Deshka River, Alaska: Silver Salmon Run

Silver (Coho) Salmon Run

I have written quite a bit about fishing trips lately. This is a special one though. This is after a long time I have been away on a trip on my own without the family just for recreational purposes. For anyone with young family, they will understand how important this is, and how difficult it is for your respective spouses! I am deeply thankful to my wife that I could do it. Also of note, that this was a regular weekend trip, an absolutely random weekend around Aug 12-15, 2021 when I did this trip. Why? Because it is about a Salmon Run. Salmon will go when it is time for them to go in certain part of a river. I have never fished for Silver (coho) Salmon before and always wanted to try it.

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Deshka River, Matt, Owen & Ty casting towards the far bank!

That image above in Deshka River. When my friend Matt and his two kids Owen and Tyler is casting their spinning rods for Silver Salmon. It is in the Susitna Valley of Alaska. There is no road. The only way we can get there in my boat from Deshka Landing, AK (at this time of the year). When it is frozen over, you can of course use a snowmobile. Deshka is a tributary of Susitna River which drans out at Cook Inlet just north of Anchorage.

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My evening flight from IAH to ANC with screenshot taken when I was over Oregon-Washington

I typically fly United Airlines (which sucks, but I don't have a choice out of IAH) to Anchorage. This is a flight I have taken often both for work and for recreational purposes. It takes about 8 hours, so it a equivalent to flying to Europe. Therefore over the weekend it is a rahter long flight to take. However, it has to be August. Please take a look at the chart from Alaska department of fish and game. You will see August is the time when Silver (coho) Salmon moves over these streams to their nesting spots. On the way, is the ideal time for fishing.


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Typical Salmon Run times in Deshka and Little Susitna Rivers

Deshka River

I decided to meet my friend Matt, which is a local, and arrange a boat trip to Deshka River. The way it works that you start from the Deshka Landing, which is a major boat ramp west of the town of Willow, AK.

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I marked Deshka Landing in red and highlighted the Deshka River. It is a massive roadless area to the west of the Park's Highways which connects Anchorange to the Denali National Park. The these trips works, is that you must get up crack of dawn (3:30AM!) and drive about 45 min to Deshka Landing to meet at 5 AM. Out Fishing Guide Cody was waiting there with his boat, and I met Matt and his two kids at the same time. It takes about 1.5 hours to get enough upstream to Deshka to get to proper fishing holes.

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Matt and Owen enjoying the cold boat ride

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Guys working hard! :)

Trust me, they may look a rag-ag batch, but they are kind and wonderful people! Then, it is quite simple. We fished. I must say, this was not very easy fishing in Alaskan standard. The water was high so, most of the landmarks were gone and it is not easy to find the right spots.

Fishing Set Up

Here the set up is simple, a bobber, and some salmon row (eggs) on a simple egg loop knot over the hook. That's about it. The water is fast moving here and like dark glass. This is because the marshy nature of the bottom and the headland of Deshka River. We fished both from the boat and from various gravel banks.

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In the end, the fishing was quite good! There is 3 fish per person limit here, so that is the max one can fish.

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Silver Salmon, at least on this particular day, was not easy to hook. It took us more than 5 hours of hard work to finish our quota, normally in Alaska, I am used to catching 10 times that many fish in 5 hours. But the struggle made it fun honestly, and the river was beautiful. I am looking foward to go back there again next season.

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