May 2010



Fish for large May king salmon on the most productive rivers located a scenic 90 minute drive north of Anchorage. Our standard 6 hour trip includes a helpful friendly Alaskan guide, roomy comfortable jet boat, fishing several of our best hotspots, quality fishing tackle and gear, fish filleting at the end of your trip, and a complimentary Fishtale t-shirt. We will provide this special pricing through the entire month of May 2010, but charter space is limited, so call now for best availability and selection of dates. 907-746-2199. You may also fill out and submit our reservation form at the bottom of our PRICES page — mention the $100 May Special.

At this time I am hoping to start fishing for king salmon on the Little Susitna and / or Deshnka Rivers between May 7 – 10, 2010.


River and Stream Conditions

My nephew Daniel Warta and I drove up the Parks Highway today and fished 4 tributaries of the Susitna River today. The main reason for the trip was to get a look at stream and river conditions, but also hopefully to catch some rainbow trout and or Arctic grayling. We cast #3 orange Flashtrap Spinners and saw a few large trout splashing around near two of the stream mouths. Daniel managed to catch a dandy fat rainbow that had to top 20 inches, and was carefully released without being removed from the water. (All fishing on these streams for rainbow trout is catch and release at this time, and anglers are additionally required to use single hook artificial lures only.)

While we found open water at each of the locations we fished, it was really a matter of different degrees of open water. Two of the streams had just a bit of snow and ice along the sides, while two others had much more snow and ice. In 3 locations where the streams ran into the main stem Susitna River there was considerably ice along the banks, and plenty of melting ice being washed down the river — some in very large chunks. Definitely not the kind of water a person would want to venture out in with any kind of jet boat. It should take a few to several additional days before the ice flows clear enough for comfortable boating along the Susitna River. Another aspect of the stream flows was that the water was dark with low visibility in the tributary streams and even muddier already in the Susitna River. I suspect the dark colored water is both a result of run off and ice scouring and eroding the river banks as it is swept downstream. I`m thinking though, that the Ice flow down the Susitna River may be mostly over by the end of this coming week, and I think I`m still on track to get my boat out on the river and try some salmon fishing by then.

On our fishing road trip today, we noticed people fishing at the Kepler – Bradley system lakes near Palmer, noticed people fishing at Junction Lake along the Parks Highway, saw that both Wasilla and Lucille Lake in Wasilla were open and Lucille had at least a couple groups of boaters out on the water when we drove by. From the Houston area and further north, all the lakes we could easily see from the Parks Highway seemed to be ice covered. There are several lake fishing and boating opportunities already available, but others require a bit more waiting. Most of the snow along the Highway seems to have already melted as far north as we traveled (Sheep Creek).


Bruce Knowles, who owns a house inside the Deshka Landing facility, reported that Deshka Landing had opened their low water launch to the Susitna River today. I would expect plenty of ice will continue to flow down the Susinta River for the next few days, and especially as the river level rises with increasing temperatures later in the afternoons. For that reason, I plan to wait a few more days before venturing up that way, Nonetheless, it is heartening to hear that at least one place is open to launch a boat on the Susinta River.


Weather keeps getting better and more summer like, and I am confident in fishing conditions on the lower Little Sustina River, but have been waiting for road conditions to improve before venturing there.

Ice flows continue to come down the Sustina River, and a friend reported that even though Deshka River Landing was open to launch their boat yesterday, before they reached the Deshka River their travel was blocked by an ice jam, so they had to return without reaching their destination.

Bob Meals of Tri River Charters in Talkeetna told me he has a boat in the water and is currently running drop off trips and guided trips for trout fishermen. Fishing has been good with little fishing pressure. You can contact Tri River Charters at 907-733-2400.



I`ve taken on the task of writing a weekly Mat-Su fishing column for the Frontiersman newspaper, and the first column appeared in today`s (Friday May 7) edition. This column will benefit the Mat-Su Anglers Club, and other businesses, organizations, and individuals who would like to participate.

