Little Susitna River
Fishing with bait opened on Little Susitna River on Tuesday August 6, however, even though over 1,000 silver salmon migrated through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game salmon counting weir that day, many anglers along the river did not enjoy the usual success when good numbers of silver salmon are present coinciding with the opening day of bait fishing. On my morning charter that day, the group of 4 people came close to limiting out, however, it took the full 6-hours. My afternoon charter on August 6, I had 5 guests who only managed to catch 4 silver salmon. Most of our afternoon was spent fishing different holes downstream of the landing without getting a bite. If any salmon were in those holes, they were not surfacing or visible in the muddy water miles downstream. Talking with some other anglers, fish were visible a close distance from the landing, and also upstream from the landing however, the bite shut down as the sun and temperatures rose. Some of the Little Susitna River silver salmon I filleted this week seemed softer than normal — another by product of increased water temperatures.
I talked with Dan Suprak of Alaska Chinook Charters who told me after hitting bottom with his boat a ways up the Deshka he decided to forego driving very far upstream and focus his guiding near the mouth. Most of his trips recently have been afternoons, and with the hot weather, they have watched fish follow lures up, but not hit. His guests have also tried fishing salmon roe, but in water measured at about 70 degrees F, the salmon have been refusing to bite bait as well. Dan’s groups saw salmon in the water, but he compared catching salmon at that location during our recent hot weather and hot water like fishing in a desert. One of my long-time charter guests described a personal trip to the Deshka, early this week, where they did not see anyone even legally hook a salmon. Deshka River silver salmon often school up near the Susitna River confluence during such periods of warm weather and warm water, and upstream migration past the Deshka River Weir stays low until rain raises and cools the Deshka.
Willow Creek and Little Willow Creek
I know people have been catching some salmon near the confluences of these streams with the Susitna River, however, when I drove across the Parks Highway bridges of these stream I was appalled at how little water was in both of them, and also in how slow moving the water looked. At these water levels I would not even want to attempt boating either of these streams up from the Susitna River to the Parks Highway. Both even looked too low for comfortably floating down. With such low stream flow levels, both of these streams surely have elevated temperatures at this time as well.
Eklutna Tailrace/Knik River
Even at a location like Eklutna Tailrace, where the water is colder glacial water, hot weather causes more glacial runoff and increases the silt load in the water. If the water gets too turbid, sport fishing catch rates can plummet. Still fishing bait on or near the bottom often produces the best salmon catching success rates, however, it usually takes more time and effort to catch salmon under such conditions. I have not talked with anyone who has fished the tailrace this week, but it might be a worthwhile conversation — or at least the tailrace might be a good option to check out this coming weekend. Coming up a little later in the month will be the Youth Fishing Day — 3rd Saturday in June at Eklutna Tailrace ( where the area from the footbridge down stream to the Knik River confluence is reserved for youth 15 years old and younger starting at 6 am).
For many silver salmon streams in the Mat-Su Valley the August 10 / 11 weekend will likely see some of the highest silver salmon numbers of the season — so even though water and temperature conditions have been less than ideal, diehard salmon anglers will likely be out in pursuit of coho. Bait will be one of the better fish catching options, although lure slinging anglers will also catch their share of silver salmon, pink salmon, and chum salmon.
Good luck and Coho On!