Winter 2000 & 2001 Ice Fishing Logs

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May 12 Susitna Valley Lake & Rivers

I headed up north to Erick's camp site in Willow.  Saturday we head off to a few of the rivers in the area.  Unlike Anchorage, up north it's still spring/winter.   There was ice in the Big-Su river, though the tributaries were all free of ice.   We didn't see any activity in terms of fish or birds.  That's definitely one of the things to look for.  When the smolts are headed downriver, you'll often see flocks of terns flying around and grabbing the fish.  IF you see that, you are in business.  Well since the rivers weren't producing, we decided to go check out a couple of lakes.  Both lakes were still 90% covered by ice.  Nothing at the first lake but on the second lake we fished near an outlet and I managed 2 nice 16 to 18 inch rainbows.  Since they were dark and in their spawning colors I released both.   It was a lot of fun and the weather during the day was AWESOME with the thermometer in the sun reading over 85 degrees.  The flip side to that was that at night the thermometer read 15 degrees F!

Well I bet this is my last entry into the winter logs!  It is summer time!!!!!!   The Kenai paper had a 40 pound king in it caught near Big Eddy.  I've heard of fish coming out of Ship Creek and the Kasilof so.....

LET THE KING SEASON BEGIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 27-28 Lake Louise Lake trout

Martin, Erick, Doug, & I head out to Lake Louise to try for a big laker.  We get there with snowmobiles only to discover that we could drive on the lake with our trucks.  The snow had melted to the point where it was virtually drive anywhere type of conditions.  We drove on the ice hauling our trailers and had no problem whatsoever.  This is a great time to hit Lake Louise if you don't have a snowmobile.

The fishing was a bit slower than we expected but I caught 4 fish from 21 inches to 28 inches.  Erick also managed four fish or so in the 21 to 24 inch range.  A rattlin rap type lure and herring seemed to be the two top baits.

I bet you can drive on the Lake at least a couple of more weeks.  It's pretty awesome.  You sure can check out a lot of the lake in a hurry when you can drive.   Be careful though.  there are already open water where the creeks flow and the conditions near the edges are already starting to deteriorate.  Call Lake Louise Lodge or Wolverine Lodge to get updated info.  We still might give it another try if the weather is good.  Memories of Martin's 16 pound Laker has us all dying to get back on the Lake ASAP!

April 20-22 Mat-su Lake for Rainbows and Burbot

Erick and I took off on Friday night to a Mat-Su area lake to see if we couldn't hit a few burbot.  I know a lot of people in Alaska have never caught one and many of the people who have cut the line and send them back down the fishing hole.  BIG MISTAKE! The burbot is one of the finest tasting freshwater fish in Alaska.  I'd say it is exactly a cross between Halibut & Pacific Cod.  Firm white meat that is great baked or fried!

Erick gets there and sets up and by the time I arrived at 10:30pm it was getting darker.  Just a I pulled up, Erick was playing a fish.  The burbot bite was HOT & HEAVY from the time it got dark to about 1am.  We fell sleep in our sleeping bags without a tent and we woke up to another few fish on the line.  The bait of choice was herring.  The second night was much slower but over the weekend we managed to land a dozen keeper burbot with the largest fish going 13 pounds!!!  That' a trophy in the Alaska so I have it in my refrigerator to go get it officially weighed and certified.  A burbot needs to be over 8 pounds in Alaska to get a certificate so the 13 pounder was a monster!  To give you an idea what it takes for a certificate, you need to catch a 75 pound King Salmon from the Kenai River or a 50 pounder from any other river.  Northern Pike & rainbows needs to be 15 pounds and rainbows need to receive a certificate.  It's my first one so that's cool!

