May 2022 Alaska Fishing Reports

Alaska Fishing News 2022 Mat-Su Valley

King salmon, Rainbow trout, Northern Pike, Hooligan, River & Ice Conditions

Our guided Alaska fishing charters from jet boats may be reserved starting May 10 for the 2022 fishing season.  Boat launch / meeting sites are located 40 – 90 minute drives from Anchorage, Alaska, and approximately 30 – 60 minute drives form Palmer and Wasilla communities.  Call 907-746-2199 for reservation or to inquire about a trip.   You May want to bookmark this page for future reference.  Scroll down to read  our latest May 2022 Alaska Fishing Reports.

Fishing Tour Opportunities for May 2022:

Deshka River  — Fishing for king salmon (catch and release), rainbow trout, arctic grayling, Northern pike.  We’ve had guests catch Deshka River king salmon as early as the second week of May —  king salmon numbers increase significantly after May 20, and usually peak during or after the 2nd week of June.  Bald eagles and arctic terns are seen on nearly every May trip to Deshka River.  Guests have also spotted moose, beaver, and waterfowl.   We’ve heard wolves howling near Deshka river, and even seen a couple along the banks during our fishing trips.  Late May also provides an opportunity for Alaska residents to harvest hooligan near the Deshka River / Susitna River confluence.

Little Susitna River — catch and release king salmon, rainbow trout.  Note: Our earliest ever Little Susitna River king salmon was caught on May 1, back in 2003.   King salmon abundance increases dramatically later in May and usually builds to a mid or late June peak in the lower river.  An early morning May fishing trip to Little Susitna River ,where the river meanders through the Susitna Flats Wildlife Refuge, provides  a good opportunity to spot moose, bald eagles, waterfowl, and sometimes a beaver, otter, mink, coyote, or fox.

Knik River — king salmon harvest trips — king salmon catches start increasing during  the last week of May.  The best fishing at this location usually occurs before June 25.

Lower Susitna River drainage — Hooligan(smelt) dip netting for Alaska residents, pike harvest opportunities in some of the sloughs, and king salmon catch and release fishing is available in one specific slough.

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

 Please call to discuss a 2022 charter fishing trip:  907-746-2199.

You may want to bookmark this page for quick review of our May 2022 Fishing Reports.     We hope to fish / guide and post reports  at least 20 days during  May 2022.   Return often to read the latest fishing report updates.

May Fishing Reports 2022

May 1, 2022 — Today we are providing reports on fishing / boating / water conditions at the following locations — there was a lot of change in ice / water conditions today:

Bradley Lake:  Ice free with people fishing from the bank and a boat was out trolling.

Kepler Lake:  Ice free and being fished daily.

Echo Lake: Ice free and being fished, but not  nearly as much as Kepler — Bradley lakes.

Loberg (Junction) Lake:  Ice free with boats out doing shake down runs.

Finger Lake: Norma Christiansen who lives on the south side of the lake told me there is some open water near the Alaska State Parks campground, and along the north side of the lake, however Finger Lake was mostly ice-covered on the morning of May 1.   Norma also mentioned there have been a few canoers out paddling in the little bit of open water that is available.  In the afternoon two of my nephews took a powerboat out for a test run from the Alaska State Parks boat launch — it sounded like considerably more ice had been broken up by the breeze compared to earlier in the day.

Wasilla Lake: Is quickly becoming ice free — it always clears first on the Cottonwood Creek inlet / outlet portions of the lake.  This time of year the lake can be good fishing — especially in the mornings and evening near Cottonwood Creek, however, flowing water (the creek) is closed to fishing through mid-June to protect spawning rainbow trout.   The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) says there is a solid population of wild rainbow trout in this lake, and I’ve caught a few of them myself.  The lake is mostly surrounded by private property, so the challenge is finding a way to access the better fishing locations of this lake in downtown Wasilla.

Lucille Lake: Completely ice free with 5 boaters out cruising around when I drove by on Sunday.   This is a charge launch with the City of Wasilla parking area down the street a ways from the small launch area.

Knik Lake:  The ice is starting to leave — today it was open a bit on the shallow end near Knik Goose Bay Road and off the parking lot of Knik Bar.

