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Thread: Gulkana Kings....Where are they?

  1. #1

    Default Gulkana Kings....Where are they?

    Went down to the Gulkana to do a little king fishing and it appears they arent there in any numbers to speak of. They are normally in there by now in good numbers.Oh and you better have a shallow running boat if your headed up to the forks, the water was skinny! Are the fish just late this year?

  2. #2

    Question Poor run?

    My guess is the run is down this year. Kinda like it seems to be every other year or so now. Was talking with an "old timer" last night, this river used to produce fish for everyone yahoo before it was "discovered" The counts at the tower this year seemed to peek around June 23rd to July 1st and have now been falling off. In a normal, or what used to be normal year there were fish available early June, and yes Sourdough would be full on right now. The past 2 years I haven't hooked a king until June 12-15th or so. From what I've heard people that really know what they are doing are getting fish, however they are pulling in maybe 3-5 fish a day where they would usually be getting 3X that many. tried to go last night and the brook is really muddied up. Got nearly one inch of rain since Tuesday and must have been more out in the Alphabets. I didn't even wet the line. Long story short there's been fish in the river, just not a good year. It seems a lot of the reports on here always indicate how "good" the fishing is. I am begining to wonder if people that fish all day and catch a single king or 2 consider that good fishing?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by cory100 View Post
    My guess is the run is down this year. Kinda like it seems to be every other year or so now. Was talking with an "old timer" last night, this river used to produce fish for everyone yahoo before it was "discovered" The counts at the tower this year seemed to peek around June 23rd to July 1st and have now been falling off. In a normal, or what used to be normal year there were fish available early June, and yes Sourdough would be full on right now. The past 2 years I haven't hooked a king until June 12-15th or so. From what I've heard people that really know what they are doing are getting fish, however they are pulling in maybe 3-5 fish a day where they would usually be getting 3X that many. tried to go last night and the brook is really muddied up. Got nearly one inch of rain since Tuesday and must have been more out in the Alphabets. I didn't even wet the line. Long story short there's been fish in the river, just not a good year. It seems a lot of the reports on here always indicate how "good" the fishing is. I am begining to wonder if people that fish all day and catch a single king or 2 consider that good fishing?
    I doubt it. I think most of the reports on this forum are from guys making a living off of the river and fish. They just need to convince a few each year, that a couple of fish a day is great fishing. The Gulkana is experiencing a poor run, and it isn't the only creek doing so, would be fishermen should contact fish and game and get the real picture, before they wasted their time or money, on any given outing.

  4. #4

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    not poking or proding here but has anyone checked the commercial openers?

    Was talking with one of the bof reps who just happens to be my dentist also and he laid it out pretty well whats happening on the gulkana and it had nothing to do with to much sportfish use.

    And you're right, not so long ago there was almost two distinct runs with more then plenty of fish in both. Just wish I was around to fish it!!!!

  5. #5
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    Default feeling your pain

    been down 2 times this year and its the same story as you guys stated and i dont know of how well the charters are doing yea they are catching here and there but i havent seen many come out of there at all

  6. #6
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Interesting thought

    From a slightly different perspective. Not trying to start anything honest however broad statements such as people trying to make a living infers that people such as my-self who do make money fishing on the river by no means make a living at it are not honest and are suckering people into poor fishing just to book a trip, and that they shoud contact Fish and Game to get the real picture. Not a bad idea but "Ouch" Honestly Ouch. Yep that some what hits a small nerve heck I should not even post this, but hey its a free speech thing.

    When I am on the river which is not nearly enough BTW I post excatly what happens No B.S., No Frills, No Crap. That being said there have been slow days, and great days. One of our guides is on the river 7 days a week, 4-6 of those he guides. Our Guides report information on a daily basis to me if I am not down there my-self. Each trip requires our guide business to fill out a State regulated Guide Log for the fish we catch while guiding. We as in BMR also volunteer to fill out additional questionaires for the state, and BLM to assist in managing the harvest of King and Sockeye Salmon.

    That being said prior to running the upper again I spent a weekend not long enough BTW fishing some friends and Clients on a Sat and Sunday. No Crap, No Frills M.V. a friend made 4 cast hooked four fish if you would like I will shoot you the photos he loves to share any who! M..V. knows how to fish he stopped and we moved on. That afternoon I tooked two clients out and fishing was slow we had three hook ups in 4 hours however factors upset the balance in our dis-favor in the late afternoon. In theory if I were to put the enitre day into hours fished per person I would have to guess 3 people totalling 9 hours fished equalling 7 salmon, our about 1.25 hours per fish per angler. Go out to the ADF&G and find the average number of hours per sport caught King Salmon across the state! I think you will find 1.25 hours per fish per angler is significatenly above average compared to most other fisheries per angling hour. Now again that is not to say all days but when you pick one weekend or one day and say back in the good old days according to sourdough Hank you are comparing apples to something and Heck you do not even know if he is recalling one particalur day or an entire season.