Another great thing about his lake is that the rainbows we hammer out of here are by far the best rainbows to eat out of a lake.  They have ruby red flesh and are delicious.  The best thing is that since these fish are stocked, I don't feel so guilty keeping a few.  As spring arrives, the rainbows are getting ready to spawn.   As the fish sexually matures, much of the body fat is used to produce the milt and eggs causing the eating qualities of the fish to decrease.  Keep the smaller fish and the brighter silver fish.  Any fish with more coloration like a distinct rainbow stripe or slightly darker fish are getting ready to spawn.  Most of the stocked fish can't spawn due to lack of suitable habitat.  Still if they aren't as good eating, no sense killing them.  The other nice thing about this lake is that we can catch rainbows during the night while killing time waiting for our burbot sets.  Its never fast action but the rainbows seem to hit the bait every now and then.

Well this weekend we are off to Lake Louise to see if we can't come up with a trophy Lake Trout.  Martin's 16 pounder is still the fish to beat through the ice!

April 14 Anchorage area lake. Northern Pike.

I suppose the biggest news over the past several weeks is that I haven't been fishing much.  The second biggest news is that last week I got engaged!  Doh!  I mean yippeee.....right?  I'm not officially a goner yet but I guess its only inevitable after telling a couple hundred friends and relatives at  big party!   It's not even a week old and I'm trying to decide whether to go fishing on the first weekend or not.  Hmmmm take her along or leave her at home...I can see this whole thing getting off to a shaky start already and its not even salmon season!!!!!!!   What have I done!?!?!?!?!!  Oh well, too late now!  God, I hope she doesn't read thee logs.........oh yeah the fishing!

I went to a local lake on Saturday to see if we couldn't find a few pike to eradicate from some of the local lakes.  Well I went right before I took off for the wedding and right after I got back (a true fisherman!).  It's amazing how quickly the pike can take over a local lake.  We caught over a dozen over the course of the day.   Nothing huge but it was fun.  Its amazing how long a pike will stare at a bait before they decide to chomp down on it.  I had only one pike come flying through the hole and grab the bait on the run.  Small herring proved to be a good bait.  its funny as the local folks were all fishing rainbows and while I didn't see any, they say they still catch quite a few despite the pike.

While I was in Japan, I visited a lake and I couldn't believe my eyes.  One hour out of Tokyo, they were landing Brown trout and Rainbow trout pushing 10 pounds!  I actually saw a few 5 pounders flopping around!  On top of that I guess they catch a   few largemouth bass as well.  Amazing.  The home page (sorry its in Japanese) of the tackle store I visited as fished Alaska and has a web page you can find here.  The year 2000 photo gallery for the lake in Japan can be found here.  Click on the pictures on the edge to get a larger photo.  Pretty impressive.

The other big news is that I have started lining up my annual fishing trips with my Salmon fishing mentor..."The Herder"!  Dan France of Salmon Herder Charters is my main man for guests fishing the Kenai River or the Kasilof River.  I've booked a date with him on June 8th and I also am planning to an earlier trip in late May.  June 8th is my wife's birthday so I am really counting on him to help us land her first king salmon in Alaska!   He'll come through for me.  He always does.  June 8th on the Kasilof should be the perfect time to land a mint bright Kasilof King.  See what a great husband I am!!!  I'm also thinking about buying her a nice rifle for some holiday right before moose season as well.  (Honey, can I borrow you .338???  Huh?   You never use it anyways???  Okay, Thanks!) Hmmmm...I think I am already getting the hang of this "relationship building" business. This is easy!!!

Our group is also planning to head out to Lake Louise one more time.  My buddies went out April 7th.  they saw lots of fish through the ice but had a hard time getting them to hit.  They managed a few fish and even caught some burbot on a nearby lake.  Martin's 16 pounder came on April 9th.  Lake Louise should be frozen well into May.  The guys used every inch of their auger to punch through the ice still.   It's still winter in the area!

March 18, BIG Bow's from Tony, but not much for us at Big Lake

Well I head off to Big Lake with Martin to see if we can't catch a fish or two.   We;; we did just that...caught two fish.  Martin caught both of them.   One was a nice 22 inch Dolly and the other was a smaller 16 incher that we released.  The ice on big Lake is definitely starting to break up.  Won't be long before you have a tough time getting on to the lake.  Once you are on there was still 22 inches of ice where we fished.

