USGS Stream Data

Kenai Rvr @ CooperLndg

  • Water Temp: 46.22 ° F
  • Flow: 6080 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 10.44 ft

Middle Kenai @ Skilak

  • Flow: 13000 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 11.31 ft

Talkeetna Rvr

  • Water Temp: 55.4 ° F
  • Flow: 8340 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 5.93 ft

Situk Rvr

  • Water Temp: 57.56 ° F
  • Flow: 248 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 65.66 ft
Ask About Fly Fishing

Knik Lake Outing

Finally! We are out on a lake again. Lance & I use to fish lakes all the time. We both have float tubes, and when he lived in Wasilla we’d often spend an evening fishing one of the local lakes. But then life changed; Lance ended up out of state for a few years, my float tube didn’t get unpacked from winter storage the next year (and the next, and the next …), and my fishing life morphed away from float tubing. But this year, we’ve decided to make an effort to get back onto our local lakes. They’re close enough for an evening of fishing; most of the time you can find some action and every once in a while you can get into some really nice fish.

Lance after launch.

Lance after launch.

Knik Lake was our first outing. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we picked Saturday night to minimize the holiday traffic and late afternoon to fish into the twilight hours (as much as we get in late May). We had decided to take our pontoon rafts instead of float tubes. We both were curious about how they would handle on lakes. (Pros & cons below.) Our 3PM start was delayed a bit by Murphy; but we were on the road by 5:30PM. It’s a bit over an hour drive from my house, and it took us about thirty minutes to get prepped and in the water. The sun was low, and orange-red from smoke from the Funny River fire a couple hundred miles away. We still had plenty of light; we just were not going to be able to cover more than one area.


Fishing right off the point.

Lance wanted to fish the small cove at the Public Access. It drops off fast and has held fish in the past. He headed to the left and I start off to the right. The pontoon boats don’t do too badly with flippers. It’s a shallow kick, which I had to get used to, but in just a short time I was able to keep the boat parallel to the shoreline, within a long cast of the bank. Lance had a hit within 5 minutes. He had rigged up an intermediate line, a sinking leader, and a #8 olive, conehead, Woolly Bugger, with some flash. (I know… it’s a lot of adjectives, but it’s fly fishing.) He was casting towards shore and retrieving back into the deeper water with short twitches. I had decided on an unweighted bunny leech in claret on a floating line. I fished for a little while longer before deciding it was time to change flies. By then Lance had landed a few fish and had been hit by even more as he had working his way to the point. Most were in the 7 to 10” size, but a couple had been bigger.

Average size fish Lance was catching.

Average size fish Lance was catching.

I had a #6 beadhead Woolly Bugger in claret/black in my box. Still locked into the leech channel, I figured it should work; I just needed to get it down a bit. Nada – zip – snake eyes. Well, I thought,  evidently there were no fish where I was so I decided to head over to the other side of the point Lance was working. This is where I gave the flipper powered pontoon boat a real test. I trolled a Turk’s Tarantula (a type of muddler) across the open water to the point; no takers. The water on the back side of the point went deep fast. I lost the bottom about fifteen feet out from shore. I re-tied the claret/black Woolly Bugger back on (remember, I get lock-brain sometimes), and added a split shot at the tippet knot; nasty to cast, but good at getting deep fast. I finally decide that it’s my fly choice that is bad. I’ve been casting and retrieving for almost 30 minutes, and this time I know there’s fish around.

Small Adult Chironomid "Midge"

Small Adult Chironomid “Midge”

The occasional one is jumping at some small midges that seem to be coming off sporadically all around where I’m fishing. Looking through my boxes, the best I can come up with is a Pearl Marabou Smolt; at least it has olive marabou. I add a “B” shot just above the loop. Maybe a little jigging action will help. It sure hasn’t hurt Lance’s action. Less than ten casts later I’m into a 7” stocker. And it’s a good thing; sometimes you just need a fish. Over the next hour I manage to hook three more fish, one a whopping 10” or larger. By then the sun was starting to set into the trees and the air had picked up a chill. We decided to call it a night as we still had almost two hours before we’d be getting home. Lance had a one-fly trip, he had started right and out fished me at least 4 to 1. I got stuck in a rut, and it wasn’t until I was willing to jump out that I managed to tag fish. There’s a lesson there.

Sunset over the cove.

Sunset over the cove.

As we were loading the rafts onto the trailer I took one last look back over the lake. The sun was deep into the smoky horizon, deep orangy-red, and reflecting through the trees on the cove. It had been a good evening; it was good to be back on still water.


Some thoughts on the pontoon boats: As with most things there are pros & cons.

As the cons are few, I’ll start with them. The pontoons are like a foam coffee cup on the lake; it doesn’t take much wind to start pushing you around. They’re not as maneuverable as a float tube (I was trying to photograph the midge on the water); I was a lot of work to get the raft into the position I needed. A tube I can spin on a dime. (This may not be much of a consideration for actual fishing.) You need a stripping basket or apron; there are a ton of things for your line to snag on and wrap around. I will definitely have some sort of basket for my line next trip. Weight can become a factor. I wouldn’t want to pack my pontoon boat very far. Some lakes have limited access that would preclude being able to just pull up with a trailer. However, for me, the pros out weight the cons for most lake fishing situations. Casting seemed to be a bit easier from the higher raft seat. I’ll have to use a tube again to make sure, but I didn’t seem to have any of the fatigue I remember with a float tube. Being high and dry, with only the lower parts of my legs in the water was a plus. Our water is cold, and I remember leaks in places I didn’t appreciate while sitting in the water in my tube. I mentioned the shallow kick from the higher seat. This is a break-even point for me. The shallow kick was perfect for a slow troll and minor course corrections, but not good for moving from spot to spot. The ability to row from Point A to Point B is huge for me. Put your feet (and flippers) on the pegs and you can cover some water. Rowing will also be beneficial when I need to travel over very shallow water. I never liked kicking through water that wasn’t deep enough for a tube.

Overall, unless I’m going to be dealing with wind, or a long haul to the lake, my pontoon boat will be my first choice for fishing still waters.


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