Reflections Lake:  Still ice covered.

Eklutna Tailrace: Lower Parking lot was gated with only a bit of snow along the shaded West Bank of the tailrace.  Parking lot is snow and ice free on the east side, but still a bit of snow on the west side.    Tailrace with a decent flow of clear water as of April 30.  This is a good location to swing a lure or fly in a flowing current, as it is open to fishing, however the chance of catching an ocean-run salmon are very low until the last few days of May.

Knik River:  The Knik River Access near the Parks Highway bridge is open / ice free and I’ve seen a few boats out on the river that were using this site already this spring.   Because of the Eklutna Tailrace outflow just a few miles upstream from the Parks Highway bridge, this locations is often one of the earliest ice free rivers each spring in the Mat-Su Valley.  The river itself is extremely low, so boat launching and loading is easier when the tide is high — and especially if the tide level is close to 30 feet or more.   Caution:  it is a good idea to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle when using this unimproved launch site.

Little Susitna River Public Use Facility:  Eric Holm told me he and Tracy Smith ( ADF&G Access Coordinator) were planning to drive out and check Little Susitna River Road on Monday.  Currently the road is gated closed at the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge boundary.  The river is open and flowing high near the boat launch, but access is currently limited to foot traffic and the hike is over a mile from the gate to river.  The  road is still soft and partially covered in snow and water.             As ice starting moving at Deshka Landing this evening, the peak water level at the Little Susitna River USGS gauge climbed above 85 cfs.

Willow Creek  — Rainbow Trout:  I talked with the folks who run Willow Creek Resort where Willow Creek crosses the Parks Highway.   Today is the opening day of their campground season, so they are open, although there is still about 6 inches of snow in areas that have not been plowed in the campground.   Their son-in-law, who guides fishing trips on Willow Creek, is floating from their campground down to the Willow Creek / Susitna River confluence today.   The driving route down Willow Creek Parkway to Willow Creek Recreation Area and the Alaska State Parks campground is open, and anglers have already been catching some rainbow trout at the Willow Creek / Susitna River confluence.  Expect action to pick up even more. in the next week or two.

Deshka Landing: The Deshka Landing weather cam show an open lead of the Susitna River that extends about half the width of the boat launch channel.   Will this be the day ice starts flowing down the Susitna River?   Stay tuned for additional update(s) — especially toward evening.     7:40 pm update — a small amount of ice has floated down the river and started to stack up off the spit beside Deshka Landing boat launch.  When a big enough ice dam forms the river will get backed up until there is enough water pressure to blow out the ice dam and flush it downstream.  10:30 pm Considerable more ice is moving and bunching up at Deshka Landing.

Deshka River:  So far I’ve been unable to get any information on status of Deshka River itself, however, since Deshka River is often warmer than the Susitna River,  and since Deshka River rises earlier from snow melt each spring compared to Susitna River, there is.a good possibility that Deshka River may already be open and flowing — similar to Little Susitna River and Willow Creek.

Susitna Landing:  I talked with Eric Holm who is working at Susitna Landing this morning.  He said the boat launch is still frozen solid, but there is some open water flowing out in the Kashwitna and Susitna Rivers.  He has had several people stop by and walk out to check fishing conditions, but there is still too much ice along the sides and not enough open water.   Eric had about a half dozen people camping this weekend, however, only a few of the campsites are open — and there currently is no tent camping as there is from 6 – 18 inches of snow remaining in most of the campsite.   Motorhomes and Campers are what people are using presently. Later in the day Eric reported several people had been out fly fishing for several hours and one of them caught the first rainbow trout of the season from Susitna Landing that Eric knew about  

After a long winter Alaskans are getting out and enjoying the outdoors.  I saw lots of boats on trailers behind vehicles during my drive to Little Susitna River today.  I saw people out fishing some of the lakes or just driving around enjoying the day.  I saw a couple groups out riding 4-wheelers and some other people riding a side by side.

