March / April Ice Fishing Reports 2021
March is one of my favorite months for guiding ice fishing trips, as daylight hours are much longer than earlier in the winter — and daily temperatures start warming up as well. Both of these changes make for a more comfortable and enjoyable ice fishing experience. Depending upon conditions we may still be guiding some ice fishing trips into early April. On years with warmer than normal spring weather — we MAY have early open-water fishing opportunities by the end of April.
March 2, 2021 — Spinner Rebuilding / Repair — I am attempting to teach people how to repair the spinner lures we use to catch salmon and trout. It only takes a few simple supplies to turn a lure that needs a new hook or a few replacement parts — into a spinner that works like new. A spinner whose shaft or clevis has been deformed enough that it no longer works effectively can be reworked in a few minutes. While a new size 5 Vibrax or Mepps Spinner may cost $5 or more, the supplies to repair damaged lures usually cost less than $1. Today I showed Greg Acord how to repair some of the plethora of damaged spinners he has been collecting for years.
It snowed a few inches last night so my wife and I also spent a few hours shoveling snow again today. It was a cool day today with a high of about 21 degrees, but we now have some good drainage ditches dug through the snow so when temperatures warm up and snow starts to melt the water will have somewhere to run.
March 4, 2021 — Still building spinners and working on rods. Tomorrow I am scheduled for an ice fishing trip, and am planing to post a fishing report from that trip in the evening. The last few days have been beautiful and sunny. Cool temperatures in the morning and getting warmer in the afternoons.
Friday March 5 — I took my wife and our friend Chuck Ashmun ice fishing today. The ice was about 30 inches thick with plenty of snow cover. My wife and Chuck each caught rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, and arctic char. The fish were biting lightly, and frequently stole the bait without being detected — so they were checking the bait regularly. Action was steady throughout the trip, most of the fish were released. All of the fish were caught on Pautzke’s Balls O’Fire premium salmon eggs. During the trip we saw a couple bald eagles and some ravens. We did not see any other people ice fishing where we were at today — but fortunately we found some lightly frozen over holes so I did not need to drill all our holes 30 inches. I drilled / opened 6 holes and my wife and Chuck moved around to all of them at different times while we were fishing.. Temperatures were about the warmest of any day this week, although it felt a bit cool out on the lake as there was a light breeze. Did I mention March is one of my favorite times to go ice fishing?
Saturday March 6, 2021 — The weather report had been calling for snow — but it was another beautiful sunny day in the Mat-Su Valley — it did cloud up a bit briefly mid-morning, but that went away. I built some #5 Pink Flashtrap Spinners and then built some experimental 2-bladed spinners. Temperatures seemed cold enough that I could have had ice forming in my rod guides — so after thinking about it — I did NOT attempt to test them at the Tailrace. Instead I hiked about a mile and a half in the afternoon sunshine, then came home and grilled a fillet of silver salmon we caught last summer. A prime-condition fresh grilled salmon is always worth the effort for my wife and I!
March 9, 2021 — Qinten Fiscus and I drove to the Tailrace and I tested spinners, while Quinten compared several casting rods with casting and fishing tests. We did not see any fish, however, the weather was warm and we did not have to deal with any ice in the guides. Temperatures were warm enough that snow was melting — this will likely be the warmest day of the entire week, so definitely a good time to get out and test open water fishing gear. As far as fishing to catch trout, landlocked salmon, and arctic char — ice fishing at local Mat-Su Valley lakes will likely be the best fish catching option in this area for the next 3 or 4 weeks.
March 12, 2021 — I traveled to Anchorage and got my second Covid shot. Trying to do our part to shut the Covid pandemic down in hopes that we can get back to doing so many of the things people enjoy. After getting an appointment getting the shots is simple — and considered important enough for the health of the nation that the government is paying of it. We will continue taking other precautions on into the future.
After getting my second shot I stopped into the Anchorage Bass Pro shop as they had a big fishing sale. I looked at more than I bought, but ended coming away with eight new tackle storage boxes and five #5 Vibrax Spinners — both were sale items.
March 13, 2021 — I went ice fishing with Ben Allen in the afternoon at Finger Lake, and we each caught a few landlocked king salmon. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon with quite a few other folks ice fishing as well. Ben and I both caught fish on some small shrimp he had brined and I also caught some fish on Balls O’Fire salmon eggs.
