MAY KING SALMON CHARTERS
May king salmon fishing kicks off our open-water fishing season in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley. Conditions often change rapidly this time of year from the last remnants of winter ice to longer days with green grass and leaves bursting from trees in the later half of the month. Most years we can launch a boat to the Deshka and / or Little Susitna River starting about May 10. Our personal record for earliest ocean-run king salmon caught is May 1 from Little Susitna River, a 34- pound fish hooked on one of our own Flashtrap Spinners. Our guide service record for largest Mat-Su Valley king salmon (56 pounds) was first set on a sunny May day, our guests have tied this record multiple times, since , but never topped it.
Catching king salmon before May 15 from either the Deshka or Little Susitna River always presents a challenge, but our guests have accomplished that feat multiple times from both rivers. Guests catching king salmon before May 15, charter with the knowledge we may not see a king salmon during the trip, but at the same time, it is an opportunity to get out on a beautiful river after a long Alaska winter and enjoy the outdoors. We often see more wildlife along the rivers this time of year, and very few other anglers. May trips always include the plan of fishing plenty of prime water searching for the first large king salmons of the season. We plan our availability for May salmon charters starting on May 10 — but some years a cold winter / late spring push our first trip of the season later into May. Fortunately, open ice-free water at Finger Lake, Lucille Lake, and Wasilla Lake in the Mat-Su Valley on April 25, 2014 indicate we will likely have an earlier than normal opportunity to get out and fish for large ocean-run king salmon on a Mat-Su river(s) during the first week of May.
As mentioned in our January – April 2014 Alaska Fishing Reports — we are offering a special $100 May 2014 King Salmon trip — this is our standard 6 hour guided trip with all fishing tackle and fish filleting provided. We are providing both an early morning and afternoon trip option — drive time to the boat launch is approximately 90 minute from Anchorage or 45 minutes from Wasilla. Give us a call at 907-746-2199, or use our website reservation form to place your reservation and get in on the fun.
Daily fishing reports will be posted on this page as soon as we start our May fishing — so you may want to bookmark this page for quick future reference.
MAY FISHING REPORTS — DAILY UPDATES
May 1, 2014
BREAKUP — SUSITNA RIVER ICE FLOWS — Ice flows continue to come down the Susitna River — Now is not a good time to be on the river in a boat. In about 4 or 5 days the river should be ice free enough for safe travel by experienced boaters — that is assuming one of the boat launches along the river opens for public use providing boaters an opportunity to get their vessels in the water. Currently water levels and ice flows are surging on the river — for reference the NOAA Susitna RIver water flow near the Parks Highway Bridge jumped from a water stage level of 17 feet up to nearly 18.5 feet, dropped to about 15.5 feet, then stabilized at a little over 16 feet all in a matter of hours on the evening of April 30. Since that time, the water level has made another dramatic rise back above 18 feet this morning (May 1). This rapidly rising water level indicates another ice jam dam has likely formed somewhere down river of NOAA’s flow recording area. When the river level gets high enough and the water pressure strong enough, the ice jam dam will blowout, sending another surge of water and ice downriver. Last year (2013) this pattern of surging water levels did not occur until extremely late in the month (May 19). Five days later on May 24, 2013 I ran my first fishing trip down the Susitna River to the Deshka River confluence. Allowing a similar amount of time for ice to flush out of the system, I therefore estimate, the lower Susitna River should be ice free enough for safe boat travel by Monday May 5 or Tuesday May 6.
Little Susitna River — the higher water level ( 2.8 feet as of last night) is now at the level where Alaska Department of Fish & Game installed the Little Susitna River weir during the 2013 season. I talked with a Alaska State Parks technician who drove the road to Little Susitna River today, and she said there is one rutted mudhole (that you can drive around) and a couple other soft spots in Little Su Access road, but that you can drive to the river and there looks to be plenty of water for launching a boat. In short — a person could fish the lower Little Susinta River today.