May 2, 2022 — I fished Eklutna Tailrace from the Old Glenn Highway to where it dumps into the Knik River side-channel.    I casted a #6 Silver bladed Flashtrap Spinner, and it was vibrating well as I swung it in the current, but I detected no bites and I did not see a fish.    Water visibility was excellent with a pretty green hue.  It looked like beautiful water to hold an ocean-run salmon, however the water spreads out into a wide river channel and is quite low below the tailrace.  The water is so low downstream from the tailrace that salmon would likely be more than a little reluctant to swim through to the deeper water of the tailrace.   I saw some ducks in the tailrace, and I spotted a moose feeding on the Palmer Hay Flats on my drive home.

I checked out  a few more lakes this morning:  Canoe, Irene, and Long Lake in the Kepler – Bradley lake system are all ice free, and Reflections Lake near the Knik River was about 2/3 covered with ice.

The Susitna River at Deshka Landing has been backed by partial ice dams, but not enough to where the ice has been blown out and flushed down river.  Perhaps this year’s breakup will continue as a gradual flow rather than the classic blow out.  At the Little Susitna River USGS gauge, the high flow for May 2 was approximately 80 cfs.

May 3, 2022 — Susitna River at Deshka Landing                                                                            About noon the ice is piling up on the Susitna River in front of Deshka Landing boat launch– so I am thinking we get a good blowout by this evening — possibly continuing through tomorrow.  High low at the Little Susitna River USGS gauge is approximately 70 cfs.    

I am spending the day around our house,  filing  a receipts,  and attempting to get catch up on paperwork.   Day of paperwork continues — as I wrote and submitted the weekly fishing column for the Frontiersman Newspaper.   It should appear in the Friday May 6, 2022 edition.

May 4, 2022 — Eklutna Tailrace — I casted a #6 Flashtrap from the Glenn Highway to where the tailrace dumps into the Knik River side-channel and did not get any bite or see any large salmon.   In one spot I saw a school of fingerling salmon near the bank.   It was a beautiful morning to be out casting in the sunshine.  Water is quire clear with a jade green hue — I expect the water will remain relatively clear through the end of May and into early June.  The Knik River remains very low.   I did not see any ducks at the tailrace today, however, I saw a large flock of sandhill cranes in a farm field as I drove both to and from the tailrace.

At 6:30 am Susitna River in front of Deshka Landing boat launch appears mostly ice free, however, the boat launch remains mostly ice covered.   The Susitna River current looks slow, which is an indication the river is likely still ice jammed — possibly only a short ways below the boat launch.   Expect significant ice flows especially later in the day and likely to continue for the next few days.   The road decending  to the boat launch and the far bank of the river channel  across from the boat launch remains snow covered at this time.

May 5, 2022 — Deshka Landing — Ice is breaking up a bit in the Deshka Landing boat launch, and the Susitna River was flowing past the landing with relatively small ice flows yesterday, however, Eric Holm upriver at Susitna Landing told me Susitna and Kashwitna  Rivers were still ice-bound at his location yesterday afternoon.   Therefore, ice flows should continue coming down Susitna River for a few more days.

I am hoping to have my primary guide boat ready for a shakedown cruise at Finger Lake, either this afternoon or Friday May 6.

May 6, 2022 I wrapped and finished a new custom fishing rod this morning — unfortunately the power went out while my electric motor spinning the rod  while I was applying the finish.  In order to get the finish from running I had to spin the rod by hand and work to remove any finish that did run.   After a while the electricity came back on I was able to hook the rod back up to the turning motor.   That all took a lot of time this morning, but I am still hopeful everything will turn out O.K.

I helped my wife with working on some new raspberry plants we have this year —  YUM!  but there is a lot of work before it will be time to harvest in late July and August.

I registered my two boats for guiding fishing clients at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Palmer, and received my 2022 guiding stickers for each boat.  I attached the stickers  to one boat.   However, I did not get my boat out for a check run — yet.

Deshka Landing — Someone started plowing some  of the snow on the hill decending to the boat launch.   There is still some snow on the ground in addition to the big piles near the launch created by the plow.  As reported yesterday, the ice has started breaking up in the boat launch — although at 6:30pm there was still too much ice for launching any boat — other than  an airboat.

