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Thread: Gulkana Float Advice

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    Default Gulkana Float Advice

    I'm going to float the Gulkana (Paxson to Sourdough) for the first time next week with a couple of friends and am looking for some advice from those of you who have done it this season. If you are willing to share, what types of flies did you have luck with for Rainbows and Grayling? Any gear you wished you would have taken with you that you didn't? etc. etc. Thanks in advance.

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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Search. I've given feedback in 3 different threads from the July 4th trip.

    Water was low and dropping.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    I've been reading them as you, and others, posted on your floats. All of it was great information. The intent of my post was to garner some additional feedback or thoughts. For example, posts have mentioned that a lot of campsites have been washed away or filled up with logs but nothing was mentioned by campsite name.

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    Biggest issue is the low water. It still dropping which means dragging.

    Expect an intense 15~ miles below the canyon. My GPS logged 57 miles. Max speed 9.8 mph.

    Not much below the canyon anymore other than gravel banks until you near the West fork.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Quote Originally Posted by TWB View Post
    Biggest issue is the low water. It still dropping which means dragging.

    Expect an intense 15~ miles below the canyon. My GPS logged 57 miles. Max speed 9.8 mph.

    Not much below the canyon anymore other than gravel banks until you near the West fork.
    I'd personally wait a few weeks for some rain.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    In a word it is "Tricky" the water dropped substantially from Sat through Weds with very little rain. For those who are reviewing this thread the river in certain locations has become somewhat of a hazard in several places because the channels that have been created have down logs in the way. Not 100 percent strainers but KNOCK you out of your Boat low! One real dandy has four large rocks behind it and it is the only water. Scout Scout Scout when in doubt! Round boat had a much easier time than my Cat but then again I did have three old men who could have stood to be a little lighter going in :-)

    Being that I have been on that river so many times I took several things for granted like sure it might have some new structure to avoid or a couple of new channels etc.. however and trust me on this That is not the Same Gulkana I have been running for 17 or so year. Don't mean to sound like hey all that just stating there are several more challenges to the river now " Very Impressive" what good old mother nature can do when it chooses.

    On the Plus side the weather was almost to good and the fishing was exceptional as always. Kings and Reds just making their way into the upper reaches. In two weeks if more water is available should be a hoot chasing bows.

    Oh sorry forgot part of the response concerning your post:

    Lake Trout are still active at the outlet however with this warm weather the grass and slime will be taking over first shot of Reds making their way into the East Fork generally when the weeds get thick the Smolt are done and the Laker fishing slows IMO. That being said if you are not waiting to go SculpZilla still works well fish between 10:00PM and 0200 in the AM. Any standard Smolt pattern still works well as always or at least it did 6 days ago. As for as the Bow fishing goes We did fairly well fishing SculpZilla's all the way down biggest Bow was 27 inches about 6.5 lbs taped out well I say 7 lbs but it is a debate mind you not the norm but they are there. Anything Bunny related and olive or white cone head with weight to keep you down and on the dead drift and you should be finding fish. Tossed a bunch of dries as well size 8 Salmon fly i.e. extra large bullet stone with rubber legs picked up some nice fish between 14-18 inches in the pockets as well and even had some fun with size 12 Tan Elk Hair Caddis as always and last not but not least anything Bead Head size 6 -12 Grayling and bows. There is a really nice hatch of size 8-10 Tan-Orange Caddis going on from the Lake down to the Middle Fork.

    Bottom Line - Sculpin Patterns, Bead Heads, Elk Hair Caddis, heavy Woolley Buggers Olive and Tan, Beads if the fish are up on their Reds!

    Last note honest - Hint ! Hint ! The Lamprey's were still spawning this week!

    Sorry for rambling

    Regards

    Safe Boating!

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    One thing that made our float much more relaxing this year was a screen tent for the kitchen cooking area. As always the bugs were insane. Moose is right the river is totally different.

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    Thanks Moose, TWB, and Chano for the information! We are heading out of town in about 30 minutes...hopefully the river received some of this rain we've had and comes up a little. I'll make a post when we return next week on how it went.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wsh2fsh View Post
    Thanks Moose, TWB, and Chano for the information! We are heading out of town in about 30 minutes...hopefully the river received some of this rain we've had and comes up a little. I'll make a post when we return next week on how it went.
    Is he back yet?
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    We pulled out of Sourdough around 7:00 last night. The trip was a blast and I can't wait to do it again! The fishing was great... grayling, rainbows, reds, a few lake trout, and one steelhead. We didn't land any kings but we didn't spend much time targeting them either. My buddy caught the steelhead just downstream from the canyon rapids and it put on quite a show, busting entirely out of the water half a dozen times before he landed/released it. It was the highlight fish of our trip. TWB, you were right on about the water level...a couple more inches of water would have been better as our raft was pretty loaded. We had to pull ourselves off rocks down-steam of the canyon rapids in several low-water areas. The canyon rapids proper were no problem though and once we were through I wanted to do it again. There was one really bad sweeper hanging over the width of a very narrow channel yesterday that just about scraped us out of the boat, but we hung on and surprisingly didn't lose anything. Being our first trip we WAY over-packed and brought stuff I'll leave at home next time. I'll post some pictures later today or tonight.

    Thanks again to everyone on the their river advice.

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    Steelhead?
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    Probably the same sweeper that jacked me up below Cottonwood Corner around mile 26.

    Post-sweeper river turns right? High bank of dirt on the left? 20+ feet
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannerAK View Post
    Steelhead?
    There is a good population of Steel Heads in the Gulkana. I have caught them from the Bridge up through the Middle Fork. All Catch and Release.


    We have had a number of groups do the upper section this past week. It appears that the water is running below 800fps which is fairly normal for this time of year.

    We will be finishing up our Gulkana Season in 4 weeks as we shift all gear to Kotzebue for out Fall Float Hunting season. We can book up to the 15th ish of August if you still planning on a trip.

    Walt
    Gulkana Raft Rentals
    Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals-Kotz
    907-259-4290

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