    There has been times when the fishing has been off however based on our catch rates compared to last years fishing logs has been about the same which equates to a good year based on the last 12 years of chasing fish in the system.

    Three Years ago fishing sucked when it came down to brass tacks with water temps reaching the mid- high 60's in palces it should have been no more than 50 with stress fish kills on the lower river.

    I know I am rambling so sorry! Peaks and Valleys, Peaks and Valleys! So many contributing factors that make all of our worlds go round so good some bad.

    Last Item honest! Fished with a Fisheries biologist from Wisc for the past 4 days his final statement was WOW what a fishery.

    Tight Lines! Best Wishes

    The Rambler.

  7. #7

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    I am sure you are reporting honestly Blue Moose but I got to tell you that the Gulkana King Fishery sucks anymore compared to what it once was. I have talked to a lot of people who have been down there in the past 2 weeks and unless you are fishing the one secret spot in the river, the fishing for kings has gone to the birds down there. You used to be able to hit several holes and catch fish without too much difficulty back in the day, anymore its a lot of casting and a lot of hours before anything happens, and anything dont happen to often. Looks like I am gonna have to start making the drive again down towards Talkeetna and Southcentral cuz the Gulkana is not what it once was. There are reds to be caught and some suprisingly large rainbows that show up from time to time but for Kings, just aint no good no more! What I dont get is that they have been clobbering kings in chitna for some time now yet they dont appear to be showing up in the Gulkana in like numbers, the whole thing is weird.

  8. #8

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    anyone know/ heard of bobby besch?

  9. #9

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    Cub,

    Stop by Dr Bouse's office in Fairbanks, lettem check your teeth over a time or two and he'll fill you into the gulkana fishery, it's history, it's problems and where it's going though we both know the answer to it. He has also fished this river for years and sat on the board of fisheries and tried to fix some of these problems. It's definatly an interesting visit to the doctors office to say the least and if anything the Gulkana is one of his passions.

    Rich,
    As a guide on one hand I agree with the bulk of what you're saying. But I too have fished that river almost annually (these last couple of years now i've taken "off" to fish salt all summer) and have noticed the lack of fish late (early july run) and now more so the lack of fish early that at one point were hardly targeted compared to the later run of fish. Though the 2 run timings were pretty suttle at most it definatly appeared as such. Now, july 4th on the lower gulkana is a waste of time where it once held a good number of fish and the bulk of the bigger fish showed.

  10. #10

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    As of today, 2,472 Kings are in the Gulkana. That is a pitance compared to some of the fisheries. There is a lot of river, for that few fish. You had better be very lucky or know the holes. The Gulkana is a very finicky river to fish. Water quality and depth are very subject to the weather conditions. It is a very unstable river system. Good grayling and fair rainbow fishing still exists though in the upper reaches, not accessible to most fishermen. The entire drainage is managed primarily as a nursery for the hatchery runs of Reds. These fish are historically taken in the salt, never to enter the river. That is what the Auqua-Culture Association is all about. It is funded by the Commercial Fish Fleet and they have priority to the fish. PERIOD. The fish are stripped and milked up stream a bit. Kings taken is the salt are declared sometimes as Incidental Catch, sometimes not declared at all, from what I have been told by individuals involved in the take. I personally feel that those that truly care about the fishery, should leave these precious few SPAWNERS alone and allow them to rear a new fish stock. If the commercial fleet continues to take them at their current rate, and the sports fishers continue to hammer the spawners, well it is a recipie for fewer and fewer fish for all. Of course you could take the issure to the BOF and try to get the commercial fleets to hold off, but I question your success in doing so. Therefore the sports fishermen have to take the lead on this or suffer the consequences.

  11. #11

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    I figured it had something to do with the commercial pressure. You just cant fish a river 5-6 times thruought each year and watch the fishing go sour without some effect taking place further downstream, sad!

  12. #12
    Member sheep man's Avatar
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    This note is for blue moose,you may have a day where you catch 1 fish for every 1.25 hrs fished but the honest truth is a few more hours then that,if that was the truth every guide in this state would be parked in your hole trying to catch the same red rooster your trying to catch.I'm sorry but i've seen too many glory days on that river and i've seen just as many bust days....1.25 is a fish story........

