May 2021 Alaska Fishing Reports

May King Salmon, Trout, and Northern Pike 2021                                                                                     We  started guiding Alaska fishing tours from out jet boats in early May during 2021.    Scroll down to our daily May Alaska fishing reports  — Red headline — to read daily fishing reports: 

Fishing Tour Opportunities during May 2021:

Deshka River  — catch and release king salmon, rainbow trout, arctic grayling, Northern pike.  .

Little Susitna River — catch and release king salmon, rainbow trout.

Knik River — king salmon harvest available.

Mat-Su Valley stocked lakes — harvest opportunities for rainbow trout, arctic grayling, arctic char, and landlocked salmon.  

 Please call to discuss a fishing trip to any of these Mat-Su Valley locations:  907-746-2199.

May Fishing Reports 2021

May 1, 2021 — I got up early intending to fish Eklutna Tailrace — however the thermometer registered 27 degrees  at 5:30 this morning — so I got started on other projects, with the thought I might fish later in the day when the water would not be freezing in the tip and guides of my fishing rod.

I’ve observed boaters using the Knik River Access off the Glenn Highway the past two evening.  My nephew was out boating on  Little Susitna River near Houston 3 days ago.  Anglers have been out fishing a small patch of open water between Bradley and Kepler Lake near Palmer for stocked rainbow trout.  A few rainbow trout are being caught near Willow at the confluence of Willow Creek and the Susitna River.  Open water fishing is just getting started in the Mat-Su Valley, and there will be considerably more ice-free waters to fish during and after the first week of May.

Deshka River web cam:  Just before noon there is so much water and ice backed up near the Deshka Landing boat launch that I believe it should Blow out today —  the chances of blowout increasing later in the day as the river swells with the day meltwater. Update:  The ice started flowing  at about 4 pm — not a total blowout to open water — as there is still a considerable amount of ice that will be flowing downstream from miles upriver.

In the afternoon I drove to Deshka Landing and picked up a guide boat I had in storage.    There is still more snow in the Willow area than I suspected before the drive.   At the landing the parking lot and boat launch area were roped off — so I did not get to inspect the river or boat launch.

May 2, 2021ICE FLOWING — DESHKA LANDING —  Starting May 1, the first big push of ice has started flowed down the Susitna River —  with ice flow continuing after midnight and into the early morning hours.   At 6 am this morning the Deshka Landing weather cam appears to show  ice flow has settled down with most of the ice once again jammed  in place.   As the daily melt cycle repeats, expect increasing ice flow events — with maximum ice movement occurring  during afternoon / evening hours.

Lucille Lake Boat Launch — driving through Wasilla  I noticed a patch of  open water on the East end of Lucille Lake that appeared to run all the way past the City of Wasilla boat launch.  There was little open water at that time, however, Lucille Lake is one of the Mat-Su Valley locations that provides an early opportunity to launch boats and make check runs early in the season.   The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also stocks catchable rainbow trout at this location — for people interested in  a fish pulling a the end of their line.

May 3, 2021 — I casted Flashtrap Spinners at Eklutna Tailrace on 18 different rods for about two hours, but did not see any fish or get any bites.    The Knik River side-channel flowing toward the tailrace only has the merest trickle of water.  The outflow below the tailrace is therefore made up of almost entirely tailrace water.   Not far below the tailrace the water in the river channel spreads out and is very shallow for more than a mile.   A large ocean-run salmon would likely be extremely reluctant to swim through such a long stretch of shallow water — especially this early in the season.  For that reason and because numerous other Mat-Su Valley locations now have open water — this will likely be the last time I fish the tailrace for a couple weeks.

May 4, 2021 — Today is all about Boat Launches — Alaska Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist, Samantha Oslund, told me the Finger Lake boat launch at the Alaska State Parks Campground is now open — and this afternoon she saw about half a dozen people fishing near the boat dock.  There is still an ice layer over a large part of the lake that will likely be shrinking rapidly now.   As I reported earlier, the City of Wasilla Lake Lucille boat launch is also ice free.  Both of these launches are pay-to -use launches, however, they are two of the earliest and easiest accessible locations where boaters can now launch their boats and fish in open water.

Samantha Oslund also reported that the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility boat launch on the lower Little Susitna River is ice free and now open for public use.

6pm — while Deshka Landing boat launch and parking area are not officially open, yet, I saw on the Deshka Landing static picture there was an airboat in the boat launch lagoon and a vehicle and trailer parked on the boat launch ramp at about 6pm.  The airboat was used to push most of the remaining ice out of the boat launch lagoon.   It looks like the vehicle and trailer may have damaged the  wet road a bit leading down to the ramp, so I expect it may be a few more days before Deshka Landing boat ramp and parking lot are open to member or public use.

