January — April 2015 Alaska Fishing Reports

2015  — $100 May King Salmon Special — We are offering a $100  six hour king salmon trip during the month of May 2015 which includes myself as the guide, the comfort of a specialized jet boat, use of custom-built rods / tackle, and fish filleting at the end of your trip.  Early season is a prime opportunity to get out on the river and fish numerous prime spots with little competition from other anglers and a good opportunity to see wildlife.  My personal earliest king salmon were caught on May 1, May 10, and May 10 from the same Mat-Su Valley river on different years.  I am attempting to catch an April king salmon from a Mat-Su Valley river this year.  April Mat-Su king salmon opportunities are extremely limited, and even most of our May king salmon are caught near the end of the month.

Check back with this fishing report for the latest news.   If you would like to make a reservation for your $100 May king salmon trip — go to our Availability and Reservations page — then click the calendar date you would like to fish to start the process, or give us a call at (907) 746-2199.    Use May King 2015 as your coupon code to get this special price.

Newest Custom Guide Boat — At the time I’m working on this report, our newest guide boat is under construction at Greatland Welding and Machine in Palmer.  The new boat should be more comfortable with even more dry storage area than the boat I’ve been running for the past 5 years.  Like our other boats it will  hop on plane quickly, be economical with a clean-running Suzuki 4-stroke outboard, and operate well at slow speeds.  Of course it will be equipped with long drift boat style oars for quiet back trolling and drift casting on our smaller rivers.  You should have the opportunity to fish from it, or see it on some of the Mat-Su Valley’s best salmon fishing rivers this summer.

New Custom Fishing Rods — the past couple winters I’ve started building custom fishing rod again, and Fishtale guest may enjoy the opportunity to fish with some of these treasures whenever you reserve a trip in my guide boat.  I’ve also built a few rods for two other guides that work with me that as well.   These are very light and comfortable fishing rods fitted with Fuji’s new KR guide system and built on USA made St. Croix rod blanks.   Make an online reservation or give us a call if you would like to experience the cutting edge of quality spinning rods on your next guided salmon fishing trip.  907-746-2199.

Alaska FIshing Reports:

For the next update — go to our May 2015 Alaska Fishing Report

April 30, 2015 — My nephew Paul Warta and I made one last attempt at catching an April king salmon in 2015.   We took my guide boat to the Little Susitna River where we cast silver / black Flashtrap Spinners and one orange blade Flashtrap Spinner.   We caught fish, with Paul hooking the largest one that jumped several times and also made several strong runs before he could bring it to the boat.   It was a thick rainbow trout of about 25 inches that I released without removing it from the water.   Paul’s trout was likely the largest caught from my guide boat in the past 10 years.   Paul also hooked, but lost another rainbow trout, and I caught 2 rainbow trout and lost a 3rd one.     We did not see or hook any salmon. During the trip we spotted a pair of trumpeter swans, some bald eagles, and plenty of ducks.   Later in the afternoon we also saw one other group of boaters.  A good day on the river, with the water considerably cleaner than during our last trip and much less shelf ice along the banks.

April 28 — Ice Flowing on Susinta River near Deshka Landing –While the river is not open enough yet for good boat travel, the ice started moving / jamming / and getting ready to blow out of the Susitna River near the landing.   Even after most of the ice clears off the river at this location, ice flows often continue to come down river from considerable distances upstream for a few days.    From what I have recorded in past year’s fishing reports, it looks like the Susitna River ice is starting to flow about 5 — 7 days earlier than average.

In the evening Paul Warta and I drove to Eklutna Tailrace and casted silver/black Flashtrap Spinners for about an hour and a half without getting any bites. For the first time this season I saw a few small salmon fry jumping out of the water. We did not see any larger fish, while a pair of Canadian geese, and a few ducks were the only wildlife we spotted.

April 27 — I took my boat out on a river today and used it to look for king salmon for the first time this year.  Water level was low and there was also quite a bit of ice along the river.  Water was dark colored — I assume from floating ice scraping along the bottom and muddying the water.  I took my nephew along and although we fished quite a few different spots, we did not see any fish.   We did see a moose, a trumpeter swan, Canadian geese, ducks, and shorebirds.   I may try to get out one more time during the month of April — I suspect it will be sometime in May before we see or hook a king salmon in one of the Mat-Su Valley rivers.  (Note:  this if the first time I’ve had one of my guide boats out on a river during the month of April in over 12 years).

