Andy Couch

Since writing the fishing column for last week’s paper, my charter fishing success for silver salmon in Mat-Su Valley rivers has started dropping off. In other words it became more difficult to find even a couple silver salmon for guests to catch, and many of those silver or coho salmon are now getting dark in color as they mature toward spawning. Still, some Mat-Su anglers will be planning on one last holiday weekend or salmon fishing through Labor Day September 7.

High and muddy watersEarlier this week when I talked with the staff at 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle in Wasilla they were reporting that nearly all the clear water tributary streams to the Susitna River north of Willow were running high and/or muddy.

Remember starting September 1 fishing for salmon and trout throughout the entire Susitna River drainage is now regulated to artificial lures only. Weather reports indicate that the heaviest of this week’s rain may have occurred on Monday and Tuesday, so rivers and stream could be dropping and clearing a bit by the weekend. Salmon fishing will be slower at most location, however, in the past I’ve caught some table quality silver salmon from the Susitna River drainage in early September. You may have to catch and release some or several dark salmon before coming up with a bright one. I would look for bright fish at stream mouth confluence areas with the Susitna River.

Rainbow trout, grayling, and Dolly Varden char are currently dropping down tributary streams and maybe caught in some of these stream mouth areas as well. The folks at 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle considered beads (salmon egg imitations) as one of the best trout lures at this time. I’ve also had good luck with small single hook spinners for both salmon and trout in early September.

The mouths of Deshka River, Willow Creek, Caswell Creek, and Sheep Creek have all produced September silver salmon for me in the past, and I would think at least a few silver salmon could likely be available near any stream mouth confluence area with the Susitna River between Willow and Talkeetna.

Little Susitna River coho

Some anglers noticed the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) removed the Little Susitna River salmon counting weir on Monday before the full force of high waters would have flooded it anyway. The lower end of the coho salmon goal had already been attained at this location and passage through the weir had recently dropped of significantly. While I always like to glance at salmon passage numbers past this weir, I believe the department made the correct call in removal and termination of the Little Susitna River salmon counting weir project at this time.

I was scheduled to guide a couple salmon charters to Little Susitna River on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but both of those trips were cancelled due to concerns over slow fishing and high waters that could slow the fishing success even more. I am scheduled to guide some salmon fishing trips at this location after the Tuesday deadline for submitting this column and will post the results on my business website for those interested in Little Su updates. I believe a few chrome coho will be available at this location through the holiday weekend, although most of the fish were already getting dark during the last weekend of August. Bait fishing at Little Susitna River by standard regulation remains open through September — ADF&G announced that Little Susitna River bait fishing would be open through December 31 this year, but I suspect that may be an error. Keep an eye on ADF&G emergency orders or announcements for updates.

Eklutna Tailrace and Jim CreekThe confluence of these two clear waters with the Knik River can produce a few chrome silver salmon through the end of September or even early October — however — like elsewhere salmon catching has already slowed considerably from the peak of the season. In addition, salmon is often about the only fish to be caught at these two locations. The highway access to Eklutna Tailrace, cleaning table, seven day-per week fishing and large parking areas make this area a quick and easy fishery for those wanting to fish for a limited amount of time, and in addition anglers may harvest three coho salmon daily (if they can catch them) at this location. Bait fishing remains legal at both location.

Fish CreekLast weekend I saw lots of vehicles parked near Fish Creek along Knik-Goose Bay Road where salmon fishing is allowed. I have to think people must have been catching some salmon or the number of vehicles parked would have been considerably less. While the ADF&G Fish Creek weir was removed for budget reasons on August 15, a review of previous years’ coho salmon passage shows significant numbers of salmon are often swimming through the lower portions of Fish Creek during September.

Keep in mind, however, that salmon migrations may be significantly greater on certain days and mostly nonexistent on others. I would think that higher stream flows from recent rains should be spurring greater salmon migration through the holiday weekend.

Lake fishing

While many streams may be muddied by recent rains raising water levels, Mat-Su Valley lakes may have nearly as good or better water conditions than were available before it started raining. With salmon entry numbers slowing down throughout September, lakes will undoubtedly provide a better fish catching option than fishing for salmon in streams as the month progresses. Cooling fall weather can also spur lake dwelling fish into more activity. Check the ADF&G website for a list of Mat-Su lakes stocked by the department. Lake fishing options for a variety of species are located throughout the Mat-Su.

What’s next?As in the past, Labor Day weekend may be my last reporting on salmon fishing conditions in the Mat-Su Valley for another season, however, I do plan to write concerning salmon management in Northern Cook Inlet for a September 11 column, and hope to write a September column on the Eklutna River/Eklutna power plant water issue and how it has affected salmon in what is left of the Eklutna River.

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. See Fishing Reports at https.//www.fish4salmon.com

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