May 5, 2021 — I am hoping to launch one of my guide boats for the first time in 2021 sometime in the afternoon or evening.  

The Deshka Landing weather cam video from May 4, 2021 — viewable today on the Deshka Landing website today — shows the airboat pushing most of the remaining ice out of the Deshka Landing boat launch lagoon to where the Susitna River carries it away downstream.

Rather than getting out and running a boat this afternoon I showed a person interested in purchasing a boat one of my 3 custom built guide boats fabricated by Greatland Welding & Machine in Palmer.   We did not make the sale today, but it may happen — if not I’ll still have the boat to use another year.

Rental Vehicles –  Some of our guests have been reporting a shortage of rental vehicles to travel around once they get to Alaska.  If you are visiting from out of state, this might be one of the first items to check on for your vacation.   RVs or campers are alternative options that let visitors stay a day or two comfortably in numerous spots and are rentable from Anchorage.

Uhaul is a company visitors often don’t consider when attempting to find a rental vehicle.  They may have pickups and / or  passenger vans available at rates that can be better than most rental car agencies.

May 6 — I spent the day getting guiding paperwork in order.  In the afternoon I drove up to Willow to update the items Deshka Landing requires of commercial operators to work out of their facility.  

I drove a bit further up the Parks Highway and looked at water conditions on a few of the Susitna River tributary streams.  Both Willow and Little Willow Creeks seemed to be running higher than normal, but both were relatively clear in color with hardly any ice in sight.   Looked like decent fishable water, although I suspect most of the resident fish that will be migrating up these streams are likely still holding in the confluence areas with the Susitna River.

More Mat-Su Valley lakes are opening up — Loberg (Junction) Lake near the Parks Highway / Glenn Highway interchange was nearly ice free — a dramatic change from the last time I drove by.   Lucille Lake in downtown Wasilla has lost considerably more ice as well since Tuesday.

May 7, 2021 — I know — I know — only 4 days ago I posted my Eklutna Tailrace fishing was likely over for the next two weeks.  Well after 3 full days of not casting any lures to open water I  experienced serious withdrawal symptoms.   This morning I drove over and casted a Flashtrap Spinner on one of my custom rods for about half an hour at the tailrace.   The tailrace water is getting a darker green hue to it, but otherwise conditions are about the same as on May 3.   No hits – No Fish seen.    I intend to spend most of the rest of my day getting ready to guide an open-water fishing trip tomorrow.

In the afternoon my wife and I towed one or our guide boats to Finger Lake and boated around a bit.   There was still ice lots of ice between the first and second island, so we could not run very far.   I saw a large rainbow trout from the boat launch dock when we were putting the boat in the lake, but out cruising around and casing small spinner in a few spots we did not see any other fish.   There were several other people out boating and / or fishing from boats and a couple people fly fishing off the boat launch dock.

Little Susitna River — the Alaska Department of Fish and Game installed the salmon counting weir at its usual location approximately 4 miles upstream of the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility campground and boat launch.

Saturday May 8, 2021 — First king salmon fishing charter of the open-water season — Water conditions look good enough to find a king salmon, although it is so early  in May that there may only be a few king salmon  in the river.   It is entirely possible that we could hook more rainbow trout than king salmon — and I am taking a few trout rods just in case my guests want to switch gears and fish for rainbow trout.   This is a catch and release trip — although if we catch Northern Pike we will keep them.     One never knows  what to expect on the first king salmon trip of the season, but I know we will have a good opportunity of spotting bald eagles, waterfowl, and moose along the river.   I will likely post the report from this trip late in the evening, so check back if you would like to know what we find.

It turned out to be a fine day on the Little Susitna River, and my guests fished for king salmon the entire trip.  Water was a bit higher than normal for this early in May, but a good color for fishing for salmon.   Temperatures were a bit cool at times, but everyone was dressed warmly and in layers, so our pre-trip planning paid off.   We back trolled different plugs the entire trip, but drew no strikes.   I saw one smaller fish (I suspect was a trout) surface.    During the trip we saw lots of ducks, a few trumpeter swans,  bald eagles and lots of arctic terns — some of whom were dive-bombing into the river.   There were also a few other boaters out on the river.

Today was the annual membership meeting for Deshka Landing Outdoor Association, and I was unable to attend since I was guiding a fishing trip.