It is my intent to include as much Mat-Su fishing newsworthy items as possible in each short column. This is an invitation to businesses and the public to supply information that may be useful to Mat -Su anglers for inclusion in the column. information may be e-mailed to

For those who would like to read the first Mat-Su Fishing column if you copy the following url and paste it into the navigation bar of your web browser it should take you to the article:


Eklutna Tailrace — It had been almost a week since I last tried to catch a fish, so this morning I got up early and drove to the tailrace to try for an early king salmon. On the drive across Palmer Hay Flats I spotted an even dozen moose browsing off to the right side of the highway. When I reached the tailrace the first thing I noticed was that there seemed to be no water flowing out of the power plant, so the water in the tailrace channel was nearly void of current and crystal clear. I tossed my usual #4 silver Flashtrap Spinner for a while, and did not get any bites or see any fish. I did hear some trumpeter swans trumpeting across the river, and saw some ducks playing around in the sunshine. On the trip back home I stopped at the Knik River off ramp and watched the river near and under the highway bridge for a while, but did not see any activity there either.

My plans have been somewhat delayed, however, I still plan on getting one of my guide boats out on a river and doing some salmon fishing either today, tomorrow, or Monday. Check back to read results from my first boating trip in search of king salmon for 2010.


Finger Lake — I took one of my guide boats out for a check run today, and people were catching some rainbow trout and landlocked salmon off the boat dock at Finger Lake. The boat ran smoothly and I`m planning to take it out for my first king salmon fishing expedition of the year on the Little Susitna River. I`ve been watching the USGS water gauge for the Little Susitna River, and it looks like the river is almost up to the level where I expect to find king salmon working their way upriver. Check back late Monday evening if you would like to know what we find.


Little Susitna River — I fished with Scott Macintosh and Dave Osgood today and Scott caught a fish at the first spot we stopped on his second cast. The fish, however was a Dolly Varden of about 14 inches that hit his salmon-size-appropriate spinner. We cast spinners in a couple spots, and back trolled with K-15 Kwikfish through several prime holes, but we did not see or hook any king salmon. The water height and color looked good for king salmon to be moving upstream, however, and the main ingredient I`ve found in the past for catching king salmon this time of year is to simply be persistent and keep fishing. Today we “only ” spent about 4 hours on the water, so perhaps if we stayed with it we might have ran into an early king or two.


It is a bit breezy at 5:30 a.m., but not nearly as windy as it has been the past couple days. If the wind stays down I hope to take the boat out for another fishing trip later today. I have a friend interested in trout fishing, but if we go we`ll also likely fish on a king salmon river, so one never knows what might happen. I`ve many times caught king salmon on trout sized lures — after hooking one of the big bad boys, an angler has to take enough time to wear out the salmon in order to avoid straightening tiny trout hooks.

Yesterday I talked with Jason Votruba at Deshka Landing 907-495-3374 and he reported that although several boaters had driven from the landing to the Deshka River (including himself two times already) he knew of no one that had landed a king salmon, yet. To be fair, Jason felt some people were making the trip primarily to prepare summer cabins for the coming season, some were hunting bears, and some we doing a bit of fishing.

Large discharges of ice that were floating downstream on the Susitna River past Deshka Landing as recently as last week, seem to be a thing of the past as little ice has floated past in the last few days. Jason is expecting a fair amount of boaters and anglers to launch out of Deshka landing this coming weekend.

7:30 a.m. my trout fishing friend already made other plans for the day, so I`ve decided to take Dave Osgood, a nephew, and niece king salmon fishing. Trout fishing could likely produce considerably more action, but there should be a few kings available by now, so we`ll go put in some time and see if we can catch one of the big bad boys. How long we fish may be partially determined by the weather as it is breezy and threatening to rain, so if anyone gets too cool we may return early.

