Jan – April 2006


Welcome to the 2006 Fishing Reports!



Wasilla Outdoorsmans Show — This past weekend I presented a seminar on How to Catch a Prize Winning Fish in the Mat-SU King Salmon Derby on two different days. While at the show I took time to look around and noticed some great deals for fishermen — which is one of the primary reason people attend one of these shows. Some of these deals will likely be continued at the Great Alaska Sportsmans Show in Anchorage this week — April 6, 7, 8, and 9. Here are a few of the better deals I found:

Mat-Su King Salmon Derby Tickets – if a person buys an adult ticket for the entire derby during one of these shows they will save $5 off the normal $30 price. If you are interested in fishing in the derby, why not buy the ticket now and save $5. At the very least you could offset the price of admission to the show. An even better deal is the Derby Youth Ticket — $5 for the entire derby — this is the normal Youth price, but a fantastic deal nevertheless. Best deal of all for King Salmon Derby anglers who enjoy reading a fishing magazine: Buy a 5 year subscription to Fish Alaska Magazine ($115) and you receive a free adult ticket for the entire derby, a Fish Alaska cap, and a Mepps fishing lure. A certificate for $10 worth of fishing gear from 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle was also included at the Wasilla show – and may or may not be available with this deal in Anchorage.

Ambassaduer 6000 baitcasting reels for $50. These are reconditioned reels, meaning they have at one time been returned to the manufacturer, and after being checked out or repaired, the manufacturer is now offering them for sale again. I`ve purchased reconditioned Ambassaduer baitcasting reels in the past, and would not hesitate to do so again as they worked and looked like new reels. At the same booth I noticed Pro Cure`s new Last Supper salmon egg cure and Monster Bite – a scent additive for use when curing eggs. Both were offered at a special introductory price and I purchased one of each to try this summer. The third item I was intrigued by was a St. Croix spinning rod and reel combination – for the price of the rod, a St. Croix reel (made by Daiwa) would be thrown in, plus there was a manufacture`s rebate for $20. Killer deal. All of these deals were located at the 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle Booth — and I expect them to offer these and additional deals at this week`s show in Anchorage.

Scientific Anglers had a great deal on a complete fly rod, reel, and line combo. Fly anglers may want to check them out if they have a booth in Anchorage.

I was amazed to talk with a few individuals at the show who said they specificaly did not bring money so they could not spend it. Interesting philosophy, but if their goal is to avoid spending money why even pay to attend one of the shows? I acknowledge there are too many good deals at these shows for people to purchase all of them, so I suggest going with a game plan that includes which items you are interested in buying for the coming year – then consider who is most likely to offer it at the show.

At the Anchorage show, look for an amazing price on Gamakatsu Hooks (purchased by the small package) at Fred Meyer`s, while also looking at their deals on rods and reels. This year salmon and steelhead expert Buzz Ramsey, will be at the large Fred Meyer area, so I will make an effort to talk with him as well.

While on the subject of king salmon lures, I usually stop by the booth representing Worden`s tackle. The past several years they have featured deals on Flatfish and Fatfish plugs along with Spin-n-glo drift bobbers. Mark Spada is usually the man running this booth, and I recommend taking time to talk with him.

B & J Commercial always has great deals on fishing tackle including line, rods and reels, lures, and nets. I`ll be looking for a new rubber net (which are good for releasing fish and also help avoid tangling lures in the mesh).

Last year Leisure Sales offered money saving deals on Quantum reels, and I particularly like Quantum`s Performance Tuned spinning reels, and will be fishing them on my guided trips and charters again this year. Matt and Dan Parnel have delivered great service when working with my guide business and have access to several additional lines of outdoor gear.

Sportsman`s Warehouse has been giving out free coupons for $10 off when a person purchases a certain dollar value of items from their main store location. Since Sportsman`s has one of the best selections of outdoor gear in Anchorage at great prices, I always stop to see if they have continued the coupon another year.

Boondock`s Sporting Goods usually has exceptional deals on hunting gear including binoculars, rifles, guns and more.