May 9, 2021 —  Happy Mother’s Day — my wife and I took the opportunity to have my mother over for dinner earlier in the week to celebrate, as my mother will be spending Mother’s Day with my sister’s family.    I hope everyone takes takes the opportunity to remember how much mothers have done for all of us.

Deshka Landing weather cam — looking at the video from yesterday, it looks like ice from further up the Susitna River drainage has started flushing out.  I’m thinking there may be a bit more ice for the next two or three days and then it may be about over for the season.   I am planning or make my first trip to Deshka River during the coming week.

May 10, 2021 — Email Working — I posted earlier that our email was not working this morning — fortunately I got some assistance and our email is working correctly once again.

I also hope to do some preparation work with boats and fishing gear today.

Deshka River — water conditions are starting the season high ( like usual) the water drops and clears with each passing day unless a significant rainfall event occurs.  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game likes to target weir installation at Deshka River for approximately May 20 — however — installation is dependent upon water volume. If water levels drop before May 20 the weir can be installed earlier — if water levels remain high the weir may not get installed until later in May or even June.  Last year (2020) the weir was installed on June 2 — nearly two weeks after the target date. 

May 11, 2021 — I guided one guest on a king salmon fishing trip today.   He casted Flashtrap Spinners and back trolled Kwikfish and Mag Lip Flatfish at about a dozen different holes, but only had one bite.   I suspect the bite he had on a Mag Lip Flatfish was from a rainbow trout.   It was a quick strike that he jerked at, but was unable to hook.  During the trip we saw a bald eagle and ducks along the river, along with some other small birds as well.   We could hear birds calling during our trip and also heard frogs croaking at one location.    The day started rather cloudy and cool, but turned sunny and warmed up as we fish.   It was a great day to be out fishing and exploring on the river.   We only saw a few other  people out boating along the river.

May 12, 2020 — I will be tinkering with boats, fishing gear, and paperwork today, and should be around the phone at least until 2 pm  — so if you have fishing-related questions or would like to place a reservation for your Alaska salmon fishing trip feel welcome to give me a call — 907-746-2199.  

I have hopes of working around  an afternoon doctor’s appointment to get out on the water sometime during the day.

I swung one of my guide boats by Greatland Welding and Machine in Palmer so they could do some quick tune-up work on it before my next guided fishing trip.

Jim Tilton reported that Deshka River was still high when he traveled all the way to the Rock Garden today.   High water certainly makes for easier upriver travel on the Deshka with little worry for running aground.

May 13, 2021 — I guided a husband and wife on a king salmon fishing trip — and we did not catch a fish.  We back trolled the entire time and they  had their lines in the water except when we were traveling between spots.  My guests fished with Kwikfish and a Spin-N-Glo / diver combination.   They did not get any bites, and we did not see any king salmon.   The water had dropped and cleared since I was last out, and conditions looked great.   Some of the trees within sight of the river are starting to green up, as is some of the grass along the river.   During the trip we saw a plethora of ducks and shorebirds, a pair of trumpeter swans, and two moose.   Weather was sunny and pleasant making for an enjoyable trip with good company.   It is still very early in our open-water king salmon season, however, spring conditions have progressed nicely and I’ve been feeling like we should catch a king salmon on each trip I’ve run this year.   

Friday May 14, 2021 — I guided an afternoon group of 5 guests, and we back trolled plenty of prime holes, but did not get any bites and did not catch any king salmon.    During the trip we saw a plethora of ducks along the river.   Water remains at a good height  with good clarity.  There were also more people out on the river today, and I expect more anglers out on the weekend as well.

Saturday May 15, 2021 — FIRST KING SALMON 0f 2021 I guided a group of 3 women, and one of them caught a king salmon and a large rainbow trout.  Both fish were caught on a Kwikfish.   We also had one other salmon follow the lure right up to the boat, but it did not bite, and we did not see it again.   During the trip we saw a mink, a couple bald eagles and the usual plethora of ducks.   It was bit wet on the drive to the river, but nice weather once we were at the boat launch, and while we were fishing along the river.

Sunday May 16, 2021 — I guided a group of 4 guests from Florida who fished hard the whole trip, but only hooked one king salmon which was lost before we could get it to the boat.   The group casted both Flashtrap Spinners and back trolled with plugs.  During the trip we saw several other groups of people out on the river,  and some fishing in the same area where we were.  We saw one other king salmon hooked by one of the other groups — like us their king salmon managed to get loose before they could land it.   We saw some ducks, but not much other wildlife during this trip.