Eklutna Tailrace — I fished the tailrace in the evening attempting to catch a king salmon that would equal the date on which my earliest season Mat-Su Valley king salmon was caught back in 2003. I cast a #4 silver/black Flashtrap Spinner for about an hour without seeing a fish or having any bites. While driving to the tailrace and fishing I saw several moose, 3 pairs of Canada geese, and an extra large beaver (actually swimming in the tailrace) during the prime fish and wildlife activity hour just before dark.
May 2, 2014
Deshka Landing Updates on water and launch conditions. As I mentioned in yesterday’s report Susitna River ice is breaking up and flowing downriver. For daily reports on the latest river, ice, and boat launch conditions at Deshka Landing on the Susitna River in Willow, please view the daily updates on the website. Note: A constant barrage of phone calls have been delaying staff work on the boat launch and parking area in preparation for the summer season. To read and view daily website reports from Deshka Landing go to deshkalanding.com
May 3, 2014
I took my nephew on a shakedown run with one of my guide boats on Finger Lake this evening. There were lots of people doing the same thing and quite a few boaters and bank anglers were fishing as well. The only fish we saw caught we taken by anglers fishing right near the boat launch dock. We saw a couple nice sized rainbow caught there. My boat ran well — however– I think I will replace a couple trailer tires before taking this boat to one of the rivers. That is what a trial run is all about — I would not have suspected I’d decide to get new trailer tires, but that is what I learned today, and hopefully that decision will save problems later during on salmon fishing charter trips.
Deshka Landing boat launch was opened today. According to a post on the deshkalanding.com website there is limited parking available at this time — and currently no space available for long-term storage. Longer term space is scheduled to become available on Thursday May 8. The river came up last night and took away the ice that had been stranded in the launch area. Looking at the NOAA water chart the Susitna River water level should continue rising over the next few days as well, however, like usual for this time of year the Susitna River water level is much lower than it is in June. — A friend called me in this afternoon and reported an ice flow and ice jam between the landing and Deshka River — so I’m not to fired about about heading out to the river in the next couple days — however, I am planning to take my guide boat down the Susitna River to the Deshka within a week. Check back in a few days for the first 2014 report of king salmon fishing from my guide boat.
Little Susitna River Road
A friend of mine drove Little Susitna River Road to the lower Little Susitna River today and reported the road was dying out pretty well, but very rutted. Last Friday I called the Mat-Su Borough and requested road grading on the road, but often the borough seems to put this off until a large group of people start calling and requesting that the road receive some maintenance (grading). If you would like to help get the road fixed up to a better drivable condition sooner rather than later please give the Matanuska – Susinta Borough road service a call and ask that they have the portion of Little Susitna River Road that they are responsible for maintaining graded. This is only a 1.5 mile section of road, but is the worse section of the road. (907) 745-9826. Hopefully this should put the road in good condition for the May 10 and 11 weekend and provide better access for those who would like to fish the lower Little Susitna River or camp or launch boats at the State of Alaska’s Little Susitna River Public Use Facility campground and boat launch.
May 7, 2014
Little Susitna River Salmon Counting Weir Installation — The Alaska Department of FIsh and Game (ADF&G) is working at the weir site today, and hopes to have the installation completed sometime on Thursday May 8.
I plan to take my guide boat out looking for king salmon for the first time in 2014 on Thursday May 8. Check back late in the day on May 8 to read a fishing report from that trip.
Free Coast Guard Boat Safety Inspection — Saturday May 17 from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. at Greatland Welding & Machine along the Palmer – Wasilla Highway. Greatland owner Gary Feaster also told me he planned on providing free hotdogs for those who wanted to drop by for a boat inspection. Greatland also has some boating supplies on hand at their shop for those getting ready for another summer of water activities, and does modifications and boat repair work. For more information contact Greatland Welding at (907) 745-2383.