Susitna Landing Holly told me they had a large ice flow going down the Susitna River today, but the boat launch at the landing is still ice covered.  She also mentioned having anglers out trying their luck, but so far people have been catching much.  There is still some snow at the landing, but they do have several people out camping for the weekend.

Little Susitna River Public Use Facility Holly also told me they would have the gate open to Little Susitna River Public Use Facility so people could get out on the Little Su this weekend.  I have not been to the lower Little Susitna River since I walked in past the gate last Sunday.  The river was high and fast at that time, and I suspect conditions may be similar now.

The Little Susitna River USGS water gauge (LS USGS)  topped 100 cfs today.

Saturday May 7, 2022 — I finished another custom king salmon weight  spinning rod in the morning, and started wrapping a second rod after the finnish on the first one had set.   I’ve been building some shorter and lighter rods which I believe kids and plenty of other folks may find easier to fish with.   I use them myself — and they keep me casting longer.  As most anglers have heard,  keeping the lure in the water certainly increases the chances of catching more fish.  A physically lighter rod makes it all that much easier to keep fishing longer without getting fatigued.  

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was scheduled to start stocking some of the Palmer – Wasilla Core Area lakes in the Mat-Su Valley today with catchable -sized rainbow trout today.

I charged up the battery for my primary guide boat today, however, I am thinking I also want to replace the seats before I get to fishing too much.

LS USGS peaked at about 130 cfs.

Sunday May 8, 2022 — Ekltuna Tailrace –– It had already been 4 days since I last casted one of my custom-built spinners and swung it in some current, so I drove to the Tailrace and casted a larger and different design of spinner.   The spinner worked wonderfully, however, there did not seem to be any king salmon around to enjoy it — No hits, No runs, No errors — as they say in baseball.   All the snow is now melted from the lower parking lot — and the gate has been opened up at the highway.  The water was still quite clear, but has developed a darker shade of green making it difficult to see all the way to the bottom in the deeper sections.   Driving home I saw a porcupine near the mountains along the Old Glenn Highway, 3 different moose out feeding on the Palmer Hay Flats, and some sandhill cranes in a farmer’s field on the Springer System.    What a beautiful sunny day to be out enjoying the weather — and Happy Mother’s Day to everyone. 

LS USGS peaked at about 125 cfs.

Monday May 9, 2022 — I removed the old seats from my primary guide boat, and replaced them with some new seats.   The mounts I had for the new seats were a different size– so I had to drill new holes for the mounting bolts.  It always amazes me how long it takes to do what I think should be an easy task.  Frede even came out and helped.    The new seats look nice and are a definite upgrade.

I also wrapped and finnished another custom king salmon spinning rod today.  Only a couple more to go.

LS USGS peaked at about 110 cfs.

Tuesday May 10, 2022 — Eklutna Tailrace— I fished my way from the pedestrian bridge to the tailrace confluence with the Knik River side-channel and did not see any fish or get any bites.  It was chilly this morning.  I saw a couple ducks at the tailrace, 4 moose browsing on the Palmer Hay Flats, some sandhill cranes on the flats, and a large flock of sandhill cranes in a farmer’s field.

Later in the day I drove to Willow and looked at the rivers and snow conditions in the area.   Both Deshka Landing and Susitna Landing boat launches are not open to the public yet.   There is still quite a bit of snow and ice in some locations in this area.   From Deshka Landing boat launch I watched 3 large chunks of ice drifting down the river, and realized that if the Susitna River rose very much it might send a much larger volume of large ice chunks down the river.  At Susitna Landing I watched a fly angler working the water in front of a large section of shelf ice.   People have been catching a few trout, but conditions are still on the cool or cold side.

LS USGS peaked at about 110 cfs.

Wednesday May 11, 2022 — Little Susitna Weir installed by ADF&G.  The department also says that the first counts will not be posted until Monday May 16.

LS USGS peaked at about 108 cfs.

Thursday, May 12, 2022 Wrapped and finished another custom king salmon spinning rod — only one more of these to do.  Worked around the yard.

LS USGS peaked at about 112 cfs.

