This confluence is one of the most popular fisheries in South Central Alaska. Located about 60 miles north of Anchorage on the Parks Highway, it offers excellent fishing for four of the major salmon species: kings, silvers, chums and pinks. It also features big rainbows (up to 30 inches) and Dolly Varden, as well as Arctic Grayling. You’ll also find, in small numbers, burbot and whitefish.
Keep an Eye on the Rules
Thanks to the combination of excellent fishing and easy access—you’ll find a large parking lot for cars and RVs, plenty of restrooms and an easy trail system—this area can get very crowded, even shoulder-to-shoulder, during the peak fishing season. It’s also one of the most regulated fishing areas around— so keep an eye out for emergency fishing orders.
Fishing When “School’s” In
Kings and silvers are the most popular fish here: kings peak from mid-June to early July, and silvers in August. Both species will have large schools of fish hold in the confluence area before making a push up Willow Creek. One they start to move up the creek, they move pretty swiftly. The best time to catch a bright fish—as in, fresh and not spawned—is when the school is at the confluence. As soon as they move up the creek, the spawning process happens quickly.
Customize Your Gear
If you’re here during springtime for rainbow trout, flesh flies and beads will be your most effective gear. Your salmon technique here will vary, depending on the current regulations and water conditions. In recent years, emergency orders have prohibited the use of bait, and restricted anglers to single hook and artificial lures. This limits you to lures and flies, but those are still pretty effective for catching salmon. Keep in mind that the Susitna is murky, and the Willow tends to be clear. When fishing in murky waters, use bright colors. When fishing in clear waters, use muted colors. When the water is super clear in Willow Creek, sight fishing can be a great experience.
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