January – April 2016 Alaska Fishing Reports

April Alaska Fishing — April is primarily a month of transitioning between winter ice fishing and our summer season of salmon fishing on Mat-Su Valley rivers from our boats.  With a record making warm winter, the ice has been melting earlier than usual and I’m anticipating having a boat ready to run on one or two of the Mat-Su rivers before the end of the month.  Scroll down this page you will find our daily reports — for instance, I’ve already been out casting for salmon several times at Eklutna Tailrace.

$120 May King Salmon Special for 2016 — We are once again offering a special price for guests who would like to fish with us during the entire month of May 2016.  With the early melting of ice this year I’m anticipating I will be running boats as early as April 25, and our May Special price would apply to all trips during the last week of April as well.  Note:  The earliest I’ve caught a king salmon from a Mat-Su Valley river is May 1, so fishing any earlier than that is definitely a get out and explore type experience.  There often are a few rainbow trout, grayling, and northern pike available, but usually plenty of fishing for any catching this time of year.  As the season progresses– the later in May one chooses to fish, the more king salmon are migrating up into the Mat-Su Valley streams.  Currently as of April 14, we still have good availability for most May fishing trip dates.  To reserve your May Special trip use our online reservation system and enter the coupon code: May King  or give us a call at 907-746-2199.

April 30, 2016 — Eklutna Tailrace — having never heard of anyone ever catching a king salmon from the tailrace during the month of April, I had to make one last attempt on the last day of the month.   Although I fished Fired Cured salmon roe drifted under an ESB Bobber, I did not get any bites and I did not see any large fish.   I fished early in the morning and saw a moose, some sandhill cranes, a pair of geese, and an assortment of ducks on my trip to and from the tailrace.   From what one of the Eklutna Power plant operators told me — this will also be the last day for a couple weeks that power will be generated from the plant, as the water flow will be greatly reduced through May 13 as the plant shuts down for annual maintenance.   This will be the last fishing report I will post from the tailrace for a while.  My next report should be on a new page,  “May 2016 Alaska Fishing Reports.”

April 29 — First 2016 Open Water Guided FIshing Trip — is scheduled for May 2, and I’ll be spending my time between now and Monday preparing gear for that trip.   The update for that trip will be posted on our May 2016 Fishing Reports page.  Give us a call at (907) 746-2199 if you would like to join us on an uncrowded early May guided fishing trip.

April 28, 2016 — I wrote my 2nd Frontiersman newspaper fishing column of the season in the morning (rather than appearing in the usual Friday Outdoors section, it will appear in the Sunday edition this week).

Later, I picked up my primary guide boat from Greatland Welding and Machine, where I was having the boat trailer upgraded.

At the end of the day I drove out to Eklutna Tailrace for a little spinner casting and retrieving.  Saw ducks and a beaver at the tailrace and a couple moose on the drive over and back — but no bites and no salmon sightings while fishing.

April 27, 2016 — Boat Fishing for Mat-Su King Salmon — my first such trip for 2016 — Three of us were fishing and all of us caught fish.  We caught northern pike and arctic grayling.  I caught several pike on #5 Flashtrap Spinners, while Ben and Charlie caught their fish on Flashtrap Spinners and flies.   We did not even hook a grayling on spinners — even though I tried a smaller spinner in the two holes where Ben and Charlie were catching grayling on flies.   It was a long fun day on the river and we saw several bald eagles, swans, and ducks.

April 26 — Talkeetna River and boat launch — I talked with Margo Nealis of Tri River Charters (733-2400) today, and she told me they are planning to get a boat in the river tomorrow.  She said that most of the ice now seems to be gone from the Talkeetna River, and that the water had been coming up a bit.  Margo said someone launched a jonboat yesterday, and that they were receiving quite a few calls about Clear Creek drop offs for spring trout fishing.

April 25 — Talked with Joe Rouswell at Susitna Landing this morning.   He told me a few antlers had caught some trout and someone else had caught some burbot near the campground.  Joe also mentioned that this weekend the first two boats of the season were launched from the landing.   Water is low getting out and returning to the launch so boaters need to be careful, but it can be done.   Water will come up and launching will get easier.

April 24, 2016 — Eklutha Tailrace — I drove over early in the morning and fished for about an hour, but the only action I saw was a couple ducks splashing around in the tailrace.   Water is getting a little more glacial color to it — but still plenty clear.   On the drive to the fishing sport I saw 9 moose along the highway. Nice way to start the day.

April 23, 2016 — Deshka Landing Boat Launch is now open to annual pass holders and members only.   A large part of the parking lot is still drying out, but anticipated opening for the general public is within the next week or 10 days.  Yesterday is the first day I know of that people started launching jet boats from the launch.   For the previous week a few air boaters had been sliding out over the ice in the boat launch lagoon.  At this point the ice in mostly gone.

April 22, 2016  Eklutna Tailrace Action — After fishing at the tailrace for a while a saw a great big  splash that immediately caught my attention.   After walking to the spot where the water had been disturbed I spotted a beaver paddle around and then slapping his tail on the water with gusto.   It definitely had my heart pumping until I realized that rather than a large fish, it was simply a beaver making the commotion.  I had a similar experience with a pair of ducks, but unfortunately did not see any salmon.   I test fished another new custom rod that I wrapped this winter, and it performed nicely.   My guests will have a plethora of improved rods to cast with once I start guiding salmon fishing trips.    At this point, I’m planning to get my first guide boat out on a river sometime next week.