Friday May 13, 2022 — Raining this morning — so I went king salmon fishing at Eklutna Tailrace.  I casted and swung one of my new custom spinners from a little ways above the pedestrian bridge down to where the tailrace runs into the Knik River side-channel.  I detected no bites and did not see any fish.  I was hoping the Knik River side-channel may have risen a bit with the rain, but the water level remained low this morning when I was fishing. 

Deshka Landing boat launch open to membership owners today starting at 9 am.

I returned to Eklutna Tailrace in the evening and fished through some of the same water.  The Knik River side-channel appeared as if it had risen during the day, but was still relatively shallow.   I tried and likely a fishing reel I had not used before.  I did not see any fish or get any bites in the evening, however, I drove right up on an adult black bear along the Old Glenn Highway near the tailrace,  I saw a flock of ducks on the Palmer Hay Flats, and a flock of sandhill cranes in a farm field along the Springer System.

LS USGS peaked at about 114 cfs.

Saturday May 14, 2022 — Deshka River — my wife and I ran one of my guide boats to the Deshka River today and fished for king salmon.   We spent our time casting spinners at several different holes, but did not catch or hook any fish.   Deshka River was high but plenty clear, it will likely be dropping significantly in the next few days.   Last year the first king salmon from one of my guide boats was caught at Deshka River on May 15.    During the trip we saw a pair of bald eagles and several groups of ducks.   After fishing my wife and I attended the Deshka Landing Outdoor Association annual membership meeting.

LS USGS peaked at about 120 cfs.

May 16, 2020 — Susitna River NOAA at Parks Highway Bridge (PHB) – less than 15 feet /  Motor trolling current.

LS USGS peaked at about 140 cfs.

May 17, 2022 — I fished Little Susitna River with Pete Imhof in his boat.   Water clarity was very good, and spring is still progressing nicely with tree greening up along the river.   We back trolled for several hours, and saw some salmon smolt surfacing in a few places.   We did not see any large ocean-run king salmon and we did not get any bites.    We were fishing the lower river where it meanders through the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge, and were rewarded in seeing several pairs of ducks, trumpeter swans, several moose — including one pair that swam across the river downstream of where we were fishing, and some moose with new born calves.   As we were returning up the river Pete spotted a coyote we watched bounding along the bank.   Catching king salmon before May 20 often involves fishing lots of water in search of a few fish, or fishing a good migration location for a considerable amount of time waiting for a passing salmon or two to take interest.    We put in a good amount of time, and fished some good spots, and enjoyed a warm sunny day on the water.

First Known Mat-Su King Salmon Catch Ryan Judd fishing with my friend Ben Allen caught a king salmon today.   This is the first ocean-run king salmon I know of taken in the Mat-Su Valley in 2022.   Ben said it was a solid fish in the 25 pound class.

In the evening I wrote my weekly fishing column  for the Frontiersman newspaper which should publish on Friday May 20.

LS USGS peaked at about 200 cfs. 

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 15 feet @ 1pm  /  strong rowing current.

May 18, 2022 — Looking at the Little Susitna River USGS water level this morning I noticed the river level bumped up a bit after our warm weather yesterday.   Often times a rise in river water level can draw salmon out of the saltwater and into freshwater.  King salmon run timing often occurs during some of the higher annual stream flow levels for specific rivers.  It is that time of year, the plants are greening up along the river, and now the water level is bumping up.  For anyone wanting a shot at catching some of the first arriving king salmon of the season, now is the time to go fishing.  

I’ve had a three different reports from people fishing for northern pike.   These anglers have been seeing a few pike in some of the shallow water areas pike like, however, water may be a bit cold as pike followed lures, but did not strike.   I expect some catches soon, and sometimes take salmon fishing guests to a spot or two where they have a decent chance of catching northern pike. 

LS USGS peaked at about 230 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA  at PHB –  15.6 feet @ 1pm /  solid rowing current.

Thursday May 19, 2022I guided a group of 3 guests for king salmon today, and we saw a king salmon surface, one guest hooked a king salmon on a Kwikfish, and fought it  for a few minutes before it twisted free.   We watched a couple anglers in another boat catch a king salmon.    In addition we saw some small fish surfacing, spotted several bald eagles along the river, along with a few pairs of ducks, and a beaver that was swimming in the river near where we were fishing.   Water was somewhat high, but with plenty of visibility.   

