May 2009


Eklutan Tailrace — I test casted with some new rods and reels at the tailrace, but did not see or hook any fish. Even with the warm weather we`ve had the past couple days, the water coming through the power plant remained clear and did not have any glacial green or gray color yet.

Kepler – Bradley Lakes — the open water areas along the sides continue to grow, and the ice sheaths continue to shrink. Not a lot of water, yet, but I did see one individual fishing from a float tube.

Susitna Landing — Since Ron Wilson is till working on recovery from his stroke, he and Marilyn decided not to operate Susitna Landing this year. As I recall that decision was made back in February. Since then Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has been slow in getting the position of Landing / Campground Operator advertised. For some reason this is stalled with Fish and Game down in Juneau and it is looking like if the position was advertised tomorrow it could still be mid or Late June before the state could contract with someone to run the Landing / Campground. In the meantime, ADF&G will be operating the landing on a reduced basis. For all folks interested in seeing the Landing / Campground operated on a more full service basis, I suggest contacting your state legislators as soon as possible and requesting that this process be expedited.

For those interested in water conditions at the Landing, I have a report from ADF&G this evening that there is still an ice jam in the river out in front of the landing. So the water will be moving most of the ice out shortly — maybe even tonight.


Deshka River Landing — I talked with Roger over the phone today, and he told me people had been launching as from the landing as early as last Friday. He also said the river was open and people were boating to the Deshka, but that some ice was still being carried down streamr by the river. He said that today water was well up into the Launching area, and so high that he figured there was likely a big ice jam on the Susitna River somewhere below the Deshka River confluence, backing all the water up.

Little Susitna River — Ray Blodgett told me the Little Susitna River was open and flowing at a relatively high rate when he was down to the lower end of the river. I`ve had three reports on Little Susitna River Road going to the boat launch and campground located on the lower river. Every person I talked to reported that the road is in very poor shape, and rather than tearing it up and getting stuck — people should be better off to wait a week or at least several days until the road has a chance to dry out and firm up before attempting to drive to the lower Little Susitna River in a car or truck.

Finger Lake — I am planning to take a shake down cruise with my boats on a lake before taking them out on a river, but when I called a friend who lives on Finger Lake today, he told me while there was a bit of open water along the shore and in a few coves, the lake was still covered with ice. Looks like I may have to wait a few more days before I can take my boats for a test run.


Today has been a cool rainy day, but river conditions to fish the Deshka and Little Susitna River have steadily been improving to the point that I`m planning to fish the Little Susitna River tomorrow with a couple friends, and Pat Donnelson told me he is planning on going to the Deshka River tomorrow. Check back tomorrow evening or Friday for my first fishing report on a king salmon trip fished from a boat in 2009.


Little Susitna River — I fished with two friends on the lower Little Susinta River for the first time this year. The water is plenty high and somewhat muddy, but good enough for catching salmon. We fished all prime holes, and back trolled at least 15 different locations, but did not coax any strikes or see any fish. With the higher than normal season water level and dark colored water we were fishing, all three of us chose to fish with K-15 Kwikfish or T50 Flatfish for the entire trip. It was an enjoyable day on the river, and conditions are good for finding a king salmon, but expect to fish a lot for every bite at this time.

The road to the river has improved to the point that if a person goes slow and avoids runts and soft spots it is easily passible. We drove all the way in and out in two wheel drive, and did not need to drive through any water or mud. The good route is mostly one lane for a bit over a mile of the roughest road. I would feel comfortable driving all the way to the river with a small car — but once again drive slowly and select your route to avoid unnecessary problems.

Deshka River — Pat Donelson boated to the Deshka today with another fishing guide and checked the river out between it`s confluence with the Susitna River and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game weir site. Like every other stream in the area, a large volume of water is flowing down the Deshka at this time. Pat said the Deshka`s water plume is pushing downstream clear along the bluff below the river`s confluence with the Susitna River and that there is a strong current flowing through the normally slow Deshka river mouth area. He also said the water was muddy, and clear over the bank at some of the more upstream holes. He and his guest fished plugs off the anchor in a few spots, but did not hook any fish or come up with any bites. Water conditions are definitely favorable for drawing king salmon upstream rapidly, but expect to spend plenty of time fishing (or bring an extra dose of good luck) in order to catch a Deshka River king salmon over the coming weekend.


Finger Lake — I ran one of my guide boats out on the lake this evening, and all the ice is gone, and other people were out checking out boats and fishing as well. Finger Lake is one of the most popular lakes in the Palmer – Wasilla area for checking out boats before taking them out on a river.