I built spinners again this morning. I cut apart the Vibrax Spinners I purchased yesterday and put them back together with a barrel swivel, split ring, and single hooks attached for king salmon fishing in May, June, and possibly July this summer. I also built some additional Flashtrap Spinners I will be using for king salmon and later on for chum, silver, and pink salmon. Finally I set up a spinner box specifically for king salmon with nothing but single hook spinners, and I also set up a spinner box with experimental spinners that have passed my tailrace tests and are now ready for open water action when the salmon arrive — some of these new lures should be considerably more durable than standard store-bought spinners. I’m excited to see if they work as well as I envision.
Monday March 15, 2021 — I guided a husband and wife who are visiting Alaska on vacation on a mid-day ice fishing trip. With the mid-day start the temperatures were a bit warmer and the fish were biting as well. They caught an arctic char, a rainbow trout, and lots of landlocked salmon with the fish running up to about 12 inches. Like usual, all of the fish were caught by fishing Balls O’Fire salmon eggs a crank or two above the bottom. The fish were biting the entire time — although lots of the bites were soft and some of the fish were quite small. The kept harvested enough fish for a meal before calling it a day. It was snowing during the trip, and this was the first trip in a long time that we did not see bald eagles flying near the lake. I suspect the big birds found someplace with shelter from the snow. We are half way through March and the ice is solid, and days are getting warmer. There should be quite a bit of good ice fishing left this winter / spring.
Before fishing I built about 100 Flashtrap Spinners with extra heavy wire, heavy blades, stronger folded clevises, and double bearing beads. Aside from need to replace hooks as they wear out or become dull, I’m thinking I may be able to fish and entire season without needing to repair these spinners (assuming of course the spinner is not lost on a snag before then). I built these spinners to add either a treble hook or a single hook, as they are more compact and easier to store without the hooks.
March 19, 2021 — My younger brother, Duane Couch, who guided with us for a number of years, built or customized most of the boats we have guided from, and also helped with quick-turn-around equipment repairs for our guide business over thirty years died from cancer this afternoon. He had been ill for a while, but it was a shockingly quick time from his diagnosis with cancer in February until his passing. Several other family members and I had the opportunity to visit and spend time with him today before his passing. More than ever, I treasure the opportunity to hunt together with my brother and his two sons this past fall. While we did not have the opportunity to harvest a moose during our short weekend hunt, we did share a boat trip and stories at camp after each outing. Duane leaves behind his wife, one daughter, two sons, lots of friends and family in Alaska, and a life well-lived. He trusted in God, had a unique sense of humor, was a talented musician, and helped lots of people.
Saturday March 20, 2021 — My wife and I spent the day around the house. We had several calls about fishing trips and made reservations for some summer salmon fishing trips and also one ice fishing reservation. I am scheduled to guide an ice fishing trip tomorrow — so check back in the early evening if you would like to see the fishing report from that trip. We have considerably more snow in late March than normal and temperatures have been cool. We are expecting temperatures in the 20’s with sunshine in the forecast for our ice fishing trip tomorrow!
March 21, 2021 — I guided a husband and wife from California on an ice fishing trip today. We started later in the day to get the most benefit from temperatures that warm up in the afternoon. It was a glorious sunny day, and my guests caught quite a few landlocked salmon along with some rainbow trout and arctic char. During the trip we saw several eagles flying near the lake and several other people out enjoying a sunny March day. The ice on this particular lake remains about 30 inches thick and once again all of our fish were caught on Balls O’Fire premium salmon eggs fished about a foot above the bottom. All of the fish were caught in depths of 15 – 20 feet.
The ice is good and solid and should be good well into April this year.
March 22, 2021 — I received spinner parts from 3 different companies today and will be putting together some new combinations.
March 24, 2021 — I put together several different spinner patterns in the morning and then went to the Tailrace and tested some of them out this afternoon — fortunately it was the warmest day we had in a while. There is still plenty of solid ice on the lakes, but the tailrace is the one place the water is open. About 1/2 of the 14 spinner patterns seemed to work well — while the other half I cut apart and will not use again.