The big news is the photos Tony sent me from a recent fishing expedition.  I promised to not name the location so a secret it remains.  A lot of die hard fisherman will know where it is.  But take a look at a few of these beauties!!!   Of course Tony released them all to battle another day!  Very Nice!!!!   Click on the image for a larger JPG pic.

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March 11, Mat-su Valley Pike & Ptarmigan.

The group heads out to do some Pike fishing and ptarmigan hunting on the Big-Su River and surrounding lakes.  A SLOW weekend for sure!  On top of that, all it did was rain!  I think it's colder when its 40 above and wet then it is 40 below and dry!   Really!  In 4 hours of fishing I managed one pike of about 8 inches.  It was the smallest pike I have EVER CAUGHT!!!   Todd and I fished Pike while Martin, Doug & Erick looked around for a few birds.  Well they didn't have any luck either.  So after getting soaked by the rain we call it a day and begin to head back. Martin was bummed about not seeing anything and it couldn't have been 5 minutes after I commented that we still had an hour of trail riding before we get home that we happen on to a large flock of Ptarmigan on the river. I can't believe that Erick even saw them at all!  But out of the bunch, we managed to take 12 birds between four people and it provided for some excellent table fair on Monday.  It's been a while since I have had Ptarmigan and it was pretty tasty.  It was a little gamy but tasted like dark chicken meat other than that.

The Big-Su was falling apart due to the warm weather and all the lakes had overflow on them.  Be careful if you head out pike fishing on the west side of the susitna.   If you planned on going later, you may want to move the schedule up a bit since the river is definitely starting to have a lot more open leads.  Be careful!!!

February 24, Big Lake

Bored out of my mind, I decide that going fishing was the best thing to do!  It always is!  I know this is often the slowest time of year but Big Lake just has not bee producing much lately.  Even a couple of the guys that email me are saying its slowing way down.  I'm waiting for the Burbot fishing in mid-April followed by the first of the open water season as the rivers begin to flow again in late April early May.

Oh yeah, the fishing at Big Lake.  I took a guest and we fished hard from 11am to 4pm and our total was one dolly running 16 inches.  Brutal.  Looking down the hole, I would see the occasional fish in the 14 to 18 inch range swim by but they seemed only moderately impressed with my lures and would never hit solidly.  I haven't caught enough decent fish ice fishing to even develop my disposable cameras.  Still thanks to Chris and Gary, I have a few pics for you all to see.  Thanks Guys!

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February 18, Knik Lake

Well Martin & Erick needed to run their snowmobiles from Knik Lake to the Big-Su in preparation for a race.  So I tagged a long and we fished at Knik Lake before they hit the trail.  For whatever reason, I sure seemed to have the hot hands.  In several hours I managed a dozen landlocks and couple of rainbows.  Nothing huge with the biggest barely going 12 inches but they were a lot of fun!  Martin brought a stove, Cajun seasoning, butter, & potatoes!  On top of that since we were using cooked and uncooked shrimp for bait we managed a FEAST!  Boy those stocked trout and landlocks sure are tasty when they are fresh!  We are definitely going to have to keep bringing the stoves to cook on!  the shore lunch was awesome!  We dug holes everywhere but the best depth for the pan sized fish seemed to be in shallow water of less than 10 feet.

February 10 & 11, Anchorage Area Lakes

Well after not catching any fish at Big Lake I decide that my guest needs to catch something so I decide to go after the old reliable stocked landlocked salmon in Jewel & Delong Lake.  Saturday we head out and try Jewel Lake.  It was pretty slow but after a while we manage to catch a handful of nice landlocked with a couple of rainbows mixed in.  Nothing huge.  I think the biggest went 10 inches!   Still it was kind of fun sitting out a nice day staring at the bobber.  Boy when the bobber dives down, you would think it was a 50 pound king the way we would get all excited and dive for the rods!

Sunday was better at Delong Lake.  It seems the bites was definitely better in the morning than later in the day.  We hammered a bunch of nice landlocks and rainbows before the bite died down around 11 am.  At both Delong and Jewel Lake we had the best success with single eggs.  While the fish aren't big, it's still a blast.   Use light line and small gear and you will have a good time.  Its a great place to take the kids.  Even if you don't have an auger, if you go on Saturday or Sunday afternoon there are almost always holes open on Jewel or Delong.  Go give it a try.  It's not the Big feisty kings (wee they actually are landlocked kings but...) we'll see in May but it sure beats sitting on your back end at home on the weekends!!!

