Gulkana River Report July 2
Well, we have entered July about the same way we exited June, rain and high water. Because of the high water the ability to target Reds is poor at best in the lower river. The river below the West Fork is muddy and blown out. The water levels are not affecting the clarity of the river or the fishing in the upper section below Paxon. My groups doing the Upper section are still having good fishing for Lakers at the outlet of Paxon and Rainbows in the canyon down to the West Fork.
The Canyon and water levels: The canyon and the 6+miles below the canyon are seeing much higher water than normal for this time of year. When you are making the decision about running the Canyon keep in mind that when the river is at normal levels for early July the water can make it hard to maneuver in the tight Canyon because your oar blades can't grab enough water. I have alway found that the canyon is easier to maneuver when the water is higher because yo have more water to grab with your blades. It is critical that you ask yourself "what is my skill level" and don't venture into water that is beyond your ability and always run the canyon and the falls in an empty boat. We are seeing more and more personal sized Cats on the river and they can be a real danger because they give the inexperienced river runner the feeling of invincibility but the reality is they have a very small "Foot Print" (surface area) and will get you into trouble and fast. The same thing can be said for Packrafts as well. If you're going to run the Canyon/falls it is a good idea to have some friends on the Canyon wall with throw bags if you get into trouble. While working for the BLM on the river crew we pulled a number of inexperienced rafters out of the canyon with most all getting wrapped on the rocks.
The Canyon is a fun run but know your limits and plan on what you're going to do when things go wrong, and they will sometimes. Higher water is run-able but it deserves your respect. When in doubt line your rafts and avoid the canyon.
Fishing: My son and I ran our Zodiac down to the outlet last week (Wednesday) to fish for Lakers. Lots of action. We landed only 2 fish in 4 hours but one was 5+ pounds and the other was 3+. Good sized fish and lots of fun on light wt. rods!
Be safe and enjoy your trip!
Gulkana Raft Rentals