Hooligan are available — right now — in  the Susitna River below Deshka Landing.

The first king salmon from Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage was check in at The Baitshack.  — according to The Baitshack Facebook page it weighed about 7 pounds.

LS USGS peaked at about 300 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB –  16.3  feet at 1 pm /  Quick rowing current.

Friday May 20, 2022  — I guided a two guests from Mississippi on an afternoon trip fishing for king salmon on the Knik River side-channel were harvest is allowed.   The water level was low and shallow like it usually is in late May.   My guests did not see any king salmon or get any bites, but enjoyed themselves on the trip anyway.    We saw two other boatloads of anglers fishing near us who had similar luck while we were fishing.   It was a beautiful warm sunny afternoon, so I suspect water levels will likely be on the rise at multiple Mat-Su Valley locations.  This was my second guided king salmon fishing trip of the season, and my guests fished from my second guide boat — so I have now run guided trips from both of my guide boats, and have specific boats and fishing gear setup for different Mat-Su Valley king salmon fisheries.

Little Susitna River — water continues to rise and will likely rise tomorrow as the weather forecast calls for more warm dry weather that should work away at the snow pack in Hatcher Pass.  Little Susitna River USGS water gauge on the upper river topped 400 cfs for the first time this year.   This is a specific water level that in the past has encouraged king salmon migration into the river — the water has been rising steadily for the past 4 days.   Rising water picks up debris and dead grass along the riverbanks and also colors up the river as well.  

The Deshka -Susitna River confluence water level should rise, as the Susitna River is coming up with the warmer weather.  This should also slow down the current in the lower Deshka River.  The NOAA Susitna River water level as measured near the Parks Highway bridge topped 18 feet for the first time today.  With the river rising from several days of warm weather there is  a steadily increasing amount of sticks, wood, and other debris floating down the Susitna River. When jet boating along the Susitna River with a rising water level I am often dodging floating debris in an attempt to keep it from sucking into my jet intake — just something to be aware of for those new to jet boating.

LS USGS peaked at about 430 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB- 17.2 feet at 1 pm / Ideal rowing current.

May 21 –LS USGS peaked at about 420 cfs

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 18.3 feet at 1 pm / Ideal rowing current.

May 22, 2022 –First King Salmon from my guide boat — I guided 4 anglers who caught 3 king salmon.  1 king salmon was caught on a  Kwikfish, 1 king salmon was caught on a Flatfish, and 1 king salmon was caught while casting with our orange-bladed #5 Magnum spinner.   We also watched anglers in another boat catch a king salmon during this trip.   We saw one bald eagle, a muskrat, and some other birds during our time on the water.

Little Susitna River Weir — first 3 king salmon of the season passed through the weir.

LS USGS peaked at about 430 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 19.2 feet at 1 pm /  Slow rowing Current.  

May 23, 2022 — Eklutna Tailrace — In the morning I started at the pedestrian bridge, casting and swinging a #5 Magnum Spinner until I headed the tailrace confluence with the Knik River.   I did not see any king salmon and I did not get any bites.   There was one other angler fishing near the tailrace / Knik River confluence, and I did not see him have any action in the time I was fishing.   The Knik River running past the tailrace remains  very low with most of the water downstream from the confluence coming from the tailrace outflow.

Northern Pike — ADF&G fisheries biologist, Samantha Oslund told me anglers have been having good success catching Northern Pike lately, so I may have to give it a try on one of my next fishing trips.

LS USGS peaked at about 440 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 20 feet at 1 pm / Too Slow to Row?

Tuesday May 24, 2022 — Weather and river conditions appear to be good for finding some king salmon either today or tomorrow.   I wrote and submitted my Frontiersman newspaper fishing column  today.   It should be published in the Friday Frontiersman.   I also attended an Alaska Sportfishing Association meeting in Anchorage in the evening.   At that meeting I learned that several king salmon have now been harvested at Ship Creek, although it sounds like most of them were under 10 pounds.     I am planning on taking one of my guide boats out for king salmon fishing tomorrow — I will be fishing with a friend.

LS USGS peaked at about 500 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 19.4 feet at 8 am /  Slow rowing Current.