February 4 Big Lake

I finally bought my fishing license for 2001...I can't believe I was actually in Alaska and didn't fish in January!  Bummer!  Well I finally get out to Big Lake with a Japanese guest and Douggie.  We spent 6 hours fishing and caught one 17 inch Dolly.   SLOW SLOW SLOW!  We were in 30 feet of water jigging everything!  The ice sure is thin.  I think there was only 16 inches where we were at.  Now that is plenty to even drive on but it should more like 2.5 to 3 feet thick by now!  This is some crazy weather we are having!  Well we didn't catch any fish but it sure was nice to get out and stare at some water even if we didn't catch fish.  I guess I could be bummed about the whole thing but the other way to look at it is that we are just paying our dues before we land the monster Dolly out of Big Lake.  You can't complain about not catching fish when you are trophy fishing.  It's just part of the game.   It's not too much fun sitting without seeing a fish for hours, but I know I am going to feel a whole lot different about it once I can hook into that double digit Dolly!   Well gotta keep trying!

January 13-15  Lake Louise Lake trout

Well work has just been too busy for me to get out fishing.  Fortunately for everyone out there, I still have a bunch of fishing fanatics as friends so I can at least provide a fishing update.  over the three day weekend, Erick, Kelly, & Martin head out to Lake Louise to see if they can't land the big one like last year.  Well unfortunately for them, the weekend was slow.  One burbot and one lake trout was all they managed over two solid days of fishing.  But as always, there seems to be an exciting story every time.

Well this story starts out with a few burbot lines.  Since on Lake Louise you can't keep burbot, Martin and Erick had snowmobiled to a small nearby lake to do some burbot fishing.  As they are checking their lines they notice one of the fish they pull up is just mangled and torn up.  Huh?  Well as they are examining the fish they notice an otter near one of their holes.  I guess it was just massive.   It's running around on the ice and as they decide to check out what's happening, the otter fives down one of their fishing holes.  As they check the lines they realize that the otter is actually hooked onto one of their lines!  Otter on!  They gently reel up the lines and the otter is NOT happy about being pulled back up the hole.   I guess it was hard to tell exactly where it was hooked but they got as close as they dared to the otter and cut the line to give the otter the best chance possible to survive.  Amazing!  I've caught a muskrat ice fishing but this is the first time I have ever heard of anyone catching an otter!  Well if you go outdoors enough time, its amazing what yo will see.  It all makes it worthwhile.

December 31 & January 1  Lake Louise Lake trout

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  To celebrate the New Millenium and Erick's birthday we head out to Lake Louise to try our luck at the Lakers.  The weather was mild and things looked good.  On Saturday we get there in time to fish a few hours and we manage a fish a piece.  Sunday, was much tougher fishing.  I landed three fish and that was it for the day.  All the fish were about 25 inches.  Two were caught on a half a herring on a gamakatsu hook.  The other three were caught on a leadhead with a white single tail grub.  Well Monday was a bit tough for me.  I celebrated kinda hard for the New Year and I was not in any shape to fish on Monday.  Erick taking advantage of the fact promptly nails two nice fish before we leave that afternoon.   So nothing fancy this time out.  All the fish were right at 25 inches.   Still it was awesome spending the New Year's day on the ice.   The action certainly wasn't fast, but when you have the chance of hooking into a fish over 20 pounds, I can sit through the slow times.

December 16-17, Lake Louise Lake trout

Brrrrrr.... it sure is colder out by Glenallen than here in Anchorage.  When we pull up to Lake Louise Lodge, it was relatively warm... -12 below zero F.  Hey this is tolerable we think and after a hearty breakfast at the lodge, we pack our gear, ice shacks, and a wall tent and off we go.  We get everything set up around noon and we begin to fish.  We immediately start getting whacks.  We can see the fish but we are having a super hard time hooking them.  Well finally Douggie hammers a nice Laker that had to be 26 to 28 inches long.  No time to measure it since it took us a bit to get the camera ready and we wanted to get back down the hole as soon as possible.  A few minutes later Martin hammers a slightly smaller but beautiful laker.  We are thinking this is easy!!!!  Well all the action happened in the first two hours since those two lakers were the last we saw the whole weekend.

