Jan – April 2013 Reports



Once again we are providing a 6 hour guided king salmon trip during the month of May for s special per guest price. This popular trip has filled well during both the 2012 and 2013 season — so guests are encouraged to book early — and especially so, if they would like to fish during the last two weeks when most May king salmon are usually caught.


Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) Area Fisheries Biologist Sam Ivey told me in early February the Department’s king salmon outlook for the 2013 season called for a return of approximately 26,800 fish. Since many people have been asking what to expect during the 2013 fishing season, I decided it would be appropriate to post this information as the first item on our 2013 fishing reports.


Deshka River king salmon fishery should be open to king salmon harvest on a 7 day per week basis, but ADF&G is considering starting the season with a 2 king salmon annual limit for the entire Sustina River Drainage (like 2012) and a stipulation of single hook artificial lures only — as was the case for most Mat-Su Valley king salmon fisheries in 2012. If the Deshka River king salmon return shows up as expected with good numbers of fish passing the Deshka River salmon counting weir, look for the fishery to open to bait fishing sometime around June 10 in 2013.


Little Susitna River regulations should allow king salmon harvest 3 days per week (likely Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) and provide catch and release king salmon fishing the remaining 4 days of the week. ADF&G will monitor the Little Susinta River king salmon return during the 2013 season with a salmon counting weir located in the lower Little Susitna River, so regulations could be adjusted after June 10 — based on the strength of the king salmon return.


The Susitna River tributary streams from Willow to Talkeetna will start the season on a catch and release basis for king salmon. Expect the same stipulation to be in effect on the Talkeetna River Drainage during 2013.

Summarizing the upcoming 2013 king salmon season: We plan to book and guide king salmon fishing trips every day of the week from May 10 – July 13. We will provide opportunities to harvest king salmon 7 days per week or book catch and release trips on other specific rivers on a 7 day per week basis. As usual, all reservations are made on a first come / first served basis. We still have good availability for most 2013 dates, so call as soon as possible for your best selection of charter dates. 907-746-2199.


I fished with two ladies who caught about 40 fish — a combination of rainbow trout, arctic char, and landlocked salmon. Ice is getting thick enough that it takes awhile to drill through with my hand auger. Fortunately, the weather had been warm and we found some holes that were just slightly iced over from other recently fishing on the lake. All of the fish were caught on Fired Cured salmon roe and Pautzke’s single salmon eggs.


I guided a group of 4 people each of whom caught several fish. All the fish were caught using Fired Cured salmon roe or Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs on single hooks. Most of the fish were caught close to the bottom, but the group also caught some fish higher up near the ice sheet as well. Action was quick with plenty of bites and the fish measured about 8- 14 inches in length, although the group released all the fish.


I guided a husband and wife who caught and released about 15 fish. Most were rainbow trout, but they also caught 4 landlocked salmon. The larger fish were likely about a foot in length. All of the fish were caught on Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs or Pautzke’s Orange Deluxe salmon eggs. Ice depth was still about the same as it was a month or so ago. I’d expected it to be thicker. During the trip we saw one bald eagle, which flew up and landed in a tree right near where we were fishing. It was windy, but quite warm today. We found a nice sheltered spot out of the wind.


I guided another husband and wife on an ice fishing trip. We fished two different locations, and did not even get a bit at the first location. At the second location each of my guests caught king salmon, rainbow trout, and Arctic Char on Pautzke single salmon eggs. I would estimate the guests caught about 20 fish, and the fish were biting quite quickly most of the time. We used up more than a jar and a half of bait. I would guess our largest fish were likely about 12 inches, but the guests released all the fish and we did not measure any of them.


I guided a two people on an ice fishing trip who caught about 25 fish. Most of the fish were released, however they each kept some as well. The caught landlocked king salmon, rainbow trout, and Arctic Char. All of the fish were caught on Pautzke’s Balls O’Fire single salmon eggs fished mostly near the bottom. There were several other groups out on the ice fishing today, and temperatures were up into the 20’s with some nice sunshine as well. It was a good day to be out and enjoying the fishing.


I guided 3 guests who caught lots of small rainbow trout, some landlocked salmon, and some Arctic Char. Ice may be an inch or two thicker than the last time I fished, but for the most part seems to simply be maintaining depth. All of the fish were caught using a combination of Fire Cured salmon roe, Pautzke’s Nectar scent, and Balls O’ Fire single salmon eggs. We saw a snowshoe hare at the start of the trip, and enjoyed some warm March sunshine during the trip — although it started out a bit cool in the morning.


I guided a group of two guests in the morning who caught about 20 fish each. All of the fish were caught on a combination of Fire Cured salmon roe (soaked in Pautzke’s Nectar and single Balls O’Fire salmon eggs. For the second morning in the row we saw a snowshoe hare along the lake at the start of the trip. During the trip each guests also managed to land one larger Arctic Char each of which was over 20 inches in length and put up long fights underneath the ice. Most of the fish caught were in the 8 – 12 inch range.

