May 2013 Fishing Reports

Fishtale’s Alaska fishing reports forecast Deshka River, Susitna River Tributaries, and Little Susitna River fishing conditions for king salmon and silver salmon for the Alaska fishing seasons 2004 through 2013.



Once again we are providing a 6 hour guided king salmon trip during the month of May 2013 for a special per guest price. This popular trip has filled well during  the 2012 season — so guests are encouraged to book early — especially, if they would like to fish during the last two weeks of the month when most May king salmon are caught. I anticipate running our first king salmon trip of the 2013 fishing season on approximately May 12.

New for 2013!

Like usual I have upgraded some of our fishing lures, rods, reels, and line for the start of a new year of salmon fishing. We will also continue to fish some of our tried and true gear as well.

New Reels For 2013 — I’ve ordered 2 Quantum Cabo 50 spinning reels, 2 Quantum Smoke Inshore 50 spinning reels, and 2 Quantum 40 Smoke Inshore spinning reels.

New 2013 Rods — I’ve ordered 2 custom Kistler Z-Bone spinning rods, 2 Kistler KLX spinning rods, 1 St. Croix Legend Extreme spinning rod, 1 St. Croix Legend Elite 9′ fly rod, 1 St. Croix Legend Ultra 9′ fly rod, 2 Cabelea’s Platinum ZX spinning rods, and finally I’ve order parts to custom build 2 additional spinning rods using St. Croix rod blanks.

New LURES for 2013 — I’ve built a stock of #5 Flashtrap Spinners equipped with Siwash single hooks I anticipate using at the start of and possibly throughout the 2013 king salmon season depending upon where we are fishing on any given day. 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle in Wasilla has ordered several hundred of these lures and has them in stock as long as supply lasts. Presently if you want to purchase Flashtrap Spinners form # Rivers Fly & Tackle you must request seeing them — as they are in back room storage. From past guided fishing experience, these Flashtrap Spinners should produce well for catching king salmon, coho salmon, and chum salmon.

Additional 2013 LURES — Drawing on past successes I’ve also ordered Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoons and Blue Fox Pixie Spoons, both of which we will use while casting for king salmon.

Following a past trend we also have a huge stock of Luhr Jensen Kwikfish plugs, ESB bobbers in a variety of sizes and colors, and a large stock of salmon roe cured with Pautzke’s Fire Cure.

Line for 2013 — following some experimentation during the 2012 season I’ve purchased and plan to use Sufix 832 braided fishing line especially when fishing for king salmon during the 2013 season. I also have a large supply of Sufix Performance Braid which has worked very well in the past and which we will continue to fish primarily for salmon other than kings.

NEW 2013 BOAT TRAILER — Greatland Welding and Machine in Palmer, Alaska is in the process of building me a new custom boat trailer for one of my guide boats. I already own one Greatland trailer, and decided to upgrade the trailer for a second guide boat.

As you can see, we are looking forward and investing for a good year of guiding salmon fishing trips during the 2013 summer salmon fishing season. We hope you can join us on one or more of our fun and easy Alaska salmon fishing trips. — Andy Couch



Yesterday and last night we received what I hope will be the last snow fall of the season. It was partially mixed with rain and most of it has already melted around our house, but overall temperatures have been cooler than normal. Consequently, the ice along the rivers has yet to wash out. Normally I plan on having open water to fish with one of my guide boats by May 10, however, I’m now thinking at least May 12 before I get a boat on a river with my first guided salmon fishing trip now scheduled of May 15.

Next Saturday May 11 is the annual meeting for Deshka Landing shareholders at the Willow Community Center. At this point I’m planning to attend, and I also plan to take a look at Susitna River tributary streams during the same trip to get a better feel for when I might start fishing. Of course, I will take a rod or two along on May 11, with the hope of finding some open water where I may catch a trout or two.



I picked up my commercial operator pass for the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility on Thursday, and also registered the new boat trailer I recently purchased from Greatland Welding and Machine. Normally the Little Susitna and Susitna Rivers would both be open by now, but spring breakup seems to be about a week behind average this year. That is good in that it is giving me some extra time to catch up on paperwork and other tasks before our open water fishing season begins — but then like most people reading this report — I would rather be fishing!

