Jan – April 2012


We will be guiding ice fishing trips through the month of March. This is my favorite “winter,” month for ice fishing as daylight hours are considerably longer and weather is often pleasant. Sometimes the fish start getting more active in March as well.

Of course we will also be taking reservations for our summer 2012 salmon fishing charters in our customized roomy jet boats during the month as well.

Give us a call or e-mail for more information.



A biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game explained some regulation adjustments the Department is planning for the 2012 Mat-Su Valley king salmon fishing season. The Department is planning to have a 2 king salmon seasonal harvest limit for streams in the Mat-Su Valley this year.

Deshka River will remain open for king salmon harvest on a 7 day per week basis.

Little Susitna River King salmon harvest will be allowed on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays — with Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays as catch and release fishing on the Little Susinta.

The Eastside Susitna River tributary streams between Willow and Talkeetna River will be open for king salmon harvest through June 11 — after June 11 the lower portions of these streams will be open for 3 consecutive Saturday, Sunday, Monday periods only for catch and release king salmon fishing.


I am still expecting fishing this year to be similar to what it has been the past couple seasons — and perhaps somewhat better. Since I’ve been guiding on several different streams for several consecutive years, now, I am planning on guiding most, if not all, of my king salmon trips on streams that will be open to harvest each day that I guide. That way if guests catch a nice king salmon they would like to keep they can do so on any of my guided trips. If a group of 4 or more people would prefer to reserve a trip to fish one of the streams scheduled for catch and release fishing on a particular day — I may also be able to schedule that opportunity.

I’ve been busy scheduling salmon fishing trips for the past couple months, and have currently scheduled more than half of the June morning trips for my boat and a smaller number of trips for Greg Acord’s boat. Give us a call at 907-746-2199 or fill out and submit the Reservation Form at the bottom of the Prices page of this website to start the reservation process for your 2012 guided salmon fishing trip.


I guided an ice fishing group of 3 guests. The ice depth is close to the length of my ice auger, so it take a while to drill holes now. My guests fished in 3 different locations and caught about 20 fish, all of which were less than 12 inches in length. Although I’d had some trips where other groups had caught some larger fish over 20 inches earlier in the winter from these locations, on this trip my guests did not manage to even hook one of the larger fish. All of the fish were caught on Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs. The group saw some moose on their trip to the lake, and saw a single bald eagle fly over while we were fishing.


I guided an ice fishing group that consisted of a young boy, his father, and grandfather. By their own count the group caught 28 fish, all of which we released. We started fishing a bit earlier in the day than on our last trips and temperatures were cooler because of it. For that reason we decided to start fishing on the sunny side of the lake where it was a bit warmer. All of the fish were caught on Balls O’Fire single slamon eggs, with the fish measuring up to about a foot in length — but most smaller than that size. It took a while to get the fish attracted to where we were fishing, but after that the action was fast enough to keep even our youngest angler excited and intent on catching landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden char.


I guided 2 guests, each of whom caught one rainbow trout, some landlocked salmon, and some Arctic char. Similar to most of our recent trips, most of the fish were less than 12 inches in length. For a change, however, one of the guests hooked into a large fish that pulled drag off the reel and made several good runs before it could be led up through the hole in the ice. The fish turned out to be a fat 22 inch Arctic char — and I’m hopeful my next ice fishing group may catch another of these strong and colorful fish.

Ice depth is close to 3 feet, and all of my guests fish were caught using single Pautzke salmon eggs. Weather has been getting nice with warmer temperatures especially on afternoon trips.


Mat-Su Outdoorsman in Wasilla —

Today is the last day of the Outdoorsman Show and I will be at our booth selling trips, except for when I take about an hour break at 1 p.m. to present my last seminar of this show on, “Casting Spinners for Salmon.” Ben Allen will be helping with the booth today while I am giving the seminar. The show is located in the Menard Sports Complex on the north side of town.

I’ve had an opportunity to talk with many people each day about our guided salmon fishing opportunities, and we also have booked some guided trips each day as well.

On March 29, 30, and 31 I will be presenting 2 different salmon fishing seminars at the Great Alaska Sportsmans Show in Anchorage. I’ll also be walking around seeing the show, and working at a couple different booths for a shift during the show.

This is typically our busiest time of the year for taking reservations for king salmon fishing trips, so give us a call to get the best selection of available king salmon fishing dates while they are still available.




The Great Alaska Sportsman Show located at Sullivan Area in Anchorage, Alaska is quickly approaching. I will be spending a considerable amount of time at the show — presenting seminars and working a shift at both the Mat-Su CVB booth and the Deshka Landing Outdoor Association booth.

