the afternoon who hooked 2 king salmon on a silver and chartreuse K-16X Kwickfish. One fish got in the brush and twisted free, while the second fish got in the brush, but we managed to catch it anyway. It weighed about 20 pounds.

Neal Sanderlin guided a morning group of 4 people that caught one king salmon of about 35 pounds.

David Dickson guided a morning group of 4 guests who caught 2 king salmon and also hooked 4 additional king salmon which got away.