The snowfall we had less than a week ago has all melted off around our house, but according to Justin High at Deshka Landing, and Jeff Boatright at Susitna Landing there is still snow and ice out along the Susitna River and neither boat launch is open at this time. Justin told me that on Thursday the ice was still strong enough on the river that he was out walking on it 20 feet from the river bank. We are experiencing a nice sunny 65 degree day in the lower Mat-Su Valley today, and when temperatures rise enough to send a good shot of snowmelt down from the Upper Susitna River the ice should flush out or melt away in short order. At this time I’m still planning to get my boat out on the water sometime within the next week.

After a long winter, lots of local anglers are looking forward to opportunities to enjoy open water fishing — at present there is still a bit more waiting for most open water fishing opportunities in the Mat-Su Valley, but it should not be long now!

We still have some May Special king salmon opportunity available, give us a call if you would like to reserve space for one or more people to participate. 907-746-2199



WIthin the next week (by May 18) I hope to have a real time availability schedule for charter spaces available in my personal guide boat posted on this website. Additional charter space availability will require an e-mail or phone inquiry as presently is needed.

As many of you know we are also working to provide a credit card payment option through our online reservation update — hopefully completed in a timely manner as well. Stay tuned for updates when these changes actually occur.


Willow Community Center —

I drove to Willow yesterday, and participated in the annual Deshka Landing membership meeting. This was partly to meet or visit with several people associated with Deshka Landing, and partly to get a firsthand view of what breakup is looking like further north in the Mat-Su Valley. At the meeting several people mentioned Deshka Landing boat launch and the Susitna River remain ice locked.

Susitna River — although I did NOT drive far enough north to reach the Susitna River bridge, I have been following a water flow chart for that location. According to that chart the water volume at the bridge increase approximately 20% from Friday to Saturday, and then peak flow continued to increase on Saturday. Overall the volume measurement has increased from about 29,000 cubic feet per second to over 40,000 cubic feet per second, I would think that increased water volume should start flushing away the river ice cover in the next 2 or 3 days.

Little Susitna River — Of the larger streams I took a look at, Little Sustina River was the most ice free, with a good volume of water flowing at the highway. The water chart for Little Susinta River also show that this stream has had an increase in water volume on the magnitude of 300 percent over the past 7 days (looking at the low to high flow levels). I suspect that Little Susitna River may now be open or will shortly be open on the lower end as well — BUT with snow cover taking so long to melt — and with the last couple miles of road to the lower river primarily dirt (and now likely mud) it will likely be a while before one can drive there comfortably without worries of getting stuck.

Willow Creek — where the highway crosses the creek there was a good volume of water flowing, but still some ice in the creek and along the sides. I also drove down Willow Creek Parkway to the campground. Driving into the actual parking and campground areas there was enough snow that quickly turned around so as to avoid getting stuck. Is suspect the confluence area of Willow Creek and the Susitna River may finally be starting to open up — but I did not wade through the snow to the Creek to find out.

Little Willow Creek — at first glance driving over on the highway, I thought it looked like there was plenty of open flowing water here, but when I pulled off the road and inspected closer, there was still plenty of ice in the stream channel that water was simply flowing over and around.

Mat-Su Valley Lakes — I’ve driven around a bit and looked at several lakes including Finger and Wasilla, but at this point there is no reasonable place to launch and test run one of my guide boats — yet.

Even though the water is not open, I am still planning to get out king salmon fishing in my guide boat in less than a week — it should not be long now. We have already reserved space for many king salmon fishing guests to fish with us in May and June, but still also have relatively good availability go guide trips on many dates. For best selection of available dates and times for a 2013 salmon fishing charter give us a call at 907-746-2199.


Deshka Landing Boat Launch and Susitna River

Yes, both the boat launch and Susitna Rier are still covered with ice — that was the word from Justin High, manager of Deshka Landing this afternoon.   I was hoping to take my guide boat out on the Susitna River tomorrow (May 20), but looks like I’ll be waiting at least a couple days.  Little Susitna River is ice free, but the road to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility is reportedly in poor shape — something I’ve seen many times over the years and have not had a hankering to experience again.    One can only hope that once the ice washes out of the Susitna River the king salmon will be  entering the river as a steady stream of fish.  On the other hand, perhaps we’ll have to wait a bit after ice out for the first fish to arrive — like what usually happens earlier in May with normal ice out timing.


