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Thread: Heading north to Deadhorse

  1. #1
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    Default Heading north to Deadhorse

    Hey Guys,
    I will be riding a dual sport motorcycle, KLR650, from Chicago to Deadhorse starting June 13th. It'll take about a week to get to the AK border, a couple weeks within and back home during the fourth week. This will put me in AK for fishing in the last week of June and first week of July.

    I'm planning on bringing two rods, both are break down, one light weight spinning rod and a fly rod. I'm currently looking at a 4wt to replace an aging 7 wt two piece that I have.

    From my imagination, it seems I'll be able to ride along and pull over in many places to toss a line in the water. I've caught rainbows for a long time and hope to get in on some good trout fishing. Considering my tackle, I don't want to fish for monsters but pan size so I can do a little catch and release and keep one for dinner when I can.

    I'd really like to get a chance at catching some graylings.

    I'd appreciate any input on possible locations and fly patterns. I have a handful of Panther Martin's. For fly selection I have some black ants, mosquito's, and some wooly bugs to name a few.

    TIA,
    Wirednut

  2. #2
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Carry it in the van

    Carry the rod in the backup van with the spare tires and parts. This is not an easy trip on a bike. Do some research first. A light spinning rod is all that is needed up there along with the fly rod if you want. Not a lot of huge fish.

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  3. #3

    Default Overkill

    I believe that your 4wt will be overkill for most waters, particularly for grayling. I recommend a 3 wt. for the best experience with grayling and average sized trout/dollies.

    The Dalton highway is an industrial road that was originally closed to the public, but was subsequently opened. While it is maintained, it is also a dirt road. When I think back on my trip up the Dalton, three things come to mind: 1. take special note of the windshields of the vehicles driving south and exchange your face shield with the windshield. If that doesn't make sense, it is extremely rare for a windshield to escape unscathed by flying rocks, some are big enough to take the windshield out (figuratively speaking). 2. Mosquitos. I recall tv advertisments for insect repellant where a person insterts their arm into an aquarium filled with mosquitos to show the before and after effect of the repellant... Well, the bugs in the aquarium would be considered a mild bug day on the Dalton... Be sure to pack lots of Deet and a headnet. 3. Lightening storms. I feld very vulnerable in a metalic motorhome during these storms because I was the tallest thing in the area!

    Now the fishing was great for grayling along the highway.. nothing huge but an abundance of hungry fish. That will be lots of fun. Grayling are not picky eaters... if it moves they will strike. The standard flies for grayling are mosquitoes (or any adams pattern), elk hair caddis or anything else that floats. Likewise, I have done very well with nymphs and small streamers. So, bring them all and mix it up a bit.

    I agree with Dave to keep your gear stored in the safety of the support van, and also have lots of spare parts because you could be a lifetime away from help if you break down.

    Good luck

  4. #4
    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Default

    I was there mid july last year. I stoped just north of the Arctic Circle and fished every drainage I crossed except the Yukon. I had lots of luck with a variety of dry flies, but my most succesful both in number of fish and size was a 0 mepps with a silver blade and an olive body. It also had a redish brown tail. I caught grayling in every drainage I fished. My biggest was 20.5" and the average fish was 12"-14". Keep in mind that these fish are slow growing and prone to over-fishing. Only take what you can eat imediately. Have fun and bring DEET and a head net.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    Just another dittos on the hazards of the Dalton. I've driven it in company 3/4 ton trucks, and they seem small for the road. When an 18 wheeler is coming around a blind corner as you're bouncing along in your lane which is either pockmarked with potholes and rocks in your lane, or washboarded out you tend to pucker up. I don't know how many trucks run the road daily, but relatively speaking there is alot of truck traffic.

    A friend rode his dual sport from Anchorage up to the NWT to Inuvik a few years back and it sounded like he had a great trip. I don't know how the road and traffic compare to the Dalton, but I'd imagine it wouldn't have nearly the traffic. I'd also imagine there would be a fair number of lakes and streams to fish.


  6. #6
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default Your Dalton tackle is fine

    The 4wt rod is fine. It may be a bit over matched for grayling but then you'll most likely be casting in a moderate wind (10mph).

    For the spinning rod I'd bring a medium action spooled up with 10lb test, for pike and use the flyrod for the trout and grayling.

    Beadhead nymphs are killers on grayling. #14 Ribbed Hare's Ear, Zug Bug, and Pheasant Tails all produce well on the Dalton.