Little Susitna River Road Update — Thank You to everyone who called Mat-Su Borough Road Maintenance — I received a call from Scott Sanderson with the Borough today and the road has been graded as far as the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge gate. If you would like to see the remaining portion of the road graded and smoothed out sooner rather than later feel welcome to call Alaska State Parks (Finger Lake office) and request they have Little Susitna River Road graded from the Wildlife Refuge Gate all the way to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility Boat Launch. (907) 745-3975
May 8, 2014 First Guide Boat Trip of Season
I fished with my wife, two nephews, and a friend for about 4 hours on the Deshka River. It was a beautiful warm sunny day, and very pleasant out on the river, but we did not see any salmon or hook any fish. We fished with K-15 and K-14 Kwikfish, Magnum Wiggle Warts, and #6 Vibrax Spinners. We saw some waterfowl, an eagle, and a clear view of Mount McKinley during our trip. There was plenty of water in the launch and plenty of water for running the rivers. I have to get some stuff done in town tomorrow, but plan to run our first guided trips of the season on Saturday May 10. Check back for the next update.
May 10 I guided a morning group of 2 guests, one of whom had a pull down bite while back trolling with a K14 Kwikfish. The group also cast a #5 Flashtrap Spinner, a #6 Vibrax Spinner, a Magnum Wiggle Wart, and backtrolled with a K15 Kwikfish, but could not entice any other fish to bite. During he trip we saw one bald eagle and several beavers paddling around the river.
I guided an afternoon group of 3 anglers — who did a great job casting and presenting lures and also backtrolled several holes, but did not managed to hook any salmon. They saw several bald eagles along the river during the trip, and some waterfowl. Weather continues to get warmer and more summer-like nearly everyday. The river dropped and cleared up a bit since I was out on Thursday. River conditions continue to get in better and better shape for catching early king salmon, and although I do not have charters scheduled for Sunday or Monday at this time — I am scheduled to guide again on Tuesday May 13.
May 11 — Happy Mother’s Day — I did not have a charter, so stayed home and got some work done around the house. Note: The Alaska Department of Fish & Game passed their first king salmon through Little Susitna River today — so king salmon are starting to show up in the rivers we fish.
May 12 — Have been working on getting our second guide boat ready for it’s first trip. Lots of gear to pack in small spaces. I have another salmon charter tomorrow May 13 — check back in the late evening to learn what my guests catch.
May 13 — I guided an afternoon trip with two guests who casted with a #6 Vibrax Spinner and a Magnum Wiggle Wart and backtrolled with K15 and K14 Kwikfish, but were unable to entice a salmon into biting. We saw several pan-sized fish that may have been grayling or rainbow trout surfacing, but did not hook any of them on our salmon-sized lures. The guests did see and get some pictures of a moose and some bald eagles along the river. It was another bluebird sunny and warm May day. We also saw a couple boats of other anglers today, and other boaters and some jet skiers out riding around.
May 15 — I guided one guest who had one solid strike and caught a fat rainbow trout that struck a K14 Kwikfish. He casted a #6 Vibrax Spinner and backtrolled the Kwikfish in several locations, but was not able to hook a king salmon. The Deshka Landing manager told me at the start of the trip that he knew of 4 king salmon that had been taken from Dehska River so there are a few king salmon being caught and action should only get better as the season progresses. I will be guiding and posting a fishing report again tomorrow.
May 16 First King Salmon Landed — King Salmon Rollers Observed
— A guest in my guide boat landed our first king salmon of the season today. I guided a group of 4 guests and one of them caught a king salmon on a #6 Vibrax Spinner. Another guest briefly hooked, but lost two king salmon on a #5 silver / chartreuse Flashtrap Spinner. For the first time of the season I also saw some king salmon roll today. I saw 3 kings roll during the morning trip and also saw an additional two king salmon that were caught by other anglers. We also saw a beaver, a moose, and several eagles during the morning trip.
I guided an afternoon group of one guest, and although he fished all the way through the trip, he never managed to draw a strike. During the afternoon trip I saw two king salmon roll, and we positioned the boat to cast directly to them, but simply could not draw a strike. We saw some bald eagles during the trip.
May 17 — I guided a morning group of 4 guests, one of whom foul- hooked and landed a nice sized king salmon which we released. Another guest caught an Arctic grayling on a #5 Flashtrap Spinner. I also saw one other king salmon roll — but action was slower for us than the previous day. One of the guests also spotted a large coyote that watched us for a while from a bank while we were fishing. We also saw bald eagles and a river otter.
