May 2006

First Salmon of the Season Already Caught —- as reported back on April 27 — I’ve already caught my earliest ocean-run salmon of the season — for that matter also my earliest ocean-run salmon of any season.    See our January – April 2006 fishing reports to read more about this experience.


I talked with Mike Hudson, manager of 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle, and he mentioned 4 places where anglers had started catching some fish. The first place he mentioned was Kepler and Bradley Lakes, and that people had in fact been making some nice catches there. He next mentioned that people wre catching both rainbow trout and Arctic graylinf from Canoe Lake, also in the Kepler – Bradley Lakes system. According to the last report Mike had heard, Canoe Lake was only ice free on the shallow end near the access. Mike also mentioned talking to a fellow who had fished the Talkeetna River and caught a couple Dolly Varden upstream near the gauging station, so fish are moving up in that system. Mike also mentioned that the Talkeetna had been low over the weekend, and that water had been too low to even launch a boat from the boat launch. Mike also talked to anglers who caught a few rainbow trout near where Willow Creek flows into the Susitna River. River and stream water levels remain quite low as temperatures have not been warm enough to melt much snow up in the mountains, yet.


Mat-Su Valley Lakes — this is the bright spot where I continue to hear about some fish being caught. Lakes in the Kepler-Bradley system near Palmer are continuing to produce trout and grayling. A large section of Finger Lake is now open water as wind blew off lots of ice today. A friend who lives on the lake told me people are already out checking out their boats and motors on the Lake. It is always a good idea to check and make sure everything is working well before towing the boat to a river and launching it and then having to contend with a river current if the motor is not working correctly. Note: there is a parking and/or launch fee to use the Finger Lake campground.

Little Susitna River — Dave Rutz with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game told me that Little Su Access Road will remain gated and locked until mid-May this year. I also spoke with Kurt Hensel, the park ranger in charge of the campground and boat launch a the end of Little Su Access Road, and Kurt said he intended to drive out and look at the road today, but that he expected to keep the the gate locked for several more days. This puts a new twist in my plans as to how early I could launch a boat on the Little Susitna River, and I have no definite date as to when the road and boat launch may open other than the rather vague mid-May.

Susitna Landing — Ron and Marilyn Wilson told me that ice was flowing down the Susitna River today, but that there was not enough water to launch a boat. Ron expects there should be enough water for launching boats by the weekend of May 13 and 14. May 14 is also the day for the annual Susitna Landing passholders picnic for more information give Ron or Marilyn a call at 907-495-7700.

Eklutna Tailrace — I drove to the tailrace and notice the Knik River was higher than I expected, so I was hopeful I might run into a salmon, but no such luck. I did my usual thing which is cast a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner for about an hour. While at the tailrace I also saw 7 other people out looking for early salmon. Good news is that the parking area is now open, and there is a dumpster and outhouses so if people pick up after themselves things should stay clean. Like usual I saw some moose while driving to and from the fishery across the Palmer Hay Flats.


Eklutna Tailrace — I drove over to the tailrace this morning and fished for about an hour without seeing or hooking any fish. I saw people fishing at Kepler and Bradley Lakes, but there was no one besides me at the tailrace. Once again I saw several moose while driving across the Palmer Hay Flats both going and returning from the tailrace. A portion of the spring waterfowl seem to have migrated out of the Mat-Su Valley now, but I still saw ducks, geese, and swans this morning as well as hearing them calling while I was fishing.

Little Susitna River — After getting back from the tailrace, I talked with Mike Hudson from 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle and he told me he`d talked with a couple groups of people who were planning on going out and trying to fish the lower Little Susitna River today. As mentioned in an earlier report they may find a locked gate across the access road about a mile from the river.

Talkeetna River– Mike also mentioned that more people were now catching trout in the Talkeetna River, but that last he heard the Talkeetna Boat Lauch still did not have enough water to launch a boat.

Bill Booth called me late this evening and told me that Kurt Hensel, the park ranger for Little Susitna River Public Use Facility campground and boat launch had unlocked the gate crossing Little Su Access Road, so people may now drive on the road all the way to the river. Bill said the last part of the road was rutted, but the surface was hard. He drove to the river, launched, and boated about 8 or 9 miles both upstream and downstream from the boat launch, but did not fish.