Wednesday May 25, 2022 — Gary Brell and I casted  a variety of my new custom spinners today, and Gary caught 2 king salmon on a #5 orange-bladed Magnum spinner.   I managed to hook what I think was  a king salmon on a #6.5 big vibration spinner, but the fish won the battle before I could bring it near the boat, and even before we had a chance to see what species and how big it was.   I also caught a single northern pike on an orange-bladed #5 Magnum Spinner.   We fished at least 5 different patterns of spinners.   We saw anglers in 3 other boats catch king salmon while we were fishing.   We also saw a bald eagle and several groups of ducks during the trip.

LS USGS peaked at about 510 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 19.3 feet at 12 noon /  Too Slow to row.

Thursday May 26, 2022 — I guided a very pleasant group of 5 guests, who put in a great effort, but was unable catch any king salmon.   They focussed on king salmon the whole trip, and even though we saw fish surfacing  right where they were casting we could not entice any strikes.   We saw two king salmon caught by anglers in other boats, but it seemed like a slower day for nearly everyone on the river.   During the trip the group als0 spotted several bald eagles and saw some Waterfowl in their spring mating plumage.  It was a cool, but pleasant day in the water with sunshine warming up the temperatures near the end of the trip.

LS USGS peaked at about 680 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 19.4 feet at 6pm /

Friday May 27, 2022 — I guided a husband and wife from Colorado on a  mid-day trip, and the wife caught a beautiful chrome king salmon that gave here a tremendous battle.   The salmon hit a smaller flatfish.   We covered lots of water and saw a few fish surfacing in places the guests were fishing, and the husband had one bite near the end of the trip, but the fish was not hooked, and did not bite again.   During the trip we saw one other group in a boat catch a couple king salmon, and we also spotted several bald eagles along the river.  Rivers throughout the Mat-Su Valley are high with spring run off at this time.  Even though it was a beautiful sunny day, it can be a cool out on the water and especially earlier in the day — so it is always a good idea to have an extra layer or two of warm clothes.

LS USGS peaked at about 770 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 19.8 feet at 7pm.

Saturday May 28, 2022 — I  guided 3 guests, who hooked 5 fish.    One guest caught a good-sized king salmon and also pulled a small jack-sized king salmon near the boat and had it come off as I was working with another guest’s fish.    One guest caught a jack king salmon, and hooked but lost another king salmon.   The final guest hooked a fish — which we suspect was a king salmon, but had it come off shortly after hooking it.  Two of my guests were casting #6 Vibrax Spinner and one guest was casting a #5 orange-bladed Magnum spinner.    The large king salmon that was landed and two other fish were hooked on #6 Vibrax Spinners, while the remaining two fish were hooked with the #5 Magnum spinner.     During the trip we saw two moose, a couple eagles, ducks, and shorebirds along the river.    We also watched another boat angler land a couple king salmon.   It was a bright sunny bluebird day — a bit cool early in the morning, but plenty warm before we finished the trip.

LS USGS peaked at about 810 cfs.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 20.6 feet at 6 pm.

Sunday May 29, 2022 — I guided a group of 6 men who wanted to harvest king salmon if they caught them, so we went to the Knik River.   Water was a good height, and decent color, and we saw a few smaller king salmon surface, but did not get any bites.   There were several other boats. fishing near us, but we did not see any of the other anglers catch or even fight a salmon.   During the trip we saw sandhill cranes, and a moose along the bank.   It was a very pleasant morning, although not as much action as we were hoping for.

LS USGS peak above 1000 cfs — this Little Su high water should reach lower river by May 31.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 20.7 feet at 1 pm

Monday May 30, 2022 — I guided a group of  4 men on a later starting trip.  They caught  one jack-sized king salmon on a nickel-bladed #6 Magnum Spinner  and  one large rainbow trout on a K13 Flatfish.   In addition another smaller fish that looked to be a king salmon was hooked on a #6 Vibrax Spinner near the boat, but managed to pull free before it could be subdued.  During the trip we saw a young bull moose swim the river, a few bald eagles, and some ducks.    We also watched another angler battle a couple smaller king salmon and one angler catch a larger king salmon.    It was a beautiful day with  good number of anglers out enjoying  a spectacular Memorial Day.

