King salmon fishing in the Mat-Su Valley is hitting its peak, and there are many opportunities for you to land a lunker, even if you don't have a lot of experience. King salmon are prized not only for their meat, but also the experience of catching such a mighty fish.
The state record for king salmon is just over 99 pounds, but locally in the Mat-Su Valley, you'll find more fish in the 20- to 30-pound range. Still, king salmon put up quite a fight!
One of the most popular fisheries in the Mat-Su Valley is Eklutna Tailrace, located on the Old Glenn Highway. This fishery is easy to access, and is the closest to the core area of Palmer/Wasilla. Early morning hours is the best time to target salmon.
If you don't have a boat, there are still options - the Parks Highway streams including Willow, Little Willow, Caswell and Montana creeks offer road-accessible fishing that is quite productive. Make sure you check out the regulations, however, as many of these are weekend-only fisheries.
Your best bets for king salmon fishing is the Deshka River (near Willow) and the Little Susitna River. You need a boat to access the Deshka, and while you can walk in to the Little Susitna via Burma Road or Miller's Reach, a boat greatly increases your opportunities. The same thing goes with fishing the Talkeetna River, which should peak in a few weeks. If you don't have a boat, don't worry - there are a number of reputable guides who are experts on the river.
Going with a guide greatly increases your chances of catching a king salmon. Guides spend the entire summer working hot spots, different lures and baits, and they are dialed in to what works. A guide is a valuable resource if you are only looking to go fishing once or twice a year. You can find a complete list of recommended guides here.
Grab a rod and reel and head out to the Mat-Su Valley this weekend - you may be rewarded with a fresh king salmon fillet on the grill!