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Thread: Upper Sheenjek Trip

  1. #1

    Smile Upper Sheenjek Trip

    We are in the early stages of planning a trip in late Aug/early Sept and wanted to know if anyone had any first hand experience with this river in the last few years. Also, anything you've heard from a reliable source and you're willing to pass on would be appreciated. Mainly, my wife and I are looking for a Class 1 / 2 river where we can float for a week, have a little space, and see caribou on the move

    Main areas of interest:

    Reliable aircharter/drop-off service and typical locations

    Best areas to see caribou and moose

    River conditions during this timeframe and any problem areas

    Fishing species and any tips for gear or techniques (esp. while floating)

    Any referrals are also welcome.

    Thanks,

    Frank and Julie Oktavec

  2. #2
    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Default be prepared

    My neighbor went a few years back. he launched his boat at circle and went to Ft. Yukon where he hired a plane. He took his boat a little ways up the Sheenjek and parked it. The flight service took him to the head waters where it took him 23 days to float back down to his boat. he left on August 3. He told me that the river will freeze and it was in the 20's.

    You might also run into some enviromental animal waco terrorist while you are up in that part of the state.

    hey Mod,

    Isn't there a thread on the USGS float of this river?

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  3. #3

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    Wow, looks like meat spoilage won't be an issue. How did your neighbor end up doing. See much? I did see a post for the USGS as a link on Strahan's webpage. Looked like it was from 1972. If any more info comes your way please let me know. We're also looking at the Noatak or one of its tributaries as an option. As for the wackos, I'm sure the oil developers are their main nemesis, but we'll be armed nevertheless. Anyhow, thanks for the info.

    Frank

  4. #4
    Member JamesMac's Avatar
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    Talking

    Do the AK Fish and Game issue licenses for environmental animal waco terrorists? And what is the bag limit?

    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    My neighbor went a few years back. he launched his boat at circle and went to Ft. Yukon where he hired a plane. He took his boat a little ways up the Sheenjek and parked it. The flight service took him to the head waters where it took him 23 days to float back down to his boat. he left on August 3. He told me that the river will freeze and it was in the 20's.

    You might also run into some enviromental animal waco terrorist while you are up in that part of the state.

    hey Mod,

    Isn't there a thread on the USGS float of this river?

  5. #5
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Buck Nelson (700 miles alone) could probably answer just about any questions you have reguarding the sheenjek.

  6. #6
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    I spent about ten days in that valley two years ago with a couple of brothers. We got there, I believe, September the 8th. The drop off point was at double mountain. There were some good, tail end of the heard, caribou bulls on the west side that worked their way down the west channel about two miles across from our camp. Camp was on the east side near the strip. We saw sheep come to water the first day or two then the clouds settled in. We saw moose, 'breeding pairs', everyday both at the upper end and a days float down at the last lake area. We saw wolves everyday and even one lone muskox that wandered the valley all alone. One morning a good grizzly ran into the camp, saw us and made an abrupt left turn, we parted friends. He was a really nice hide but I thought a little small. He was in a hurry anyway.

    The river up at the double mountain area is a series of channels. From the air strip there is access to a flowing channel via a slew which did require some portage to get to the channel. Also the channels do not all lead to the river some "dead end" and will require back tracking and portage. About five miles of this series of channels until you get down to two main channels, the east fork and the west fork, for lack of more accurate terms. Either of these was floatable and one can be accessed from the other via slews.

    Moose there were a little light on head gear and we had a little trouble finding a non-resident legal 50"er, but finally took a good one of about 53". They were in full rut then. If you go earlier the 'bou will likely be there, they were mostly gone at this late date in September.

    The area is beautiful and we saw no other hunters and only one plane flew over to drop off sheep hunters to the north. There is good camp area and firewood with easy walk up the hills and around the waters edge, with several good camp sites down stream also. You will need hip waders and and of course a good inflatable.

    I think "Frenchie" out of Circle and Coyote Air out of Coldfoot both haul into there. I used a charter from Fairbanks, Wrights Air, a shuttle to Ft Yukon then a Helio Currier to the valley. Wrights service was top notch and kept a pretty close schedule to what we expected.

    The weather there, the first part of September, was about 15-20 at night and just above freezing for daily highs. It snowed every day with very little accumulation except in the mountains and that began to stick lower and lower every day. We were completely fogged in by the last two days with about minimum ceiling coming out.

    This was a good trip. I'd do it again. If you float down to the last air strip I think that is about 12 days of floating. There is double mountain, last lake then another farther down just north of the Colleen river. I don't recall the name of that one. You could of course float down to Ft Yukon village if you have about a month.

    Enjoy the trip.

    Edit: I forgot to add an important tid bit. The fishing was great. Arctic Char were caught and cooked on an open fire. I brought an array of spices to include lemon basil and majoram and of course butter for the fish. Lots of rosemary and sage for the moose back strap. Taco seasoning and terriyaki seasoning makes for a nice change of pace moose meal. Oh, yeah, fried 'taters. Don't forget to bring spuds.
    Last edited by Murphy; 01-23-2008 at 22:21.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  7. #7

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    Murphy,
    Man, your information is invaluable. Here's a couple more questions if you have the time. How much time should I allow for the portage part to get to the main channels from the double mountain drop off strip? Were you in the water/slews the whole time or did you have to pull out and drag? Any luck calling the moose? What do those char hit the best? We love fly fishing, but I'll throw anything at em as long as they like it. Thanks for the info. It sounds like an amazing trip. We are still up in the air between there and the Noatak or one of its feeder rivers. Decisions, decisions.

