January – February 2021 Alaska Fishing Reports

January – February Alaska Fishing Reports 2021 – 

New Year’s 2021 Fishing Opportunities — I will be guiding ice fishing trips from January through March and possibly into early April, depending upon safe ice conditions. Ice fishing trips are primarily in the Palmer area for rainbow trout, and or landlocked salmon, Arctic char.  I hope to start guiding riverboat fishing trips for king salmon, rainbow trout, grayling, northern pike on Deshka River, Little Susitna River, and Knik River during May.    Mat-Su Valley king salmon may be harvested this year the Knik River / Eklutna Tailrace fishery.   Little Susitna River and the entire Susitna River drainage (including Deshka River) will start the season as catch and release king salmon fisheries using single hook artificial lures.   In late May I have availability for Alaskan residents to dip net for hooligan on the lower Susitna and Yentna Rivers.  King salmon fishing continues through June (our best king salmon month) and into early July.   In addition to king salmon, 4 other species of large ocean-run salmon start showing up during July including chum salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon, and an occasional sockeye salmon.    From July 10 -31 I will be offering a new opportunity for Alaska residents to participate in the lower Susitna River personal use salmon dip net fishery (this fishery occurs on Saturdays and Wednesdays only).  The last week of July and the entire month of August can be provide our best opportunities for harvesting prime-eating silver (coho) salmon.  Silver salmon fishing continues into early September, and I am also hoping to provide trout fishing opportunities in September and into October.  After the ice forms in the fall we wait for sufficient ice thickness before starting our ice fishing trips once again.  Ice fishing trips often start in late November around the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Scroll down for the latest  daily fishing report.

January 17, 2021 — I drove to Eklutna Tailrace today to try out some new trout fishing rods I recently built.  I  also tested some new Flashtrap spinners in comparison to older models.   Although I drove 20 minutes to get there, the tailrace provides the best opportunity for me to fish or test fishing gear in open water.   Although I’ve done this many years — I have yet to catch a fish at this location during this time of year.    Weather and water conditions were warm enough this afternoon that the water did not freeze in my rod guides or on the line as I did my fishing tests.  It paid off going in the afternoon when the temperatures were in the high 30’s or low 40’s.     I was pleased with the rods I check out, while some of the spinner tests produced lure action like I was attempting to achieve, while other new builds were not worth building.   I hope to continue with more spinner tests the next time I have a warm enough day to work without dealing with ice on rod guides or line.

January 21, 2021 — Mat-Su Valley lakes — I drove to 3 different Mat-Su Valley lakes checking ice and snow conditions after the warm weather we had the last few days.   I identified to spots that looked better than the first lake I checked out.   Conditions were somewhat icy, but looked reasonable for guiding some ice fishing trips.   Weather scheduled to be relatively warm for the next week. Later in the day I participated in a Mat-Su Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting.

January 22, 2021 — Eklutna Tailrace.    I drove to the tailrace and did some additional Flashtrap Spinner testing today.   I’ve been working on this project for more than a year now, and believe I’ve got my design(s) down for a quality spinner that should also be much more durable.    I and my guests should be casting these lures for ocean-run salmon in Alaska rivers during May, June, July, August, and September 2021.

2021 Mat-Su  King Salmon Regulations Announced.   The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) announced today that king salmon fishing on the Little Susitna River  and Susitna River drainage (including Deshka River) will start the season as catch and release fishing with single hook artificial lures.   The Eklutna Tailrace/ Knik River  king salmon fishery will remain open to harvest targeting the hatchery king salmon headed to the tailrace.

January 23, 2021 — I went on an ice fishing  trip with Ben Allen and 3 guests — a mother, a 7-year old, and a 5-year old.  The trip started slowly with only  a few bites, but finished with a flury fish catching action.    The family kept a few fish, but released most of them.    Some fish were caught on Pautzke’s Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs and others were caught on small pieces of shrimp.   The group also tried jigging a spoon, but had no action this time with the lure.   Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, and a few arctic char were caught.

January 27, 2021 — I took a married couple ice fishing today, and they caught several rainbow trout, several landlocked salmon, and 2 arctic char.    They chose not to keep any fish and went for the adventure.    During the trip we also saw several bald eagles flying around the lake.   All of the fish were caught on Pautzke’s premium -sized Balls O’Fire salmon eggs fished about a foot above the bottom.   Ice remained about 20 inches thick, however, this ice fishing trip featured the coldest temperatures of any trip I had guided this winter.   Fortunately my guests dressed warmly and we able to fish the entire trip.   Temperatures are already warming up this evening and are forecast to be warmer the next several days.