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TradBow View Post
    Cub,

    Stop by Dr Bouse's office in Fairbanks, lettem check your teeth over a time or two and he'll fill you into the gulkana fishery, it's history, it's problems and where it's going though we both know the answer to it. He has also fished this river for years and sat on the board of fisheries and tried to fix some of these problems. It's definatly an interesting visit to the doctors office to say the least and if anything the Gulkana is one of his passions.

    Rich,
    As a guide on one hand I agree with the bulk of what you're saying. But I too have fished that river almost annually (these last couple of years now i've taken "off" to fish salt all summer) and have noticed the lack of fish late (early july run) and now more so the lack of fish early that at one point were hardly targeted compared to the later run of fish. Though the 2 run timings were pretty suttle at most it definatly appeared as such. Now, july 4th on the lower gulkana is a waste of time where it once held a good number of fish and the bulk of the bigger fish showed.
    Fairbanks! Ok ...is he a good dentist? I'm lookin'... and live in FBX. I want a guy that does quality work, doesn't break the bank, and knows how to manage pain. For whatever reason, the usual novacaine and other pain killers don't work for me like they do for other folks... I need pure jet fuel.

    Brian

  14. #14

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    After getting skunked 2 weekends in a row on the Gulkana, we headed to Willow where the fishing was very slow. Despite the slowness, we got a couple of really nice fish.
    Fishing on the Gulkana just isn't very good this year.

  15. #15
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Great conversation

    I like it and great information. Went out on limb providing information as in my prior post and I do appreciate the information and retorts keeps a body alive and keeps people informed.

    From Thurs - Sunday as stated in my post I spent some quality time with a budding fishery bio guy who is completing his masters in Fairbanks on the Chena and a 30 year man from Wisc who has worked the field be it warm water and lakes but still a wealth of information. Long conversations about what the base lines are and what the management of the river has been to inlcude what I felt it needed to improve for sustainable harvest to meet the ever growing needs of all user groups. The Answers with-out reading all the Copper River Watershed data collected over the past 20 years is to limit or create Slot limits, restrict access to motor boat traffic, protect spawning grounds etc....

    Common ground in my opinion is the State of Alaska attempts to provide all user groups access to those resource which is the way it should be however as industry grows such as guided fishing, commercial harvest, Dip Netting, and Subsistance fishing as our population grows our resources will continue to deminish.

    lets look back at the 10 year average of Dipnet permits in Chitna increas of about 30 percent I think last time I checked if in fact 7-10 Thousand more people over the 10 year period take one King Salmon each in a given year dipnetting the numbers are alarming. Not picking on Dip Netting Honest just adding numbers. Looking at Guiding Fishing Charters now available on the Gulkana the pressure on the Lower Portion of the river has increase in the past five years to include Princess Lodge and the Gulkana River RV park ad 8 boats per day 4 people to a boat 32 people if they have a good day lets say 10 days out of the season an additional 320 Kings per year min out of the system but one would consider more like 450 Kings total over the same period. Mind you these are just figures and not based on facts just trying to sum the entire process up to a reasonable quote.

    Combined commercial harvest, fish wheels subsustance permits and it does not take long to bang a fishery into mush.

    That being said one would imagen that if a restriction would be placed on the harvesting of Kings during the Dipnetting Season till July most if not all of the Gulkana fish would make it up into the system another option would be to restrict the fishing above the fish counting towers of King Salmon and let them spawn. Last week there were 5 power boats nice once I might ad running the Spawn Shop for three bends with Roe in a semi perm camp BLM said they had been there for 5 days already ( Hope it was Catch and release)

    When I filled out the last survey for the BLM I stated that I would be in favor of going to a permit system for the enitre river to limit usage which would include guided days not a very popular idea but it has merrit when it comes down to bottom lines and fishery management.

    The Biggest issue will be if it ever does come down to restrictions is who gets what from Commercial to sport fish guiding to personal use. Once the numbers do increase lets say to 10,000 fish if applicable then one group will want an increase is their usage and then again we would be back to lower numbers or the perception of lower numbers of sustainable harvestable fish.

    Ok Don't ask me why I am rambling again. A friend of mine has been fishing the river and at one time was wed to a person from Copper Center and has been fishing both the Klutina and Gulkana for over 25 years. When I talked to him about my post last night he summed it up like this. Heck I was just down there with my brother the weekend you mentioned and we caught 13 Kings from Pop Grove to Sailors Pit that day it's just about as good as he could remember then he mentioned about 6 years ago when he fished there for three days and caught nothing. Simply put he said fishing is always better when the fish are running good point.

    Ok I Last Call I Promise. I have been chasing Salmon in this part fo the state from 1995 to day and in AK from 1989 to date if what we have been doing catch rate wise on the lower portion of the river is not decent to good King Fishing over the past 20 day period then I must be fishing a different river Dont; get me wrong it is not Lake Creek byany means or the Tat when you hit it just at the correct moment but it ain't bad. Could it be better of course we could hope that 5-7K more Kings made the trip into the system.

