The rivers, lakes and streams in the Mat-Su are home to numerous species of fish including five species of salmon, trout, grayling, char, Dolly Varden, burbot, sticklebacks, lamprey, burbot and eulachon. These fish are important food sources for Alaskans and the many wildlife species that depend on them. For information about fish species and fishing opportunities in the Mat-Su, contact Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Palmer office.
Learn why the Mat-Su is known as the "stillwater fishing capital of Alaska".
Watch and learn how to fish the Mat-Su Stillwater Fishing Capital of Alaska:
Part 1 Video
Part 2 Video
The MSB Fish and Wildlife Commission, formerly the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Sportsmen's Committee, was formed in February 2007 to represent the interests of the Borough in the conservation and allocation of fish, wildlife and habitat.
The commission advises the MSB Assembly and the State of Alaska Boards of Fish and Game regarding fish and wildlife practices and policies that affect the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
The commission consists of eight representatives from the following segments of the community:
Visit https://www.matsugov.us/boards/fishcommission for more information about upcoming meetings
A statewide group has been working to develop plans on how to responsibly conduct sport, personal use, and guided sport fishing activities in a safe fashion during the COVID-19 pandemic. FWC member Andy Couch was the Mat-Su representative to this work group.
For details on how to fish safely this year or run a fishing business responsibly, please review the materials at https://www.krsa.com/covid-19
The MSB Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), a public commission formed in 2007, represents the interest of the Borough in the conservation and allocation of fish, wildlife, and habitat.
The FWC had five proposals before the Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) for consideration at their February 7-17, 2020, Upper Cook Inlet Finfish meeting at the Egan Center in Anchorage. These proposals were designed to return more salmon to MSB waters, You can read more about the proposals here:
Proposal 133: Central District Drift Gillnet Fishery Management Plan.
Proposal 199: Northern District King Salmon Management Plan.
Proposal 215: Create a Susitna and Yentna Rivers King Salmon Fishery Mgmt. Plan.
Proposal 217: Create a Deshka River King Salmon Fishery Mgmt. Plan.
Proposal 219: Create a Little Susitna River King Salmon Fishery Mgmt. Plan.
Salmon fishing in the Mat-Su has long been a popular and important activity enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Recent economic studies show that salmon fishing in the Mat-Su has a huge economic impact, but angler effort and economic impact has been declining as salmon returns to local streams have declined. The FWC proposals submitted to the BOF for consideration, especially Proposal 133, are designed to increase salmon returns and the benefits they bring to the Mat-Su economy and residents.
The MSB FWC would like to thank the many partners, allies, staff, and the public who spoke up in support of returning more salmon to the Mat-Su using science-based proposals and rationales. The FWC's goals for the 2020 BOF were met, and we are full of gratitude - thank you.
More information (Websites):
Learn more about the FWC's work at the BOF in February 2020:
Interact with our GIS Story Map detailing this project, rationale and results.
MSB Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Larry Engel's presentation on Mat-Su salmon fisheries issues: LINK
Please contact Ted Eischeid, MSB Planner II, staff liaison for the FWC:
It Takes Fish to Make Fish a booklet prepared by the MSB FWC to:
Check out the booklet by clicking here.
Experience the Story Map that uses images to make the case for our BOF proposals: https://www.matsugov.us/bof
Two economic studies examined the economic impacts of sportfishing in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough using similar methodologies in 2007 and 2017. Sportfishing had a large economic impact in both studies, but showed significant declines from 2007 to 2017 as follows:
Takeaway: Sportfishing has an important economic impact in the Mat-Su Borough, but recent economic declines indicates the importance of returning salmon to their natal streams in the borough, while offering sportfishing opportunities for residents and visitors alike.
