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Thread: Tustamena Lake

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    Default Tustamena Lake

    was thinking about trying to get onto Tustamena lake this year, and was wondering if anyone knew a good way other than going up the river. In the past we just went in from the camp ground and rode in, but it has been awhile since I've been back that way in the winter. Any info would be greatly appreciated

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Your two options are to take off at the camp ground and ride on the side of the river until you get to the lake, or take the Centennial trail and take a hard left in the clearing and follow it to the river (about half-way up from the boat launch). A fisherman on this forum mentioned another way to get to the lake on a trail from the north side, but I haven't done it. Seems like the best fishing would be the outflow anyway (that is where I fish), but I could be wrong. Berg's book mentions catching fish with nets at various creeks on the north side, including some large "macinaw".

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    A fisherman on this forum mentioned another way to get to the lake on a trail from the north side,
    I take it you mean the Pollard horse trail...???
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    I take it you mean the Pollard horse trail...???
    Probably. Kasilofchrisn mentioned a trail I believe.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Yes there is another trail on the north side. I use it all the time. You start off on the doc pollard horse trail(off of Yukon Loop somewhere) and follow the trail from there it crosses raven lake I believe.
    You do have to wait until the refuge is officially open to snowmachines before going in this way.
    It is a nice trail if it doesnt get beat up to bad from use.
    You can park at the decanter and go in from there or even go in from the pullout between Soldotna and Kasilof on the right side of the sterling highway.
    I go in from my Mom and Dads place in Kasilof crossing some private land I have permission to cross. I am not 100% positive on how to get there from elsewhere as I havent really paid attention to the road names.
    I will check Google maps and try to figure out where you would need to go from.
    This trail comes out on the lake shore a few miles south of Nurses cabin.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    Yes there is another trail on the north side. I use it all the time. You start off on the doc pollard horse trail(off of Yukon Loop somewhere) and follow the trail from there it crosses raven lake I believe.
    You do have to wait until the refuge is officially open to snowmachines before going in this way.
    It is a nice trail if it doesnt get beat up to bad from use.
    You can park at the decanter and go in from there or even go in from the pullout between Soldotna and Kasilof on the right side of the sterling highway.
    I go in from my Mom and Dads place in Kasilof crossing some private land I have permission to cross. I am not 100% positive on how to get there from elsewhere as I havent really paid attention to the road names.
    I will check Google maps and try to figure out where you would need to go from.
    This trail comes out on the lake shore a few miles south of Nurses cabin.
    Johnny on the spot there Chris!
    I sure wish F&G would throw some fish into Coal Creek, Star and Raven lakes and give folks some "remote" fishing opportunities instead of these roadside fish ponds we have.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Johnny on the spot there Chris!
    I sure wish F&G would throw some fish into Coal Creek, Star and Raven lakes and give folks some "remote" fishing opportunities instead of these roadside fish ponds we have.
    Star and Raven lakes are really more like beaver ponds when you get to looking at them.
    I don't really know how deep they are but I would guess they aren't very deep at all.
    I have considered fishing off of some of the creek mouths on the North side. Bear creek and the others out that way.
    If Andrew Berg caught fish in front of these creeks in his net it stands to reason we should be able to find some fish in the area with a rod and reel.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    If Andrew Berg caught fish in front of these creeks in his net it stands to reason we should be able to find some fish in the area with a rod and reel.
    I so believe that statement, it is a huge lake and should still hold a few fish, even if it was targeted pretty hard back in the day.

    I can't say that I trust the ice on the lake very much, especially crossing, just wanted to see what all the options were to getting back in there. Thanks for all the info, it is a great starting point, and gives a guy a couple of options. Wonder how the ice is doing this year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akwchil View Post
    I so believe that statement, it is a huge lake and should still hold a few fish, even if it was targeted pretty hard back in the day.
    Elaborate please. I have heard snatches that Tustamena had a commercial fishery at one point, but know little else.

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    The problem with going up the river is if you cross over at the outlet of the lake water is running under the ice and it may be thin or open. I know people that have dropped their snowmachine through the ice there. However, sometimes I go up the river and scoot across rapidly just below the lake entrance.

    The folks that have property on the lake like to go down the "winter trail" which is not a trail in the summer. Its a snowmachine route, but this is safer than the outlet of the lake. When I go this route I follow the main power line that runs furthest away from the highway down to pollard horse trail so I bypass driving the snowgo on any roads I have put on this map.
    Image (2).jpg

    If you can get to the old siesmic trail at the junction of the power line and pollard trail and then just follow the main snowmachine trail tracks from there you will end up at the lake. Its pretty obvious from the tracks where to go.

    Image (3).jpg

    I know some of the folks down at the refuge and they like everyone to be legal when using this route so if I was you I would

    a. Be driving a legal machine.
    b. Don't go this route until the refuge is officially opened for snowmachine use.

    Then everyone will have a good experience.

    I would "think" the lake froze up pretty good since it was so cold this year so early but keep in mind that is a dangerous lake most years. The ice will expand and contract making pressure ridges that you could run into and also it opens up and leaves cracks where there is water to cross.

    This old guy is usually going solo and with no one else to depend on just putts around the lake shore unless the wind blows the snow off the beach and then I stay on the edge of the ice. If you are a lake rider go wide around the outlets of the creeks or come into shore and cross them there. The creek outlets most years are open water with thin ice quite a ways out.