LS USGS  about 1100 cfs at 7:30 p.m.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 20.8 feet at 6 pm

May 31, 2022 — Eklutna Tailrace — I spent about an hour and half takling with other anglers and casting a #6 Magnum ni key-bladed spinner   between the pedestrian bridge and the tailrace confluence with the Knik River side-channel.   With the long spell of warm dry weather the Knik River side-channel has risen significantly since the last time I fished at the tailrace, and it looks to me like there is enough water that the first few king salmon might have migrated into the tailrace or may likely do so soon.    While at the tailrace I did not see any large salmon surface, however, and the man I was talking with the most had fished the tailrace several times recently and he had not seen any large salmon surfacing white he was there.   He mentioned he and his sone had caught some Dolly Varden. and one rainbow trout, while fishing with bait.

I  wrote and submitted my weekly fishing column for the Frontiersman Newspaper that should be printed in the Friday June 3, 2022 paper.

The Deshka River is dropping into shape to where the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is planning to install Deshka River weir in the coming week.  King salmon are being caught in the sport fishery every day now.   Feel welcome to give us a call and discus your options — 907-746-2199 —  or make your reservation with our reservation system on this website.

LS USGS  about 1100 cfs at 11 p.m.

Susitna River NOAA at PHB – 20.9 feet at 8 pm

—- Projections —-

May 20 — From this date on through the remainder of the king salmon season on July 13 — I am expecting guests to have some action and / or see king salmon on nearly every guided trip.

Last week  May — Usually provides the best king salmon catching opportunities of the entire month of May with some  King salmon harvest available at Knik River / Eklutna Tailrace and better opportunities for catch and release king salmon fishing available at Little Susitna and Deshka Rivers.   We have reservations for several trips during this week — and whole boat availability for additional trips.     

For the next Fishing Report Update — please visit our June 2022 Alaska Fishing Reports page.


May 16 — Copper River Commercial Chinook Salmon Harvest — Copper River provides subsistence, personal use,  and sport fishing opportunities for many residents of  the Mat -Su Valley and State of Alaska.  Excessive early season commercial harvest can cause closures or restrictions to upriver subsistence, personal use, and sport fisheries — for that reason — I’ve decided to record early season Chinook salmon harvests in the Copper River commercial fishery through June 10.   ADF&G harvest data shows a commercial harvest of  2,830 Chinook (king) salmon on May 16.  Since ADF&G has forecasted a total return of  40,000 Copper River chinook salmon for 2022, and since ADF&G’s Copper River Chinook salmon spawning escapement goal calls for a spawning escapement of  21,000 –31,000 fish,  the Department’s best science (40,000 total run minus 21,000 — 31,000 spawning escapement goal) indicates a harvestable surplus of 9,000  — 19,000 Copper River Chinook salmon for 2022.  Therefore, during the May 16, 2022 Copper River commercial opening (depending upon stock composition of harvested Chinook)  up to 15 – 31% of harvestable surplus Copper River Chinook salmon may have been  caught by the commercial fishery.

May 19  — Copper River Commercial Chinook Salmon Harvest — 2,670 Chinook were harvested (depending upon harvested stock composition) up to  14 — 30% of projected harvestable surplus Copper River Chinook may have been  harvested on the second 2022 Copper River Commercial Opening.    The cumulative commercial harvest for May 16 and May 19 therefore indicates up to 29 — 61% of the harvestable surplus of Copper River Chinook salmon  may have already been harvested — before any upriver state subsistence or personal use fisheries were even open for the season, and likely before any upriver sport harvest occurred!  Does anyone else see something wrong with this scenario?

May 26 — Copper River Commercial Chinook Salmon Harvest — 1,976 Chinook were reported as harvested,   so  (depending upon stock composition)  up to 10 – 22% of projected harvestable surplus Copper River king salmon may have been taken in this opening.   The cumulative commercial harvest for May 16, May 19, and May 26 therefore indicates that up to 39 – 83% of the projected harvestable surplus of Copper River king salmon may have been harvested before upriver state subsistence and personal use fisheries opened.