Area Sport Fishing Reports
March through April Season
Don't forget: your fishing license expired Dec. 31! Neither the ADF&G Permanent ID license nor the ADF&G Disabled Veteran's license expire.
The sport fishing regulation booklets are good through April 15. Look for new booklets around early April.
Ice conditions are usually good through mid-April, but make test holes before going out on the ice. Ice conditions vary greatly from one system to the next. Typically, lake ice melts near the shoreline first. ADF&G does not keep track of ice thickness, and travel on the ice is at your own risk. For ice and snow pack conditions on state lands, call Alaska State Parks in Palmer at (907) 745-3975.
Once ice recedes, the open leads are usually full of hungry fish, catching tidbits melting from the ice. Try casting small spinners or dark-colored flies right to the edge of the ice.
Rainbow Trout - Flowing Waters
Many flowing waters are closed to ALL fishing for rainbow trout beginning April 15, to protect spawning fish. Some waters allow only catch-and-release of rainbow trout starting April 15. A careful review of the regulation booklet is necessary before heading out to fish.
In waters that are open to rainbow trout fishing, success should be fair to good. Also keep in mind that most of the flowing waters are single-hook, no bait through the end of May. Remember, Montana Creek, Willow Creek and the North Fork of the Kashwitna River are catch-and-release only for rainbow trout and grayling, except that in Willow Creek upstream of the Parks Highway bridge, 1 rainbow trout less than 16 inches long is allowed daily.
In order to help conserve this resource, it is suggested that you use barbless hooks, or pinch down the barbs on regular hooks.
Warmer weather and longer daylight hours usually spell success on area lakes until break-up, especially on those lakes that were stocked in late October and early November. Remember to chop or drill a test hole to be sure lake ice is still thick enough for travel.
The web pages have links to maps of the area's stocked lakes. You can also find a listing of stocked lakes in the regulation booklet. The limit for rainbow trout in stocked lakes is 5 fish per day (of which only one may be over 20 inches).
Jig lures or lower bait (if allowed) near drop off areas and areas of underwater contour for rainbow trout and catchable salmon. The more popular baits include fresh (not frozen) cocktail shrimp, canned clams, single salmon eggs, or preserved egg clusters. For lake trout/char, fish the bottom of the deepest hole you can find. Some lakes have more restrictive tackle and bag limits, please check the regulations before you head out to fish.
Only 2 trout may be harvested in lakes having native trout populations. A stocked lake handout is available from Department of Fish and Game offices in Palmer and Anchorage to assist you in finding good angling opportunities.
Northern pike usually spawn from late April to early May. Before spawning, pike tend to become very active and begin feeding heavily. This is usually a great time to head to your favorite spots for some excellent pike fishing. Pike respond well to decoys, shiny silver jigs, and lures through the ice. Check the regs before you use bait. Where bait is allowed chunks of herring work well, as do whole sardines and hooligan.
For road-accessible pike fishing, try South Rolly, Tanaina, and Memory lakes. For fly-in or snowmachine-in pike fishing, it's hard to beat Alexander and Trapper lakes. Pike are also to be found in Flathorn, Sucker and Eightmile lakes.
There are many lakes where using 5 lines through the ice is legal for pike. Check the reg book, or click on the pike pages on our website. Also when pike fishing through the ice anglers may use two hooks on a single line, provided that both hooks are attached to one single piece of bait.
There is a slot limit in Alexander Lake. Anglers can retain all pike less than 22 inches in length, pike between 22" and 30" may not be retained, and only one pike greater than 30 inches may be retained daily and be in possession. Anglers may not use bow and arrows and spears to harvest northern pike in Alexander Lake. A handout describing the Pike Fisheries in the Mat-Su area is available at department offices in Anchorage and Palmer.
Again, ice thickness is not monitored by ADF&G. Call Alaska State Parks in Palmer at (907) 745-3975 for more info on snow cover and ice thickness on state lands. For other lands, try to find a local source of info, such as lodges and private property owners.