January 29, 2021 — I submitted comment to the Statewide stocking planning — mentioning the benefits a late-run coho salmon stocking program at Eklutna Tailrace, Eklutna Lake / River, Ship Creek, and Bird Creek could provide.   Late-run coho could provide an exciting opportunity for sport anglers to fish for large prime ocean-run salmon at a time (September / October) when there are very few locations to catch such fish in the Anchorage / Mat-Su area/

I customized some spinner parts for future spinner building, and I built a couple trial spinners.

I talked with a person about ice fishing later this winter.

I talked with a couple people interested in our jet boat fishing tours for Mat-Su Valley salmon during the spring / summer.   I made a reservation for one group.

In the evening I placed an order for a set of light spinning reels to use on trout fishing trips in 2021 and beyond.

January 30, 2021 — I guided a younger couple who caught  several rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, and some arctic char.  They decided to release all of the fish, but had a good time catching them.   Ice was about 2 feet thick and all of the fish were caught on Balls O’Fire premium salmon eggs.  It was a cold, but beautiful clear day and we saw several bald eagles flying and perched in trees near the lake.  When we left there were still 5 other groups of people ice fishing nearby.   Only one of those groups had started fishing earlier than us.

February 1, 2021 — I thought I was done building new custom rods earlier this winter, but since then I decided to make some custom trout rods for my open water guided trips later in the spring / summer.   My order of materials arrived at the post office, so this morning I was busy putting handles on 2 ultralight rods.  It should be fun catching some trout and grayling on these two — who knows, we may even catch some salmon on them — but it will certainly be an interesting challenge.

February 3, 2021 — After fitting and gluing handles the other day, I wrapped and finished the first of two ultralight spinning rods my guests and I will be using to fish for rainbow trout and arctic grayling during the coming 2021 open water fishing seasons.

February 6, 2021 — I guided a group of 4 men on an ice fishing trip today.   We got an early start and it was a cold trip, but everyone caught fish and had a good time.  As usual, all of the fish were caught with Pautzke’s Balls O’Fire salmon eggs fished near the bottom.  We drilled holes in a couple different locations and caught fish from both locations.   The group caught mostly landlocked salmon, but some rainbow trout, and a couple arctic char as well.   We saw a couple other ice fishing groups show up later during our trip, but they were far enough away that we could not tell if they were having any luck.  During the trip we saw a few bald eagles near the lake, however, they did not seem to be flying around as much as usual.    With the cold weather we’ve been having over the past week, the ice was about 3 inches thicker in that short amount of time.

February 7, 2021 — Super Bowl Sunday — This afternoon leading up to the game I am building some new size 6 Flashtrap Spinners to use on our Deshka River and Little Susitna River king salmon trips in May,  June, and early July.   I am building both a single hook model with a high end VMC tech set Siwash  hook and a treble hook model with VMC’s 8650 sharp treble.     Our 2021 king salmon at Deshka and Little Su will start with single – hook artificial lure fishing opportunity.   If enough king salmon migrate past either the Deshka River or Little Susitna River weir(s) regulations at one or both fisheries MAY be liberalized to allow use of multiple hooks and harvest sometime in late June or early July.       My guests and I will also try some of the new size 6 Flashtrap Spinners while fishing for silver salmon later in July and August.  Larger spinners proved more effective at times during my fishing trips last summer, so I’m attempting to maximize results with what I believe will be a more durable and effective design.