Visual: See the vibrant Mat-Su through these images: https://youtu.be/VJXkiEd4Bjc
The Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership was formed in 2005 to connect organizations, agencies, and individuals who want to better understand, enhance, and preserve salmon habitat in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The Partnership, a diverse group with over 60 organizations, is part of a broader network of fish habitat partnerships in the U.S., and one of three recognized fish habitat partnerships in Alaska. As such, it is inspired by the approach outlined by the National Fish Habitat Partnership's mission to protect, restore, and enhance the nation's fish and aquatic communities through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve the quality of life for the American people. The Mat-Su Borough is a member of the Salmon Habitat Partnership.
Notable events sponsored by the MSBSHP:
Learn more here: https://www.matsusalmon.org/
Culverts that carry water under highways, neighborhood roads and driveways can impede the passage of fish to their spawning and rearing habitats if not adequately sized or properly installed. The Mat-Su Borough, in partnership with ADF&G, US Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations has an ongoing program to identify and replace culverts that block fish passage. As an example of progress made, in 2008, 39% of the culverts in the core area of the Mat-Su were identified as inadequate to pass juvenile fish, 41% as marginal, 9% restored and only 11% classified as adequate. By 2017, after several years of restoration projects, 16% of the culverts had been restored and 33% were adequate for fish passage (see 2017 map to the right), improvements of 5% and 22%, respectively, over that nine year period.
As of March, 2021, over 100 culverts have been made passable through the fish passage program since 2001, and the work continues today. This effort has opened up significant amount of waterway to fish including over 66 stream miles and 6,224 lake acres of fish habitat. This effort represents a conservative investment of over $20 million into fish passage. The Mat-Su Borough and its partners have been given national recognition for this work that improves infrastructure while adding fish habitat to the borough.
In 2013, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly adopted construction standards for design and installation of culverts to provide for adequate fish passage (Ord 13-097). Any new roads that cross anadromous (salmon) streams, must be constructed according to MSB standards for culvert design and installation. This fish passage priority is also reflected in the Assembly approved Subdivision Construction Manual (Ord. 20-015).
For more information about culvert construction standards and fish passage restoration projects, contact MSB Public Works, Jim Jensen (861-7752) or Alex Senta (861-7763).
For a dynamic video showing an example of one of our fish passage projects, visit this LINK.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough received a grant of $2.5 million in FY 2014 from the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The grant directed $900,000 to removal of culvert fish passage barriers. The remaining $1.6 million were directed to research planning and projects.
Develop a strategic plan that provides guidance to partners and governing agencies regarding information needed to manage, protect and improve Upper Cook Inlet salmon stocks for optimum benefits while maintaining biological productivity and diversity. The plan will be used to identify projects for funding with Borough grant funds and other state and federal funds that may become available in the future. These are the Projects that support the plan.
• Information Inventory and Gap Analysis: A report was prepared documenting and indexing the state of knowledge regarding Mat-Su salmon status, fisheries, and the ecosystem.
• Stakeholder workshop: Used to identify and prioritize research, monitoring and evaluation issues and options for filling knowledge gaps.
• Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Plan: Details project mission, scope, methods, goals, objectives, issues, options and priorities.
[project articles added]
· Economic Contributions of Sportfishing in Cook Inlet
· Coho Genetics for the Yentna River
· Conditions of Temperature Sensitive Streams
· Alexander Creek Pike Suppression
· Beaver Dams, Fish Passage & Stream Ecology
· Coho Genetic Stock Identification
· Fishing Depths of ESSN Setnets
· Jim Creek Coho Salmon Weir
· Juvenile Salmon Monitoring
· Pike Eradication in Cottonwood Creek
· Shell Lake Sockeye Salmon Monitoring
· Alexander Lake Elodea Eradication
Wetlands are important fish and wildlife habitats that provide many ecological services that help support Mat-Su fisheries and the high quality lifestyle to be found here. The Mat-Su Borough has about 25% of its land area classified as wetlands. These wetlands help maintain quality fisheries habitat and the fish who need this habitat to thrive.
Check out our very attractive and interactive Wetland Story Map HERE.