Bob Wambolt

Bob Wambolt and a Knik River king salmon he caught on June 19, 2019.

When I talked with Mike Hudson of 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle in Wasilla this week, he mentioned the Susitna River tributary stream north of Willow as being a bit high, but with streams a bit further north having better water conditions at the time. Mike mentioned Montana Creek in particular as providing both better water conditions and trout catching earlier this week. I also talked with Spencer Cook of Red Beard Anglers and he mentioned that Willow Creek was starting to drop and he expected lower water to bring higher fishing success.

The operators at Susitna Landing both Susitna Landing and Deshka Landing reported low fishing effort recently, which of course translates into uncrowded fishing conditions. Water conditions at Susitna Landing can get high and turbid from either hot weather melting the glacier or heavy rains, but Susitna Landing can still be a great camping location from which to boat or drive to some of the other Susitna River tributary streams with lower clearer water conditions. Rainbow trout and Arctic Grayling are two primarily species available in these waters. While many anglers choose to release these wild rainbow trout, many of these streams opened to a limited harvest opportunity starting on June 16. Check regulations for the specific stream you intend to fish before harvesting rainbow trout.

Mike Hudson also mentioned some Arctic Char over 24 inches in length being caught in Mat-Su Valley stocked lakes this past week. Larger lakes often produce larger fish, and Mike mentioned some of these fish being caught while trolling with relatively large size 4 Spinners. While some Palmer-Wasilla core area lakes continue to produce good fishing for rainbow trout, char, and arctic grayling, some of the lakes further north along both the Parks and Glenn Highway offer good fishing with much less fishing pressure. Anglers may want to refer to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website for more information on recent fish stockings.

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Both Mike Hudson and Jason Perrego of Alaska Lakes Guide Service have told me that good pike fishing in shallow lake waters should continue through the summer, and Mike mentioned that lakes in the Nancy Lake system often fish better for pike with warmer summer weather. Jason mentioned that while catches of good numbers of pike are still likely, most of the extra large pike available in the shallows during the spring or early summer, have now moved to deeper water. The larger pike can still be caught, but have become more difficult to target according to Jason.

Eklutna Tailrace/Knik River king salmon

The one location where king salmon fishing for ocean-run king salmon remains open in the Mat-Su Valley has continued to get better over the past week. Number of fish in both the tailrace and the river have increased, but so has fishing pressure. This fishery is open 24 hours per day and bait is allowed. Angling pressure is being applied constantly, and it often takes some persistence to get pressured salmon to bite — even with bait. I’ve been guiding some trips to this location, and with more turbid water conditions of the past week or 10 days, cured salmon roe has been my biggest king salmon producer. Many anglers fishing both the tailrace and river like to either anchor a bait and drifter to the bottom with a sinker or fish bait in a stationary position with a jet diver when the water is turbid. Some of my guest have also been having some luck fishing a large Flatfish plug in a stationary position. While my guests seem to get less bites with the plugs, the advantage to fishing them is most of the plug bites are BIG Grabs, while a lot of the bites with bait have been tentative nibbles. What I advise people about this fishery is there are often only a few bites per trip, so one wants to set the hook well when a bite occurs. This is often one of the most critical aspects between briefly hooking or catching a king salmon.

Most of the king salmon I’ve seen caught form the Eklutna/Knik fishery this year have weighed in the 15- to 20-pound range or in the 5- to 10-pound range. There definitely seems to be more of the larger fish available in 2019 compared to last year. Most of the fish are still in ocean-chrome shape with sea-lice clinging to their sides, but some male salmon, in particular, are starting to develop a blush of darker spawning colors. If you decide to participate in this fishery —either in river or along the tailrace remember there will likely be many other participants, and there is a very limited amount of good salmon holding water to fish. What this has meant on my fishing charters is that we often spend most of our time fishing one or two spots, and even if we find another good spot to try, it was likely recently fished by other anglers before we got there.

Russian River sockeye salmon limit liberalized to nine fish

While not in the Mat-Su Valley, several Mat-Su anglers I’ve talked with this past week mentioned an interest in traveling to the Russian River on the Kenai Peninsula to participate in the recently expanded sockeye salmon sport fishery. Everyone I talked to also mentioned that this fishery will likely be crowded with participants — even more than it normally is, since it not only provides one of the better June opportunities to harvest salmon, but now also provides an extra large sockeye salmon limit. This fishery is limited to artificial flies only.

Copper River fisheries worth the drive

Driving up the Glenn Highway, the Copper River subsistence and personal use fisheries continue to kick out strong numbers of sockeye salmon,. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also mentioned exceptionally good early king salmon fishing throughout the entire Gulkana River area open to king salmon fishing. Good water conditions along with record numbers of early arriving king salmon have started the 2019 Gulkana River fishery with a BANG!

Good Luck and fish on!

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