I talked with both Justin High, Manager of Deshka Landing and Jeff Boatright, Operator of Susitna Landing.   Both told me their boat launches where still ice to the point where people could not launch a boat at this time.   Since then I’ve talked with the individuals scheduled to fish with us on Tuesday May 21, and those king salmon trips have been canceled.   Watching the Susitna River water chart I am hopeful the ice may flush out of the main river either tonight or tomorrow — May 22.    On the other hand I figured I would have my boat out on the river by May 10 — Did not happen.   It has to happen sooner or later.

I also talked with Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologist Sam Ivey who told me that Little Susitna River Access Road remains in rough condition and he was using 4-wheel drive to get in and out over the weekend.  Sam said he would not recommend attempting to drive to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility in a car or two wheel dirve pickup.   I also talked with an Alaska State Parks ranger who said the Little Susitna River Access road should receive maintenance (grading) on Wednesday or Thursday (May 22 or 23).  I have yet to hear of anyone catching a king salmon in the Mat-Su Valley yet this year, but expect fish will be caught over Memorial Day weekend — and likely before.

Many lakes in the Palmer / Wasilla area are losing their ice cover — at Finger Lake their is enough open water to launch a boat and do a check run.   At Loberg (Junction Lake) the entire lake is ice free.   Kepler – Bradley Lakes are thawing out at their shallow ends near the access site and people have been fishing around the shallow edges of the lakes for several days now.   The Alaska Department of FIsh and Game is planning to stock catchable trout in some of these lakes this week.   Kepler – Bradley Lakes are scheduled at the top to the list to be stocked soon.


Ice Breaking Up on the Susitna River at Deshka Landing.     In the morning, Justin High had posted on the Deshka Landing website that ice was starting to pile up at the end of the boat launch dike, and that leads were opening in the river ice.   By 5 p.m.  Ice was flowing down river.   By 7:20 p.m. ice broke up just outside the launch and drifted downriver.  11 p.m. large ice chunks remain in the boat launch itself, and large chunks of ice continues to flow down the river at times.  It usually takes up to three days for most of the ice flows to clear out of the river.  For future reference I want to note the activity recorded by the NOAA water gauge at the Parks Highway Bridge over the Susitna River.   The water level started climbing on May 11, reaching a stage of about 17 feet or 45,000 cubic feet per second by midnight.  After that the water stage hovered between 16.5 feet / 40,000 cubic feet per second and 18.63 feet / 60,000 cubic feet per second.  On Sunday May 19 the water stage jumped from about 16.5 feet to over 18.5 feet in only 6 hours then started a steep and steady decline over the next 48 hours all the way down to about 15 feet / 30,000 cubic feet per second just before midnight on May 21 (I would imagine as the ice started to flush out from the area up around the Parks Highway).

Little Susitna River Ice Out Data —

For Future Reference Purposes the USGS water gauge for the Little Susitna River started climbing on May 10 from about 1.8 feet stage / 45 cubic feet per second all the way to  2.8 feet / 150 cubic feet per second by the end of Monday May 13.  On Tuesday May 14 ADF&G staff were able to boat upstream from the Little Susitna Public Use Facility boat launch approximately 4 miles as the ice had cleared off that section of river.

Susitna Landing — Further up the Susinta River from Deshka Landing the ice started breaking up and flowing earlier in the day on May 21.   Jeff Boatright told me ice started breaking loose and floating down river about 3 a.m. in the morning.   The boat launch remains covered with ice however.   He also had some trout anglers out fishing along the edge of the Susinta River this evening.  No word on if they caught any fish or not.

Finger Lake — I took my first guide boat over to Finger Lake for a spring shakedown cruise.   The motor started right up and ran nice and smooth as we drove around the lake for about half an hour.   At the boat launch a group of anglers were fly fishing.   Every once in a while we would see a fish break water, but I did not see anyone in the group hook a fish while we were launching or getting the boat back on the trailer and driving off.

Little Susinta River Access Road remains muddy, rough, and rutted especially in a couple wet spots.   As mentioned in the previous post on May 20, the Alaska State Parks ranger assigned to Little Susitna River Public Use Facility is looking for the borough contractor to grade the road either Wednesday or Thursday.  Parks is planning on taking their fee booth into the facility on Thursday and staffing it starting on Friday.   Remember king salmon harvest is only allowed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays this year on the Little Susitna River.