I guided 3 guests in the afternoon who also caught plenty of rainbow trout, some landlocked salmon, and Arctic Char — although all of these fish were in the 8 -12 inch range with a few even smaller. Near the end of the trip two bald eagles circled and landed in some large cottonwood trees near where we were fishing, so that was exciting for the guests who had never been so close to bald eagles.


I guided a family of 5 people each of whom caught several fish. The group mostly caught rainbow trout, but also caught landlocked salmon, and Arctic Char. Our March weather has been wonderfully warm for ice fishing, and this trip was even more so with temperatures into the 40’s. The snow was melting on top of the ice, but with 3 feet of ice thickness capping the lake, ice fishing conditions should be solid for another month or so.

All of our fish were caught on Pautzke bait products including Fire Cured salmon roe soaked in Nectar, Balls O’ Fire and Orange Deluxe single salmon eggs. The group saw a pair of bald eagles that observed our fishing from fairly close range, and there were a few other groups out ice fishing and catching fish as well.


I guided two people on an ice fishing trip this morning and they caught about 25 fish — with a combination of rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, and Arctic Char. Ice seemed to get perhaps a couple inches thicker after our last few days of cold windy weather. The temperature was down to 10 degrees when we started the trip, but fortunately the wind had died down and it was pleasant fishing in the sunshine. We commented during the trip that it likely would have been even better if we had scheduled a bit later in the day after the temperatures had warmed up a bit. Like usual my guests caught all of their fish on Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs and Fire Cured salmon roe soaked in Pautzke’s Nectar.

My guests were from Pasedena, California, and commented that temperatures had recently been close or into the 90’s down there — quite a difference from what we experienced here today, but Alaskan’s are noticing and appreciating the much longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures — especially later in the day.


I guided a group of 4 people who caught a mix of rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, and Arctic Char. Today the guests for some reason caught a significantly larger number of salmon, but still good numbers of rainbow trout, and lesser numbers of char. Once again we caught the fish on Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire single salmon eggs and Fire Cured salmon roe soaked in Nectar. Lots of bites, lots of action, and we went through lots of bait. We started fishing closer to mid-day, so temperatures were a bit warmer — especially later in the trip.


Eklutna Tailrace —

I took 4 new fishing rods and a 2 of our old reliable rods to the tailrace to do some test casting and fishing. 5 of the 6 rods were comparable in casting distance and sensitivity when fishing a #5 Flashtrap Spinner. The last rod while still sensitive enough to feel the spinner well, simply does not achieve the same casting distance as the other 5 rods. I’m hopeful, however, that it may perform better with a larger weight lure. All 6 of the rods were ones I’m planning on using on summer salmon charters starting about May 10.

I used the same pattern and size of spinner with each rod, the same model spinning reel, and the same brand and size of fishing line, so the test should have compared rods on as equal a footing as I could manage. I still have yet to receive one new rod I ordered for the coming season — it has been on back order , but I am hopeful it will arrive soon, and that I can get a preseason test session in with it as well. In addition, I’ve ordered components to build 2 rods — hopefully there is enough time remaining that I can get both custom rods built before I start fishing.

Ice Situation —

After an unusually cold snap during the later half of March, temperatures have warmed up and both our new late March snow and the lake and stream ice is starting to melt again. Sunlight hours have increased to 13 hours and 30 minutes per day and will continue to get longer as summer approaches. Mornings can still be cool, but the later part of the day is when most of the melting occurs. I am still anticipating we should have plenty of ice for safe ice fishing trips throuigh mid-April. I’m scheduled to guide an April ice fishing trip on Thursday the 4th, and plan to post a report of the trip by evening.


I guided a group of 2 people on an ice fishing trip. Together they caught about 25 fish, a combination of rainbow trout, Arctic Char, and landlocked salmon. The ice remained a solid 3 feet in depth and the weather on a clear day with temperatures rising into the low 30s. All the fish were caught using a combination of Fire Cured salmon roe, and single Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs. The larger fish ran about 12 -14 inches. There were also several other groups out enjoying the weather and fishing today, and like often happens we also saw a pair of bald eagles during the trip.


I took some of my nephews ice fishing at a lake where my results have not been as consistent, but also where we have had some catches of larger sized Arctic char and rainbow trout. We only caught a few fish per person, and none of them measured more than about 6 – 8 inches. Like usual we fished with Fire Cured salmon roe and Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire single salmon eggs, but most of the fish that were biting seemed to be very small.