For those who might want to catch one of my seminars they will be located in the Sullivan V.I.P. Lounge with two presentations of each seminar as follows:

Casting Spinners for Salmon 5 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday.

Clobber Salmon with Bobbers & Bait 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Those interested may also continue to reserve our guided fishing trips by filling out and submitting the RESERVATION FORM located near the bottom of the Prices Page of this website — or give us a call at 907-746-2199.


Ice conditions are good enough to run some ice fishing trips early in April — and we have long daylight hours and warmer temperatures when ice fishing at this time.

Depending upon spring weather, when we get lots of warm April weather with cloudy nights we sometimes have years where ice can melt early and one of two of the rivers we guide for salmon can be open by late April. This takes an exceptional year — and although I’ve tried fishing at this time, I’ve only caught one ocean -run salmon from a river in April, and it was a silver salmon.

The earliest king salmon I’ve taken was caught on May 1. This year I expect to start guiding king salmon trips around May 10 — but will try fishing earlier myself if the rivers open and are ice free before May 5.


I guided a group of 2 people on an ice fishing trip. At the first lake we drilled several holes and fished them for over an hour without getting any bites. Ice was nearly 3 feet thick, but getting damp and easy to auger through. With the lack of action we decided to move and try another lake.

At the second lake each of my guests caught 3 fish — including 3 landlocked salmon, 1 rainbow trout and 2 Arctic char. All except one of the fish were small, but one guest experienced a great battle landing a fat char measuring over 20 inches in length. All of the fish were caught on Pautzke Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs fished near bottom on a single hook with a small split shot to take them down. The guests breifly considered keeping the largest char, but decided to release all of the fish.

We experienced wet snow the entire trip, but it was still a relatively warm day.

Depending upon weather I hope to start guiding riverboat trips for ocean-run salmon in a little over a month.


New Suzuki 90 Horse Jet Outboard —

I drove to Anchorage and “Caught,” a new outboard motor we will be using on one of our boats this summer. This will be our second motor of this model — our first Suzuki DF90A has proven very fuel efficient and reliable. Although all of our 4-stroke outboards could be characterized with the same two words, this should up the level of performance and reliability even more.


First 2012 Open Water Fishing Experience —

I drove to Eklutna Tailrace and cast a #4 silver and black Flashtrap spinner for a while this morning in hopes of running into an early arriving salmon. Mostly I was planning to take a look at the tailrace, the Knik River, and try out one of our new spinning reels. I did not see or hook any fish, but the new reel casted very well, and I enjoyed seeing snow geese, Canadian geese, a couple flocks of ducks, a pair of Trumpeter Swans, two bald eagles and 3 moose on the trip to and from the Tailrace.

After a long winter it seems I’m always more eager to out and fish the first ice free water than most salmon are in swimming up from the ocean to check it out. Ice and snow have been melting quickly for the past 5 days, and I’m thinking the Little Susitna, Susitna, and Deshka Rivers may be ice-free a bit earlier than normal this year. I’ll likely get out and fish a few additional times at the Tailrace, but am expecting to get one of guide boats out on the water in about 3 weeks. At that time we should have a realistic chance of catching some of our first king salmon.



Bruce Knowles called today to let me know that ice over the Little Susitna River had broken up today and the river was free flowing at the Parks Highway Bridge. I expect it will likely be a few more days before the ice breaks up in the slower flowing section of river near the Little Susitna Public Use Facility Campground and Boat Launch. Seems to me the river should be ice free enough to fish, even on the lower end, sometime in late April. The remaining question is how soft is Little Susitna River Road? I would think it will need another week or two to dry out and firm up.


Mat-Su Valley — I took a drive in the evening and looked at some of the local lakes, hoping to see some open water, but all of them still had quite a ways to go. I saw a single angler fishing in the little bit of open water between Kepler and Bradley Lake — but there was very little water to fish in.

I made it all the way to where the Little Susitna River crosses under the Parks Highway, and there is plenty of open water there — although snow along the banks in places and snow back in the trees away from the highway. As much as i would like to hurry spring along, and get one of my boats in the water, there still is a ways to go. The weather forecast this week is calling for plenty of warmer sunny weather into the mid 50’s, however, clear weather also usually means freezing temperatures at night this time of year in Alaska, so that can slow the melting down a bit.

There are photos from the past several days showing the launch site at Deshka Landing. So far it looks like a total winter scene up there with snow covering the ground everywhere and the river and launch still ice over. The launch site is closed at this time for both winter use and summer use — awaiting thawing of the snow and ice.