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    Here's the Homer News article about the couple that lost their snowmachine on Tustumena in 2011 at the far end. They ended up walking to my cabin and thats where they got rescued at.

    http://www.homernews.com/stories/012...ws_hcsft.shtml

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Elaborate please. I have heard snatches that Tustamena had a commercial fishery at one point, but know little else.
    I was just agreeing witht the quote about Andrew Berg catching fish in his nets. I think that there are still some fish to be had out of this big old lake. Even though it doesn't present itself like a traditional laker fishery with high feed content and tons of ridges, it is still very cold, deep and has plenty of feed to keep fish growing. One has to think that there are still some viable fish to be had. Never the less I am a catch and release laker fisherman. I believe that these fish are very old and very slow growing.

    I have heard about the commercial fishery in the past as well, have done some extensive research about it on kenai lake and Tustamena, but the information is very hard to come by. I know of a very few elders in the Cooper landing area that had some good info about both, but they are taking all that info tot he grave with them. Makes for more adventure for the rest of us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tustumena_lake View Post
    Here's the Homer News article about the couple that lost their snowmachine on Tustumena in 2011 at the far end. They ended up walking to my cabin and thats where they got rescued at.

    http://www.homernews.com/stories/012...ws_hcsft.shtml
    That article right there is why I don't trust that lake much in the winter. That was in January, and though every given winter is different, one would suspect that the ice should be decent by that time of the year. Now it could have been they were near a creek mouth, but never the less it is one big lake with some very deep water. If memory serves me right, I bleieve that something of the sort has happened on the lake at least once a year or every other year.

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    I am not to familiar about the lakes on the Kenai so i looked that lake up. OMG is that thing huge!!! And I thought Kenai was big....

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    since this has come up before I have started a list of tustumena accidental deaths. this is a work in progress I started today but this what I have so far. I have been told of a few others but I need to do some research on them before they make the list.

    Tustumena Lake accidental deaths


    1902 James Chase / drowning after canoe capsized in lake
    1965 Raymond Puckett / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1965 Bob Barton / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1965 Mr. Antonio Cuerde / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1965 Mrs. Antonio Cuerde / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1972 Joe Secora / mountain airplane crash-up Indian Creek
    1972 Wayne Bishop / mountain airplane crash-up Indian Creek
    1975 James Brewer / drowning while boating home after sheep hunt
    1975 Byron Brewer / drowning while boating home after sheep hunt
    1975 Mitch Gyde / drowning while trying to retrieve boat that drifted from shore
    2011 Ashley Udelhoven / hypothermia-boat accident
    2011 Katrina Anderson / hypothermia-boat accident

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tustumena_lake View Post
    since this has come up before I have started a list of tustumena accidental deaths. this is a work in progress I started today but this what I have so far. I have been told of a few others but I need to do some research on them before they make the list.

    Tustumena Lake accidental deaths


    1902 James Chase / drowning after canoe capsized in lake
    1965 Raymond Puckett / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1965 Bob Barton / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1965 Mr. Antonio Cuerde / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1965 Mrs. Antonio Cuerde / lake airplane crash/drowning
    1972 Joe Secora / mountain airplane crash-up Indian Creek
    1972 Wayne Bishop / mountain airplane crash-up Indian Creek
    1975 James Brewer / drowning while boating home after sheep hunt
    1975 Byron Brewer / drowning while boating home after sheep hunt
    1975 Mitch Gyde / drowning while trying to retrieve boat that drifted from shore
    2011 Ashley Udelhoven / hypothermia-boat accident
    2011 Katrina Anderson / hypothermia-boat accident
    Last year I read a fascinating book by a lady who had homesteaded in BC, then SE Alaska, then the Yukon, then Seward, Coho, and who lost here son through the ice of Tustamena. He was running a trapline and was on an early model snowmachine. Wish I could remember what her name was and what the book's title was. Her husband was a slave driver, but she just had her boys by the time she ended up on the KP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Last year I read a fascinating book by a lady who had homesteaded in BC, then SE Alaska, then the Yukon, then Seward, Coho, and who lost here son through the ice of Tustamena. He was running a trapline and was on an early model snowmachine. Wish I could remember what her name was and what the book's title was. Her husband was a slave driver, but she just had her boys by the time she ended up on the KP.
    Thanks for the help that may be one of the ones I needed to follow up on ? I heard through an acquaintance that Joe MeGargel was trapping Tustumena in the 60's or 70's when his trapping partner went through the ice on a snowmachine near Indian Creek and died. If you remember the name of the book give us a shout out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tustumena_lake View Post
    Thanks for the help that may be one of the ones I needed to follow up on ? I heard through an acquaintance that Joe MeGargel was trapping Tustumena in the 60's or 70's when his trapping partner went through the ice on a snowmachine near Indian Creek and died. If you remember the name of the book give us a shout out.
    Oh! I wish I could remember the title of the book or the lady's name! I could find it if the Soldotna library if it was open.
    She describes a brief time of settlement in Coho and her son being lost on Tustumena, and how he was never found. She ended up dying in Seward in the 90's I believe. The same Kind of story as Evelyn Berglund's.

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    I did a quick search, does this sound like the right book and author you were trying to remember?

    From Kansas Wheat Fields to Alaska Tundra: A Mennonite Family Finds HomeBy Naomi Gaede-Penner

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    Quote Originally Posted by tustumena_lake View Post
    Thanks for the help that may be one of the ones I needed to follow up on ? I heard through an acquaintance that Joe MeGargel was trapping Tustumena in the 60's or 70's when his trapping partner went through the ice on a snowmachine near Indian Creek and died. If you remember the name of the book give us a shout out.
    I met old Joe MeGargle a few times, and my old high school buddy trapped with him as well. He never mentioned to me about another trapper that had died. But then again that could have been a very long long time ago.

    Do you happen to know if James and Byron Brewer that died in 75' are any relation to the Brewers that fly out of Island Lake now a days...???
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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