April 26 — Finger Lake — My nephew and I took one my primarily guide boat to Finger Lake and made sure everything was running well.  There were lots of other people out either checking out their boats or getting in some early season fishing.   We saw one individual at the boat dock cleaning a couple sacks of 8 – 12 inch landlocked salmon and rainbow trout.

April 25, 2015 — Eklutna Tailrace — I drove over to the tailrace and casted a #4 silver / black Flashtrap Spinner, but did not get any bites or see any fish.   I did however, see 8 moose, a swan, some geese, and ducks when driving to and from the tailrace.   A successful morning in that I simply needed an opportunity to get outside and relax a bit.   I plan to test run one of my guide boats at Finger Lake later today.

April 22, 2015 — Guided Fishing Available starting Saturday April 25.   I’m still working to get ready for the season, and it is early, but I’ve decided to make our guided open-water fishing trips available starting April 25 this year.   This is primarily a chance to get out on the water and enjoy some uncrowded fishing conditions early in the season — catching fish would be a bonus.   Reserve your trip by calling us at 907-746-2199.

April 21, 2015 — Snow!  we had a slight accumulation of snow overnight, but it melted off during the day.  We are still getting some cooler spring weather — but we have open water, so I’ve decided to start offering open-water fishing trips earlier than I have at any other time in my 30+ year career as a fishing guide.

Monday April 20, 2015 — Eklutna Tailrace — this morning was the largest tide of the month, so I took a quick trip over to the tailrace and casted a Flashtrap Spinner when there was the most water to bring in an early arriving salmon.    I did not see any fish and I did not get any bites — just lots of water.   On the drive to the tailrace in the morning I did spot the first flock of geese I’ve seen this spring, and 6 moose while driving across the Palmer Hayflats, and one bald eagle in a perch beside the Matanuska River.  I’ve been fishing quite a bit lately — but plan to start getting caught up around the house for the next week or so.

April 18 — Eklutna Tailrace — Made another run to catch the evening tide at the tailrace.  Casted a #4 Orange blade Flashtrap Spinner the whole time.  No hits, no runs, no errors — even so, I really enjoyed casting with on of the new custom rods I built this winter.   While fishing I saw a mother moose and two yearlings, and a pair of ducks.  Was a warm evening and some bugs were out as well.   Driving home I spotted 3 more moose.   I have not seen any geese yet this spring, and keep thinking I should see some before long.   I’m wondering now, if spring might be so advanced that we may not see much of geese in the normal farm fields where I usually see them staging in the spring.

April 17 — Fishing at Eklutna Tailrace — There was a good tide in the evening, so a nephew and I drove over and fished the tailrace for about an hour.   Saw a couple pairs of ducks and my nephew saw some a couple minnows.   We spent the whole time casting with #4 Flashtrap Spinners, but not a bite to be had.   At this time in April, the tailrace is mainly just a place to get out and cast in some open water.  Water is very clear, as temperatures have not clouded it up with glacial silt — yet.    On the drive back we looked at a few local lakes — Matanuska Lake was half ice free — Bradley lakes was more than half ice free, and Echo Lake was mostly ice free.   The warmer over night temperatures and wind are taking ice off the Palmer — Wasilla area lakes in a hurry.

April 14 — Knik River — I drove across the Palmer Hayflats this afternoon and noticed some people running a small jet boat on the lower Knik River.   Not a lot of water in the river, and the group was only running up to the railroad bridge then down slightly below the highway bridge.   Nevertheless, this was the first time I saw a boat out running on ice-free Alaska freshwater in 2015.  Still some ice chunks along the river, and out into Knik Arm, but spring keeps progressing.

April 13, 2015 — Snow.    We had a couple of inches fall around the house overnight, and in more shady places it lasted the whole day.   Definitely another cooler day — but still confident in the rivers becoming ice free earlier than normal.