My wife saw on the news this evening that the first king salmon of the season was caught at Ship Creek in down town Anchorage, so king salmon are showing up at other Northern Cook Inlet rivers and streams as well.

May 17, 2021 — I talked with Samantha Oslund with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game today and learned Department staff is hoping to get the Deshka River weir installed on Thursday.

I also noticed that the first king salmon swam past Little Susitna River weir on Saturday May 15 followed by  a second king salmon on Sunday May 16.

I’ve been hearing reports of Hooligan being caught in the Yentna River approximately 45 minutes boat ride down the Susitna River from Deshka Landing.  Two other guides I know will be guiding hooligan trips tomorrow.   This is usually a short harvest opportunity of about two weeks or maybe less.

I finalized the sale of one of my Greatland Welding & Machine guide boats this evening.  Some of my nephews went together to purchase it, so the boat will remain in the family.  They had already used it a bit on a loan basis from me, but I suspect it will be out on the local rivers a bit more in the future.

May 18, 2021 — I drove to Eklutna Tailrace to cast a spinner for a while in search of a king salmon, however, the Eklutna Power Plant must be shut down for spring maintenance, because water in the tailrace was extremely low with no detectable current.    I made a few casts into the stagnant water just to see how my rod and spinner were working, but there was little chance of finding a fish.   Because there was hardly any outflow from the tailrace, and because the Knik River itself is so low — there is hardly any water depth in the Knik River side channel below the tailrace.  It usually takes less than a week for the spring maintenance to be completed and tailrace outflow to return to a more normal level.

Susitna River Hooligan — 2 guides I know reported dip net catchable numbers of hooligan about a 10 – 15 minuted boat ride downstream from Deshka Landing today.   The going rate for a hooligan charter is $100 per person with a minimum of 2 people per trip for the opportunity to harvest up to 1 cooler full of the small smelt-like fish per person.

Today I will  write my weekly fishing report for the Frontiersman newspaper that usually is published on Friday.

We currently have whole boat guided fishing trip availability through Thursday of this week — give us a call if  you would like to get out on an uncrowded river and fish for salmon in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley.

May 19, 2020 –I took my wife hooligan and king salmon fishing, with a late morning start time.   We had fun catching the hooligan in a salmon net as they would fall through the large mesh fairly quickly, but we managed to harvest a cooler full.    We also casted Flashtrap Spinners a short amount of time, and my wife caught a king salmon on a double-bladed chartreuse/orange spinner.   We saw shorebirds, ducks, terns, and bald eagles during the trip.

May 20 2021 — ADF&G installed the Deshka River salmon counting weir. 

In the afternoon I attended  what should be our last  Mat-SU Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting before we take a break for the summer.

May 21, 2021 — I guided a morning group of 2 guests, each of whom caught a king salmon.   One king salmon was caught on a #6 Flashtrap spinner and the other king salmon was caught on a #7 Flashtrap Spinner.   One of the guests also briefly hooked a small fish on a Mag Lip Flatfish.   We saw arctic terns, bald eagles, ducks, and shorebirds on the morning trip — along with some other fisherman out on the river as well.

I guided an afternoon group of 2 guests, one of whom caught a king salmon on a #6 Silver / Black Flashtrap Spinner and also caught a whitefish and lost another smaller fish on the same spinner pattern.    The second guests hooked and fought a king salmon for a while on a #5 Vibrax Spinner, but the hook popped loose before we could bring it to the boat.   During the trip we saw some arctic terns and bald eagles. 

Saturday May 22 — I guided  two guests in the morning, each of whom caught a king salmon.  One guest also caught 2 rainbow trout.    1 king salmon was caught on a kwikfish, and 1 king salmon and 2 rainbow trout were caught on a Mag Lip Flatfish.   During the trip we saw a beaver, arctic terns, bald eagles, ducks, and large schools of hooligan.  

I guided an afternoon group of 2 guests, 1 of whom caught a king salmon and a rainbow trout.    The king salmon was caught on a kwikfish and the rainbow trout was caught on a Mag Lip Flatfish.   During the trip we saw ducks, arctic terns, a bald eagle, and a large school of hooligan.

Sunday May 23 — I guided a husband and wife from Texas this morning who were experienced anglers.   They both had a good strong hook set when they got a bite, and each of them caught a king salmon.    The wife also caught a nice-sized rainbow trout.   1 king salmon was caught on a #5 Vibrax Spinner, 1 king salmon and 1 rainbow trout were caught on a kwikfish.    The trip was exciting in more ways than one, as we heard wolves howling near the river, we saw 2 separate moose — one of which swam across the river, we saw a pair of trumpeter swans, and  we saw several bald eagles.  It was sunnier wether today and there were quite a few people out on the river enjoying boat rides, fishing, and warmer mid-day weather.