The next day, we wake up early after camping out in the wall tent.  The sky was clear and it was COLD!  It had to have been an honest 30 below since at noon it had warmed up considerably and the lodge had a digital thermometer that still read 22 below!! Still with the right gear it was comfortable.  The northern lights were out.   not a great show but still it was awesome.  Oh yeah the fishing....

So as we start in the morning, Doug hammers a nice burbot.  But in Lake Louise ya gotta let them go so back down the hole it went.  After that absolutely nothing.    Around 2pm as we are getting bored my rod almost gets jerked out of my hands and the battle is on!  Well it wasn't much of a battle.  I thought maybe I had fallen asleep and got my line stuck on the ice.  It just didn't move. So I set the hook to see what the deal is and you fell the line slowly start to move.  Oh yeah, fish on!!!   Hmm...maybe its a big burbot because it's just slowly moving off.   About that time the fish goes into over drive and my fly reel is just screaming.   It never did stop and after 100 yard of line came off my spool, the hook fell out!   WHAT! NO!!!!!!!!!  Gosh darn it!! Oh I just felt nauseous after that.  It was by FAR the heaviest fish I have EVER felt under the ice.  Who knows 8 pounds or 30 pounds...but it was HEAVY!!!  DANG IT! DANG IT! DANG IT! DANG IT!!!!!!!!  I can't believe the hook pulled out as it was running away from me.  I had good tension, the drag was working well.  I think the half ounce and three quarter ounce jigs may be a tad small for the big lakers.  Well despite the fact that I lost the big one, it sure was good motivation!!!  I am definitely gonna get back there again real soon!  30 below or not!!!  When you can hammer the fish the size of King Salmon through the ice, now THAT is ice fishing!

Don't forget your licenses! Especially right after the New Year!  We were checked by Fish & Game even before we had our holes done.  That's a good thing!   These fish take forever to get to any size due to the cold water.  Better enforcement just means better fishing for all of us.  I didn't put any fish on the ice at all the whole weekend and it still was a great time.  Now I just need to hammer a 20 pounder and it will be even a better time!  To sweet.  Got some quality hours of ice fishing in, tested my cold weather winter camping gear, and had a lot of fun!  Too cool!!!!! ...but never too cold to go fishing!!!!

December 1 to 9, Big Lake update.  Rainbows and Dollies

Okay someone come kick me.  I have been so busy getting myself unburied from all my time overseas that I just haven't been able to get out fishing.  To make matters worse, all my friends seem occupied with moose hunting or work of their own so I haven't had anyone to gout fishing with.  Well the good news is that I have a few avid fisherman that I know through my web pages that constantly send me updates.  Thanks to Chris and Tony, I have a few good updates for you about Big Lake.  According to the two guys Big Lake seems to be producing some nice fish and in decent quantities.   Even though it seems hit or miss, these two guys have been catching fish.   I've posted  few of the pictures Chris sent to me here so I can get more motivated to get out! Click on the image to get a larger picture. Thanks Chris!

BigLakeCharChrissmall.JPG (9397 bytes)garysmall.JPG (12464 bytes)It seems that   Big Lake has enough ice that some brave souls are actually driving on it already.  Still it seems just a wee bit thin at the reported 12 inches to take my truck out onto the lake.  Both guys report nice catches of rainbows and Dollies.  December is probably the best ice fishing on Big Lake.  As the season progresses, the rainbows seem to go off the bite thought the dollies will continue to hit.

We are going to try and make it out to Lake Louise this weekend.  The weather forecast is for COLD, predicting lows of 25 to 30 below or so for the weekend.   Still we can't resist the urge to try and hammer a few big lakers early in the year.  While the action never seems super hot, the thought of pulling up a 16 pounder thought the ice like Martin did last year has us all getting our gear ready days in advance.  We'll see what the report is like.