On my drive I saw some flocks of geese in the fields near Palmer, and a couple moose browsing near the Highway near Houston.

I’m hoping to get out and do some open water fishing somewhere this week — and somewhere else besides Eklutna Tailrace. I’ll most likely go up the highway and try some trout fishing — if I can find some open water and not too much snow.



For the past couple days I’ve been working with my brother, Duane, to get guide boats ready for the coming open water fishing season. Specifically we’ve been installing and adjusting a new jet motor on one of the boats. Everything seems adjusted about correctly as of this evening, however, I still plan to take the boat out on a lake to break in the outboard and make sure it is adjusted and operating correctly before taking it out on a charter trip.

Today after picking up some jet parts at Greatland Welding and Machine, I made a point of driving to and checking out a couple lakes on my way to 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla where I had some special – ordered fishing supplies to pick up. Unfortunately, both lakes were ice covered enough that I will not be towing a boat to either one for several days.

I also have additional rod rigging and tackle organizing before i will be ready for my first 2012 salmon fishing boat charter — Including changing out treble hooks to replace with single hooks on lures we will use in areas where only one single hook will be allowed during a portion of the 2012 season. My friend and fellow guide, Ben Allen, has also been busy tieing salmon and trout flies for the past several days.

Nearly everyday now there are breaks for fishing trip Reservations, answering e-mails, and answering phone calls from potential guests seeking additional information about our guided Alaska salmon fishing trips. If you call about fishing at a time when I’m not near the phone, please leave your name and number and I will get back to you. 907-746-2199.


Most years I have a hard time getting one of my boats out on a salmon river before May 10, but I’m hoping to have every thing ready to fish by MAY 5 in 2012. Check back later for an update on my progress.


Eklutna Tailrace —

I drove to the tailrace and covered all the water along the entire tailrace, while casting a #4 silver and black Flashtrap Spinner. There was plenty of water flowing through the tailrace, and it was fairly clear, but the water was deep enough that I could not see all the way to the bottom in most places. i saw a moose and some ducks at the tailrace, and 6 more moose and some geese on the drive across Palmer Hay Flats, but I did not see or hook any fish.

Spring is progressing, however, and the lower end of the Knik River had flushed out nearly all of the ice where I drove over the Parks Highway bridge.

There is still only a small amount of water open along the highway between Kepler and Bradley Lakes, and several days back I saw an individual fishing there, but that water is awful shallow, and there is not much of it. Before long I hope to see the main portions of the lakes start breaking up rapidly.

I plan to drive up the Parks Highway and possibly do a little trout fishing where ever I can find any open water flowing North of Willow either tomorrow or Saturday. Check back to see what i find out.


Willow Creek —

I fished up the Parks Highway with my niece and nephew, Anna and Paul Warta and Anna caught a beautiful fat rainbow trout of about 23 inches on a #3 orange-bladed Flashtrap Spinner. Paul fished a #4 silver / black Flashtrap Spinner and I fished a #3 pink-bladed Flashtrap Spinner, but neither of us could hook up on a fish. To be fair, several other people had already fished Willow Creek before we arrived about 4:30 p.m. The water was only slightly tinted with run off near Willow Creek’s confluence with the Susitna River we my niece caught her rainbow trout.

We also stopped at a couple other Susinta River tributary streams further north toward Talkeetna, but water conditions were much more marginal at both locations with considerable more sediment in the water load and much more ice washing downstream. Ice chunks smashing downstream were large and frequent enough that any fish present would likely be attempting to find cover and hide.

Weather was crystal clear, sunny, and warm in the afternoon, but there is lots of snow still to melt in that country, and my niece removed her knee boots several times to dump snow out whenever she walked across another to deep area of the white stuff.

Before attempting the trip, I’d been hopeful that spring might be just around the corner up in the Susitna Valley similar to how things have been melting near Palmer and Wasilla, There is simply much more snow still to melt further north in the valley. The Willow Creek Recreation Area near the State Park provided by far the best fishing area that we came upon (and was also the most southern spot we attempted to fish). I’m thinking it may likely be another week or so before i go out and give fishing my next try in the streams.


Deshka River —

Deshka Landing reported that the last few miles of ice washed out of the Deshka River last night. The landing, however, has not yet opened for summer open-water season traffic. There is still plenty of snow and ice to melt in the parking lot and boat launch area.

For several days after the Susinta River ice starts washing out, boat access between Dehska Landing and Deshka River can be difficult as flows of ice can get washed down river each time the river level rises as warmer temperatures increase water volumes toward summer flow levels.