This evening I also drove around a bit and saw that Echo Lake across the highway from Kepler – Bradley Lakes had lost more than half of its ice cover.   Kepler and Bradley Lakes continue to loose more and more ice with enough open water to boat around in.   Look for some decent fishing in all these lakes over Memorial Day Weekend.   I also drove across the Palmer Hay Flats and noticed the lower Knik River seemed to be totally ice free — up at Eklutna Tailrace it is starting to look more like summer is arriving as well — although the nearly dry river channel upstream of the tailrace is still white with ice.  While driving to and from the tailrace I spotted a couple moose out on the flats, some ducks in water on the flats, a porcupine meandering along the Old Glenn Highway, and some geese hanging out eating green grass along the side of the highway as well.

I cancelled out my Wednesday king salmon charter earlier today, but expect to get my primary guide boat out on a river either Thursday or Friday or both.  I expect some king salmon will be caught at both Little Susitna River and Deshka River over Memorial Day Weekend.


Little Susitna River —  Alaska State Park Ranger Damon Hampel told me that Little Susitna River Access Road was graded late on May 21, and Parks is planning to move their fee both out to the Little Susinta River Public Use Facility soon — so don’t forget $5 for daily parking or $10 for overnight camping if you drive out to the river.  Access to the river should now be much better — although this is still a dirt road that is somewhat damp from spring breakup.

Deshka Landing — although the Susitna River started flushing ice past Deshka Landing late in the day on Tuesday May 21, the Deshka Landing boat launch remains full of ice chunks on Wednesday evening May 22, and there is also ice in front of the boat launch dike — so my guests and I have canceled the king salmon fishing charters we were scheduled to fish on Thursday May 23.    I plan to post more information by Thursday evening — and at this point have afternoon availability to guide a catch and release king salmon trip on Thursday afternoon if anyone is interested.   907-746-2199.

Friday May 24, 2013

I guide my first king salmon charter of the season today,  and had to paddle my boat through lots of chunks of ice in the boat launch to get to the main river.   I guided 4 guests and we backtrolled with K15 and K14 Kwikfish the entire time.    There was only one other boat of anglers on the river, so we had an opportunity to fish all the prime spots we wanted, but we did not get a bit or see any king salmon.    We did see some beavers, bald eagles, one moose, and a beautiful sunny May morning.    Water was in fairly good shape, but a bit high and dark colored with about 18 inches or more of visibility.   We caught just a little bit of grass and a few snags that all came loose without loosing any gear.  We had to zig-zag and dodge small chunks of ice on the ride back to the landing, but no major problems and when we got back to the boat launch it was mostly clear of ice.   Several other boats were launching after we got back about noon.    I had an afternoon trip, but talked with the individual waiting to go and we agreed to reschedule is outing for another time.    I am scheduled to guide two trips on Saturday May 25 — so check back in the late evening for an update.  I will also be guiding a trip Sunday morning, but have my whole boat available Sunday afternoon if anyone would like to try for a Memorial Weekend king salmon.  907-746-2199.


I guided a morning group of 4 guests and we spent part of the trip backtrolling K14 and K15 Kwikfish and part of the trip casting #5 Flashtrap and #6 Vibrax Spinners.   We covered lots of water, but did not see or hook a king salmon.   There were some other anglers out fishing both guided and unguided, and while we did not talk to everyone, I knew of no one catching a king salmon.

I guided an afternoon group of 3 guests and once again we both backtrolled Kwikfish and cast spinners in several prime holes, but once again we did not see or hook any king salmon.   Fishing pressure was very light in the afternoon and we fished most of the good spots we wanted to try.  On both morning and afternoon trips we saw moose, bald eagles, and waterfowl.  With our late break up, the king salmon seem to be late as well.   After a couple nice warm days, the snowmelt is starting to bring the rivers up — so hopefully some higher water may bring king salmon upstream in a few days.


I guided a morning group of 4 guests, and although we spent all of our time back trolling with K14 and K15 Kwikfish, we did not get a single bite or see any king salmon.   There were a three other boats fishing near us during parts of our trip, but we did not see them have any luck either.   We saw 3 moose at the start of our trip, and several bald eagles, and a few beavers during the trip.   Water levels have indeed been coming up rapidly since our last two warm days that melted more snow and ice — even so, conditions were still good for getting king salmon to bite and catching them — if there had been any significant number of fish in the river.   I’m scheduled to guide again tomorrow, and hope to have a more timely report out tomorrow evening.