I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests, and we spent the whole trip casting with #5 Flashtrap Spinners and #6 Vibrax Spinners, but we were unable to coax any fish into biting. During the afternoon we saw two nice-sized salmon roll. I’ll be guiding again tomorrow so check back in the evening for the next report.
May 18 — I guided an afternoon group of 2 guests and the river was busy on Sunday afternoon. We saw one king salmon roll and also saw the boat behind us catch a king salmon. My guests fished with Flashtrap Spinners, a Magnum Wiggle Wart, #6 Vibrax Spinners, and a K14 Kwikfish, but were unable to hook up with a king salmon. We watched some bald eagles during the trip while my guests were attempting to catch a salmon. I plan to guide and post a fishing report again tomorrow.
May 19 — I guided a morning group of 3 guests, one of whom caught a king salmon on a #6 Vibrax Spinner in the Firetiger pattern. That was the only fish my group hooked, but we watched a couple other anglers battling king salmon as well. During the trip we saw some bald eagles, terns, and a beaver. During the trip I also saw one nice sized kign salmon roll. On the way to the river in the morning some of the guests and I spotted a moose along the road as well. It was an extremely windy day today which made for tough fishing conditions.
I guided an afternoon group of 2 guests and although we had the river mostly to ourselves, we could not coax a salmon into biting. My guests tried both casting and trolling. We did see one other angler land a king salmon during our trip, and also saw the usual bald eagles. The afternoon featured rough water and extremely windy weather just like the morning. I plan on guiding another trip tomorrow and should post a report in the evening.
May 20 — I guided an afternoon group of 5 guests and they casted #5 Flashtrap and #6 Vibrax Spinners the whole trip. We did not see or hook any king salmon, and did not see any other anglers catch salmon either. The wind was still blowing, but not near as strong as on May 19. We watched some bald eagles during the trip. The Susitna River dropped considerable today from the level it was at yesterday.
May 21 — No Trip — worked at home,
May 22 — I guided a group of 2 anglers, and we started fishing at the Deshka River about 8 a.m. At that time the water was calm with no wind, but about a dozen boats already fishing. We did not see any king salmon roll, or see anyone having any action, so after a while we boated on upriver and tried places others were not fishing. We had the upper river water all to ourselves, but did not see any king salmon or have any action up there. We did see 4 trumpeter swans on the river and other birds along the shore. My guests spent the trip casting spinners and back trolling with K14 Kwikfish. After the trip I drove up to Susitna Landing (mile 82.5 Parks Highway) and visited with Jeff Boatright. He told me this spring the grayling had been hanging out right near the landing — so we walked over to the river just above the boat launch —- sure enough we saw at least a dozen of the pan-sized fish jumping and breaking the water’s surface. Looked like a person with the right fishing gear could have a ball catching grayling there this weekend. I have another guided trip scheduled for Friday and plan to report in the evening.
May 23 — I guided an afternoon group of 2 people who cast Flashtrap and Virbrax Spinners the whole trip, but did not manage to coax any salmon into biting. During the trip we saw 3 king salmon roll — or perhaps we saw the same king salmon roll 3 times as it all occurred at the same location. We saw several bald eagles during the trip, a nice view of Mt. McKinley, and we also saw several swarms of hooligan in different spots along the Susitna River between Deshska Landing and the Deshka River mouth. I plan to guide and post fishing reports every day over Memorial Day Weekend (starting tomorrow).
May 24 — I guided a morning group of 5 guests, who all fished long and hard, but we were unable to get a single bite. We saw one other angler who had landed a nice sized king salmon. We saw a bald eagle, ducks, and a pair of geese in the morning.
I guided an afternoon trip of 2 guests, each of whom got one bite and caught a king salmon. Both salmon were caught on K14 Kwikfish. We did not see any of the other boaters hook a fish in the afternoon.
May 25 — I guided a morning group of 4 guests, who fished with K14 Kwikfish the entire trip, but did not get a bite and did not see any king salmon.