    On a side note take a hike down to the mouth of the Gulkana at the Copper River you might be suprised to see what is still there to inlcude spawning fish.

    Tight Lines All again thanks ofr the insight and comments would be nice to start a grass roots change from here to the state.

    BMR

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMoose View Post
    On a side note take a hike down to the mouth of the Gulkana at the Copper River you might be suprised to see what is still there to inlcude spawning fish.

    BMR

    What? I am guessing a net big enough to keep Kings out and let reds through!

    Seriously though the fishery has sadly gone downhill, I used to fish several times a season from the bank in the mid to late 90's and I caught more fish then than I have the last 3 years or so fishing the heck out of that river in a river boat. There are fish to be caught but not in big numbers. A really good day in the last 3 years was an average day back when. I remember when we could run to a spot in a boat, turn around in the hole to set anchor and the hole was full of fish, you could see em. And in a 2 hour period 3 of us had caught 3 kings a piece waiting to stop fishing for a good sized one and releasing the others. To me those days are long gone in this river.

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    Sounds like the ones whining are the ones that are not catching fish. Anybody that has been fishing the Gulkana for "years" should know that when the water is real low and clear, the fish get harder to catch. Clear water causes them to get spooky and low water causes the water temperature during the hot summer to rise. Warm water causes a cold water fish to stress and they quit biting as good as normal. Although the recent counts have dropped off a bit, the number of fish in that river past the counter is not all that bad. Last time we had a low water summer quite a few fish spawned below the F & G counter. The bottom line is the fish are there and they are a little harder to catch. Try fishing other techniques and areas than you normally do. Some people are catching a lot of fish on that river and catching more than 1 king per hour: I promise you that.
    Tony

  18. #18

    Default "Bad, redefined!"

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyH View Post
    Although the recent counts have dropped off a bit, the number of fish in that river past the counter is not all that bad.
    Tony
    Not quite sure what really is "Bad". But I do know when the numbers don't even come close to the minimun escapement goal, well.....that is real close to my definition. Again, I think the only thing left for sports fishermen to do at this time, is to Quit Fishing for the Kings in the Gulkana for this year. But then again, I ain't a bio with direction from my superiors, or a guide, so I have a little different perspective. Everyone has personal choices to make regarding how they impact the fish.

  19. #19
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Still good data people

    Seriously for those who have input into management to increase what they feel is a bad number of fish sound off and contact the ADF&G and BLM people such as us do have impact into the overall equation of fisheries management it might take a few years and all of our thoughts might not be heard but some times yes we can help change things when change is needed.

    There are ideas out there currently to start limited entry on all Fresh Water Guided Waters the only problem with that is it limits futures guides from gaining access in a reasonable amount of time if they choose to be guides.

    Just to let you know fishing was poor today on our boat Lets call it the tweener day.

    See ya on the Water.

    Tight Lines abd Best Wishes!

  20. #20
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    Default My two cents

    The run isn't that bad. It's a good thing that a few people on here aren't making the decisions on this river or it sounds like it would be shut down for the year. First of all, the Gulkana doesnt have a minimum escapement yet. The counting tower is to new to the watershed (2002) and escapement minimums are unknown. Second of all, we have king numbers better than last year at this time and the river had 4100 fish pass the counting tower in 2006. This doesnt include fish that spawn below the tower and fish that go up the west fork. Nobody knows how many go up the west fork, but there is definetly a couple hundred if not a 1000. On low water years like this one, more fish spawn in the lower river than on normal water level years, hence the slightly lower than normal tower counts. The poor to marginal fishing is completely due to this years water conditions and not the health of the run. They dont bite good when the water is to warm and the temperature of the Gulkana this year is off the scale warm. Low water and a long hot spell has caused it. I know any of you that have fished it have felt the water and commented on how warm it is. Also, because of the low water a big portion of the run is in the lower river and they are going to stay there and spawn. They will not get accounted for in ADF&G's counts this year.

    I don't want the river to go sour and I want to continue to fish what is the best river on the road system for Kings in my opinion. I also don't want false acqusations to cause the river to have restrictions like the Parks highway streams that restrict people to fishing only weekends and at certain times of the day. I'm all for good sound fish management, but everything has to be weighed, not just a few fisherman that didn't catch a fish one weekend. I know there is more fish in ther river than some people are claiming. If there is only 2,622 fish in the Gulkana river then my boat has caught 5% of the run in 4 1/2 days of fishing.

    Tony

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