Little Susitna River — The gate across Little Su Access Road was unlocked Friday afternoon by a state park ranger, so the boat launch on lower Little Susitna River is now open. The ice on the lower river went out more than a week ago, and I am confident some early king salmon will be caught at Little Susitna River this week. According to Bill Booth, who drove to the river over the weekend, the last mile of Little Su Access Road is rutted, but firm.

Alexander Creek and Deshka River — It`s the 2nd week of May already, and past fishing seasons have proven that some of the season`s first early king salmon should be availalble at these two additional locations. I expect king salmon to be caught at both streams this week, although, the Susitna River remains quite low, so boaters should call Deshka Landing at 907-495-3374 and find out if the boat launch is open before travelling to fish Alexander Creek, Deshka River, or other Susitna River tributaries.


Eklutna Tailrace — I travelled to the tailrace and found the power plant was not running any water out this morning. The water in the tailrace channel has been sitting around for a while, with some of the weeds along the bottom now high and dry for lack of water, it smells a bit. After I returned home I called Eklutna Power Plant and found out they have closed down operations until Friday May 19 (although the fellow I talked with did say they were anticipating running some water on Saturday and Sunday May 13 and 14). My point is that aside from Saturday and Sunday, it probably would not be worth a person`s effort to go to the tailrace until May 19 or 20.

Deshka River Landing — Sam Ivey with Alaska Department of Fish and Game told me the folks at Deshka Landing were planning on openning Friday May 12 at 8 a.m. Fish and Game staff are planning to boat to Deshka River in preparation for installing the Deshka River Weir on Friday.

Susitna Landing — I talked with Ron Wilson at Susitna Landing, yesterday, and he said there was still too much ice out on the Susitna River for people to go very far from the landing, but that some individuals had been catching trout from the Kashwitna River near the landing. I am still planning to attend the annual Susitna Landing picnic for season passholders at Susitna Landing this Sunday (May 14) and am planning to boat to the Deshka and fish for a while if conditions will allow it. Should have that report posted late Sunday night or Monday.

Little Susitna River — I`m planning to fish Little Su for king salmon before the weekend, although it may be the weekend before I get a report posted.


Little Susitna River — Norm Haynes and I drove one of my guide boats to the river for the first time this afternoon. We casted #4 spinners for about 3 hours and caught 4 rainbow trout and 1 Dolly Varden, but did not see or hook a king salmon, which was what we were hoping to catch. The water is a bit lower than I prefer for early season king salmon fishing, but has been going up steadily for the past three days on the upper river. Visibility into the river is perhaps two or three feet. While on the river today we spotted a pair of trumpeter swams, one moose, several ducks, and some long legged shorebirds. The weather was warm and sunny on the river, and it was a very enjoyable day to be outside. Little Su Access Road was graded today, so the drive in was nice and smooth. I`ll most likely be fishing the river again after the weekend, but conditions look good for people to catch a few salmon over this weekend on the Little Su.

Deshka River — I talked to Bruce Knowles, who told me that several boats launched today from Deshka River Landing, and that Fish and Game had been over to the river working at their weir site. From what Bruce heard the Deshka is flowing rather high like it usually does this time of year, and he had also heard about a king salmon that was hooked, but not landed at the Deshka on May 10. I expect with more people boating to the river this weekend someone ought to catch an early arriving king salmon.

Susitna Landing — Marilyn Wilson said there was still too much ice and not enough water in the Susitna River to do much boating up by Susitna Landing, but she and her husband are hoping the river ice clears up in time for people to launch and boat up and down the Susitna River by Sunday.


Eklutna Tailrace — I`d heard the powerplant would be running water this weekend, so I drove to the tailrace this morning only to find that little if any water was being released. I did not even bother to get out of my vehicle, simply turning around and driving home. I only saw one moose and an eagle while driving across the Palmer Hay Flats this morning.