    Once north of Coldfoot fish the brown water. Although picturesque, gin clear streams such as the upper Dietrich have very few fish.
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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default

    Make sure you take a chest protector for the dalton also hand guards would be a must. I would recommend practicing installing tubes in your tubless tires with hand tools. I would take at least to innertubes as well as a tire plugging kit. You will need an oversized tank, saddle bags and a good lightweight tool kit. I do agree with the others that a support vehicle would be the smart bet but would at least take an iridium SAT Phone (Globalstar doesn't work that far north). Good Luck!

  8. #8
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Default Cooking your grayling

    Like was said in a previous post. If your gonna eat them do it within an hour or two. One of the best tasting fish around if eaten right away. If left for a few hours or more, YUCK is all I can say. If your gonna just catch and release please pinch your barbs off. These fish are majestic, slow growing and can be fragile. Have fun, be safe and good luck
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    Default Sag

    There was an article in the paper here in Fairbanks last summer if I recall correctly about a group of guys starting up north and riding south, they hardly made it to Fairbanks in one piece. I'm not saying it's impossible, they were riding cruisers too, not dual sports, but several of them had to come in on trucks for repairs. It's an ugly bit of road in a big truck, even in a pick up I advise 2 tires, a sat phone and a fuel drum. Plan carefully and watch the weather, there is no cover up there and it could get unpleasant depending on when you make it there.

    4 Wt sounds good to me, I like my 3 but a 4 is a good all around bet. Crimp your barbs is a good call. Don't forget your cable leaders if you're going for pike and get them down there if you can, up here in the north we spend most of the summer sold out of them.

    Don't forget some black gnats and caddis and bring a few. Grayling aren't real picky but when you are catching lots your flies will be getting torn up. Hit the fly shops here in Fairbanks, Sportsman's Warehouse and The Alaska fly shop (?) on University are both good shops if you want to find some fish.

    I think they are usually a little later but you might find some big char returning up there on the sag, the big sea run ones coming back to spawn!

    Till you've been on tundra you haven't seen bug, they are aggressive, I haven't gone that far north but if it's like west Alaska they are like a super breed of bug. Bite through shirts and everything. Be prepared to cover every surface if the wind dies (gloves too!) and I recommend ultrathon although my favorite method is lots of tobacco smoke
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  10. #10
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    Default North Slope Fishing

    I have spent the last year working up at pump station 3, for 6 to ten weeks at a time, and during the summer fished every culvert, crick and stream that crosses the haul road from Atigun Pass to pump station 2. Grayling are in just about every body of water I have come across on the slope. By the end of summer, I was down to using two flies, bead head nymphs, or big mosquitoes, on a 3 weight rod. Grayling always hit one or the other for me. I fished every lake I could with only a little luck using spinners(Vibrax or Mepps) on a spinning rod. The action was not busy enough to make me enjoy it with all the millions and millions of mosquitoes swarming. (Make sure to carry multiple head nets!)

    The Dalton Highway is an insane stretch of nasty road. I was amazed at the number of motorcycles (and bicycles) I saw traveling on it. Friendly advice, pull over and stop for all oncoming vehicles. I have had two windshields busted out by fist sized rocks that could have killed me if the glass had not been in its way. And if possible, have a CB Radio. All 18 wheelers and most 4 wheel trucks use them to signal their presence before coming upon a blind corner or steep hill.

    Good luck too you. I will be at pump station 4 this year, and perhaps will see you on the road.

  11. #11
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    Default

    Gents,
    I appreciate all the feedback.

    Let's start with fishing, it sounds like the graylings are a cake walk in finding and catching. Eat em in a hurry and pinch the barbs (which I've done before).

    The 4wt is the lightest 7 piece rod Cabellas has and this one breaks down short enough to place in a 20 inch pvc rod tube I've made. I've read numerous reviews that speak highly of it. I'll plan on bringing supplies with me including the head nets(i have one), bud spray, and fishing parts. It seems I can't even imagine bugs that bad. I ran into them in Ontario one year on the north shore of Lake Superior and they were so bad they were chasing the moose from the woods to catch the breeze the highway provided. However, I don't know what kind of bug it was but bigger then a mosquito but not a biting kind.

    Are pan size rainbows as abundant as the graylings?

    I appreciate the concern on the rough road. I will be doing the trip with a buddy that went up to Deadhorse in 2003 on a KLR. There will be three of us. We'll be having spare tires shipped to locations in AK for replacements. The bikes have been reinforced in what have been known as weak spots.