February 10, 2021 — Boat Power Upgrade —  I made a down payment on a new Yamaha  F115/80 horsepower jet outboard motor today.   This new motor will power our largest custom guide boat –  built by Greatland Welding and Machine in Palmer, Alaska.   Repowering our  largest guide boat with additional horsepower should help both navigating through shallow riffles and carrying  heavier loads more efficiently.   We use this boat mostly for longer range trips from the Deshka Landing Outdoor Association boat launch.  In 2021 we plan to guide trips  downstream from the boat launch to Deshka River, locations along lower the lower Susitna River, and other Susitna River drainage tributary streams.   Feel welcome to give us a call  to discuss a fishing reservation, personal use dip netting opportunities, or boat transportation to one or more of these locations during the 2021 open water season.    907-746-2199   

February 11, 2021 — Outboard Jet Rock Ejector — Another upgrade we are planning for the 2021 season is to install a rock ejector to the new motor I mentioned yesterday.   Some of you may be familiar with stomp grates used on inboard jet boats — the rock ejector is s similar system built specifically for outboard jet motors.  Jet boat motors provide power by sucking water through an intake and then expelling it to propel the boat.    Sometimes debris is sucked up and gets caught in the intake grill — when this occurs with an outboard motor the typical process for removing the debris is to shut the motor off, lift the motor, and manually remove the debris.  The rock ejector allows debris to be expelled from the jet intake grate by simply slowing the motor and working the ejector lever.   Although we attempt to minimize clogging the jet intake with debris when boating — the rock ejector will provide us the opportunity to maintain power and more quickly and efficiently remove debris after most intake clogs occur.  You can learn more about this product by visiting the Rock Ejector website at the following URL:  https://www.outboardjetrockejector.com    You may copy and past the URL into your web browser to get the the site — sorry I am unable to provide a link from this page.

February 13, 2021 — I guided a group of 3 guest on an afternoon ice fishing trip.   It was a bright sunny day with no wind, so that mad the trip a bit more pleasant — as did fishing later in the day when it was a bit warmer.   Each guest caught a some fish, but we did not catch as many as usual.    They caught rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, and 1 arctic char.    We fished Pautzke’s Balls O’Fire single salmon eggs the entire time, so that is also what we caught all of the fish on.    During the trip we saw some other people out fishing and enjoying being outdoors as well.   We also saw one pair of young bald eagles.

February 14, 2021 — Valentines’ Day Ice Fishing in Alaska  — I guided 3 guests who caught a good number of landlocked salmon and arctic char.  One of my guests caught her first fish ever during this trip.  The group also caught a total of about 5 smallish rainbow trout.   Several fish were released, but they also kept enough fish for a meal or two.   All of the fish were  caught on Balls  O’Fire salmon eggs fished on a single hook near the bottom.  During the trip we saw a couple other groups of ice anglers, and about 8 – 10 immature bald eagles.

February 16, 2020  — I shoveled lots of snow today — as we got several inches.  In addition, I picked up my mother and drove her to get her second COVID -19 vaccination.  She then spent the afternoon and had dinner with my wife and I so we could monitor how she was doing after the shot.  Aside from a bit of a sore arm she was fine.

February 17, 2021 — I met with two people and talked about custom rods today.   One person took a rod I had already built home with him — and is getting into building on his own — hopefully I was able to provide and show him some good techniques to help in his own building.   In addition, I also showed him how to rebuild spinners.   He had some Vibrax with broken  hooks and bent shafts that were easily repaired in a few minutes.  Spinner repair is a great way to cut down on the cost of new lures — in addition it is environmentally friendly — it is much better to recycle used metal lure parts rather than throw them out and have to mine / manufacture more.

Ben Allen with Miller’s Riverboat Service and Susitna Rods was the other person I talked with.   Ben has built with a wide variety blanks — including fly, casting, spinning, trolling, and mooching rods.   I had a couple fly rod blanks and some other rod parts which I passed on to him.   In return he is building me a custom fly rod on one of the blanks I supplied.  Ben is an enjoyable person to work with and definitely does a great job with customer service.   If you would like to talk with him about a custom rod, an ice fishing trip, or a guided salmon fishing trip his phone number is 907-715-1095.    Ben and his wife, Amber, also have a roomy well-equipped bed and breakfast unit available during the summer salmon fishing season  — and provide fish vacuum packaging and freezing.

In the evening I started building a custom salmon drift rod for a friend of mine who guides for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and trout in Oregon.  I’ll be working on that rod for the next couple days as well.

February 18, 2021 — I should be around the house — working on fishing rods and paperwork — unless someone schedules a last minute ice fishing trip (907-746-2199).    Later in the afternoon  (4 p.m.) I plan to participate in  a Matanuska Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting.

February 19, 2021 — I received my first COVID shot in Anchorage, and then to celebrate getting the shot — I looked at a new model of reel I was interested in at the Anchorage Bass Pro Shops store.  