After testing spinners I, along with 2 other members of the Mat-Su Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission met with Borough Manager, Mike Brown in an introductory meeting as to what the Commision has been doing for the borough.
March 25, 2021 — Big Dump of snow today and my wife and I spent a considerable amount of time attempting to clear it off our driveway and parking pad. When we took a break — it kept snowing — so there is more work to do.
March 26, 2021 — I guided a grandfather, grandmother, and their daughter on an ice fishing trip today. They fished a bit later in the day, so temperatures were warming up while they were fishing. We were able to fish some recently drilled holes that had not frozen over too far overnight. Each of the people caught and released several fish — none were kept today. They caught primarily landlocked salmon, but also some rainbow trout and arctic char. All of the fish were once again caught on Balls O’Fire salmon eggs — they keep getting bites so I keep using them. It was a beautiful sunny day with only one other group out on the lake today. It was warm enough that I was warm the entire trip — one of the guests had cold feet for a while, but overall we are finally getting to warmer spring temperatures that make ice fishing more pleasant — and especially on a sunny day like today.
March 27, 2021 — I drove to the Tailrace and tested spinners in the evening. I’ve been refining enough now that out of about 14 spinners I only plan to cut one apart to start over. I like the way these lures are working — however it would be nice if there were some ocean-run salmon around to test them on. However, I don’t expect any salmon to be entering Mat-Su Valley streams until May. I did see a moose feeding near the road as I drove him across the Palmer Hayflats.
March 28, 2021 — I attended the celebration of Life ceremony for my younger brother at the Real Life Church along the Palmer – Wasilla Highway. For me it was a very enjoyable service and I had an opportunity to talk with many people I had not seen for years. The sanctuary was full or nearly full of people, and it was good to hear other people share recollections with my brother and his family.
Monday March 29 — I guided a group of 2 guests who had made a skiing vacation to Alaska. They reported good skiing at Aleyeska Ski Resort south of Anchorage, and also had a good time catching primarily landlocked salmon, along with some rainbow trout and arctic char from an ice covered Mat-Su Valley lake. It was a warm pleasant day of ice fishing, with fish biting throughout the trip and guests impressed with how may fish they caught. The fish were biting well on Balls o’ Fire salmon eggs fished on a single hook. All of the fish were released to fight again another day, although some were photographed before release. Ice remains at a solid 30 inches in depth.
Tuesday March 30, 2021 — I guided a woman from Chicago who is up touring around Alaska and experiencing a plethora of Alaska adventures. She had been hiking on the Matanuska Glacier yesterday, and went ice fishing with me today. She caught several salmon, along with some rainbow trout and arctic char. All of the fish were caught on Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs fished on a single hook. The fish ranged up to about 12 inches in length, and since she was going dog sledding later today, she chose not to keep any of the fish. During the trip we saw once bald eagle that landed in a cottonwood tree near us, so my guest was able to get some pictures. She had seen eagles the previous day as well, but none of them were as close as the one today. The ice remains about 30 inches thick and solid — but temperatures were warm enough overnight that it was easy to break open some of the same holes from yesterday. I sure enjoy ice fishing more when temperatures are pleasantly warm — something that happens more frequently in March and early April.
Wednesday March 31, 2021 — I guided a group of 3 from California on an ice fishing trip. Each of them caught some landlocked salmon. They also caught one rainbow trout and a few arctic char. The fish ranged in size up to about 12 inches in length. The action started quite well with quick bites and several fish caught, but slowed down about half way through the trip. Although fishing slowed my guest continued to catch fish at a slower pace right up until the time we quit. All of the fish were caught on Balls O’Fire salmon eggs fished near the bottom. During the trip we saw a pair of trumpeter swans fly over the lake a couple times and then land on the snow and ice covered lake.
April 2021 — FISHING REPORTS
April 2, 2021 — Flashtrap Spinners — 3 River Fly & Tackle in Wasilla currently has the Flashtrap Spinners (we use on our guided salmon fishing trips) in more sizes and colors than they stocked for many years. They have NEW #6 Silver / Black in both single and treble hooks , #3 Silver single & treble , #3 Orange single & treble, #3 Black treble, #3 Rocket treble, #4 Pink single & treble, #4 Silver / Black single & treble, #4 Orange treble, #5 Orange single & treble, #5 Pink single & treble, #5 Chartreuse single & treble, #5. Silver / Black single & treble. All are assembled in Alaska with brass bodies and heavy vibration blades made in the U.S.A. Now is a good time to get them — while they are in stock.