    I know its not the same but I rode to the Pacific Ocean last year and toured the Grand Canyon, Utah and Colorado area the year before. I hit a couple of nasty roads and some roads under construction in the mountains. I have a lot of respect for vehicles larger then myself.

    I'm really looking forward to the trip and part of the fun is preparing for it. I've seen lots of pictures from up there and want to see them in person. At times here, I'll close my eyes and try and envision riding my bike there.

  12. #12
    Member garnede's Avatar
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    You will find no rainbows on the slope. Grayling, arctic char, pike, burbot, and whitefish are the predominant species. Which ever flies you choose get several of each. Grayling, though small, will destroy flies faster than you would think possible.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

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    Default Headed to Deadhorse

    I have not seen or heard of any rainbows at all on the slope. But on your ride up before getting to the Brooks, there are plenty of opportunities for them. The three main species on the slope are Charr, Grayling, and Lake Trout. There are small number of Pink and Chum Salmon in the Sag, Colville, and Canning Rivers. I have also heard about Pike being caught on the slope but only at places not accessible by road.

    Pick up a book simply titled "Alaska Fishing, The Ultimate Angler's Guide". I have it in my library and recommend it to anyone who fishes in Alaska. It will answer most of your questions about fishing up here.

    A 4 weight rod will be perfect for your trip. Other lakes and streams you will come across before crossing Atigun Pass will push that weight to its limits. Anyway, I think you will be able to catch fish for the pan most any day on the slope, but more likely than not, it will be Grayling and maybe a hard worked for lake trout. I do hope and wish you catch another species and get to brag about it on this forum.

    And about the bugs, no amount of stories you hear can prepare you for how unbelievably thick the clouds of pestering blood suckers are on the slope. I still cannot believe it when I see it. Head nets, long sleeved shirts, and plenty of bug dope.(only 100% Ben's every really worked for us) And we had to wear multiple layers because the pests can bite through a single cotton shirt.

  14. #14
    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    From what I understand rainbows are south of the yukon river. So you might be able to find some on your way up but once you get through fairbanks I don't think youll have any luck with them.
    be careful and have fun.

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    Yeah, that makes sense on the bows. Ride along, toss a line in the water and hopefully catch something.

    Shore lunch, hot food in the belly and enjoying the moment.

    I'm really stoked about going. I was in lower BC when I visited the Pacific last September and it was gorgeous.

    Thanks everyone.

  16. #16
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default RE: Rainbows

    I believe the Alaska Range is the northern boundary of wild rainbow habitat.

    For sure, none on the slope

  17. #17

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    Remember, Coldfoot's the last beer going north.


  18. #18
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Wirednut

    I was first to post on this but have been really busy this week. I have made the run 5-6 times in a pickup. I have not had a flat tire as of yet but I run E series truck tires. But I do carry, Fix A Flat, tire plugs and usually two spares and tools.

    Except Coldfoot, you can mail stuff there General Deliver to yourself and they have to hold it for 30 days, and Purdoe, that is the extent of the post offices. So mailing stuff ahead could mean someone has to do 200 miles to get to the extra parts. Fuel; Top of the Hill outside of Fairbanks and then Coldfoot. Livengood has no services of any kind.

    The road is getting much better in the past few years. Many parts are still gravel and can be rough. If the grader operator starts a washboard, it can go for miles. Stones - Better be wearing a strong helmet that can stop a golf ball or better. I have lost 2 windshields on the trips, one camper (snapped the frame above the door) YOU WILL be mud soaked and covered with the "watch ya ma call it) stuff they put on the road. My truck still has it on it and unless I use W-D40 or gasoline it is not coming off.

    Bugs - I have never had a problem or found them bad. Many people have, but my house is in the woods so maybe I am just used to them. Or too tough to bite into;D

    All in all, it is a beautiful trip and one that I love to do. The mountains are beautiful, the animals, rivers, flowers.... all add to it. It is a different type of terrain to say the least. One thing you need to know is the distance between pump stations. Just in case you have an emergency, do you head north or back south for help.

    Truckers - HEADLIGHT on at all times. If you see a truck ahead, pull over as much as you can and slow down. They like their windshields too. Piss one off and you will have a terrible trip up and back. They talk to each other. On the other hand, if you have a CB, they love to chat, appreciate road reports and have fun talking to you. Remember, they are doing a job, you are doing a trip of a lifetime. They have priority.

    Good luck, I will be doing the run again in August.

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