Susitna Landing and Deshka River — I had planned to launch one of my guide boats and head down to the Deshka, but after finding out the landing was not openning until 8 a.m. I decided to leave my boat home and just fish around the landing for a while. Frede Stier and I took truns casting with one fishing rod for about 45 minutes and caught 3 fat rainbow trout on a #3 orange Flashtrap Spinner. Remember if you are fishing this or other Parks Highway tributaries of the Susitna River you must use artificial lures with one single hook at this time. In addition, all rainbow trout must be released.

Little Susitna River — Tom Cloninger from 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle in Wasilla told me an angler brought a king salmon into the shop today that he caught while fishing from the bank near Little Susitna River Public Use Facility Campground and Boat Launch. The river has risen to what I consider a decent level for catching king salmon — ideal conditions for early season king salmon fishing are enough water so the big salmon feel comfortable moving upriver, but not so much water as to cut river visibility to less than 18 inches or deepen the river enough that salmon holding water is created in every stretch of river.

I`ll be guiding my first king salmon charter or the season Monday morning, so if you want to contact us please call in the evening, submit our reservation form, send and e-mail or leave a phone message if you call earlier and we will get back to you.


Little Susitna River — I guided 3 people, one of whom hooked and then lost a king salmon after a brief fight. The fish was hooked on a K-15 Kwikfish with green tiger stripes. My guests also fished with a Beau Mac Spinning Cheater, a magnum Wiggle Wart, a K-13 Kwikfish, and Flashtrap Spinners. That one brief hookup was all the king salmon action for my first guide trip of the season. Even though the USGS Little Su water chart shows the river has gone up for the past several days, I would still characterize the water level as less than optimum for early season king salmon fishing and according to the chart the river remains signficantly lower than average for this time of year. Even though it was cool today the chart indicates the river contiuing to rise today.


Little Susitna River — I fished for a few hours with Pat Donelson and Howard Riley. We spent the entire trip backtrolling, and Pat rowed up a bite for me at the first spot we fished, but I did not manage to hook the fish. I suspect it was a trout as it did not double my rod over like a king salmon usually does. The fish hit an M-2 silver and chartreuse Flatfish plug. We saw some moose, and birds, but no other fish for the remainder of our trip.


Eklutna Tailrace — I heard the power plant was releasing water into the tailrace last night and this morning, so I drove to the tailrace and fished for about 45 minutes this morning. I cast my usual #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner, but did not get any bites or see any fish. The tailrace water is starting to get more color to it now, and the power plant seemed to be releasing a higher flow than earlier this spring. Note — that the water flow from the power plant has again been shut off and may not resume again until this weekend.


Deshka River — Ron Wilson fished near the mouth of the Deshka today, and a man on his boat caught a king salmon of about 20 lbs. today on a Kwickfish plug. Plenty of water running in the Deshka, and it is also in good shape for fishing — especially in the lower river.

Little Susitna River — Scott MacIntosh fished Little Su today and saw one king salmon roll while he was fishing, but he didn not manage to get any bites. Scott said the water was quite low and clear on the lower Little Susitna River.

I`m guiding my second king salmon trip of the season tomorrow, so check this report in the evening if you`d like to know how my group does.

Mat-Su King Salmon Derby — Saturday May 20 is the first day of the derby, and some prize winning kings should be caught on the first day of the derby. New to the derby this year, the first king salmon over 10 lbs weighed in at each weigh station is scheduled to win a prize — so remember to buy your derby ticket before fishing Saturday!


Little Susitna River — I guided a group of 4 guests today, and we were unable to connect with a single king salmon. One of the guests caught a nice rainbow trout, and a couple other guests also had strikes — but I suspect those may also have been trout. When we returned to the landing park service employees told us they knew of 3 king salmon that had been caught today. The water was even lower than the last time I was on the river, and I suspect some kings are simply waiting for higher water before swimming upriver.


Little Susitna — I guided 2 guests who fished with a M-2 Flatfish, K-15 Kwickfish, and Spin-n-glo. Water level remained low and one of the guests had a pull down bite, but was unable to hook the fish. After we returned to the landing we saw a couple kings that had been caught by other anglers. One looked to be about 15 pounds and the other weighed 56 pounds on the landing scale. Even though it was a cool day today, the USGS water chart shows the lower Little Susitna River should be rising for the next couple days, and somewhat higher water would be a good thing as it would likely bring more king salmon into the river.