April 3, 2021 — SPINNER NEWS for 2021 — If you’ve been reading our March / April fishing report updates you likely noticed in many posts I’ve mentioned our Flashtrap Spinners — ordering spinner parts, building spinners, and testing spinners. I can not remember –EVER– putting together and testing so many different combinations of spinner parts in such a short amount of time — and I currently have 3 additional orders of spinner parts still on the way! #6 and #7 are new spinner sizes I will be building this year. I’ve already built silver-plated and / or nickel-plated spinners in these larger sizes, and when the final parts orders arrive I will be working on stocks of Blue, Pink, and Orange-bladed #6 and Orange -bladed #7 spinners as well. Both sizes of larger spinners will be used to catch king salmon in multiple fishing locations, and I am also confident the new #6 and #7 Flashtraps will prove effective for lower Little Susitna River coho salmon as well. During times of higher or muddy stream flows I am counting on these larger Flashtraps drawing more strikes and helping our guests catch more salmon.
Open Water Fishing Season — We still have a considerably amount of snow on the ground and thick ice cover on lakes near Palmer in the Mat-Su Valley north of Anchorage. In addition, when I looked at a projected 10 -day weather forecast it was calling for temperatures staying below freezing for an entire week starting on Monday April 5. It appears likely that many or our lakes and rivers may not be ice-free until sometime in May this year.
April 5, 2021 — We received a bit more snow overnight and temperatures are forecasted to remain cool for the next week — so ice conditions on the lakes where I guide ice fishing trips should remain solid for the next 10 days or more. If there is any doubt about ice conditions — I always suggest drilling test hole(s) before venturing too far from shore.
Today I finished building two new custom king salmon / large spinner rods from rod blanks I had never built before. I hope to test these out at the tailrace before long, and am excited about how they will work for catching king salmon. Building a better fishing rod for a specific purpose can be addicting.
Two packages of spinner parts arrived in the mail today, and I also have a package notice to pick up a third box of spinner parts at the post office. A fourth spinner parts package should arrive later this month. I am confident we will have enough spinners to easily make it through the 2021 fishing season — and beyond! Building a better spinner for a specific fishing condition may also be addicting.
Friday April 9, 2021 — A delivery of 3/0 VMC Siwash single hooks arrived in the mail today. This is a sticky-sharp hook my guided guests will be fishing on #6 Flashtrap Spinners for king salmon during the 2021 season.
In the afternoon I helped Ben Mohr man the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) booth at the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show at the Palmer Fairgrounds. This is an outside booth and temperatures were chilly with a light breeze — fortunately I dressed almost as if I would be guiding an ice fishing trip. KRSA is expanding membership and also has a Clackacraft drift boat / trailer package raffle. On April 8 — KRSA starting offering Free memberships. While at the KRSA’s Outdoorsman Show booth I signed up for one of the free memberships — and then purchased 6 raffle tickets for the drift boat/ trailer package to help fund this organization’s work to maintain and nurture Alaska sportfishing and personal use fishing opportunities.
Saturday April 10, 2021 — In the afternoon I will once again be helping Ben Mohr man the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) space at the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show — Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer. I found out this morning there that the KRSA space will be moved inside a building today– what a comfort! Feel welcome to stop by and sign up for a free membership — a large sportfishing association membership is beneficial for supporting this organization’s statewide efforts to maintain reasonable sport and personal use fishing opportunities for all Alaskans. You may also sign up for your Free KRSA membership at the Kenai River Sportfishing Association website at krsa.com — simply click – JOIN TODAY – fill out your contact information and click SUBMIT.
Sunday April 11, 2021 — I helped out with the Kenai River Sportfishing Association booth a the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show on the final day.
Monday April 12, 2020 — The MELT IS ON!! We still have nearly complete snowcover over our yard, but melt water is now running through along one edge of the yard. This afternoon for the first time in 2021 I saw a flock of geese that had flown north. I usually expect to see geese for the first time on approximately April 15 — well the geese may be a few days early this year.
