Rainbow trout

A typical stocked catchable (8-10 inch) rainbow trout caught from a Mat-Su Valley lake. Small spinners, worms, salmon eggs, flys and jigs will all take hungry May trout. Check regulations to know what is allowed on the waters you intend to fish.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologist, Samantha Oslund, said plenty of people had been fishing Kepler-Bradley Lakes since the stocking of catchable rainbow trout earlier this week. She also mentioned there were lots of fish for people to catch — approximately 5,000 catchable rainbow trout (normally 8 — 10 inches) were stocked at this location. Additional places receiving catchable rainbow trout this week include Matanuska Lake, Canoe Lake, Lucille Lake, Knik Lake, Reflections Lake. In the past this information has also been posted on the ADF&G website, however, when I did a stocking search for Mat-Su stocking locations since April 1, nothing showed up. I would think the data will likely be updated shortly. Kepler-Bradley Lakes, Matanuska Lake, Canoe Lake, and the City of Wasilla’s Lucille Lake Boat Launch all require user fees.

Although locations with new stockings often have an abundance of fish near their release sites, other lakes have holdover fish from previous stockings. Finger Lake is one of the most heavily stocked locations in the Mat-Su Valley and has holdover rainbow trout, arctic char, and landlocked salmon. The folks at 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle told me there was enough open water around the boat dock at Alaska State Parks’ Finger Lake campground for anglers to catch trout at this time. This is often one of the better places in the Mat-Su (and on Finger Lake) to catch rainbow trout over 20 inches in early May. Note: this is also a fee parking, boat launching and camping area, so get your Alaska State Parks season pass ahead of time or be prepared to pay for your specific use. Many of these developed public facilities or access sites require fees — be prepared. Most stocked lakes have a daily bag limit of 5 rainbow trout, while most lakes with only wild rainbow trout have a daily limit of 2 rainbow trout. Check 2020 regulations for the specific area you intend to fish and check within those area regulations to see if there are specific regulations for the lake or stream section you intend to fish. If you want the best opportunities to catch fish — stocked lakes are my choice for the coming week.

Mat-Su streamsThe further one travels north along the Parks or Glenn Highways the more likely lakes may still be ice covered. I would be extremely careful and check conditions before venturing out on any ice at this time of year. On the other hand, I heard from two sources that rainbow trout were caught at Susitna River tributary streams along the Parks Highway this past week. Starting at Willow Creek and heading north along the Parks Highway, most streams are open to fishing, however, rainbow trout may only be caught on a catch and release basis through June 14. This early in the season, most of the rainbow trout from Susitna tributary steams are caught near the stream confluence areas with the Susitna River. The two locations where I’ve already heard of trout being caught are Willow Creek and the Kashwitna River — these are also the sites with the best access to stream mouth areas. Note: these are also fee areas if you want to park and fish. Developed access generally cost money to maintain. Stream condition will partially dictate fishing catching opportunities at locations along the Parks Highway — some locations are likely higher and muddier, while other will offer better fishing conditions. Susitna Landing at 495-7700 and Willow Island Resort on Willow Creek at 495-6343 both have campsites near Susitna River tributary streams and may provide up-to-date stream conditions.

When I talked with the folks at Deshka Landing near Willow, they were hoping to having the boat launch open for season pass holders and members starting Friday May 8. The landing may open to the general public on May 15. I would suggest calling for updated information before towing your boat to the Deshka Landing boat launch: (907) 495-3374.

2020 Mat-Su salmon opportunitiesKing salmon (May — July 13)

King salmon fishing opportunities will be limited during the 2020 season, but the big change is that most of the areas where king salmon fishing is normally open along the Susitna River drainage will provide catch and release fishing opportunity for king salmon. The entire Susitna River drainage was closed to all sport king salmon fishing last year. In addition catch and release king salmon fishing is now open on the Little Susitna River. The only freshwater area where king salmon harvest is allowed in the Mat-Su (Northern Cook Inlet Management Area) at this time is the Eklutna Tailrace / Knik River fishery. I expect these king salmon regulations will remain in effect at least through June 15. Look for more inseason king salmon regulation adjustments sometime after June 15.

Chum, pink, sockeye, silver salmon: Higher expectations (July — early September)This past winter the Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted a handful of commercial fishing regulations that will pass an increased percentage of Northern Cook Inlet bound salmon into Northern Cook Inlet waters. In addition to providing more salmon for attaining Northern Cook Inlet salmon spawning escapement goals, there will be more salmon for harvest by all user groups in Northern Cook Inlet waters. This should result in better catch numbers by the sport fishery throughout the season.

Mat-Su salmon sport fishery regulations however, a new lower Susitna River personal use dip net fishery was added for Saturdays and Wednesday from July 10 — 31. This will provide 6 days of personal use opportunity on a portion of the Susitna River. In addition, the portion of Fish Creek where salmon may be harvested, near Knik-Goose Bay Road, has additional sport fishing opportunity on weekends from June 15 — July 14.

Good luck and Fish On!

Andy Couch is a local salmon fishing guide who provides Mat-Su Valley fishing reports throughout the season on his Fishtale River Guides website. You may visit the website at www.fish4salmon.com

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