When I talked with Mike Hudson from 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle in Wasilla on Tuesday he reported that all of the streams from Willow to Talkeetna (except the ones with a glacial influence) were now running at lower and clearer levels and that trout fishing had been good. Spencer Cook of I Fish Alaska Guide Service (907) 357-0131 had been out fishing with his family on Tuesday at Willow Creek and reported a catches of both rainbow trout and arctic grayling. Spencer is planning to focus on trout and grayling fishing through July 20th this year before transitioning to guided salmon fishing trips. He mentioned seeing many more king salmon up Willow Creek in comparison to last year. Note: While trout fishing in the Susitna River tributary streams is open — all targeted king salmon fishing is closed. If an angler should happen to catch a king salmon it is required to be released immediately. None of the Susitna River tributary streams upstream of Deshka River made king salmon escapement goals last year, so hopefully king salmon escapement numbers will be high enough to achieve goals in 2019.
When I asked Mike Hudson about fishing for stocked trout in lakes he mentioned that some of the regular lake anglers were continuing to catch fish, but when I asked Dan Suprak of Alaska Chinook Charters about his recent trout fishing he reported that people on his last trout trip to a Mat-Su stocked lake caught fish, although less numbers than previous trips. Dan thought the warm weather was increasing water temperatures in the shallow lake he was guiding on to a point that the trout fishing was slowing down. He did report his last group catching a 23-inch rainbow. Deeper or larger lakes might better maintain more comfortable water temperatures for trout and grayling catching. For more information give Dan a call at (907) 748-0095.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has mentioned that fishing for northern pike often is better as shallow waters warm up — if that is the case then now should be the time to catch pike as we’ve been enjoying record setting or near record setting summer temperatures for a while. I would suspect however, that there might be a specific water temperature above which pike fishing might slow down as well. The people I know suggest Big Lake, Nancy Lake system lakes, and some of the shallow weedy lakes draining into the lower Susitna River and Yentna River as pike hotspots to try.
Last week I wrote about the Little Susitna River opening to king salmon fishing. Since that opening I can report good numbers of both bank anglers and boat anglers have participated in the fishery from the Little Susitna River Public Use Facility. I’ve been guiding out there nearly every day, and fishing has been quite slow in the lower river. King salmon counts through Little Susitna River Weir have dropped off dramatically from when the large push of king salmon was migrating upstream more than a week ago now. My guests have been catching a few fish — less than 1 king salmon over 20 inches in length per trip. They have also been catching a few jack king salmon. We’ve been catching fish on small plugs and my homemade Flashtrap Spinners. I’ve greatly enjoyed the opportunity to guide some guests for king salmon on the Little Susitna River over the past week, and have additional trips scheduled as well. We’ve been telling guests as the make reservations how few fish we’ve been catching lately, and evens, a considerably amount of people simply want to get outside and experience an Alaska salmon fishing trip. The recent hot weather finally seems to have melted most of the remaining snow in Hatcher Pass, and the river water level is starting to drop significantly. My thoughts and prayers are that a good rain would be pleasant and likely helpful for many Mat-Su Valley fisheries. Artificial lures are required at this time when fishing Little Susitna River.
Andrew Olson gave me a call this week wanting to book a guided fishing trip on the Little Susitna River — until I told him what our king salmon catch rate had been recently. He had been fishing off the bank at the Eklutna Tailrace and on the upper Little Susitna River near Houston. He’d watched several other anglers catch king salmon near him and while fishing late in the evening at Eklutna Tailrace he had seen a king salmon surfacing about every 10 minutes or so. The frustrating thing, of course, was that even as he saw fish activity around him he was not getting bites. My advice was that there were likely considerably more king salmon where he was fishing than where I was guiding trips — as we were lucky to see one good -sized king salmon surface in a whole six-hour trip. Andrew decided to have another go at the Tailrace. NOTE: while the fishing season closes for king salmon after 11 p.m. on July 13 in most Mat-Su fishing locations — Eklutna Tailrace is an exception with a year-long season. Bait may be used when fishing the Tailrace year round as well.
Recently I’ve talked with several anglers who have made the decision to wait for Mat-Su salmon species other than king salmon to show up before going salmon fishing again in July or August. During the July 1 commercial opening the Northern District Commercial Set Net Fishery recently harvested an average of 55 sockeye per permit fished. If I was prospecting for sockeye salmon tin Mat-Su Valley freshwaters his weekend I would check out lower Cottonwood Creek — there is only a small area open to salmon fishing on a weekends only basis, but I’ve seen and caught sockeye salmon at this location in the past right around the 4th of July. There have also been a few sockeye salmon migrating past Little Susitna River weir, but so few that I have not heard of anyone harvesting one. Clear Creek and Larson Creek in the Talkeetna River Drainage also might have a few early arriving sockeye available. The key thought to keep in mind if prospecting these locations on the first weekend in July is you may also not see or hook a fish. On the other hand, there will likely not be a crowd of other anglers either. Sockeyes are the first salmon to show in abundance after king salmon, however, chum salmon, pink salmon, and coho salmon are on their way to a Mat-Su stream near you as well.
I have not heard of anyone catching a chum salmon, pink salmon, or coho salmon from a Mat-Su Valley fishery, but I suspect it will likely happen in the coming week.
Good luck and fish on!