Trip Report: Willow Creek (July 23, 2017)

Willow Creek rainbow trout taken on a streamer. Photo: Ben Rowell

As I wrote in the last trip report, Willow Creek was very low. At 300cfs, the discharge was about 200cfs below normal. These low water conditions make for a slow float but it was the perfect opportunity to take my 4-year old son down the creek in a raft for the first time. Joining us was Ryan and his 8-year old chocolate lab, Turk. 

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We put in at Willow Creek Resort at 2:15 and took advantage of their shuttle service ($25). Resort staff said there weren’t many folks on the water compared to the day prior. Family commitments prevented us from launching earlier in the day so I was glad to hear not too many anglers had been down river before we pushed off.

Father and son. Photo: Ryan McCormick

Trout passed on dry fly offerings but were willing takers when streamers were dead drifted or stripped through pools containing lots of structure. Deeper pools without structure usually held salmon (chums, pinks, and silvers) but they quickly scattered as the boat floated overtop. Schools of salmon increased in size and frequency the closer we got to the creek’s confluence with the Susitna River. Kings were few and far between.

Most of our fishing was out of the boat instead of stopping to fish from one of Willow Creek’s many large gravel bars because of a dinner commitment. Turning the corner into the slough leading to the takeout, we saw roughly 75 bank anglers at the confluence targeting silvers. We didn’t see any hookups in the short time they were in our sight. We landed at the launch at 5:45pm, just 3 hours 30 minutes after we pushed off at the highway.

Gravel bar shenanigans on Willow Creek. Photo: Ben Rowell

Willow Creek is an excellent float for families. The current is slow, giving plenty of time to navigate any obstacles one may encounter. The creek’s many gravel bars make it easy to pull over for a bathroom break, shore lunch, or to let the dog (and kids) out for a run.

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