April 12, 2015 — Open Water Report — Yesterday, I took a road trip to inspect various fishing waters throughout the Mat-Su Valley.  Here’s what I found.  Bradley Lake continues as the Lake  I know of with the most fishable open water — and that amount of open water continues to get larger, however, when I drove past yesterday evening there were several people fishing what I would consider a relatively small amount of water — in other words there was not much room to move around if the fish were not present or biting in what water was open.  I’ve also noticed a little open water around the edges of other Palmer – Wasilla core area lakes, however, other lakes had even smaller areas to fish than on Bradley Lake.   I would not attempt to go out on the ice on core area lakes.    Driving out of Wasilla, I started seeing snow remaining on the ground as I moved north of Houston High School.  Crossing the Little Susitna River bridge I noticed the river was nearly entirely ice covered with on a few very small patches of open water.   Passing through the Nancy Lake area, ice on Nancy Lake itself looked like it could be solid enough to walk and fish on.   I would be cautious and test ice before venturing very far from shore.   The same could be said a little further north when I drove by Willow and then Kashwitna Lakes — both of which looked to be entirely ice covered.     Crossing Willow Creek and glancing both up and downstream from the highway bridge I saw mostly open water both directions, however, when I backtracked and drove down Willow Creek Parkway to the confluence of Willow Creek and the Susitna River there was not enough open water for me to even consider fishing.   Still some snow remaining in the woods as I walked along Willow Creek and the Susitna River, however, I was only wearing tennis shoes and the snow was shallow and packed enough that I did not get any in my shoes.

Further up the Parks Highway Little Willow Creek, Grey’s Creek, Kashwitna RIver, and Sheep Creek all remained ice covered.   I drove to the mouths of Kashwitna River and Sheep Creek, and once again there was simply not enough open water to fish.   Ice on the Susitna RIver itself looked unsafe to travel on, however, in no spot did I find enough open water to fish.  In my experience Talkeetna River usually provides some of the first open water with catchable numbers of trout, char and grayling north of Willow, however, I turned around shortly after crossing Sheep Creek.  Note: there is very little snow remaining along the highway even this far north, however, back in the woods there is still a bit of snow — but not the normal foot or 18 inches that I’ve sometimes experienced this time of year.    The temperature was down to 22 degrees this morning ( in the Palmer area) so it is easy to see why ice cover remains on most of our waters, and up the highway overnight temperatures are usually colder.   Weather reports are calling for a continuation of below freezing overnight temperatures for the next several days, so I expect little change in ice conditions over the next 5 – 7 days.

April 9, 2015 — April Breakup on early Schedule — I doubt it makes the ice melt any quicker, but I’ve been observing our ice-covered lakes every couple days.  Bradley Lake in the Kepler – Bradley system shows significant melting right at the public access with enough open water for a few people to fish at this time.   Of course if fish are not in that small amount of open water, the ice is very unsafe for venturing somewhere else.   Another lake that I noticed had enough open water to do at least a little bit of fishing was Wasilla Lake right near it’s outlet.

I’ve been seeing a few swans and ducks since very late March, on many years I often see early geese arriving in the Mat-Su Valley by April 15, so I’m thinking I’ll be seeing or hearing geese within the next week.   The farm fields near my house are snow and ice free, and some of the resulting puddles and ponds are slowing seeping into the soil as it thaws as well.

Boatable Mat-Su Lakes in April?   It is unusual, but if warmer than normal overnight temperatures continue for another couple weeks I’m believing we’ll have enough open water for early season boating  by late April.   Lakes that generally provide the earliest Mat-Su boating opportunities include Finger, Lucille, and Wasilla Lake.   During different years I’ve made my first boating run of the season at each of these lakes.

April 4, 2015 — Fishtale’s Slim April FIshing Opportunities — I was scheduled to guide an ice fishing trip today, but we ended up canceling the trip due to the long run of warm weather we’ve recently had, and the deteriorating ice conditions on lakes in the Palmer area. Yes, there are better ice conditions further north toward Willow or Glennallen, however, rather than guide trips to places I have very little experience with, we are busy getting ready for our open water salmon fishing season. At this point, there is still plenty of ice on most Mat-Su lakes, and rivers where we guide our fishing trips — the ice is simply becoming more and more unsafe for us to use. We’ve had a warmer than normal winter in south central Alaska, and if our pattern of above average temperatures continues through the month of April, I may be boating a Mat-Su river and searching for early-arriving king salmon near the end of the month. Extremely early for king salmon in our rivers, however, if I want to set a new personal best for earliest caught ocean-run king salmon it will have to occur in the month of April.

