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Thread: Upper Sheenjek River Float

  1. #1

    Default Upper Sheenjek River Float

    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 danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Kobuk...

    Off subject, but I could not help but to mention the Kobuk River. You may find what you are looking for there. The NW caribou herd migrates into this area each Fall. All 1/2 million of them. Beautiful area from what I can see and it is at the top of my list. Great sheefishing potential. Pah River is a noted hot spot on the Kobuk. I want to go but it is looking like 2009 as we have another float planned for this September in NW Alaska. It may be worth your time to read up on it a bit. Google will give lots of info. Google search images and you will find lots of pictures for sure. Here are a few just for insights.

    http://home.gci.net/~kobukriver/region.html

    http://www.isumaguideworks.com/kobukfish.html
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  3. #3
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    Default longer

    The floaters I've run into there say it is more like a 12-14 day trip, but I never quizzed them on how many hrs/day. That whole area is not long on moose densities, though they get shot there. Caribou are always hit and miss. You will see predator tracks, perhaps predators. No one has ever mentioned anything terrible about the river, but I am sure it has its sweepers, etc. Not terribly fast. Have a good float.

  4. #4

    Default Fly in Sheenjek

    If you end up talking to an air taxi service owner/pilot named Frenchy, forget it. I have two friends on two different occasions who had similiar very bad experiences with him. I just wanted to pass that on so you know as you are looking into your trip.

  5. #5

    Default

    Dan,

    Thanks for the advice on the Kobuk. I have been reading about it as well. I'd love to get into a bunch of Sheefish one of these days. It also looks like you can get into alot of Caribou migrating south and avoid the crowds, depending on what you float. I got Mike Strahan's book, and it's got a good summary of the major floatable rivers in Alaska. There are so many great rivers...decisions, decisions.

    Frank

  6. #6
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    Default

    not to digress from the posters question on river choice, but just some quick points on what Circle Air/Frenchy has a bad rep for?

  7. #7
    Member sbiinc's Avatar
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    Default Buck Nelson

    has a video out on that trip "Alaska Hunting Adventure 700 miles alone"... can order it from http://www.bucktrack.com/Order.html

    it's a great video for anyone even if you weren't doing that float. And his second film "Along Across Alaska: 1,000 Miles of Wilderness" is even better.

    B

  8. #8
    Member akfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Sheenjek River 08

    I floated the Sheenjek last August. I would highly recommend Wright Air Service out of Fairbanks. It may be a little more expensive than local charters if you need a riverside drop off and pick up. We floated from Double mountain to Fort Yukon. Wright Air used Helio- Currier aircraft to drop us off (approx. 850 lb load cap.)at Double Mountain and a regularly scheduled Cesna Caravan to bring us back to Fairbanks from Fort Yukon. There is a gravel strip that is in pretty good shape about 1/4 mile off the river just downstream from Double Mountain. We flew in on August 4 th last year and there was already fresh snow most of the way down the mountains. The water levels in the upper Sheenjek were marginal as we had 2 portages due to low water. If you used a raft instead of a cat you may have better luck in the upper sections, but you will pay for that later in fighting the winds. I would recommend an outboard powered cat for the trip! We used 2 cats with one outboard (one boat towing the other). That arrangement was OK, but 2 motors would be better. We spent 17-18 days on the water, but some days we traveled 10 miles and other days 40 miles. Camping sites and firewood are abundant except for a 20 mile section above Lobo Lake. Caribou and Moose sign were scattered along the entire river, with more caribou in the upper and more moose in the lower. Grizzlies were plentiful along the entire river with the majority of sign in the middle sections of the river. You will have to keep a CLEAN camp! If you plan to float in late August you may have more problems with lower water levels than in earlier August. You can figure on freezing temperatures at night even in early August. The rapids are class I to II (easy II) depending on water levels. There are many sweepers, strainers, and possible log jams throughout the middle sections of the river. These hazards are more difficult than any of the rapids. Channel selection is important as there are many small channels that wind through the forest, some can be blocked by beaver dams or log jams. There are greyling in the entire river, Northern Pike in the lower. It is possible to only float the upper section of the river, but you will have to do some research on a pick up point. I believe Karen Jettmar's book lists a take out point around the Koness River. That would make the upper section float about 115-120 miles. It was a great float and we had a fantastic time! We only seen evidence of another human on one gravel bar where we seen a set of hip boot tracks. It is very remote country! Good luck and if you have more questions or want to see some pictures lt me know. I would recommend getting your plane reservations SOON as most charter services are probably already booked for the summer! If you want to use Wright Air contact: Bob.

    AK Farmer

  9. #9
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default

    akfarmer:

    Nice review of your float sounds like you guys had a great time. Did you see the grave sights on the upper river? The Double Mountain strip is generally the highest point upriver to start a float unless water levels are really high.

  10. #10

    Default

    stay away from jgz7..'s post. spammer. take care, abel6wt

  11. #11
    Member akfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Sheenjek

    No we didn't hike up to the grave sites. If you would like to see some pictures of the trip go to www.wholewheatradio.org and type sheenjek river in their search engine.

    akfarmer

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