I guided an afternoon group of 3 guests, and one guest hooked a king salmon and battled it for a few minutes before it threw the hook. Another guest had a bite that wrapped the rod around the side of the boat, but did not manage to hook the fish. During the afternoon trip we also saw a moose beside the river. Water is on the low and clear side, but still slightly higher than average for Memorial Weekend. I’ll be guiding and reporting again tomorrow.
May 26 — I guided a morning trip of 4 guests, 2 of whom caught king salmon. Both king salmon were caught on Kwikfish. A third guest also briefly hooked a king salmon on a Kwikfish, but it pulled free shortly after being hooked.
I took family fishing in the afternoon and my nephew caught a chrome king salmon on a Kwikfish. That was the only bite the group had, so fortunately he managed to land the fish. We saw several eagles soaring overhead in the afternoon. Water keeps dropping and getting cleaner.
May 27 — I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests, and although they fished plenty of good spots they did not manage to hook any king salmon. During the trip I was one king salmon roll, and we also saw several smaller fish surfacing. We also saw several bald eagles and two moose. A guest spotted the first moose which swam across the river just upstream from where we were fishing. The second moose was a bull with small antlers that we spotted while boating along the river. I plan to guide and report again tomorrow.
May 28 — I guided a morning group of 4 guests, one of whom caught a jack king salmon on a #5 Flashtrap Spinner. We saw a few king salmon roll and saw a king salmon caught by another boat of anglers. During the trip we also saw two moose (one of which was a bull with small antlers that walked out and inspected us while we were fishing) and we also watched several bald eagles.
I guided an afternoon trip of 4 guests, who caught 4 king salmon. 2 king salmon were caught on #5 Flashtrap Spinners and 2 king salmon were caught on #6 Vibrax Spinners.
May 29 — I guided a morning group of 3 guests each of whom caught a king salmon. 2 guests kept their king salmon, and 1 guest put his back to fish more, but did not manage to catch another one. All of the fish were caught on #6 Vibrax Spinners. During the trip we spotted a moose as were were boating down the Susitna River.
I guided an afternoon group of 2 guests, each of whom caught a king salmon. One king salmon was caught while trolling with a Brad’s plug, and one king salmon was caught while trolling with a Kwikfish. During the afternoon trip we saw some eagles and a yearling moose as we were boating back after we finished fishing. I plan on guiding and reporting again tomorrow, so check back for the latest results.
May 30 — I guided a morning group of 2 guests, each of whom caught a king salmon. One guest kept a nice chrome king I estimated between 20 – 25 pounds. The other guest released a smaller king salmon only a little bit longer than 20 inches, quite late in the trip, but did not get any other action. In addition one other king salmon was hooked and lost during the trip. 1 king salmon was caught on a Kwikfish and the other two were hooked on a #6 Vibrax Spinner. We saw several other anglers landing king salmon during the trip as well. Last night 97 king salmon swam past the Deshka River weir, so the fish are finally arriving in better numbers. Over the past 3 days we’ve also seen considerably more king salmon roll during my charters. I will be guiding trips over the weekend, but we currently have availability in a second boat this weekend, and we also have a good availability for king salmon charters during the first week of June. Give us a call at 907-746-2199 or use this website’s online availability and reservation page to reserve your trip today.
May 31 — I guided a morning group of 4 guests, who had a total of 4 bites, but did not manage to catch a king salmon. One small salmon was hooked on a Kwikfish, but quickly shook loose. It was extremely windy and wet on the river and all my guests got cold and decided to end the trip early.
I guided an afternoon group of 6 guests, who caught one king salmon on a Kwikfish and also caught a king salmon jack on a Spin-n-glo. Another salmon was also briefly hooked on a Kwikfish, but came off before long. During the trip we saw one moose on the edge of the river. Another very windy and wet trip that made it difficult to control the boat while we were fishing.
Our next fishing report will be on our June 2014 Fishing Report page, so check it out to learn more. I am planning to guide guests on June 1 and report in the evening.