April 4 — Fishing Trip to Eklutna Tailrace — It was so beautiful and sunny this afternoon that I had to get outside and enjoy some spring weather.  I casted and retrieved a #4 silver / black Flashtrap Spinner from end to end of the tailrace without seeing a fish or getting a single bite.   I did test one of our new custom rods, however, and it was a joy to cast and fish with.  I would have enjoyed the opportunity to see how it handled a fresh-run salmon, but fishing was what I expected, and very pleasant in the afternoon sunshine.   While at the tailrace I saw several other groups of people stop their vehicles and get out and walk around, but no one else was fishing.   Condition-wise the tailrace water had a green tint, but at the same time I could see all the way to the bottom in most places.  There was very little snow or ice remaining in a few shady spots, but farther down along the Knik River there was a considerable amount of ice alongside the open water and even ice chunks out in the open channel, so conditions seem too early for salmon in the tailrace, but great if you have a new rod and need some open water to check it out.

Great Alaska Sportsmans Show in Anchorage — on Easter afternoon (April 5)  I gave my Clobber Salmon with Bobbers and Bait presentation at the Sportsmans Show, and also had an opportunity to walk around and see the show.  Yes, I found more than a couple items to purchase at the show — the danger of going I suppose.   I took some opportunities to briefly chat with some friends and business associates.

Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show in Wasilla

Friday March 27 — Sunday March 29  I will be booking fishing trips at our booth at the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show in Wasilla at the Menard Sports Complex.  Now is a good time to reserve those open-water summer salmon fishing trips while many of the prime dates are still available.  I’ll also be giving two How to seminars on Clobbering salmon with Bobbers and Bait, and one seminar on Casting Spinners for Salmon.

Last 2015 Ice FIshing Trip Reports

March 25 — I have no ice fishing trips scheduled today — and with longer warmer days it is my personal favorite time for ice fishing — but I expect to ice fishing for only a couple more weeks at the most — so if you want to experience one of  our winter ice fishing trips give us a call soon while the ice is still in good condition —- at 907-746-2199.

March 24 — I guided a group of 5 guests, each of whom caught several fish.   All of the fish were caught on Pautzke’s Ball’s O’Fire salmon eggs.   The largest two fish were Arctic char of about 22 and 18 inches.    I say about for the size, because the group chose to release all their fish and we did not actually measure them.   In addition, they caught several rainbow trout up to about 12 or 14 inches, and a good number of landlocked coho salmon that were very small, but fun to pull up nevertheless.   It was a wonderfully warm sunny day out on the lake ice and I spent nearly the entire trip in a short sleeve t-shirt.   The only eagle I saw during the entire trip was after we had returned to the parking lot and I was ready to drive home.  The lake ice was still nice and solid and nearly two feet thick — however — we have been getting several days of warmer weather (still freezing at night) so I would advise checking the ice out each trip before venturing to far from shore.

March 16 — I guided a group of two people who caught a nice fat Arctic Char of about 18 – 20 inches as the first fish they pulled out of the ice.   In addition they caught several rainbow trout up to about 12 inches in length and some smaller landlocked coho salmon.   All of the fish were caught on Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs fished about a foot above the bottom.   It is late winter fishing and most of the fish seem to be in shallow water of up to about 12 feet or less.  Did not see any eagle this trip.

March 15 — I guided a group of 3 guests, and we gambled on a lake that has produced some nice catches of larger fish in previous March trips — however — the fish were very reluctant to take the bait well enough so we could hook them this time.   At this lake we only caught two rainbow trout of about 10 – 12 inches even though we spent more than half of our time giving it a good try.   Finally we went back to the lake we had been fishing on an earlier trip and caught most a bunch of small coho salmon, but also an Arctic char and two rainbow trout.   Did not see eagles on this trip — a cold and windy trip.

