Fishing Report

AJ Hoffman told me a few northern pike were taken from Mat-Su Lakes this week. Expect better action as the water warms up a bit. This time of year that can be later in the day rather than early in the morning.. A regulation that was adopted throughout the entire Northern Cook Inlet Management Area for 2020-- Northern Pike may not be returned to the water alive.

When I talked with Mike Hudson of 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle this week, he immediately started talking up the lake fishing for rainbow trout, “People are catching trout in a bunch of different lakes.”

Indeed most years Mat-Su Valley’s stocked lakes and some lakes with wild trout populations often provide the best fishing catching opportunity in mid-May. On a normal year, mid-May can also provide pretty good catch and release trout fishing along the tributary streams draining into the Susitna River north of Willow. A very heavy snow load that has been melting rapidly in the unusually warm May weather has created higher and muddier stream conditions than normal for this time of year. Consequently, stream fishing, while still enjoyable will likely be rather slow this weekend. A.J. Hoffman mentioned that people had been into the 3 Rivers shop with reports of catching trout and grayling in many of the Parks Highway streams, however, water is higher than darker than normal, and people fishing spinners may be doing better than the fly anglers in this type of water. The higher murky conditions have reduced catch rates recently in the streams, but there is some thing about swinging a lure or fly with the current for wild fish that certain anglers enjoy over fishing still waters, even if the stocked fish are more abundant and easier to catch.

The storyline was similar when I talked with Samantha Oslund with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). She mentioned the lakes for stocked rainbow trout as well. I asked if the Department had been stocking other species of fish, and she mentioned that the first species stocked every year was the catchable sized rainbow trout. The number of lakes that have been stocked continues to grow and Mat-Su anglers can do a stocking search at the ADF&G website for the most up-to-date information: When I checked earlier in the week, 10 Mat-Su Lakes had been stocked with catchable rainbow trout between May 4 — May 9. Samantha mentioned that the stocking data base is often updated on Thursdays, so there will likely be more stockings posted by the time this article is published.

There is always some hope the streams may have dropped and cleared a bit before this weekend, or even if the water level has a chance to stabilize for a day or two it can clean up — even if still at the same high water level. At Susitna Landing this week, people we reporting caching less. Some folks have been taken a look at high stream flows and then moving on to check other streams. Certainly some streams conditions are better than others.

King salmonThere are often a FEW king salmon available in Mat-Su streams by mid-May, and my nephew and I have been talking about trying the Little Susitna River or the Deshka River on Saturday, however, those same high and muddy water conditions will make king salmon tough this weekend. Sam Ivey told me the Little Susitna River weir had been installed on Tuesday, but the stream flow was high making installation difficult and in addition he judged visibility in the water to be limited at about 6 inches. Those are tough conditions for a catching a king salmon, but for catching a king salmon when only a very limited number are available in river, the most likely scenario is anglers wash their artificial single hook lures all day without getting a bite. Still if a person enjoys fishing a river without much pressure from other anglers this weekend out to provide that situations on both the Deshka and Little Susitna Rivers. I would expect to see more people driving their boats around at Deshka River than actually fishing. I further report on Deshka from Wednesday. Dan Suprak told me he attempted to turn off the Susitna River and up the Deshka River and immediately clogged his jet intake with a bunch of twigs and grass swirling around at the confluence of the two rivers. Deshka River was so high and clogged with degree that he changed his mind and headed further down the Susitna River instead. Dan and his wife looked for hooligan for several miles without finding any, and then pulled into a slough-like clear water to try for pike. They saw a few pike, but did not catch much.

HooliganA.J. Hoffman mentioned one individual reporting seeing hooligan at the Yentna River, a Susitna River tributary stream located perhaps 20 miles downstream from Deshka Landing. If a person wanted to dip net some of these small smelt-like fish. Yentna River or the Susitna River downstream of the Yentna River confluence would likely be one of the best Mat-Su locations to try. Access is primarily by boat as I doubt there are many good gravel bars to land a small airplane with the rivers running so high, and there is no access to this area. Look for hooligan in the shallows along the sides of the river or along the banks of islands. Often birds like bald eagles or gulls may congregate near schooling hooligan, and often can be used to locate the fish. Later in the month large numbers of hooligan can often be found further up the Susitna River and much near to Deshka Landing.

Which brings us back to Mat-Su Valley Lakes as one of the best for both fishing and boating this weekend. Finger Lake is one of the top choices this time of year, in particular for those who want to take boats on a test run before heading down a high river or starting off on an ocean trip. Finger also has several species of stocked fish to be caught, and an Alaska State Parks campground and and public boat launch. If you go this weekend expect Finger Lake to be one of the busiest fishing and boating locations in the Mat-Su.

Good Luck and fish on!

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