    Frank

  8. #8
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    Frank,

    The float from double Mountain down to last lake will take about 10-12 hours with the normally expected amount of dragging. You could certainly camp, along the way, over night. It may be more work with just two of you so to allow two days would be prudent. We were in the water basically the whole time but we had to drag the boat over gravel bars to get to another channel. You have to stop often and scout ahead to find the best or only navigable channel. Sort of a Lewis and Clark type of operation. I guess it was a combination of dragging and the three of us sometimes would pick it up and carry short distances with all the gear inside.

    Every bull we saw was with a cow, and the cows were for the most part with a calf. I walked, standing up straight, to within 30 yards of two or three or four moose together three different times. I was handgun hunting but was trying to get within bow range. My theory is that stooping down or crawling will draw attention to yourself very quickly as danger, for a moose, comes from the ground, down low in the form of bears, wolves or a human trying to remain out of sight. I slither to within 150 yards then stand up and walk slowly directly to them, stopping when they throw up their head and look at you. This has worked very well with many animals. There is a certain curiosity they have and they see you and know you aren't a bear or wolf but want to see what you are about. It is just a theory. This place, the upper valley is very open. It is all flat marsh and slews and there really isn't much to hide in. There are several spruce along the base of the hills and we did see a few moose up in the hills but didn't try to call. When making the initial approach you will need to walk in the slews or channel to get low enough to stay out of site. But, as I said the bulls were with cows so calling the guy away might be hard. I didn't try to call though.

    Farther south where the channels actually become a flowing river, there are more spruce and more willows along the river and moose hunting should be better there. The upper end has mostly dwarf willow and it appeared to be will browsed off. From the last lake area on down to the Coleen river is where most moose hunting takes place, or has in past years.

    The char were hitting a small spinner of some kind, we didn't try flys. That would be fun to catch them on a fly rod. My younger brother was the fisherman and I'm not sure what he was using, just some shiney little spinner.

    It really was a good trip in some far north country, I think the name of the country was ANWR, or something like that. I don't think it is hunted very much, not for moose anyway probably caribou and sheep up in the mountains. It would be a good place for wolfe and somebody needs to reduce their numbers.

    Hope this helps and enjoy your trip.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesMac View Post
    Do the AK Fish and Game issue licenses for environmental animal waco terrorists? And what is the bag limit?
    I believe they are considered "ferral & deleterious animals" which according to the regs means there is no bag limit and no closed season.

  10. #10

    Default air service

    Google Yukon Air Service. Kirk Sweetsir is the pilot. He's about as good as it gets.

  11. #11
    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Haven't flown with Kirk since he purchased Roger's old air service from Ross but he took me and several of my sons into various parts of the Brooks to sheep hunt when he worked for Wright's - very good pilot - no worries.

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    My husband, son and a couple friends floated from Double Mountain to the Koness River last Aug/Sept. They had a great trip- saw many caribou, several grizzly bears, and-- the lone musk ox. It chased my husband into hiding! The weather was great, froze at night but warm enough for the boys to wear shorts during the day. They left the 25th of August and returned the 17th of Sept.

  13. #13

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    Thanks, I'm trying to get in touch with him now. They have a cool website.

    Frank

  14. #14

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    I really appreciate the input. I'm currently trying to get in touch with Kirk. I really dig their website so far...very helpful.

    Frank

  15. #15

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    Hi, Thanks alot for your input and reply. That sounds like an awesome trip that they did. Were they moose hunting? Do you know who their air carrier/pilot was? Also, how many days did they float? Hours per day? Did they do any fishing as well? Any additional info is greatly appreciated.

    Franko

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    They flew out of Coldfoot with Coyote Air - they were good people and did what they said they would. Two of the boys only floated from Double Mountain to Last Lake because they needed to be back at UAF for school. Fishing was awesome for greyling. Water was low and although they saw several good moose, they decided not to shoot because they didn't want to have worry about dragging the rafts. The rafts were 18' Aire Leopards. From Last Lake to the Koness the river was pretty slow and shallow but they spent a couple days in different places, hunting. Most of the caribou were up river, moose down river. He says to tell you that you need a minimum of two weeks, in his opinion - and insulated hip boots!

  17. #17

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    Thanks again for the great info and advice. After talking to a couple air carriers, it looks like an awesome, but pricey trip. I guess we'll have to live kinda lean for the next year or so. Do you know if they shopped around and talked to several air charters before deciding on Coyote Air? Thanks.

    Franko

  18. #18
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by franksjules View Post
    Thanks again for the great info and advice. After talking to a couple air carriers, it looks like an awesome, but pricey trip.
    Whether you are leaving from Fairbanks, Coldfoot or Fort Yukon any trip to the northeastern Brooks is going to run about 2 large per person minimum and it won't be getting any cheaper in the future.

  19. #19

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    I can tell you from experience that flying from Fairbanks to the south side of the Brooks will cost closer to 3 large. Thats 2 people, gear, food, and raft in a Helio.

  20. #20

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    Thanks alot for the info...I've got a couple of good leads so far with no negative feedback, so I'll be sure to steer clear of that one.

    Franko

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