Fish Alaska's 2016 Fishing Report 
for the Susitna River

Check back for updates from around the state all summer! Submit your local fishing reports here, be sure to include all pertinent information.
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Mike Lunde
Susitna River
June 21, 2016 

Over the past week, king salmon action on the Susitna River tributaries alongside the Parks Highway continues to increase. As reported on the ADF&G fish counts section of their website, the most recent biological escapement tally was almost 19,000 fish. Minimum escapement is approximately 13,000 fish, thus illustrating how good the fishing has been on the Deshka. Action has been phenomenal for both conventional and fly anglers. Two recent expeditions over the past week and a half have yielded outstanding results as it seems the fish are above average for their size this year, thus indicating they fed well out in the marine environment. On the weekend of June 11 and June 12, I landed 13 kings - all on the fly rod.  Other anglers did very well casting Kwikfish K14s and Mag Lip 4.5s on a slow, steady retrieve. That Sunday, I documented 25 hook-ups and landed 11 of them. Despite the bad landing percentage, the action was super-incredible. Average size kings were 20-25 pounds and I landed two at 40. Productive fly patterns were Prom Dress Intruders, Marabou Intruders, MOAL Leech, and Marabou Tube Flies. Reference Fish Alaska’s website on how to tie these flies as videos are posted. Best color combinations were blue/chartruese and black/blue with the black/blue Prom Dress Intruders credited for taking the two 40-pounders. Best sink-tips were a 10-foot section of T-11. A key reminder for success is to constantly mix up color schemes. Although sunny, overcast conditions came in periodically, so I switched to black/blue when this occurred and my logic was correct in which lighter colors didn't get bit as well. Also, it seems the fish wise up to certain patterns and/or colors, so definitely change things up. The same color selection and lure choices apply to conventional anglers as well. Downsize plugs and spinners or select a different color combination to match the light conditions. It can mean the difference between no hits and several. Overall, the action will continue to be action-packed for the remainder of June. All Susitna River tributaries located on the Parks Highway and those off the Talkeetna River subsequently change to weekend-only regulations as of Saturday June 25 - Monday June 27th. They open again for Tuesday July 2 - Thursday July 4th. The rest of the week kings cannot be targeted. If you haven't bagged your king for the year, now is the time to target them before it too late. Best of luck and tight lines.  

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Mike Lunde
Susitna River Drainage
June 10, 2016

The year of 2016 is shaping up to be one most productive king salmon runs in recent years. Catch-and-release regulations were originally implemented on early-run Kenai kings as the previous emergency seasonal closure was uplifted. Similar catch-and-release regulations are also implemented for most Susitna River tributaries with harvest allowed on the Little Susitna. Current escapements for some Susitna River tributaries, as indicated on the Fish Counts section of the ADF&G website, show that some streams are approaching escapement at a fast rate compared to the past several years. Fishing pressure thus far has been relatively nonexistent on Parks Highway streams, allowing for fishing experiences similar to a private beach in Bristol Bay for a fraction of the cost. Despite high water levels from recent rains in the Mat-Su Valley, the king run is continuing to build, thus providing great opportunities for fly and conventional anglers. Reports for both conventional and fly anglers are extremely positive right now. On a recent trip to one of the Parks Highway tributaries, we went 7 for 18 in 6 hours of fishing. As previously written about in Fish Alaska, blue/chartreuse colored flies were dominant in combination K14 kwikfishes and Vibrax spinners in identical color schemes. The best fly patterns used were marabou-styled Intruders and a hollow-tied Bucktail version of an Intruder tied on a tube. Effective sink-tips implemented were a 10-foot tip of T-11 in normal flows and a 10-foot tip of T-17 in higher flows. Sink-tip selection is often stream-specific as the flows have changed daily. It is important to remember that single-hand rods are tough to use on some of the Parks Highway tributaries, so a switch or Spey is beneficial when backcasting room is minimized, otherwise a high-arcing backcast is required. Check hydrographs for all the Susitna River tributaries on the USGS website to preplan fishing trips accordingly. Variables available to check include water and air temperature, streamflow, and gauge height. Lastly, remember that Parks Highway streams are open everyday until June 20th, when weekend-only regulations go into effect.