During the trip we saw a large flock of geese flying over the lake. The geese are about on normal timing for returning to the Matanuska -Susitna Valley, but at this time most of the water is ice covered and the fields are snow covered. I had seen a small group of only 3 geese about a week earlier, but this larger flock foretells the huge masses of waterfowl that will be migrating this way shortly. In less than a month, I hope to be guiding open-water salmon fishing trips. Usually I think that by May 10 I can get my boat out on one of the rivers and try for king salmon. The way things winter has been holding on the past couple weeks, it may be a few days later before we are able to go king salmon fishing this year.

In any event, open-water salmon fishing is just around the corner. Likely starting sometime between May 10 – 15 in Mat-Su Valley Rivers.



The Alaska Department of FIsh and Game (ADF&G) announced 2013 king salmon fishing regulations for Mat-Su Valley rivers on April 18. The annual per person king salmon limit for the Little Susitna and Susitna River drainages combined will be 2 fish during 2013. At each locations, angler’s harvesting a king salmon are required to quit fishng for the remainder of the day in waters open to king salmon fishing.

As I had reported earlier regulations will be quite similar to last year on the Deshka and Little Susitna River with a few changes.

Deshka River will be open to king salmon fishing and harvest 7 days per week, and at least to start the season, all fishing will require the use of one single hook artificial lure. Results from our past two seasons of guiding May king salmon trips, indicate that most of our guests’ king salmon were being caught on lures already, so I suspect we should have a similar success rate for May 2013– especially if the larger Deshka king salmon return ADF&G has forecasted for this season arrives on an earlier or average timing schedule .

Little Susitna River, while open to king salmon fishing 7 days per week, will only be open to king salmon harvest 3 days per week — Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. With ADF&G’s weir in the lower river to monitor returning king salmon, I am anticipating Little Susinta River should remain open throughout the season — and if ADF&G counts adequate numbers of returning king salmon by June 10 – 15. I would expect to see some inseason liberalization of the king salmon regulations.

With these changes we are looking forward to another year guiding Mat-Su Valley king salmon trips, and expect guests to have similar harvest rates as experienced in 2013 — but we also expect the season to remain open through July 13 and especially so, for the Dehska River, where ADF&G has a more accurate forecasting history. We hope you can join us in 2013 for an exciting guided Alaska salmon fishing trip.


Andy Couch, Fishtale River Guides


I fished with one guest on a guide ice fishing trip, and he caught 8 rainbow trout an Arctic char, and 5 landlocked salmon. Mostly I baited hooks, but i also caught a few fish myself, 3 rainbow trout and 2 landlocked salmon. The largest fish were rainbow trout and Arctic Char measuring about 14 inches. All of the fish were caught on single Pautzke Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs and Fire Cured salmon roe. Even after our recent warmer weather, ice thickness remains at 3 feet with mostly solid ice. On the side of the lake with the most sun the ice started getting a little soft and wet near the bottom of the hole. Ice remains in great shape at this time, and i would not hesitate to guide another trip in the next few days. As we gain daylight hours and temperatures continue to rise, it is always a good idea to check out ice conditions before venturing too far out.

Guests are now reserving summer salmon fishing charters at a faster pace, and some of our better dates king salmon dates in late May and June are filling up. We still have good availability for guests who can’t wait to get out on the water and would be willing to fish for king salmon in mid-May through the 20th. Some May Special spots still remain from the 20th to the end of the month. The first week of June has good availability at this time. The second and third weeks of June are currently our most booked portion of the season, but we still have some of these prime dates as well. After the third week of June availability is good at this time for king salmon and then good for chum and coho salmon fishing trips during July and August at this time.

Give us a call at 907-746-2199 to inquire about availability for specific dates and reserve your Alaska salmon fishing trip.


Eklutna Tailrace —

The earliest Mat-Su Valley ocean- run king salmon I’ve ever taken was caught on May 1, so for years I’ve been attempting to catch an ocean-run king salmon in one of the Mat-Su Valley streams during the month of April. With a relatively late spring this year, many of the rivers are still ice covered. High tides helped break up ice on the lower Knik River below the tailrace, however there are still large ice chunks along the sides of the river and even some washed up on sandbars. So in other words it looks a bit wintery out on the water, and i did not hook or see any fish.

Spurring this trip was an opportunity to cast and work with a new fishing rod that arrived in the mail yesterday. I took a couple other rods along for comparison, and enjoyed casting a bit with each of them. I went in the evening when temperatures were still warm, but definitely dropping after I’d been on the water a while. On the trip to and from the tailrace I spotted some moose browsing on the Palmer Hay Flats, and also saw lots of migrating geese that have been in the area for close to a couple weeks now.

For the past few years I’ve been attempting to get one of my guide boats out on a Mat-Su River about the 10th of May, but this year I suspect it may be closer to May 15 before I get the boat out on a river. At this point May 15 is when my first king salmon charter of the season is scheduled, so I’ll try to get the boat out and explore at least a day or two beforehand.