Tuesday April 13, 2021 — MELTWATER OVERFLOWS LAKES –I drove around and check out several lakes in the Palmer area where I like to go ice fishing. With the dramatic rise in temperatures the snow cover is melting quickly and all of the lakes I looked at are now covered in a mixture of water and sloppy snow. At one lake I observed what looked to be a group of people ice fishing, however, conditions were very sloppy — better have some rubber- bottomed boots or plan on getting wet! Ice remains thick at this time, however if warm conditions continue on a 24 -hour per day basis, ice fishing will likely come to an end soon in the Palmer – Wasilla core area. Further north good ice and ice fishing conditions will continue for a longer period of time.
Guide Boat Repower — I am repowering my largest guide boat with a 115 /80 Yamaha outboard jet. Today I drove into Anchorage and picked up the motor — next I’ll need to spend some time getting the motor mounted at the optimum height. With all the lakes and river still frozen over / frozen along the bank, it could well be two or three weeks before I have an opportunity to test out the new motor.
Friday April 16, 2021 — Spring Melt got a late start this year, however, the temperature at our house this afternoon was up to 58 degrees. The snow and ice continues to melt in our yard at a rapid rate, however there is still a good bit to melt. So far the spring is tracking similar to last year when the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was able to install the Little Susitna River Weir on May 12 with and passed the first king salmon of the season on that date. Because of high run-off flows Deshka River weir was not installed until June 2 in 2020.
April 19, 2020 — I recruited Nathaniel Warta (one of my nephews) to help me take off a 90/65 horse jet outboard motor and replace it with a 115 /80 jet outboard motor today on my largest fishing guide boat. The new motor should give me that little extra boost of power that will be nice when freighting large loads or fishing with a 6-pack group of guests. Tomorrow I plan to take the boat / motor /trailer to Greatland Welding & Machine and have Gary Feaster install a rock ejector on the motor. After that and installing some fuel line, the motor should be ready for a break in / test run out at Finger Lake (I will have to wait for the ice to melt a bit more).
Concerning our spring melt — the snow and ice are going quickly as we have enjoyed some warm sunny weather over the past week with temperatures well above normal for late April. This evening I went out for a walk and spotted lots of small flocks of geese flying over several fields along the road. It is good to see and hear geese once again. They will likely be around for only a week or two more before they continue on with their migration to locations where they will raise their young.
A package of rod components I had been waiting on arrived in the mail today. My friend Jason Perrego will be building two high end baitcasting rods — and it sounds like he may want a bit of assistance. I also have 5 partially completed spinning rods that I may or may not complete building before open- water fishing and boating season arrives in May.
April 20, 2021 — I took my boat to Greatland Welding and Machine and Gary Feaster installed an Outboard Jet Rock Ejector to the new motor. We also installed a Wooldridge Resin Jet Foot before adding the rock ejector. It is fun using some of the newer technologies when out boating on our Alaska rivers. I’ve used resin jet foots on other outboard, and from discussion and viewing videos provided by the manufacturer of the rock ejector I am confident it will prove useful anytime grass, sticks, rocks or other debris get sucked into the jet grate. The main advantage is the ejector should help clear the debris considerably quicker, providing my guests and I some additional on the water time fishing rather than cleaning out a motor. Learn more about this product at outboardjetrockejector.com
April 21, 2021 — I helped my friend Jason Perrego install two handles on the new custom bass fishing rods he is building. Jason chose Point Blank rod blanks, Fuji split Winn Grips, and titanium-framed Fuji Torzite K guides. When he is done these rods will be built light and sensitive and should be great for fishing with all day long. He is planning to use one or both of them when he fishes in a Florida Bass Tournament in early May.
