Pink salmon are far from the most desired salmon in Alaska's streams, but they also provide a great opportunity to get out and test your hand fly fishing in Susitna Valley streams.
Last week, I was joined by a college friend from 25 years ago who wanted to do some Alaska salmon fishing. We loaded up the car with our fly fishing gear, hooked into the raft and headed north to Willow Creek, where pinks were just starting to show up. Unlike many who target salmon, we weren't there to fill a cooler with fresh fillets of silvers - we were there to enjoy the great outdoors, and we were not disappointed.
Willow Creek is great for the roadside angler because access is easy from the Willow Creek Campground. You can simply walk to the mouth of the creek and start casting, or for better fishing opportunities, hike upstream a bit and have more elbow room. The creek is also ideal for raft fishing - you can put in at the Parks Highway bridge and float to the mouth for salmon, or go to the upper part of the creek to target rainbow trout.
The sheer number of pinks in the creek meant it wasn't long between casts before you felt the tug on the other end. For us, it was the perfect time - we had a chance to catch up on old stories, share new memories and let nature slow the pace of our hectic lives. But pink salmon fishing is also perfect for introducing a child to fishing, and outdoor stewardship.
Pinks may not be the species that most anglers target when they think of Alaska fishing, but for one week, they provided everything I had hoped for.