I will be guiding my first king salmon charter of the season tomorrow, and since I am expecting to see few other anglers out looking for salmon, we`ve scheduled the trip later in the day than normal. We hoping temperatures will at least start to warm up, before we get out on the water. Check back tomorrow evening or Tuesday for a report of how we do on my first guided trip of the season.


Little Susitna River — I guided 4 guests who did not catch a fish. We fished K-15 Kwickfish, K-14 Kwickfish, and a Beau Mac Spinning Cheater for 8 hours, but did not see a single fish. The water had dropped and cleared considerably since my trip last week, and conditions seemed ideal for king salmon to be swimming up the river. The higher than normal water levels that attract salmon into swimming upriver, however, also create numerous additional places where salmon could stop and rest. We fished 33 prime holes in over 8 hours time, so we covered plenty of water in a thorough manner.

Today`s hot weather is also raising water levels in the upper river, and that water should be flowing to the lower river in the next few days. I hope there is still some high water left when the main run of king salmon arrives, as low warm water makes it difficult getting bites.

According to my past records, king salmon should be available now, although it definitely takes a good effort or more than a little luck to catch them. We have good availability for the next 10 days, so I would encourage anyone who would like to get out on the river and fish lots of holes for a prime early season king salmon to give us a call about reserving a May king salmon trip. 907-746-2199.


Water levels look high on the Little Susitna River, but should be dropping over the next few days according to the USGS water level chart. I will be guiding my second king salmon charter of the year tomorrow, so check back late in the day to learn how we did.


Little Susitna River — I guided 2 anglers who fished 30 prime holes, but neither of them could coax a salmon into biting, and we did not see anything that looked large enough to be a king salmon either. It was a beautiful sunny day, which we all enjoyed. Water was high and muddy, and the guests were catching debris throughout the trip. At the end of the trip, when I was leaving the landing, there were 3 Alaska State Parks employees working at the boat launch / campground / fee both area, and the campground is now open.

The road to the river has been graded, but there are still a few slightly rutted spots, and the last part of Little Su Access Road was soft and a bit muddy from yesterdays rain. Water should be dropping and clearing significantly over the next few days, so fishing conditions will improve.

We continue to have good availability through out the next week, so people interested in getting out and enjoying a day on the river with few other boats around in hopes of landing an early king salmon should give us a call at 907-746-2199.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will be presenting the Department`s plans on how it will manage the Upper Cook Inlet area commercial and sport salmon fisheries during the 2009 summer fishing season at a meeting on Monday May 18. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Wasilla at the Fire Station / public safety building on the corner of Lucille and Swanson and the public is invited to attend and discus their concerns with how the fisheries are managed. There will be a question and answer session after ADF&G`s presentations.


Kings starting to arrive at several locations. On the Deshka River Landing Outdoor Association website there is a picture of a small king salmon caught on May 16 at the mouth of the Deshka River. I heard a report of a couple other king salmon taken from the Deshka on that same day. On the Alaska Outdoor Journal website`s private angler reports, there is a report and picture of a king salmon caught at Ship Creek in down town Anchorage on May 16. On the same page there is a report of king salmon starting to swim past the Alaska Department of FIsh and Game counting weir on the Kenai Peninsula`s Anchor River, and another report of king salmon being seen in the Kasilof River. Finally, this morning a friend of mine called and said a person on his boat briefly hooked a king salmon on the Little Susitna River last night. In summary, a few king salmon are now available in several freshwater streams throughout the area. I still expect to put in plenty of time for every king salmon hooked or every fish spotted rolling, however, it is getting to be that time of year where one can start expecting to see this type of action on a typical trip.

Eklutna Tailrace — should also mention that I fished the tailrace for about an hour this morning casting #4 Flashtrap Spinners, but did not see or hook any fish. The water level in the tailrace channel was low and clear and water in the Knik River also remains seasonally low, so I do not think chances are very good in this location at this time, however, it is a quick and easy location for me to fish without investing a large amount of time.


This will also be my first opportunity to run a group in one of my guide boats using my new 90 horsepower Suzuki outboard. I`ve had a chance to run the motor for a couple hours on a lake, and am excited to see how it performs with a group of people on one of the rivers I where I guide. This motor has some new features I have not seen on any of my older outboards and according to Suzuki promotional material should require significantly less fuel to go the same distance than some of my older motors.


King Salmon in the Boat. I fished yesterday afternoon / evening with two friends and one of my friends caught a 37 pound king salmon on a K-15 Kwickfish. Even though it was an afternoon trip we also spotted a moose, a porcupine, and saw the usual waterfowl, and bald eagle along the river. The water had dropped and cleared considerably from Saturday, when I had last fished, although the USGS water chart shows the river will be jumping back up and getting muddier once again, over the next few days.