April 22, 2021 — Chuck Ashmun, my wife, and I went ice fishing on a lake in the Mat-Su Valley core area today and enjoyed ice fishing in 60 degree temperatures. I wore a short sleeve t-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes and a baseball cap the entire time we were out on the ice and was plenty warm. We were careful checking the ice before venturing too far from shore, and I also had a report about ice conditions from yesterday. The fishing started slowly, but was steady with very light bites. We caught most landlocked salmon, a few arctic char, and a few rainbow trout. A decent number of fish were caught on Pautzke’s Balls O’Fire salmon eggs, but we caught even better by fishing the salmon eggs with a small piece of cocktail shrimp. The fish definitely seemed to prefer the combination salmon eggs / shrimp bait over salmon eggs or shrimp fished along. The biggest fish we caught seemed to be in the 12-inch range. Ice was still about 30 inches in depth — although we were careful near where the shore meets the ice — and ventured out from the shady side of the lake. While fishing we heard sandhill cranes and geese calling, we saw geese fly by a few times, spotted sea gull out on the ice, and saw a couple bald eagles. It was a most enjoyable ice fishing trip — but I a thinking we will likely be fishing in open water before long — especially if our warm spring weather continues.
April 23, 2021 — I assisted as Jason Perrego wrapped and finished one of the two custom bass rods he is building.
April 24, 2021 — I wrapped and finished two all-purpose salmon rods built on Northfork Composite rod blanks.
In the evening I drove over to the Tailrace, hiked along the path to the confluence with the Knik River and looked things over. Nearly all of the snow has melted, the parking lot is a bit wet, and the gate is still locked. The Knik River down by the Parks Highway Bridge still had a considerable amount of ice along the North side — I would not want to even consider launching my boat at that site at this time. On the drive across the Palmer Hay Flats I saw 4 moose as I drove to the Tailrace and 3 moose when I drove home. I also saw some duck displaying their spring colors both at the Tailrace and in a field near our house.
I’ve also been watching the Deshka Landing weather cam — which shows there is still a considerably amount of snow on the boat launch hill, with snow and ice out in the river, but a few patches of open water as well. I’ll be keeping an eye on this weather cam every day or so.
April 25, 2021 — I wrapped the guides on a custom trout rod and then applied Finnish to the thread as well. In also I prepped two additional trout rods for guide wrapping and Finnish.
Deshka Landing weather cam — snow and ice levels at Deshka Landing boat launch looked similar to yesterday evening. Temperature at Deshka Landing was 64 degrees at about 4 o’clock this afternoon and there will undoubtedly be more melting this evening.
USGS Little Susitna River Water Gauge — the measured water / ice level has been holding steady at about 2.0. I have observed when the gauge level reaches 3.0 the ice is usually washing out of the lower Little Susitna River near Little Susitna River Public Use Facility campground and boat launch. Judging from the Deshka Landing weather cam and the Little Susitna River water gauge it appears I may be able to launch my boat at Deshka Landing or Little Susitna River Public Use Facility sometime late during the first week of May (which would be about normal timing).
Monday April 26, 2021 — Open Water Salmon Fishing — My nephew, Paul Warta, and I drove to the tailrace and casted New Model Flashtrap Spinners for about 45 minutes in hopes of catching an early -season ocean-run salmon. As they say in baseball, No Hits, No Runs, No One Left on Base. Even with no bites, however, it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon and we had a good time experimenting with several different spinners and 4 custom rod models. While driving to and from the Tailrace we saw 7 moose near the Glenn Highway, feeding on the Palmer Hay Flats.
Deshka Landing Weather CAM — There is more open water visible amongst the large sheets of ice still anchor to the sides and bottom of the Susitna River channel. The road going to the boat launch is still covered with a layer of snow.
USGS Little Susitna River water gauge — The water level climbed to 2.5 feet overnight, but there is still a ways to go before it reaches the 3.0 level I like to see before venturing to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility Boat Launch. Talking with Alaska Department of Fish and Game Access Coordinator, Tracey Smith, today I learned that there is still about a foot of snow in places on Little Susitna River Road and the road is gated at the Susitna Flats Wildlife Refuge boundary, so a person could not even attempt to drive through the snow to the river at this time. It will likely be several days before it is possible to launch a boat at either Deshka Landing or Little Susitna River Public Use Facility.
April 27, 2021 — Earliest Ocean -Run Salmon Ever!!! — In 2006 I fished Eklutna Tailrace and caught the earliest ocean-run salmon I’ve ever heard of taken in a Mat-Su Valley freshwater fishery. Even more interesting — it was a coho salmon! I’ve been attempting to match or break that record ever since. Today I drove over to the tailrace and fished several different Flashtrap Spinners for about an hour, but the salmon were being finicky and I could not get any to bite. More likely — there may not have been any ocean-run salmon at the tailrace. A person can not catch one if he does not try, however, so I had to try. Driving to and from the tailrace I saw 6 moose, a couple groups of sandhill cranes, and one duck at the tailrace. Temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, as I saw ice on some puddles and I even got ice forming in the tiptop of my rod while I was at the tailrace.