Back from our fishing trip. Dave Osgood caught a Dolly Varden that attacked a K-15 Kwikfish. The lure was nearly as large as the fish that he caught. Later in the trip my nephew, Josiah Warta briefly hooked a king salmon, but then the line went slack, and when Joe reeled in we found that his Kwikfish plug had been broken and all that was left tied to his line was a piece of shattered plastic. Any way, this was the first king salmon hook up of the year in my boat. The key to catching king salmon this early in the season seems to be persistence and fishing lots of prime holding water. That is exactly what we did today, without the equipment failure issue there is a good chance we would have boated our first king salmon. Water conditions are good, and the first king salmon have returned on a similar schedule as to when we`ve caught fish on previous years.

Also on our trip today we saw 4 moose along the river, one porcupine, a pair of trumpeter swans, and several ducks. Give us a call at 907-746-2199 if you would like to join us on a trip.

I`m planing to fish again tomorrow, and in the evening I will be giving a presentation on how to clobber salmon with bobbers and bait at the Mat-Su Anglers Fishing Club meeting. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Mat-Su Resort and the public is invited. Call club president Julie Busch at 907-892-7543 for more information.



I`ve been talking about nice water conditions and what it takes to catch king salmon this time of year, well today I fished with a couple nephews– Stephen and Daniel Warta. Both of them landed king salmon, with Stephen`s topping 30 pounds and Daniel`s just over 22 pounds. In addition, Stephen landed a rainbow trout on a very small plug and then a while later a king salmon grabbed the same little lure and was brought to the boat for a quick release as well. The king salmon were there first 3 of the year caught from my boat so it looks like more kings are starting to enter Mat-Su Valley rivers a this time.

Later in the evening I also be gave a presentation about how to clobber salmon with bobbers and bait at the Mat-Su Anglers Club meeting. at Mat-Su Resort — the public was invited, and several non club members attended.. Contact Julie Busch at 892-7543 for additional club information,

Today I also submitted my second fishing column to the Frontiersman Newspaper and it should be printed in the Friday edition. Check it out online or in a paper newspaper.


I stayed home and did business work around here today. Tomorrow I will be running king salmon charters. Check in late evening for updates. River water levels have been dropping over the past several days as a result of cool dry weather. Water level is now lower than normal for this time of year, but more king salmon are becoming available.


I guided a group of 4 guests who had one bite on a T50 Flatfish and another bite while drifting bobbers and Fire Cured salmon roe, but neither fish was hooked, so no one caught a fish.

I guided an afternoon group of 3 guests, one of whom caught a whitefish while fishing Fire Cured salmon roe behind a jet diver. The same guest also had one other bite on the same bait, but did not hook that fish.

We saw a few king salmon hooked and lsot, and a few other that were caught by other anglers close by, so it kept up our hopes that we were going to catch some salmon, but even though we were fishing right through some of the areas where fish had been caught and were caught later. we just did not connect.

As mentioned in previous reports, the number of king salmon continues to build as the season progresses, but in this case there were significantly more boaters attempting to catch those salmon on the first day bait fishing was allowed.


I fished with 3 relatives and a friend on the Deshka RIver today. One member of the group hooked, battled, and had a nice king salmon right near the boat before the hook pulled loose. The fish looked to be about 25 pounds and was hooked on a K-15 Kwikfish. In addition, we had several small bites, that on 3 occasions turned out to be whitefish, which we released. There was between 5 and 10 boats of anglers fishing while we were at the Deshka, and we did not see anyone else even hook a salmon.

It looked like the salmon that had been available the past few days may have moved on upriver, and few additional salmon had replaced them. With May fishing, we know from experience that new groups of salmon could move up and be available at anytime, but like with other types of fishing we do not know exactly when and where they will be found, and for Mat-Su Valley king salmon this is especially true during May. Our usual key for success is to get on the water, be persistent, and either try many spots, or work a particularly productive spot very hard.

If you would like to join us on a king salmon trip at a time when relatively few other anglers are on the rivers, we still have May availability — and even during the last week of May (usually the most productive time of the month for catching king salmon). All 6 hour trips are available at our May Special price of $100 per person. Fill out and submit the reservation form located on the Prices page of this website or give us a call at 907-746-2199 to make your reservation NOW!


