Camping and Fishing for King Salmon on the Little Susitna River + Video

Alaska king salmon are a prized catch among anglers and the Little Susitna River in the Mat-Su Valley is our destination to try to catch one.  We are taking a fishing charter that conveniently starts from the Little Susitna Public Use Area [also known as Burma Landing] where there is a boat launch with a nice little campground for our motorhome.

Unfortunately, king salmon numbers are not as strong as they once were, making the prize even greater.  I have always wanted to return to the Little Susitna River, back in 2007 I guided anglers there to catching their own king salmon.  Did you know that I have never reeled in a king salmon myself?  It may sound ironic, especially since I was an Alaska fishing guide for years.  Surprisingly, there are many captains and guides that never get to go fishing on their own.

One of my fishing clients and his king salmon.
One of my fishing clients and his king salmon.

The last 5 miles to Burma Landing will make everything in your motorhome rattle.  It’s the type of gravel road that’s intolerable at 10 mph, but smooths out when you reach 40 mph, be careful not to lose control by going too fast.  We pulled into our campsite the evening before our fishing trip.  Conveniently, there is a short walkway from the campground down to the launch ramp.  We set up camp and had a relaxing evening, watching DVD episodes of Entourage.

The small, but nice campsites at Burma Landing.
The small, but nice campsites at Burma Landing.

Bright and early the following morning [5 am and another reason we camped there the night  before] we meet our friend Ray from Fisherman’s Choice at the launch ramp.   Back in 2007, I spent a summer working for Ray, he taught me how to catch salmon on the rivers in the Mat-Su Valley.

The lower stretches of the Little Su River slowly meander through the woods until it reaches Cook Inlet.  The technique of choice for catching king salmon here is back trolling plugs through one of Ray’s many fishing holes.  Back trolling is accomplished by pointing the bow of the boat up river and slowing the drift of boat (with oars or a small motor) just enough to slowly back KwikFish Plugs through the fishing holes.

Ray precisely backs the boat through the fishing holes and does a great job of avoiding the countless submerged snags.  He can do this because he’s been fishing in the Valley for over 30 years and is one of the best fishing guides around.

Our boat mates were four Naval Aviators from Texas.  They were visiting Alaska to participate in Northern Edge, a joint military training exercise that takes place in the Gulf of Alaska.  We always enjoy fishing with those who dedicate their life to protecting our country, every year in Seward we participate in the Combat Fishing Tournament by taking soldiers out fishing.  Our boat mates.

On this random day the fishing was great, but the catching was a little slow.  Ray backed us through over a dozen holes in hopes of finding the mighty kings.  From past experiences, I knew the Little Su usually produces quality fish over quantity of fish and catching 6 kings for 6 anglers was a rare occurrence.  I also know when it comes to salmon fishing in the rivers the fish are either there or they are not, and one day can change everything.  Needless to say we didn’t catch any kings this day, but we were not alone, most of the boats on the water this morning were also unsuccessful in catching kings.

Watch our video from the trip!

Campground Tips:  The campsites at Burma Landing have to be some of the smallest I have ever seen.  They are so small, a Subaru with its mirrors folded in would barely fit in the designated space.  Here’s some advice, just get 2 sites, especially if you are in a motorhome.  If you have slides and plan on using your awning you might even need 3 sites.  The sites are cheap, only costing $10 per night.   The campground host is friendly and takes his job very seriously, so you better be within those invisible lines marking the mini campsites.  

If you want to fish for salmon in the Mat-Su Valley we highly recommend fishing with Ray from Fisherman’s Choice.  Their operation is mobile so they can follow the fish, if the fishing is better on the Deshka they move the boats up there.  All of the rivers they fish are RV friendly with campgrounds on site or really close by.  Reuniting with an old friend is always fun and fishing with one is even better.

Although the fee for this trip was waived, our opinions are genuine and not for sale.



Leave a Reply