Monday May 24, 2021 — I guided 3 fishermen in the morning and one of them caught a king salmon on a Mag Lip Flatfish.   In addition one king salmon was hooked on a #7 Flashtrap Spinner, but lost before it could be brought to the boat.   During the trip we saw lost of hooligan, bald eagles, ducks and shore birds.

I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests. 1 guest caught a king salmon on a kwikfish.  Another guest caught a rainbow trout on a Mag Lip Flatfish, and a third guest also caught a rainbow trout on a Mag Lip Flatfish.   During the trip we saw bald eagles, hooligan, and ducks.  It was a glorious bluebird day — and rather hot in the afternoon by Alaska standards.

Tuesday May 25, 2021 — I guided two guests today, each of whom caught a king salmon on a Kwikfish plug.   It was pleasant and sunny today with temperatures into the 70s — fortunately the water was still good and cool and we were able to find a couple king salmon that were wiling to bite in the afternoon.   During the trip we saw a few king salmon surface, a few bald eagles, and some arctic terns.

Wednesday May 26, 2021 — I had the day “Off,”  so instead of guiding a fishing trip I took my newest guide boat (that I had repowered with more horsepower) and ran some break in hours at Finger Lake.  It ran smoothly and later in the trip I was able to rev it up a bit.   With a light boat it jumped on plane easily — now I need to start testing it with some loads.

Thursday May 27, 2021 — I guided a husband and wife from Texas, and the wife caught 1 king salmon and 2 rainbow trout.   The king salmon was caught while casting with a #6 Orange Glo Flashtrap Spinner and the 2 rainbow trout were caught on a Kwikfish.    The husband briefly hooked a rainbow trout — just long enough for it to jump out of the water and come off.    During the trip we saw a few bald eagles along the river.    My initial trip with the repowered boat /  new motor I tested the day before worked just fine.   The boat had plenty of power and ran smoothly.   Now I need a larger group to see how this outfit works with a larger payload.    It was quite windy today, making fishing a bit more challenging than usual.    Even in the choppy water the boat motor combination ran smoothly with no cavitation.

Friday May 28, 2021 – I drove to Eklutna Tailrace and casted a spinner just a few times.   There was no water flow that I could detect from the power plant.   I even went and looked right by the highway parking lot and saw debris floating without moving in the water.   With no flow down the tailrace, and with the Knik River at a low spring level it is highly unlikely any salmon would swim up to the tailrace at this time.    According to ADF&G’s Mat-Su Fishing report for this week the tailrace water should be flowing once again soon.

Saturday May 29, 2021 — I guided a group of 4 men, two of whom caught 1 king salmon, 1 of whom caught 2 king salmon and a rainbow trout, and 1 of whom caught 2 king salmon and a jack king salmon.    The group also hooked but lost some additional salmon before they could be brought to the boat.   They hooked king salmon on Flashtrap Spinners, Vibrax Spinners, and  Mag Lip Flatfishes.   During the trip we saw some bald eagles and two moose (one of which also had a calf) along the river.

Sunday May 30, 2021 — I guided a group of 5 people who caught 4 king salmon.  King salmon were caught on Flashtrap Spinners, a Vibrax Spinner, and a Kwikfish.    During the trip one of the guests spotted a moose along the river and we also saw some bald eagles.

I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests who caught 5 king salmon.  King salmon were caught on a Flashtrap Spinner, a Vibrax Spinner, and a Mag Lip Flatfish.   During the trip we saw several bald eagles along the river, shore birds, and ducks.

May 31, 2021 — I guided a group of  2 guests this morning who caught 2 king salmon and hooked but lost 3 additional king salmon.   The fish were hooked casting with a #7 Flashtrap Spinner, a #6 Vibrax Spinner  a Mag Lip Flatfish and a Kwikfish.  We saw more salmon surface that we could not get to bite.  We also saw bald eagles, shore birds, and 2 cow moose, one of which had twin calves with her.

Call for information — or to make a guided fishing trip reservation  (907) 746-2199

COVID-19 Requirements for Travelers to Alaska

After May 31 to see our next Alaska Salmon Fishing Report — please go to our June 2021 Alaska Fishing Reports page.

2021 May totals — 19 trips guided  53 guests 31 king salmon caught and released.   King salmon caught each of the last 13 trips in May.