I’m still optimistic about the possibly of getting my guide boat out and operating on a river within about a week’s time from now.


Mat-Su Valley Lake Ice —

I drove around and examined lake ice coverage on Mat-Su Valley core area lakes near Palmer and Wasilla. The open water portion of Kepler and Bradley Lakes is finally starting to expand beyond the shallow channel that runs between them. When I returned farily late in the evening I even saw a kayaker out paddling around in Bradley Lake. Across the Glen Highway at Echo Lake I could see no open water at all. A Little further down the Highway I drove through the Matanuska Lake day use area and saw no open water.

Turning north on the Parks Highway I could see a very small stretch of open water near the Highway end of Junction (Loberg) Lake. Proceeding to the Finger Lake campground and day use area, there was open water out to the deep end of the dock near the boat ramp. There was also a man and kid fishing in the open water off the dock. The boat ramp itself had a knee deep swath of snow blocking it off — but that should melt or be cleared by some ambitious boater with in about 3 or 4 days. Aside from the snow, there was enough water to back a boat in and run a motor, but not enough water to launch the boat and drive it anywhere.

I saw more open water at Wasilla Lake than anywhere else — as I drove by on Seward-Meridian Cottonwood Creek was entirely open and open water extended as far as a person could see looking out into the southern end of Wasilla Lake — going around the corner on the the Palmer-Wasilla Highway then north past the outlet of Wasilla Lake, there was open water going up around the corner from the outlet toward the Cottonwood Creek inlet, but most of the main lake remained ice covered.

I’d seen open water along the eastern edge of Lucille Lake on Friday afternoon, but did not check it out last night. From what I saw Friday, the open water had not yet extended as far as the city boat ramp.

Little Susitna River — Expecting to find a muddy mess, but wanting to see for myself, I drove out Knik Road toward the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility. On the way I noticed Knik Lake was still ice covered, but looked like a few small open water leads were starting to show through the ice on the southern end near Knik Bar. The rest of the ponds along the lake proceeding toward Little Susitna River were frozen over. Several miles further when I reach the last farm on Little Susitna Access / Little Susitna River Road where state maintenance ends and Mat-Su Borough maintenance starts the road condition went from decent to rutted with mud and slushy looking snow before the first corner. I stopped, got out of my pickup, and walked down the road a bit. The road itself was muddy enough that I had to get clear over off to the overgrown field side the side of the road and walk in the brush to avoid walking through mud on the road surface. It was at this point looking further at mud, ruts, and a large patch of snow crossing the road that I decided I had no business driving any further, and driving all the way into Little Susitna River Public Use Facility would have to wait for another day for me. Around the first corner of the road I could hear some other people shouting and making noise — I could easily imagine they must have driven around the corner and got stuck in a soft spot in the road.

Bottom Line — Looks like people should be able to start getting some boats out on Finger, Wasilla, or Lucille Lake sometime within the next week or so to test out motors or do a bit of open water fishing. I plan to avoid and would recommend that others avoid attempting to drive out Little Susitna Access / Little Susitna River Road until after the first weekend in May.


Finger Lake —

This evening I drove out and had another look at the lake near the State Parks campground and boat launch. Ice had melted a little further out from the dock — but there was still a significant pile of snow on the boat ramp, and not enough open water to maneuver a boat out past the dock.

The ice melting project on the lakes has been moving much slower than I had hoped lately, but I’ll keep checking on Finger Lake in particular, as it is the one where I usually do check runs to make sure my boats are working well, before venturing down a river.

I have plenty of paperwork to get caught up on tomorrow, so I’ll likely spend most of the day around the house. I may do another lake check tomorrow evening.

You will have to click on the MAY 2012 report link to get our next report.



As mentioned in precious fishing reports, all of our 6 hour May King salmon trips may be purchased at our May Special   per person rate for 2012. Single anglers may use this option to purchase a single seat and we will work to fill remaining seats.

$400 Private Boat Charter —

While our boats seat up to 6 guests — if you would like to fish with 4 people or less you may purchase exclusive use of the boat, guide, and fishing gear for a 6-hour trip for only $400 during the month of May 2012. If you like, add up to 2 additional people to your private boat charter at the  May Special 2012 per person rate.

River, road, and boat launch conditions have kept us from getting our boats on the rivers, but we are still shooting for launching a boat and starting fishing on the first weekend in May. The back up plan — if conditions prevent us from making it out on the weekend — is to start fishing, as soon as possible, after the weekend.