Deshka River — I talked with Norm Haynes who guided a two people who caught one king salmon at the Deshka River today. Norm said the Susitna River has continued to rise making it easier to launch boats at Deshka Landing. He also mentioned that the number of people fishing the Deshka went up substancially today.


Eklutna Tailrace — I cast a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner for about an hour without seeing or hooking any fish. The power plant was not releasing much water when I fished, but I could tell by the wet rocks and waterline along the bank that a much more significant flow had occurred recently, although it did not seem to have brought any kings up to the tailrace. With king salmon at Deshka and Little Susitna Rivers I believe someone should catch one at the tailrace this week — the only thing I see possibly preventing kings from swimming to the tailrace right now is low water in the river channel below the tailrace.

Susitna Landing — Frede Stier and I drove to Susitna Landing and attended the season passholders annual picnic today. We also fished for about an hour near the landing but did not manage to catch anything. Ron Wilson said some fly fishermen had been out the day before and caught a bunch of rainbow trout and Dolly Varden.

Deshka River — If Little Su remains low wiht slow king salmon fishing I`m planning to travel and fish the Deshka River this week. Early king salmon fishing has been slow at the Deshka as well, but I think I could do better there than at the Little Su.


Deshka River — I talked with Pat Donelson who took a large group fishing over to the Deshka. Their group used 3 boats, and anglers in one of the boats managed to catch 2 king salmon using Spin-N-Glos and salmon eggs. In addition an angler in one of the other boats hooked a king salmon, but had it wrap around the anchor rope of another boat and lost it. The group also caught a few small burbot, and saw other boaters catch a few more king salmon. Susitna River remains low, but should obviously be rising with warmer weather the next few days.


Deshka River — the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has issued an emergency order that will increase the Deshka River king salmon limit to 2 kings daily and 4 in possesion. In addition hours open to king salmon fishing will expand to 24 hour a day. Both expanded regulations go into effect on Friday May 26 starting at 6 a.m. As reported earlier in our preseason forecast, the Department is expecting a strong return of king salmon to the Deshka this year, and feels escapement goals will still be comfortable met even with these expanded harvest opportunities. For more information you may call ADF&G`s Palmer field office at 907-746-6300.

Eklutna Tailrace — I fished at the tailrace for about an hour today, and while I did not see or hook any salmon, I did see about 10 other anglers out looking for king salmon. Conditions have significantly changed at the tailrace, as the water released by the power plant has much more glacial color to it now. The Knik River is also rising with the warmer weather, and there is a series of high tides this week that I am confident will bring some king salmon into the tailrace. Finally, it is simply time for the salmon to arrive. I might add that today with the higher murkier water conditions I switched to a larger and brighter #5 silver and pink Flashtrap Spinner — not that it did me any good this time. Today may have been the last opportunity I get to fish the tailrace for a while, as tomorrow I will start guiding salmon fishing trips to the Little Susitna and Deshka Rivers on a daily basis. Check back tomorrow evening for a first hand report that hopefully includes catching some king salmon.


Little Susitna River — I guided two guests for king salmon and each of them got one bite. One 15.7 pound king salmon was caught on a chartreuse with red dots Beau Mac Spinning Cheater backtrolled below a Jet Diver. The second bite was also on the same Beau Mac Spinning Cheater, but the fish was never hooked. My guests also fished a K-15 Kwikfish, a Stingfish plug, and a T-50 Flatfish with no success. After the trip when I drove past the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility park booth I asked the attendant how many king salmon they had checked through today, and was told the king my guest caught was the only fish reported through 2 p.m. today.


Little Susitna River — I guided 4 people who caught 2 king salmon weighing 10 and 21 pounds. The larger king was caught on a #2 Orange and Black Spin-n-glo with a squid tail fished behind a Jet Diver and the smaller salmon was caught on a K-15 Kwickfish. The river rose overnight and seemed to be even muddier than yesterday. We also fished a Beau Mac Spinning Cheater, M-2 Flatfish, and a magnum Wiggle Wart that did not produce any fish, but since we were working to get each bite, it seemed wise to try a variety of lures.