For those interested in how the new Suzuki 90 horse jet motor worked:  Fuel efficiency was very good, as after running the motor on one of my guide boats in a lake on Sunday, I forgot to stop and fill up my 6 gallon fuel tank on the way to the river. We were able to run a considerable distance and fish 16 or 17 holes with plenty of fuel to spare. This new motor features throw-you-back-in-your-seat acceleration, but also idles down lower than any other motor in this horsepower class that I have used. It is a relatively quiet outboard, however, both I and the other people fishing thought it less quiet than the larger Suzuki outboard I use on my other guide boat. For considerably more information about this new outboard and the custom welded aluminum jet boats I run on my charters, visit the Outboard Jet Boats page of this website that I also mentioned in yesterday`s report.

Deshka River — I talked with Alaska Department of Fish and Game Area Assistant Fisheries Biologist, Sam Ivey, today, and he told me the Department had a crew working to install the Deshka River salmon counting weir today and tomorrow. If all goes well, the weir could be fish tight and counting king salmon by later in the day on May 21. Weir counts posted on the ADF&G website will provide the public an opportunity to see how the Deshka River king salmon run is progressing through out the season. A count of 3,000 or more king salmon passing the Deshka River Weir by June 12 or 13 should mean the Deshka River sport king salmon fishery could logically be expected to continue through the regular king salmon closing date of July 13.

907-746-2199. Give us a call if you`d like to reserve our best available dates and times for a 2009 salmon charter.


I guided a group of 4 people in the morning who did not catch a salmon. We fished a high number of holes, but only one person had a bite, and the fish got away without being hooked. The bite came on a Beau Mac Spinning Cheater. The group also fished two K-15 Kwickfish and one K-14 Kwickfish.

In the afternoon I guided a group of 3 people who landed 2 king salmon. One salmon was hooked in the pectoral fin, so we had to let it go. I estimate it weighed about 30 pounds. The other fish was hooked on the first drift of my afternoon trip, and weighed 50 pounds on both my boat scale and the landing scales. Both fish were caught on an orange Beau Mac Spinning Cheater. So far this year, my groups have already landed king salmon earlier in May than my groups last year, and have also caught a larger king salmon than anyone on my boat during the entire 2008 king salmon season. There are some big male salmon in the river, however, an angler needs to daraw a strike from on of the few fish available, first.

We are guiding trips today, and each day of Memorial Weekend, and we`ll make reports when we have he opportunity, however, because of our schedule, the reports may be sporadic. We currently still have good availability over Memorial weekend and for next week. If you would like to reserved space to fish give us a call at 907-746-2199 — you may need to leave a message on the machine. We will get back to you.


I guided 3 guests in the mornings, each of whom fished extra time and worked hard, but no one even hooked a king salmon or even had a bite. We fished K-15 and K-14 Kwickfish and the Spinning Cheater that produced for us yesterday afternoon for the entire trip. When I talked to the Parks lady at the fee booth on my way home I learned that 4 salmon had been reported taken already today, which was better than yesterday, when I left at 9 o`clock at night. King salmon numbers continue to build in river, but the fish are scattered at this time. Water remains higher than normal, but visibility is good at about 2 feet.


I guided two guests who did not catch any king salmon. Once again we fished long and kept the lure in the water most of the time. We fished over 20 holes, some a couple times, and were the first boat fishing many of those holes in the morning, but the guests did not draw a single strike, and we did not see any king salmon at all, until we returned to the landing and saw a group cutting up a couple fish they had caught. Once again we fished with K-15 and K14 Kwickfish and an Orange Beau Mac Spinning Cheater. The water was a bit lower and clear today, and will likely be even lower and clearer still tomorrow. I`ll be guiding another group tomorrow morning, so check back Monday evening if you would like to know how we did.


I guided 2 people, one of whom caught a 23 pound king salmon on a K-15 Kwickfish. The other person did not get a bite. There were considerably more people out fishing today, on Memorial Monday. The water had dropped and cleared a bit, and should also drop some tomorrow, before it starts going back up again. My group also fished a Magnum Wiggle Wart and a Spinning Cheater with no additional bites. Along the river today, weh spotted w moose, a beaver, some trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, and bald eagles.


I fished at Eklutna Tailrace for a little while this morning — like often it was somewhat disappointing. The power plant was not releasing even enough water to push the tailrace water downstream — perhaps the folks at the power plant are busy doing their annual cleaning. What seems incredible to me, however, is that the Alaska Department of FIsh and Game does not seem to work with the power plant folks and schedule the cleaning to occur before the tail race king salmon fishery might be expected to produce king salmon. It only seems to me that having power plant outflow would have to enhance the fishery — as that is what the hatchery king salmon are homing in on. Anyway, looking at the stagnant water, I did not stick around long and saw no one having any action and saw no king salmon. The highlights of my trip were spotting a moose and water fowl as I drove across the Palmer Hay Flats, and then even more unusual, I watched a large black bear run across the old Glenn Highway about 75 yards ahead of my pick up. I`m anticipating I should have considerably more information to post later in the day, so check back later if you are interested.