In the heated tent outside, several businesses display boats, outboard motors, 4-wheelers, and sometimes even great deal on snowmobiles. Last time I talked with George Pearce of Anchorage Yamaha Suzuki, he had great prices on overstocked 2005 Suzuki outboards, so if you are looking for a new high performance motor at the best price you are likely to find, go talk with George.

The Great Alaska Sporsmans Show in Anchorage is the largest show in Alaska and you will find many additional promotional buys at the show, the new 2006 Alaska fishing regulations, guided charters and trips, informative daily seminars on a number of outdoor related subjects, the fishing pond for kids, and more. Perhaps I`ll see you at the show.

P.S. While Fishtale has no booth at the shows this year, the next month remains our busiest time of year for booking fishing trip reservations. So, if you would like to make a reservation for guided salmon fishing trip(s) while prime dates are available, phone us at 907-746-2199.

— Andy Couch


Palmer, Alaska — The Great Alaska Sportsman Show in Anchorage is over for another year now. Although Fishtale River Guides did not have a booth, I spent portions of 3 out of the show`s 4 days looking around the show, talking to people I may only see a few times a year, purchasing several new fishing items for the business, and even one day working at the Mat-Su Convention and Visitor`s Bureau booth.

There is still ice on local rivers and lakes, however, we are planning to be fishing for king salmon in about one month. We`ve been busy answering the phone, e-mails, and booking trips — infact, we`re behind, but hope to get caught up again this week. My boat has been booking quickly for June king salmon dates, so now would be a good time to call if you might be interested in fishing with us in June.

2006 MAY KING SALMON SPECIAL — If you are interested in fishing for early May king salmon we are offering a special for anyone who would like to fish before May 20. When you fish our standard 6-hour trip, in my personal guide boat, before May 20, I will throw in two extra hours of guided fishing without charge. So you will get an 8-hour trip at the 6-hour price (although regulations will be followed and all trips will end when the last guest keeps a daily king salmon limit).

This is early season fishing and only a few kings are nosing into the rivers, however, every year guests on my boat land some dandies at this time. So give us a call at 907-746-2199 or fill out and submit the Fishing Trip Reservation Form on the Prices page of this website if you would like to make reservations for our May trips or a guided salmon fishing trip later in the Summer.


LITTLE SUSITNA RIVER — I talked with Dave Rutz, a local fisheries biologist, and he mentioned Alaska State Parks has gated Little Su Access Road, the route to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility Boat Launch, and is planning to keep the route closed until May 5. This seems to be something the Parks people do every spring in an attempt to avoid having the road tore up by vehicle traffic when frost starts meliting out of the ground. Anyone thinking about driving to the river for the remainder of April or early May can call Mat-Su Valley Parks headquarters at 907-745-3975 for an update on road status and conditions.

Our annual melt off of snow and ice covering local lakes and streams seems to be progressing slower than some previous years, so we will likely NOT get a boat out on any river for king salmon fishing in 2006 until after the May 5 date mentioned earlier.


Eklutna Tailrace — I fished for ocean-run king salmon for the first time in 2006, casting and retrieving a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner, but did not get any bites or see any fish. The water flowing out from the tailrace was very low and clear, and I doubt any large king salmon would want to hang out in such a meager flow. If a large salmon had been present it seems very likely that I could have spotted it because the water was that low and clear. I hadn`t been anticipating fishing at Ekllutna so early this year, but toward evening I was ready to get out of the house and do something outdoors, so I grabbed a new spinning reel I wanted to try and headed out. My new Quantum Kinetic spinning reel performed flawlessly. I also saw a pair of moose on the drive over to the tailrace, and some ducks paddling around where I was fishing.

A couple days ago Dave Rutz told me he had been seeing people fishing at the tailrace, but had not talked with anyone who had caught a king salmon yet.


Eklutna tailrace: I drove to the tailrace and fished for about an hour without seeing any sign of a king salmon or any other fish. The outflow was higher and I felt like king salmon could be hiding in the deeper spots. I once again fished a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner the entire time, and made a specific effort to be fishing right around high tide so the maximum amount of water should be in the river and backed up all the way to the tailrace. In the time that I spent fishing I could not notice any detectable difference in water level, and according to my tide book it should have been a huge tide (over 30 feet) today.