April 20, 2916 Eklutna Tailrace — I took a little more casting practice at the tailrace last night.  Once again, did not see or hook any fish.  Tailrace water is starting to cloud up a little bit, but still plenty clear.  On the trips across the Palmer Hay Flats I spotted 4 moose feeding along the road both going and returning home.

April 19, 2016 — Little Susitna River Public Use Facility ranger Damon Hampel gave me a report on the status of Little Susitna River (Access) Road and the lower Little Susitna River.  As of this past weekend, Damon reported there was still a portion of the road covered with snow and also soft / muddy.  He used 4-wheel drive to get into the facility and reported there was still shelf ice along both riverbanks with a small channel of open water flowing down the center.   Following that report, I’ll be holding off a bit longer before attempting  to access the river.   No need for me to tear up a soft road and risk getting stuck to access a low icy river.   The remaining snow and ice will melt or wash away, and the road will dry out and firm up soon enough.

April 18, 2016 Finger Lake — I picked up my Little Susitna River commercial user permit today, and also drove down into the Finger Lake campground and boat launch area.   The campground looked nice and the volunteer host was in place.  A few boaters were out doing some spring test runs, and the launch and lake all looked in prime shape.  Even the drive around the boat launch loop was smoothed out with hardly a pothole in sight.   I also saw a couple people fishing off the boat launch dock, but did not stop to see how they were doing.

April 16, 2016  Eklutna Tailrace — I couldn’t resist getting up early and heading over to the tailrace.  I tested out a couple more custom fishing rods that worked great.  Would have been nice if I’d found a salmon to give them a fight test as well.  No Fish or bites  at the tailrace, however, on the drive to and from the tailrace I spotted several moose and some geese on the Palmer Hay Flats.   I also saw a muskrat swimming near where I was fishing at the tailrace.  A beautiful morning to be out and about.  In the afternoon I charged batteries for a couple of our guide boats.

April 15, 2016 Deshka Landing — I drove up the Parks Highway, took a look at water conditions, and towed a boat home for some work on its trailer.   Two Sustina River tributary streams (Willow and Little Willow Creeks) were open with hardly any ice along the banks and looked good for fishing.  Susitna River is opening rapidly.  While I was at Deshka Landing the river was clogged with ice just off the boat launch lagoon, however, that ice jam has since cleared to where there is now a channel of open water right off the lagoon.   The boat launch however drops into a very icy and shallow lagoon at this time — no the boat launch is not open.  The Susitna River is very low — like usual for this time of year, but the remaining ice chunks are much smaller than most years.  I’m thinking the main river channel should likely clean up very soon, however there will be ice along the riverbanks until the water raises enough to wash it downstream.  My friend, Ben Allen, was out breaking in a new Suzuki outboard and test running his new guide boat on Finger Lake.  He sounded pretty excited about the new boat / motor package.

April 14, 2016  Eklutna Tailrace — After working on e-mails and phone calls, I took an evening break to fish the tailrace once again.   I once again fished with a #5 silver / black Flashtrap spinner and another one of our new custom rods.   The rod / reel / lure combination casted and first very well, but the water is still low and clear, and did not see or feel any fish.  There were some additional folks at the tailrace this evening, however, there was plenty of room for me to fish all by myself.  On the drive one to the tailrace I spotted a moose on the Palmer Hayflats.   About every trip — and especially if I drive in the morning or evening, I’m seeing a few moose on the flats.  I’ve also spotted some swans and ducks, but have yet to see any geese.   It is just about time that I start seeing the first few geese hanging around the Mat-Su Valley.  They should be here soon, but with the way things have melted already, I doubt they will star around as long as normal before continuing their migration.  I’m seeing people out fishing open water in the Kepler – Bradley Lake system just about every time I drive by.  I am expecting the lower Susitna River to be mostly ice free in about a week.

April 13, 2016  Eklutna Tailrace — I drove to the tailrace and cast a #5 Flashtrap Spinner with one of the new custom rods I built for guest to use on our salmon fishing trips this year.   The rod cast the lure well and had a nice sensitive feel while cranking my spinner, as should be expected, I did not see or feel any fish.  This was my fourth trip to the tailrace this spring, and so far I have  not seen or hooked a fish, but I have tried out 3 different custom rods.   Before I drove to the tailrace today, I called the Fish and Game Department and asked when they would be unlocking the parking area at the tailrace.   Rich Price, told me they would unlock the gate right away.   While I was at the tailrace casting and retrieving my spinner, sure enough, a Parks employee drove out and unlocked the gate to the parking area.    So if anyone else can’t wait to wet a lure in some ice free open water, the tailrace is available.   Will likely be a while before salmon arrive from the saltwater.   Earlier today I worked on e-mails and the phone, so by the time I went to the tailrace I was more than ready for a little break.

April 12, 2016  —  We had a good ice fishing season, running quite  a few trips with guests catching fish every trip.  We always used Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs for bait, and caught rainbow trout, arctic char, and landlocked salmon.  With a warmer winter than what we’ve seen in the past, we discontinued  ice fishing trips in late March.    Since then, the ice has been melting quickly and some lakes near Palmer are already ice-free.

With ice going out on the Palmer area lakes earlier than I’ve recorded in any of my previous 12 years of online fishing reports, it is time to get my boats out of storage, do some preseason inspection, and trailer them for a check ride on one of the local Palmer / Wasilla area lakes.  There is plenty to do in preparation for another year of guiding salmon fishing trips in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley, so hopefully I can get most of it done soon and get out on the water.