I guided a group of 4 people who did not hook, catch, or see a king salmon.   We spent most of the trip back trolling K14 and K15 Kwikfish, but also casted with #5 Flashtrap and #6 Vibrax Spinners for a while.   It was a beautiful sunny Memorial Day to be out on the water and fishing and water conditions were good in the Deshka River.   Boating from Deshka Landing down the Susitna River there were lots of large chunks of ice, and lots of debris floating in the river.  I had to stop and clean out my jet motor 3 times while boating along the Susitna and also simply ran with debris in my motor for a while to avoid stopping the motor and cleaning it at in opportune times.   During our fishing trip we saw several bald eagles, beavers, and Arctic terns, along with a few other people out fishing.  I expect tomorrow to be better both from a boating and fishing standpoint.    Water in the Susitna River will likely remain at a very high level, but sometime the amount of ice and debris floating down the river will decrease.


I guided a group of 3 people who did not hook or see a king salmon.   We spent the entire morning back trolling K14 and K15 Kwikfish plugs.   The water was high from runoff from several days of hot weather, and we caught a  considerable amount of grass and small sticks.   There were also 5 additional boats of anglers fishing in the area where we were fishhing, but we did not see anyone have any luck.   The Susitna River had dropped a bit overnight, however, there was still a considerable amount of ice and debris floating down the river.   The ice was less than yesterday, and tapered off more toward the afternoon.  Aside from still waiting for the first good push of king salmon to hit the river, it was a glorious day to be out on the water and fishing.

May 29, 2013

I guided an afternoon group of 2 guests who casted large Flashtrap and Vibrax Spinners and back trolled K14 Kwikfish, but did not hook any king salmon.   The group saw a moose along the river near the start of the trip and also some a few bald eagles.  Both the Deshka and Susitna Rivers are very high at this time, but water on the Deshka remained plenty clear enough to catch salmon, if a person could get one to bite.     River level on the Deshka certainly qualifies as one of the highest I’ve ever fished.   We have gone from a colder than normal spring to a suddenly hotter than normal stretch that is bringing greater quantities of snowmelt into the streams.   Since Deshka is primarily a lowland drainage, I would think snowmelt drainage would start to decrease in this drainage before long.  Susitna River is a bit different, and as long as we continue to have temperatures into the 80’s I would expect high water conditions could continue on this drainage for weeks.   I am fishing again on Thursday May 30 — the fishing report will likely be late as I am guiding an afternoon trip again.

May 30, 2013

After my morning trip rescheduled for June, I fished with a friend casting Flashtrap Spinners, Magnum Wiggle Warts, Pixie Spoons, and Krocodile Spoons.   We also briefly forward trolled with K15 Kwikfish and a Magnum Wiggle Wart.   We did not catch, hook, or see any king salmon.

I guided an afternoon group of 2 guests who back trolled K15 and K14 Kwikfish most of the trip, but also casted with a Magnum Wiggle Wart and a PIxie Spoon, but they did not hook or see any king salmon.   Water is high, but relatively clear.   I’ve got more trips tomorrow — so this will be our last chance to catch a king salmon during the month of May in 2013.    So far it has been a very unusual season, but I continue to expect to catch some king salmon soon.  Check back late in the evening for the final month of May fishing report update.

May 31, 2013

I guided a morning group of 3 guests, who did not hook or see any king salmon.   They cast Flashtrap and Vibrax Spinners and back trolled with K14 Kwikfish.   Water at the mouth of Deshka River was flooding the Matanuska – Susitna Borough Campground in places with one outhouse in the river, and at least two picnic tables partially in the water as well.   Dirty water was backed up all the way to Deshka River Lodge by the end of the morning trip.   During the trip we saw a pair of trumpeter swams that flew nearly directly overhead at a low level.  We also saw a beaver, and some bald eagles, and waterfowl.

I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests who cast with Vibrax and Flashtrap Spinners, and a Magnum Wiggle Wart, and back trolled with K14 and K15 Kwikfish, but did not hook or see any king salmon.   The Susitna River water continued to rise in the afternoon with most of the dike at Deshka Landing Boat Launch underwater when we returned in the evening.   During the trip we saw a few eagles and lots of Arctic Terns diving into the river for small salmon.   Tune in tomorrow for the new month of June fishing report.