November 18, Matsu Valley Lake.  Rainbows and Dollies

Well I finally get back from another trip to Japan....whew!  I guess its okay since there was more snow in the part of Japan I was in than in Alaska!  Oh well, winter is long, I guess I can wait a little bit longer....

Well before I took off I did get one more ice fishing trip, but it was nothing but rain, rain, rain....major bummer!  Still the ice was good so off we head to a small lake.  Even though it rained on Douggie and I all day, we found 4 inches of good ice waiting for us.  We got a late start getting on the ice about 2:30pm.  Since its getting dark around 5pm already, that gave us a few hours of fishing.  Still at first we caught nothing.  In fact when I finally started to get a few hits at around 3:30pm, Doug thought I was just pulling his leg until a bobber suddenly disappears and the battle is on!  After about a 10 minute struggle, I manage a beautiful football shaped rainbow of about 19 inches. Alright!  But the optimistic attitude is short lived since we barely get another hit for the next hour or so.  As it started getting dark, we were just about ready to pack it in when all the sudden the bobbers and rods just start going crazy!  The funny thing was that on this lake we catch maybe 5 rainbows for every Dolly.  But as it got dark, it was obviously the dollies that were on the feeding spree.   As it got darker and darker the hits began to increase.   We managed 7 or 8 more fish in a 30 minute span with all of them dollies in the 14 to 18 inch class and only one rainbow of about 16 inches.  We finally gave up after it just got too dark to see anything around 5pm and like fools we forgot any kind of light source.  I even had a nice dolly on my rod as we picked up our gear when it was pitch black.  We caught all of our fish on single eggs suspended on an ultralight pre rigged owner hooks I bought in Japan.  Using ultralight line is a blast for these fish.  even the 14 inch fish felt like monsters!  Loads of fun.

I'm looking forward to this weekend when our group is planning an early season shot to lake Louise to see if can't manage another 16 pound lake trout like Martin caught in April of this year.  While the weather has been wet, warm and miserable in Anchorage, a quick check of the weather showed a nice -15 degrees Fahrenheit in the Lake Louise area.   We are going to do an overnighter so I need to break out all my heavy duty winter gear.  Should be a blast!

I also got an email from another fishing buddy saying he has caught fish on Big Lake through the ice.  be careful if you go though, I have also heard reports of open water on some areas of Big Lake.  Always remember..SAFETY FIRST!

November 4, Matsu Valley Lake.  First ice fishing trip of the season!

Another chapter in the fishing logs....the winter season has begun!  Summers are great here in Alaska, but the winter is my favorite season.  Lots to do, its beautiful, peaceful, no crowds, no bears, no rain, no mosquitoes, and plenty of fishing!

Well we found good ice on a small lake in the Mat-Su valley.  There was a solid 3 inches of ice.  We chiseled our way through and it was really more work than we wanted to do.  Still there was a layer of light snow so you didn't have to worry about the fish seeing you like in the past few years.

We tried lures and bait and the clear winner on this trip was single eggs or small bits of roe suspended on a ultralight snelled hook under a bobber.  Using 3lbs line, it was a challenge in pulling up a few of the big rainbows we hooked in the 18inch class.   The rainbows were fat and stocky and with the ultralight gear it would easily take 10 minutes to land a single fish.  The action wasn't hot but we had strikes relatively consistently. The best time seemed to be around noon and 3pm.  I would say the rainbows averaged about 14 inches with the big ones going 18 inches or a bit more.   We've caught a few fish over 20 inches from this stocked lake.  I also caught a nice bright dollie of about 16 inches.  We kept a few of the smaller ones to fry up and let all of the big ones go.

Be careful, the lake right next to us was open.  We knew from experience the lake we are on freezes early.  We also went in pairs and was VERY careful until we deemed our area safe!  It is NO fun to go through the ice. Fishing is great but its not worth dying over!  Be safe, go prepared, and be willing to say "no" if you think it is not 100% safe.


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