March 16 — I guided a group of 2 guests, who caught 4 nice Arctic char, and 7 rainbow trout which they kept along with additional rainbows and smaller coho salmon which they released.  All the fish were caught on Balls O’Fire Salmon eggs.   With the largest fish being the first one they caught.   In addition a pair of eagles was watching us fish from their perches behind us for most of the trip.  A beautiful sunny day — but cold as well.  Fun trip.

March 13 — I guided a group of 2 guests who caught plenty of fish — especially rainbow trout and small landlocked coho salmon.   All of the fish were caught on Balls O’Fire Salmon eggs fished about a foot above the bottom.

March 12 — I had a trip scheduled that was cancelled when part of the group couldn’t get into Anchorage on time with their flights.

March 11 — A cold day of ice fishing — but I had a group of 3 guests who showed up with plenty of warm clothes and we had a great time.   Wonderful sunny day with lots of fish biting. The best trip I’ve run in several trips as far as fish size.   Some nice Arctic char in the 18 – 20 inch range and rainbows of about 10 – 12 inches, along with a bunch of small coho salmon.   We had great views of eagles that were watching us fish most of the trip.   Like usual, Balls  O’Fire salmon eggs caught all the fish for us.   We fished a different lake today, and it payed off in a big way.

March 8 — A cold and windy trip.  Everyone caught at least a few fish, however, the fish were small and the weather was brutal so we did not move around to some of the locations on the lake we had been fishing recently.   We caught smaller landlocked king salmon and rainbow trout.   Saw a pair of bald eagles watching us fish.

March 6 — I guided a morning group of 2 guests who harvested 8 Arctic char and 8 rainbow trout along with several landlocked king salmon.   They also released several fish — a huge change for the same two anglers I guided the day before —  when they only caught  11 fish total.   All of the fish were caught on Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs fished near the bottom.

I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests, each of whom caught some fish — rainbow trout and landlocked king salmon, but only one Arctic char.   Weather was warmer earlier in the day, but getting cooler with a light wind blowing on the afternoon trip.   Everyone had a good time, and we went back a bit early after everyone had caught some fish –only kept a few this time.  We did see some bald eagles during the trip

March 5 — I guided a group of 2 guests, who fished diligently the whole trip, but they only caught a total of 11 fish, mostly smaller landlocked salmon and rainbow trout, but one larger Arctic char.    All of the fish were caught on Balls O’Fire salmon eggs.  We saw bald eagles during the trip.  It has been a great winter of ice fishing, but the action seems to be slowing down somewhat on this lake.

February 20, 2015 — My morning trip was a no show, but I guided two guests in the afternoon.  We started with rainy weather — very unusual for one of our ice fishing trips, but it dried out almost as soon as we walked down to the lake.   I brought along a pair of boots of one of the guests on this trip and a good thing as there was water pooled in places on the ice.   My guests had a good time and caught mostly landlocked king salmon while fishing Balls O’Fire single salmon eggs about a foot up from the bottom.

February 17 — Another fun and successful ice fishing trip with each of my 2 guests catching fish.  We’ve been fishing the same lake for Arctic char, landlocked salmon, and rainbow trout.    I always drill several sets of holes and each trip seems to be somewhat different in that you never know for sure which will be the predominant species caught on any given day — or from which locations you will catch most of the fish.  Pautzke’s Balls O’Fire salmon eggs have been a constant secret weapon, though, as all of my guests have been catching fish with them on every trip this winter.

February 14 — I guided a group of 2 guests and we started about 9 a.m. and got a jump on most of our competition — that means we got to drill and fish enough of my favorite spots before other anglers arrived that my guests caught plenty of fish.   They were loving Balls O’Fire omlets for breakfast once again.

January 10, 2015 — with a 10 am start for my group of 2 guests.  December and January in the Matanuska Valley the sun does not come up very early, so 10 a.m. is my preferred start time for an “early start” during these two months.   It was plenty early for my guests to have a great time catching fish that couldn’t resist bright red Balls O’Fire salmon eggs slowly jigged up and down just off the lake bottom.  There were lots of old ice fishign holes in the area we fished today, but it did not matter, as there were still plenty of fish available.   Mostly rainbow trout this time.