Lake Creek Adventure...
Just returned from a week long trip on Lake Creek. What an amazing river! It rained the majority of the time but it did little to dampen our spirits. Made the Class IV+ rapids more like a solid Class V. We ran it in an 14' Otter. Quite a rush. We had some interesting encounters with some curious furry friends (wrecked our camp mid-day while we were fishing -- this was serious bear country and we let our eagerness for fish get in the way of properly stowing our gear). Despite the high water fishing was relatively good. Overall it was a relaxing and exhilarating trip, just what you would hope for in Alaska's back country. I can't wait to do it again.
I am hoping to do that trip next year. My first question is whether to do it in Late June in hopes of catching kings, or wait until early August for silvers?
When would you do it again ?
I have heard the silvers are phenomial but dont' know about the kings. All the pictures I have seen of kings although they get big, are fire engine red & I wouldn't think have much fight left in them.
If anyone can offer some personal experience please do so as it would be great to get some nice bows & grayling as well.
The other question is on the class IV rapids. Can they be lined if you don't feel the confidence of running them mistake free ?
Go For Kings 2nd week of July!
Go for the kings planning to end your trip on July 13th (end of king season). You will be into the kings from Sunflower Creek (1st tributary) all the way to the mouth with the numbers of fish increasing to unbelievable when you get to the mouth of Yenlo Creek. Good numbers of hungry rainbows that time of year as well!
The kings this time of year fight like you won't believe. They don't just fight - they spend a lot of time in the air doing flips and cartwheels! Check out the combination Lake Creek DVD/Ultimate Guidebook on this sites bookstore. You can witness 1st hand the kings fighting and see the whitewhater rapids as well, plus get all the gps coordinates. It's possible, but not easy to line both sets of Class IV rapids. The 1st set "cut-off" rapids is about 150 yards long and has a nice flat surface to line the rafts if you choose. The 2nd set "canyon rapids" is about 30 yards long, but you will have to scramble over boulders to line rafts through. If you use a big safe boat like a 14' cataraft and can move it, rafting the rapids isn't all that difficult. The moving the raft through the best paths in all of the boulder fields that start below Home Creek is actually much more of a chore than the rapids.
As to the rapids- depends on time of year, rain fall, and boat. If its been pounding rain, like on the days that I ran the rapids, expect some serious water. I've paddled class V water before and this was right up there. But its not the water or even the potential flipping of a boat that bothers me, it is the utter remoteness of the trip. If it goes bad there will be no help period. As for lining you boat -- the first set of rapids "cut off" can be avoided easily by lininig the boat down the left hand side of the river, or, if the water is high enough, taking the right hand branch and navigating rocks (this route could be pretty tough with a heavy load where your bottoming out alot). As for the second set of rapids (canyon), I didn't see a way of lining them. Could have been the enormous amount of water in the canyon at the time. I didn't have any trouble with the rock garden below home creek.
As for fishing - I am all about trout so probably the wrong guy to ask. Did hook into some kings accidentally, and yes they fight like hell. I would agree with the suggestions from Idaho on this issue. Silvers were showing, probably would have been thick had I waited a week. The bows were amazing ... not all that huge but lots of fish, even with the high water.
To answer your question, I would probably do it the same time next year, if not a week later. After the king season shuts down (July 13) the river gets little pressure from other anglers (we didn't see anyone else on the river after Home Creek).