For The People’s Paper: Keep ’em Wet to Conserve Mat-Su’s Resident Fish

By Chad Gage
Photographing fish in the water is easier on the fish and makes for a more interesting composition. Photo: Chad Gage

Last month I read a Facebook post by Keepemwet Fishing encouraging me to sign up for their newsletter. I clicked, explored the website, and was inspired to share their three principles for catch and release fishing.

Around the same time, I reread research on resident species in the Susitna River drainage. The research included depressing results in regards to deformities of rainbow trout in Willow and Montana Creeks due to catch and release fishing.

With these two reads in my mind, I wrote Keep ’em Wet to Conserve Mat-Su’s Resident Species.

A reader pointed out that the research I reference has been published. If you fish Susitna River tributaries, I recommend you read Seasonal movements and habitat use of rainbow trout in the Susitna River basin, southcentral Alaska  by Kevin Fraley.

Keep ’em Wet to Conserve Mat-Su’s Resident Fish

March is my favorite winter month. The days are getting longer, the temperature is rising and it’s prime time for most outdoor winter activities. But March also means our long winter will soon be over, and for many Alaskans like me, that means one thing – fishing season.

During winter, we prepare for this time, hunched under task lamps in garages, spare rooms and kitchen tables, by tying tens and even hundreds of flies. It’s a hobby that requires patience, attention to detail and creativity. The flies are made of feathers and synthetic material designed to mimic smolt, sculpin and leeches. They come in all colors and patterns, and at the end of winter, a fly fisher can amass quite an arsenal. My wife recently remarked, “You sure do have a lot of flies. You should go fishing more so you lose some.” Those are words I thought I’d never hear.

Read the rest of the story here.

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3 thoughts on “For The People’s Paper: Keep ’em Wet to Conserve Mat-Su’s Resident Fish”

  1. Hi Ben, Just read your article in The Peoples Paper, and really liked it, big time. I have been here in alaska since 79 and hurt due to watching our natural resources be ‘loved to DEATH!’ I own Chavey Lakes up at 214.5 parks highway and run We practice catch and release at the highest level, and yes there are lots of levels of C&R. We know every fish that dies here, and have fine tuned C&R and really love to share what we have learned. These lakes are an example of REALLY GOOD fish management and I really hope that they help, in any way, to get better and into more conservative ways to enjoy our beautiful state. I invite you to come up and check out this place, maybe wet a line, and use it to promote more conservation on the local streams. If you are interested in learning what we have learned about advanced C&R techniques, I am happy to share…. we have rainbows here that are 15 to 17 years old with little scarring that get caught hundreds of times each year, same with grayling, you can watch mature grayling fighting over spawning territory. Please do not hesitate to call or email and let me show you around our fishery. Sincerely Kirk


    1. Hi Kirk. Thanks for reading the article. I first became familiar with Chavey Lakes when I read Pudge Kleinkauf’s article Rainbows at Denali in Fish Alaska Magazine. It sounds like a great place and I’m very interested in learning more about the C&R techniques you are using. I’d love to get up there sometime and will definitely reach out to you if I can get away for a few days to head north. Actually, I may be driving to Fairbanks around the solstice so maybe I can convince the family to add Chavey Lakes to our itinerary.


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