Today, unless I get a request for an afternoon salmon trip, I will be preparing two additional Fishtale guide boats for use on the rivers. I had hoped to help with the river cleanup and work day mentioned below, but had to reprioritize to catch up on guide business work.

Two Little Sustina River Guides, Bill Booth and Dave Childs will be running a field trip of Teeland Middle School students to the Little Susitna River for a river cleanup, and to help Alaska State Parks personal prepare on river campsites and Little Susitna River Public Use Facility campground and boat launch for summer season use. Putting this together has taken plenty of work, so If you get the chance, please give Bill 745-5464, Dave 892 – 7200, Teeland Middle School 352-7500, and Alaska State Parks (Mat-Su) 745-3975 a BIG THANK YOU for this worthwhile public service endeavor.


Eklutna River / Knik River — I took 3 of my nephews fishing in the morning. Water was low and looked like few salmon would want to attempt making the journey up the side channel to the tailrace — however, if a fish made it to the tailrace it likely would not want to leave as there is plenty of 4 or 5 foot deep water in the tailrace. I had received word from a couple sources with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that a few king salmon had already been landed at the tailrace, so I decided to check it out, but once again we came away from the fishery a bit disillusioned. All of my nephews and my niece did not get a bite, and we did not see any fish.

I will be guiding charters tomorrow, so check back then for new reports.


I guided 3 people to the Deshka River who fished in the morning, and one of them caught a king salmon of about 8 pounds on Fire Cured salmon roe.

I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests who had several light bites which I suspected were some type of small fish, like trout or jack king salmon, but they never managed to hook any fish up, so we were never able to identify what was biting. We also saw one full sized king salmon roll at one place we were fishing, but were unable to even entice a strike there. This was the first full sized king salmon I`d seen roll this May.

The Susitna River was rising significantly today, while the Deshka had dropped just as significantly since the last time I had fished it on Monday.

I will be guiding two groups again tomorrow, so check back in late evening for more reports.


I guided 2 people in the morning who each caught a king salmon on the Deshka River on Fire Cured salmon roe fished with jet divers and Spinning Cheaters. The kings weighed approximately 16 and 10 pounds.

I guided 2 people in the afternoon, one of whom caught a rainbow trout over 20 inches and a king salmon that weighed 22 pounds. Both fish were caught with a Beau Mac Spinning Cheater sweetened with Fire Cured salmon roe and fished behind a jet diver.

The Susitna River rose significantly again today, and I had to clean sticks and debris out of the jet unit of my outboard motor several times while traveling on the Susitna River between Deshka Landing and the mouth of the Deshka River.

We saw some of the usual Deshka wildlife, lots of ducks, several beavers, and several eagles.

We still have good availability for May king salmon trips at our Special Pricing of only $100 per person for a full 6 hour trip including a Fishtale T-Shirt. Fill out and submit our reservation on the Prices page of this website or give us a call at 907-746-2199 to reserve your trip now.


I guided 4 people, one of whom caught then released a small king salmon on an M2 Deep Dive Flatfish. The same guest also had one additional bite, but did not manage to hook it.

Greg Acord also guided a group of 4 guests who caught one king salmon of about 23 pounds, one jack salmon, and hooked but last another king salmon when it wrapped the line up on a snag after being hooked.

Water was perhaps a bit above normal level for this time of year, but lower and clearer than during the heart of the king salmon season. We enjoyed a pretty day on the river and saw a couple moose, some trumpeter swans, other waterfowl, and heard a wild chorus of birds.

Two boats collided on the river today, and although one boy bumped his head on a steering console, everyone seemed to be o.k. This should be a reminder to all boaters to proceed cautiously, and go around tight corners under control and able to make adjustments in direction and speed.


I guided a group of 3 people, one of whom caught a king salmon that I estimated to weigh over 30 pounds. The fish was caught on a #5 orange blade Flashtrap Spinner.

Other members of the group also hooked 3 rainbow trout, but only brought one of them all the way to the boat.

