On a summer vacation to Alaska in the early 2000s my son and I spent a few days in Talkeetna, AK which was also a stop on our latest vacation in 2021. On the prior visit to Talkeetna, we discovered that Montana Creek is an excellent spot for fishing. In summer, the salmon are so thick catching them often requires no bait.
The Montana Creek Campground and General Store is located on the George Parks Highway from Anchorage just before the turn off for Talkeetna. It is only about 20 minutes from the village. These are scanned photos from the earlier trip unless otherwise designated.
At the store we rented a rod and reel and bought bait and lures. It was only about a half mile hike along Montana Creek to get to the Susitna River (Big Su). What makes this spot so good for fishing is salmon congregate at Montana Creek to clean out their gills. The Big Su, a glacier-fed river, is loaded with silt. Glaciers are not the source of Montana Creek. Its waters are clear.
At times, the mouth of the creek was so thick with salmon that catching one only required throwing in an unbaited hook and reeling it in. “Snagging” as it is called is generally illegal in freshwater, but we were told that it was okay for kids. I didn’t fish because I didn’t have a license and fishing is not a personal favorite. Licenses aren’t required for Alaskans under 18 and non residents under 16.
Alex snagged and released a few salmon on the Big Su. Later we moved to a spot on the creek and fished with bait. Montana Creek is famous for grayling, rainbow trout, dolly varden, king salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon and other varieties.
Fishing the creek with bait was also a breeze. Clear shallow water made it fairly easy to spot fish, and the salmon were eager to take the bait.
Alex caught a lot of fish in a couple of hours. We released all but two.
Salmon did a lot of thrashing trying to get off the hook. Alex was generally successful in landing them.
Removing the hook without further injuring the fish was the hard part.
People spread out along the creek taking advantage of the great fishing and delightful weather. Grizzly bears are also fond of fishing here. We were told that if bears show up they should be given a wide berth. That is one bit of fishing advice I would have figured out on my own.
Although the store at the campground provides freezing and packing service, we kept only a couple of fish and gave them to the people in the office at our cabin in Talkeetna.
Montana Creek was the perfect fishing spot for us. It was close to Talkeetna. We could rent gear. Fish were so plentiful and easy to catch that success and a lot of fun were guaranteed even for someone like me who knew little about fishing.
Please share in the comments any other places you know of where a fishing novice can have great success with such little effort.