Driving to and from the tailrace I saw people fishing the small amount of open water between Kepler and Bradley Lakes for stocked trout and grayling. I did not stop to see if anyone was catching fish, but wanted to mention that there is now enough ice free water for people to get out and cast a bit. There is still lots of ice left on these lakes, but if the wind keeps up for another day or two the remaining ice could break up quickly.



Eklutna tailrace — Persistence finally paid off when a 5 lb. salmon inhaled my #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner this morning. I`ve been trying to catch an ocean-run salmon in April for 3 years at the tailrace, and after hooking this fish and battling it for a few minutes, I was able to successfully lead it up on the beach. She was a beautiful chrome salmon, and best of all it was a coho or silver salmon, so I could keep the fish without having it count as one of my 5 king salmon per season limit.

I`m sure plenty of people are skeptical of anyone catching an ocean-run salmon in the Mat-Su Valley in April, let alone a silver salmon. Having lived and fished in the Mat-Su for 35 years and never hearing of anyone catching an ocean-run silver earlier than late June, I know I would be skeptical. So, to document my catch, I drove the fish over to 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle in Wasilla where Mike Hudson captured some pictures and even pulled out the store scale and weighed the fish. Anyone having trouble believing this fish tale, without proof, should feel welcome to call 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle at 907-373-5434 or stop by the shop and ask to see pictures of my April 27 silver salmon.

Casey Ressler with the Frontiersman newspaper also came by the shop, asked questions, and snapped pictures which may result in a short aritcle in the Sunday April 30, 2006 edition of the Frontiersman.

Years ago, a fisheries biologist with Alaska Department of Fish and Game once asked me how I ALWAYS managed to catch the first salmon of the year from Little Susitna River. To be honest, I don`t, but perhaps my bigget secret for catching early season salmon is simply that I love to fish and I fish for salmon.


Eklutna Tailrace — I drove to the tailrace and casted and retrieved my #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner for about an hour, but did not see or hook anymore salmon. I timed my trip to be at the tailrace when the tide came in, and it was a big 32 foot tide that raised the water level all the way to the tailrace, but I did not see any salmon riding in on the tide. Several days of extra high tides have however, cleared out most of the remaining ice on the lower Knik River. While driving across the Palmer Hay Flats both going and returning from the tailrace I saw spotted several moose browsing near the highway.

Kepler-Bradley Lakes State Recreation Area — Also while driving to and from the tailrace, I noticed that the ice free water portions of Kepler and Bradley Lakes continue to grow larger, and I suspect that within a week these lakes should be nearly, if not entirely, free of ice. I`ve seen people fishing the open water areas, but have not stopped to give it a try or see if they are catching fish. At least there is another place where people can get out and fish some open water.

Finger Lake — I stopped by Finger Lake and noticed the ice was starting to melt away from the shallow water near the campground, but looks like it should be at least a week before there will be enough open water to launch a boat and make a shakedown cruise.

Susitna Landing — I talked with Marilyn Wilson and she said there is too much ice on the rivers to drive a boat anywhere from Susitna Landing, but that last year the ice went out just about this time. Winter seems to be hanging on a bit later, but with contiunally lengthening daylight hours and warmer temperatures except old man Winter to make a speedy exit soon.


Eklutna Tailrace — I drove to Eklutna in one final attempt to catch an ocean-run Mat-Su Valley king salmon in the month of April. Even though I timed my trip around high tide, the tide levels are declining now, and less water is being backed up to the tailrace. The water was extremely clear and I fished for about an hour with a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner without seeing a fish or getting a bite. There was also a man and woman fishing the entire time I was at the tailrace, and they did not have any luck either. The man looked to be fishing flies, while the woman looked to be fishing salmon eggs under a bobber.

Now that the tides will be runnning considerably lower for the next few weeks, I will likely wait for snow melt to raise the Knik River before making another trip to the tailrace — perhaps mid or late May.

Little Susitna River — although Little Su Access Road remains gated and locked to keep vehicle traffic from tearing up the road, I talked to a friend of mine who went through to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility campground and boat lauch on Saturday and told me the river is now open to where a boat could be launched, but there are large ice chunks along the river banks both up and downstream from the launch.