Deshka River king salmon count — the Deshka River weir was fully installed on Thursday May 21. No king salmon passed the weir on Thursday or Friday, but a few went through on both Saturday and Sunday. On Monday May 25, 2009, however, 43 king salmon swam through the weir. While this is not a huge number of king salmon passing Deshka weir, it is worth noting that during the 2008 season no daily weir count of king salmon passing the Deshka River weir was this large until June 12. In 2007 there was no weir count this large until May 31. The escapement goal was comfortably achieved in 2007, but missed in 2008. Hopefully, good counts continue over the next couple weeks to where the Deshka River king salmon fishery can be expanded to follow normal sport fishing regulations once again. Say a prayer and hope for the best on this one.

Update on Eklutna Tail Race Fishery — I talked with an individual at the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project main office, and he said the outflow from the power plane was shut down for annual maintenance and if everything goes according to schedule water should start flowing sometime on Friday May 29.


I guided 4 guests and once again we fished lots of excellent water, but no one managed to catch or even hook a single king salmon in our boat. I know for sure, that one of the other guide boats out today did better, as they came back with 3 king salmon for 4 people fishing. That is the best I`ve heard of any one doing this year, but the king salmon remain scattered and difficult to find. Water level peaked for the season again today, and had some extra debris in it. We fished with K-15 Kwickfish and a Spinning Cheater for the entire trip.


High water levels look like they should level off and start dropping after tomorrow on the lower Little Susitna River. I`ll be guiding a charter tomorrow and should have a fishing report posted by the evening sometime.

Eklutna Tailrace — Dave Rutz with the Alaska Department of FIsh and Game told me today that the Department had a report of 3 king salmon caught today at the tailrace. Water remains low in the Knik River, so it is doubtful many fish are present.

Counts of king salmon passing the Deshka River Weir were 2 fish on Tuesday May 26 and 6 fish on Wednesday May 27.


It was a cool wet morning and I guided 2 guests, one of whom hooked a king salmon and battled it for a while before the line broke. That was the only bite we had, and the guests decided to head back early, because of the cool wet weather. All the other guides on the river today were still out fishing when we got back to the landing at about 10:30 a.m., so no one looked to have limited out early. On the way out I talked to the Alaska State Parks man in the fee booth, and he said that no one had reported catching a salmon at that time today. The river water level remained quite high, but while the water was dark colored, I thought all during my trip that it was plenty clean enough to catch salmon. There simply remains plenty of water to fish in order to find each individual fish. So far this season every salmon caught, and even every bite people have had in my boat, has occurred in a different hole. Fish are scattered, but soon I expect to get multiple bites and hook multiple fish from one spot. Because of debris drifting down river and tangling on our lines we fished K-15 Kwickfish all except for one drift today. The big plugs shake so hard that they mostly keep the lines clear of grass and other debris.

Water level on the Deshka River has been dropping and or remaining stable, so water conditions are more favorable on that river, although, there has been no large surge of king salmon past the weir since Monday May 25.

I am scheduled to guide another trip tomorrow morning, so check back in the evening if you would like to read that update. So far this season, with the high water, I`ve had better luck on afternoon trips than on morning trips. We currently have good availability for afternoon trips if you would like to fish later in the day when conditions currently seem better for catching king salmon. Give us a call at (907) 746-2199 to join us on a king salmon charter with a chance of catching prime chrome fish.


I guided 3 guests who caught 2 king salmon on K-15 Kwickfish. The guests also fished with a Spinning Cheater and Magnum Wiggle Warts, but only caught fish today on the Kwickfish. The water was still high today, but dropping and also starting to clear up somewhat. The fish the guests caught weighed about 10 pounds and 31 pounds, and I did not have an afternoon trip.

I`ll be out fishing again tomorrow, so check back late in the evening if you would like to know how I do.


My good luck on afternoon trips continued, as I guided 2 guests in the afternoon, and each of them caught a king salmon on K-15 Kwickfish. Both fish were bright silver females, with one weighing 19.5 pounds and the other weighing 34 pounds. Water had dropped and cleared somewhat overnight, although there was plenty of rain out on the river this morning, so we`ll see what that does for the water.

I have charter space available both Monday and Tuesday if someone would like to join me for a king salmon charter 907-746-2199. We may be out doing something, so leave a message if you get the machine, and we`ll get back to you.