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The Susitna River is usually ice-free by mid-May, which prompts a few early season anglers begin launching from Deshka Landing and Susitna Landing.
Many of the low-lying lakes become free of ice by mid-May. If the winter has been a particularly cold one, don't expect the higher-elevation lakes, or the more northerly lakes, to break up until after Memorial Day. Once the lakes are free of ice, they will go through the process of spring “turnover,” during which water temperatures become uniform and spring winds mix nutrients and oxygen throughout the water column. Major food items for fish, specifically insect larva, begin to emerge from the lake bottom and fish become very active.
King salmon start to make their appearance in a few Northern Cook Inlet streams by mid- to late May. The waters downstream of Burma Landing on the Little Susitna River, the mouth of Alexander Creek, and the mouth of the Deshka River are the first places anglers report catches, usually by the end of the second week in May.
Although it is still early for large numbers of king salmon to be present in Northern Cook Inlet waters, increasing numbers will be entering freshwater rivers on each high tide. A patient angler in mid-May who is willing to put in the time may be rewarded with an early season king salmon. By the end of May, kings usually have traveled as far as Lake Creek off the Yentna River, and few may even show up at the Willow Creek confluence.
By mid-May, a few kings arrive in West Cook Inlet streams, but fishing doesn't heat up until June.
Each stream has its own regulations, so careful attention to the regulation booklet is required.
Rainbow Trout - Flowing Waters
During the month of May, rainbow trout that have wintered over in the lakes, or the deeper pools start to move out in search of spawning grounds, and then food. Spawning trout are very vulnerable to harvest. For this reason, there are many waters closed entirely to sport fishing, and many waters closed to the retention of rainbows. Please check the regulation booklet carefully.
Area lakes present a great fishing opportunity. Many species of native and hatchery fish are present, and are often hungry in May. The stocking truck also makes its rounds by late May. Mat-Su valley lakes are stocked with either rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, Arctic grayling, lake trout, or Arctic char, or some combination of these fish. Be sure to check the regulation booklet closely before fishing, since a few lakes have tackle and bait restrictions and open and closed seasons.
Pike fishing is usually excellent throughout the month of May, as spawning fish congregate in shallow areas. For road-accessible pike fishing try the Nancy Lake Canoe System lakes. For fly-in pike fishing try Alexander, Eightmile and Sucker lakes.
In all but one lake, there is no bag limit for northern pike, and legal gear includes spears and bow and arrow. There is a slot limit for pike on Alexander Lakes. Anglers can retain all pike smaller than 22 inches long; pike between 22 inches and 30 inches may not be retained; and only one pike longer than 30 inches may be retained daily and be in possession. Anglers may not use bow and arrows or spears to harvest northern pike in Alexander Lake.
The Susitna River hooligan run begins in early May. By mid-May, excellent catches are usually reported downstream of the Yentna-Susitna confluence. In late May, try the Susitna River just downstream of the mouth of Willow Creek.