Deshka Landing weather cam — The ice was still anchored to the bottom and along the banks in front of Deshka Landing this morning — however– the open water leads amongst the anchored ice keep getting a bit larger. I’m thinking ice could start flowing down the Susitna River in front of Deshka Landing — if not this evening — then within the next few days. Ice flows are most likely to start late in the day or evening when the daily melt cycle puts peak flow into the river. Stay tuned for the next update.
April 28, 2021 — I drove Paul Warta to Eklutna Tailrace and we casted Flashtrap Spinners on 5 different custom rods for about 45 minutes, but the salmon were being just as finicky about biting today as they were yesterday — or perhaps more accurately they were likely not within miles of the tailrace. It was still enjoyable casting and swinging spinners in open water. The gate to the larger tailrace parking lot was unlocked and open today, so we drove right down and parked near the tailrace / Knik River confluence. While we were at the tailrace a kayaker paddled down stream past us and ventured a small way down the shallow Knik River channel below the tailrace before turning around and heading back upstream. As is got later and the breeze died down, more and more mosquitos came out to join us, so we called it an evening and headed for home. BOAT LAUNCHED — At the Knik River access near the Glenn Highway we saw a boater with his Thunderjet launched in the Knik River. The river water in front of the launch area looked quite shallow and the over-the-bank launch looked a bit soft, but it was doable and the first boat I had seen in open water this spring. Paul told me that he and a couple other guys had launched small jet boats at Miller’s Reach boat launch on Tuesday evening and boated upstream on the Little Susitna River to a few miles past the Parks Highway bridge. Paul said most of the ice was gone from that section of the Little Susitna River.
Deshka Landing weather cam update: There is more water running through the ice anchored to the Susitna River in front of the boat launch, and the snow had melted off one side of the gravel spit beside the boat launch. Even some of the snow on the hill going down to the boat launch had melted enough that a person could almost tell there was gravel and a boat ramp under there. Spring keeps progressing — although when I looked a the weather forecast earlier today it was calling for potential rain / snow mix by Thursday morning. Even if we get a bit if the white stuff in the morning — I bet it will be gone by afternoon — if not sooner.
April 29, 2021 — I talked with Tracy Smith with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and she had been out to the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility today. The road, parking area and fee station are all being set up — the river is open near the boat launch, however, the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility is not open to the public — yet. It will open soon.
Deshka Landing weather cam — still snow and ice to melt — but we did make a bit more progress. With cooler temperatures today — it looks like the melting may have slowed down a bit at this location. The annual meeting for Deshka Landing Outdoor Association members is scheduled for Sunday May 8.
It is cool and drizzly this evening. So far no snow today, but I read a weather report that we may get a bit by tomorrow morning. Seems like we always get a bit of cooler weather to slow the progression into open water fishing — right at the time it is nearly here!
April 30, 2021 — My Wife and I drove into Anchorage and I took a pre-employment drug test in compliance with my Coast Guard vessel operator’s license. During our road trip to Anchorage we saw multiple moose, some swans, ducks, and gulls along the route. I also hope to catch up on paperwork later today in preparation for guiding summer trips.
7 p.m. More ice is moving in the river channel beyond the Deshka Landing boat launch.
I fished at Eklutna Tailrace this evening — casting Flashtrap Spinners near the confluence of the tailrace and the Knik River in hopes of getting lucky and connection with an early season salmon. It was a beautiful evening at the tailrace and there was another individual out fishing with a fly rod (neither of us had any bites and we did not see any fish either). There were quite a few people out hiking around the tailrace and enjoying the evening. When I drove past the Knik River Access along the Glenn Highway there were quite a few vehicles in the parking lot and several with boat trailers — so it looked like people were out boating up or down the river.
If you would like to join us on an open-water fishing adventure during our 2021 season Call for information — or to make a reservation (907) 746-2199.
For our next Alaska Salmon Fishing Report — please go to our May 2021 Alaska Fishing Reports page.