Put away the ice fishing gear: It’s open water fishing time | Outside
Eight days ago I was ice fishing on Lake Matanuska with Chuck Ashmun and my wife. We have probably pushed back the ice fishing season longer than most people. Had to drag my sled full of gear on a gravel and dirt trail while driving from the parking lot to the ice covered lake. We were careful to get on the ice in a shaded area where the ice was still solid against the shore and carefully inspect and test the ice before venturing too far from shore. Chuck and my wife both wore winter jackets and boots, while I opted for a short-sleeved t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. The temperature rose while we were fishing and when I checked a thermometer in the afternoon it registered 60 degrees. The fishing was regular and we each caught several fish on Balls O’Fire salmon roe caught with a small piece of cocktail shrimp. Ice fishing had been better at this location earlier in the winter, and I suspect most of the stocked fish and especially the larger fish had already been caught and harvested from this easily accessible location. The biggest fish we caught last week was about 12 inches long, and we mostly caught royal landlocked salmon, along with a few rainbow trout and arctic char.
While fishing, we heard the calls of sandhill cranes, saw gulls land and walk on the ice, spotted a few flocks of geese flying above us, and noticed that the ice seemed dangerous near the sunny shore of the river. on the other side of the lake. As soon as we got back from this ice fishing trip, I packed my ice fishing gear for the season. Catching a few pot-sized fish isn’t worth venturing onto thin ice and possibly breaking through.
It won’t be long before open water appears in many places Mat-Su. The streams and streams in the central Palmer-Wasilla area are already open and flowing, however, the spring closure to protect spawning rainbow trout is currently in effect and these streams will not reopen until June 15. Further up the Parks Road from Willow Creek to the north, the streams are open to fishing, however, open water is at a premium and any rainbow trout caught must be released.
On Monday, Mike Hudson of 3 Rivers Fly and Tackle in Wasilla told me that people have already caught a few rainbow trout in the small body of open water around the access point between Kepler and Bradley Lake near Palmer. The amount of free water is quite low here, but it will be more by the time this article is published. It is one of the first open water lakes where people start fishing every spring, and although there are no fish in this small part of open water all the time, they swim under the ice. and can be caught by those who have enough patience. Kepler-Bradley Lakes are usually one of the first places to stock with new fishable rainbow trout each spring, although it will likely take another week or more before the first Mat Valley stocking event. -Su does not happen.
My friend and Miller’s River Boat Service owner Ben Allen has been to Finger Lake before, and he told me there was a few feet of open water near the campground and boat launch. Alaska State Parks water. There was not enough open water for Ben to fish or launch a boat, but fishermen will soon be fishing there, and it is also the most popular place in the Mat-Su Valley for boaters to get out and take a shake down cruise each spring.
I heard a rumor on Tuesday that a few rainbow trout had already been caught at the confluence of Willow Creek and Susitna River, and looking at Deshka Landing’s weather camera I can see open water tracks. start to form in the Susitna River just past the boat launch, so it seems possible that someone has already caught a few open water trout near the confluence of Willow Creek. This area is usually the first place I hear of every spring where anglers start catching rainbow trout in the open water along the Susitna River. I would expect almost all of the fish present along the tributaries of the Susitna River to be located in or near the areas of confluence of the mouth of the stream with the Susitna River at present.
I’ve fished the tailrace several times in April, however, it’s more of a place to go out and cast open water lures or practice drifting a fly – until the last week of May, when some king salmon may start to appear. at the top. When I was at the tailrace channel on Tuesday, the parking lot door was still locked, however, Tracy Smith, Alaskan Fish and Game Access Coordinator, told me that the scheduled opening date for the gate is May 1st. There is currently room for several vehicles to park at the upstream end of the tailrace just across the Old Glenn Highway from the Eklutna Power Station. Expect to see other people there, especially on weekends, although the chances of catching a fish are low. Many people use this place as a place to hang out and recreate themselves. It is not usual to see people just hiking or canoeing or kayaking along the tailrace. The Knik River is now almost completely ice free below the tailrace channel, but the water is currently a little shallow for kayaking to the Knik River Bridge over Glenn Road.
Fish catching will undoubtedly be slow at most open water sites in the Mat-Su Valley during the first weekend of May, however, the weekend should provide anglers with the opportunity to drive and ride. discover new areas, test new fishing gear in small areas. open water, and check the fishing conditions. If you go, don’t forget to purchase a 2021 Alaska fishing license before your trip – if you don’t already have one.
Andy Couch is the owner of Fishtale River Guides and writes a weekly fishing column for the Frontiersman during the Mat-Su Valley open water fishing season. You can read his daily Mat-Su Valley Fishing Report updates on the Fishtale River Guides website: https://www.fish4salmon.com http://fish4salmon.com