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Alaska fishing: Matanuska & Susitna area

Northern Cook Inlet area map


This is an expansive region that offers a great variety of fish to anglers who pursue opportunities via highway access, lakeside settings, or guided excursions. Its diverse recreational opportunities encompass major drainages that flow into Cook Inlet close to urban and moderately remote settings. All five species of Pacific salmon enter this area including good runs of king and coho salmon. There are excellent offerings of rainbow trout, whitefish, Dolly Varden char, Arctic grayling and northern pike, and to a limited extent, burbot, lake trout, and even hooligan. The most aggressive stocking program in the state occurs here in over 90 lakes, and anglers who take to them will even find landlocked cohos and kings as well as others. Most of these fisheries are easily accessible by road or jet boat with the exception of the west side of the inlet that can be reached only by boat or aircraft. All opportunities are in fresh water.


Area Sponsor

If you are a Northern Cook Inlet provider of services or goods for sport fishermen, we invite you to advertise in this space.  We want to provide both additional information about fishing and an opportunity for you to make people aware of what you do.  We can take up to 125 words.  We will work with you on the exact wording so that it provides information for those who read and helps you at the same time.  The text can include your website address and other contact information.  We would like to display one of your best photos in this space -- we want to illustrate area fishing and at the same time show what you are doing. If you would like to sponsor this page, please contact Pam at 1.907.895-4919;  9 - 5 Alaska time.   The cost is only $96 for one year.


This management area encompasses over 35,000 square miles (56,330 km2). It is dominated by the Susitna River that flows almost 200 miles (322 km) before it enters Cook Inlet near Anchorage. To the north, the terrain is characterized by the glacial valleys created by the glaciers in the Alaska and Talkeetna mountains. To a lesser extent, even Knik Arm plays a role in this drainage system. About 60% of the state’s population resides within or adjacent to this area. Major communities include Wasilla, Palmer, Talkeetna, Willow and Houston. Anchorage borders this area, but due to the immense size of this region, much of the fishery is sparsely used.  However, more easily accessible portions of the area are heavily fished.

Road System

The George Parks Highway connects Anchorage and Fairbanks and runs almost parallel to the Susitna river. This paved route traverses many smaller rivers and streams that flow into these tributaries along the highway system. Anglers who elect to fish from the highway will find just about any convenience needed. Accommodations vary from roadside motels to lodges and campgrounds. Shopping and dining opportunities dot the entire roadway, and numerous smaller pathways lead to many angling locations. The ease of being able to pull of the road and fish can result in crowded conditions especially during peak salmon runs.  Reservations are advised at overnight accommodations. Many opportunities exist for those who wish to escape the crowds. Lakes generally receive little pressure and can be productive. Excursions by raft or jet boat provide services for those who seek serenity. Even a moderate hike away from easily accessible areas opens up space for the angler.

Best freshwater fishing times in the Northern Cook Inlet (ADF&G data)




King salmon

May through August

June and July

Coho (silver) salmon

July through September


Sockeye (red) salmon

June through September

July and August

Chum salmon

July  through September

July and August

Pink salmon

July and August


Dolly Varden Char

all year

July through October

Rainbow trout

all year

August through October

Lake trout

all year

May and June, September and October

Northern pike

May and June, September and October

June through September


all year

January and December


all year

April through June, August through October

Hooligan (smelt)

April and May

April and May


all year

all year

Sockeye (red) salmon -- one of the many fishing options in these waters.

Click for Wasilla, Alaska Forecast


Anchorage is the gateway to this region. Daily flights arrive here from various North American, Asian, and European destinations. Even the AlCan Highway can bring travelers to this area from the Lower 48. Anglers who wish to penetrate the more remote locations in the region can find services offered in the services directory on this website.


Weather is similar to that of the Rocky Mountains. Summer find highs in the mid-70’s F (21 C) to lows reaching the mid-50’s F (13 C). Shoulder months are proportionately cooler. Rainfall averages about 20 inches (51 cm) per year. Layer dressing is always the norm. Visitors are advised to bring adequate bug protection, although insects are not always a major problem.

Matanuska / Susitna / West Cook Inlet  Sponsors


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directory listings

Destination Information Resources

You can find information about this area in a variety of places on the web.  The Matanuska-Susitna Convention and Visitors Bureau has a useful website. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Sport Fish has specific pages with valuable information for silver salmon, king salmon, and fishing the lakes in the Northern Cook Inlet.

Current fishing report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (updated regularly during the summer months)

 Northern Cook Inlet Fishing Report

Magazine articles about Northern Cook Inlet fishing

Alaska Fishing: Location and Times
Pre-Taxidermy Care of Trophy Fish

Representative Alaska fishing forum threads about Northern Cook Inlet Fishing

North Cook Inlet Rivers
Fishing the Talachulitna River
Susitna River Kings
MatSu Ice Fishing
Willow, Wasilla, Palmer Area Lakes

Forum search on "Matanuska Susitna fishing"

Search Google for area fishing information on


Useful books and videos about Northern Cook Inlet fishing

How to Catch Trophy Halibut
Sportfishing Alaska
Fly Patterns of Alaska
The Secrets of Fishing Alaska Your Way
Alaska Fishing


Internet sites offered by ADF&G are very specific to the numerous opportunities in this area. Start by going to the Sport Fish Division pages for this area, and then investigate. Much that you need to know about the Anchorage gateway can be found at The Anchorage Daily News contains fishing reports during the summer in addition to normal news.

Search the Alaska Outdoors Supersite for fishing information

Area Descriptions for Southcentral Alaska

Anchorage fishing
Cordova fishing
Homer fishing

Kenai fishing
Kodiak fishing
Matanuska/Susitna/West Cook Inlet fishing
Prince William Sound fishing
Seward fishing
Upper Copper / Upper Susitna area fishing
Valdez fishing

Whittier Fishing

Area Descriptions for other regions of the state

Arctic, Yukon and Kuskokwim


Where next on


Boating areas, Southeast Alaska fishing areas, southcentral Alaska fishing areas 

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