Deshka River — Pat Donelson guided 3 guests on the Deshka River who caught two king salmon. The smaller salmon was caught on salmon eggs and released, while the larger king (a 40 lb male) struck a K-15 Kwikfish.


Little Susitna River — I guided a morning group of 3 people, one of whom caught a 41 pound king salmon on a K-15 Kwikfish plug. One of the other people also hooked a rainbow trout just long enough for it to jump out of the water and throw the hook. The trout also struck a K-15 Kwikfish. In addition to Kwikfish, my group also fished Beau Mac Spinning Cheates without any success.

In the afternoon I fished with my sister, some of my nephews, and one niece. We did not even get a bite fishing magnum Wiggle Warts, Beau Mac Spinning Cheaters, and K-15 Kwikfish. The river rose again overnight, and should continue to rise at least for the next couple days.


Little Susitna River — I guided 4 guests in the morning who did not catch a king salmon.

In the afternoon I guided 4 more guests who did not catch a king salmon.

Greg Acord guided 4 guests who did not catch a king salmon.

The water is continuing to rise and is muddy with debris floating down. It looks to me like it should be at least a couple days until the Little Su is good fishing again. There is also a fire burning out in the Pt MacKenzie area that may disrupt anglers ability to travel to the lower Little Susitna River. Check back for further updates.


Deshka River and Susitna River Tributaries — I was planning to guide 5 people, but had engine trouble at the start of the trip and ended up cancelling. My brother was able to quickly fix the problem, and we are planning  to make a trip to the Deshka on Monday.

Pat Donelson guided 4 guests to the Deshka River who caught 1 king salmon and hooked and lost 3 other king salmon. Pat said there were lots of people fishing nearly all the holes of the Deshka below the weir.

Little Susitna River — As of the evening the driving route to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility Campground and Boat Launch on the lower river was reopenned. So I think the fire burning near Pt. MacKenzie must have been brought under controll.


Deshka and other Susitna River tributaries — I guided 5 people who caught one king salmon of about 15 pounds on a Spinning Cheater with salmon eggs fished behind a jet diver. We only saw one other salmon jump, but other people were catching a few fish as well. On our return trip from the Deshka back to Susitna Landing we saw a brown bear and two cubs swimming across a channel of the Susinta River in front of us.

Little Susitna River — The river remains higher than normal and muddy with debris drifting downstream. Greg Acord guided a trip today and his group did not get a bite. When he went past the park service booth on the way home, Greg said the parks folks had not recorded a single king salmon caught today.


Deshka and other Susinta River Tributaries — I guided 5 guests who hooked 4 king salmon at the Deshka River. Of the 4 salmon hooked the guests caught 2 of them weighing about 15 and 20 pounds. One fish was caught on a corky and salmon eggs drifted along the bottom and one fish was caught on salmon eggs drifted below an ESB slip bobber. In addition the guests hooked and lost one fish on a Spinning Cheater with salmon eggs fished behind a jet diver, and hooked and lost another fish on salmon eggs drifted below an ESB bobber. The Susitna River and Deshka River both dropped significantly overnight. After seeing a brown bear and two cubs yesterday, we saw a black bear along the Susitna River on our morning trip to the Deshka.

Alexander Creek — I stopped by 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle on the way home from Susitna Landing and Mike Hudson told me Alexander Creek had excellent fishing for king salmon today. Mike and Tom Cloninger said it was the first really good day of king salmon fsihing they knew about on Alexander Creek this year — also the best day of king salmon fishing anywhere in the Mat-Su Valley.


Deshka River — I guided 5 guests who hooked 2 king salmon on salmon eggs drifted under ESB Bobbers. One of the salmon was caught and kept. It weighed 14 lbs. All indications are that the main run is a bit late this year — as we continue to have our catch dominated by male fish. On the trip back up the Susitna River we saw a cow moose and her 2 newborn calves. We also briefly gliimpes a river otter in addition to beavers and bald eagles which we see most ever day.