I am excited to get started on COVID shots  in hopes it will not only reduce my risk from contacting COVID-19, but also reduce risk to other Alaskans, visitors, friends, and family whom I may come in contact with.    My wife, sister, mother, and one nephew have already completed both of their two shots.   We are simply attempting to do our part to help get this pandemic under control  so life, activity, travel and businesses can return to a more pre-pandemic condition sooner rather than later!!  I would encourage everyone with the thought that we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel!  COVID rates around the United States and Alaska have been going down as more people have been getting vaccinated.

My friend Ben Allen guided a group on an ice fishing trip today — they had originally called me, however, I was scheduled for my COVID vaccination in Anchorage near mid-day — so I referred the group to Ben.   Ben said his guests had a good time, catching good numbers of fish — including an arctic char of about 20 inches.

Saturday February 20, 2021 — I got up early this morning and spent several hours wrapping and then finishing the custom salmon fishing drift rod I am making for a friend.   It is attached to my drying motor which spins the rod so the finish does not run as it drys.   By midnight it should be done.    I also wrapped a hook keeper on another rod, and then did some reconfiguration work on several other rods I will be putting some new wraps and finish on once my two drying motors become available again.

Sunday February 21, 2021 — I worked with fishing rods and salmon fishing spinners.  

Monday February 22, 2021 — I rewrapped then finished portions of several salmon rods.  I have a number of rods that will take several days of work before I have finished optimizations to make them more ergonomic / comfortable to fish with.

Tuesday February 23, 2o21 — Continuing to work at optimizing salmon fishing rods for the coming season.   I have more rods to rework than my guests and I will likely fish during our entire 2021 open water salmon seasons.    I also worked at updating our reservation calendar.

Thursday February 25, 2021 — I rewrapped a portion of two fishing rods this morning, then applied some rod finish and have them spinning on the drying motors.   We got a few more inches of snow last night, so I spent a couple hours shoveling our driveway and parking pad.    With the snow we are getting, it seems like we should have plenty of water in May and early June to start our king salmon fisheries.

10 Hours of Daylight!!  My friend, Chuck Ashmun informed me this morning that we now have 10 hours of daylight per day — and getting longer.   The extra daylight makes it cheerier and gives a person more opportunity to get things done before the sun goes down.    Daylight hours continue to get longer in a hurry.    In less than a month we will add two additional hours of daylight!  After that we will have more daylight than night time hours until approximately September 21.

February 27, 2021 –– It was 34 degrees at our house — so I drove Eklutna Tailrace to test some of the new trout rods, compare a couple salmon rods, and test several different spinner designs.   It was warm enough that very  little ice formed on my fishing line.   The trout rods all worked fine, the heavier salmon rod I will only want to use in certain situations, but testing today expanded what I will use that one model for — the other salmon rod was simply used as a comparison reference.     There were two spinner designs that I will likely not use in the future — while the others worked well and should catch fish.   While I was at the tailrace I saw a woman cross country skiing, a man walking a dog, a woman walking, and a man and a dog kayaking.   I of course was casting and retrieving fishing lures.   What an odd assortment of people all doing different activities in the same small area.  This was the first day in quite a while that seemed warm enough to go to the tailrace and cast fishing lures.   Yesterday’s weather report was calling for snow today — which I suppose may likely still show up this evening or tomorrow, as the clouds look thicker and temperatures are starting to drop.

There is plenty of snow around and most rivers, streams, and lakes are covered in a thick layer of ice, but March is coming and with it warmer temperatures.   We still should have another solid month of safe ice fishing, but snow cover could be nearly gone in the lower Matanuska Valley by the end of March.

Call for information — or to make a winter ice fishing or summer open-water fishing reservation  (907) 746-2199


COVID-19 Requirements for Travelers to Alaska

Health Advisory #2  — Issued February 14, 2021 –Requires international and interstate travelers (residents, visitors and workers) to complete the State of Alaska  TRAVEL DECLARATION FORM and SELF ISOlATION PLAN.   It is advised but NOT mandated that travelers should take a molecular-based COVID test.  Access the most recent State of Alaska COVID information by clicking the red Covid-19 headline above — then click on the blue link that appears.


 For our next two months of Alaska Fishing Reports — please — Starting March 1 — go to our March / April 2021 Alaska Fishing Reports page.