We fished lots of holes, but that was all the action we had, although we did see 5 other king salmon get caught by other anglers.


Last Week of  May Special Price Trips

We`ve caught king salmon on our last 6 Fishtale River Guides charter trips now, and I`m expecting to see king salmon / get bites / catch fish every day. There are simply more kings available as we progress into the last week of May. Water conditions are good on both the Little Susitna and Deshka Rivers, and we still have good availability for both morning and afternoon trips in the coming week. Give us a call at 907-746-2199 to reserve your spot on one of our trips at this special pricing — with a Free Fishtale T-shirt to sweeten the deal for all paying guests during the last week of May.

Greg Acord guided 3 people for us on a morning trip today and one of them caught a king salmon. This is what could be expected of a May trip — people are likely to catch a king, but not necessarily everyone on the boat.


I fished with 2 of my nephews and a niece in the morning and my niece hooked a king salmon, but lost it shortly after it broke water. She hooked the fish on a Beau Mac Spinning Cheater fished behind a Jet Diver. I dropped my young relatives off at a campsite along the river while I guided my afternoon charter and they saw king salmon roll two times while they were waiting for me.

I guided 4 people in the afternoon, and a couple of them set the hook several times at what they thought were bites, but we never managed to hook a king salmon.


I guided 4 people in the morning, and although we fished several prime holes in the morning with both Spinning Cheaters and K-15 Kwikfish, the group did not get any bites.

Russ Colee guided 3 people who hooked 4 king salmon on K-15 Kwikfish, but they lost each fish before they could land them. One fish got wrapped up in a snag and the lie broke, an the other 3 simply came unhooked.

Greg Acord guided an afternoon group of 4 guests who hooked and caught one king salmon of about 30 pounds.

Water level rose a bit and there is more color to the river, making conditions seem almost ideal for additional king salmon to enter the river and for us to catch them. Check back tomorrow for the next report.


I guided a morning group of 4 guests, one of whom caught a 31 pound king salmon on a K-15 Kwikfish. The same individual also hooked and lost another salmon before landing the one he kept.

I guided an afternoon group of 3 people, one of whom caught a 15 pound king salmon on a K-15 Kwikfish. One of the other members also hooked, but lost a king salmon near the end of the trip. There was very little fishing pressure on the river during out afternoon trip, and we fished lots of prime water, but simply could not find many salmon willing to bite.


I guided a morning group of 3 guests, one of whom briefly hooked but lost a small salmon on a K-15 Kwikfish. The same guest also had one additional quick strike, but did not manage to hook it. Aside from that it was a beautiful sunny morning to be on the river and fishing. We saw a cow and calf moose along the river, with the newborn calf struggling to get up a very steep bank. We checked back a little later and it seemed to have made it up the bank.

Water is somewhat muddy, but remains at a great level for bring king salmon into the river and also should be a good level for catching king salmon.

Two friends of mine went hooligan fishing just upstream from the Deshka River mouth and netted all of the little fish they wanted to bring back in less than an hour. Both of these individuals filled multiple coolers as they were helping friends get a good supply. Note to those who have never tried eating hooligan, I would suggest catching a few and eating them before going hog wild on how many you bring home. In my humble opinion, there are lots of fish much better eating than hooligan. Since I fish enough to catch plenty of other types fish, I don`t personally keep hooligan. On the other hand, some people really like the little guys.


I guided two people in the morning, one of whom caught a 24 pound king salmon on a K-15 blue and chartreuse Kwikfish. Water seemed quite muddy.

I guided a single person in the afternoon, who caught a 33 pound king salmon on the same blue and chartreuse K-15 Kwikfish.


I guided a group of 4 people in the morning, two of whom caught king salmon. One king salmon was caught on a K-15X Kwikfish and the other king salmon was caught on a K-15 Kwiikfish. The fish weighed 26 and 10 pounds.

I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests who fished hard, but did not manage to catch a king salmon.

Water was plenty high and dirty today, and according to the USGS water chart should get higher tomorrow.