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Thread: Fishing and Floating the Arolik River

  1. #1
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    Default Fishing and Floating the Arolik River

    This upcomming August, a group of 4-5 friends and myself are planning a float trip down the Arolik River unguided. Papa bear adventures seem to be the only Air taxi ( & raft rental) service available out of Bethel, with a pickup in Quinhagak, But are there any other choices? They seem a little bit on the expensive side, or is this the going rate? I am also wondering if it makes sense to Fly out of Dillingham instead? Any and All information is appreciated, as I understand this river is very seldomely floated. Thanks.
    -Andrew

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default thoughts...

    I floated the nearby Goodnews in SW this past Aug/Sept. We used Tikchick Airventures out of Dillinghman. Rick Grant (pilot) did a great job for us. I could recommend them to you if you are considering going out of Dillingham. But I must say, I have heard from several people who have used Papa Bear and I have heard only good things about them. It is worth mentioning that bush rates are very high. But as always, it is certainly worth getting a few quotes. With that said, I would be sure to get some recommendations as well. I have heard good things of Papa Bear and would use them myself if flying out of Bethel. If in need of a motel or rental car, get the reservations soon. Not much to choose from and that time of year they could be booked up.
    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.

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    I'd be curious what you find out; there are about 10 bushpilot operations each in Dillingham and Bethel, each with one or two planes of various sizes and types, at least tikchikairventures and freshwateradventures also rent rafts, there are other operations that ship rental rafts in and out from anchorage to dillingham, bethel, or where-ever. I took freshwateradventures about 10 years ago and their planes and equipment were absolutely top notch; they have changed owners but look to be experienced pilots and the planes and rafts look the same. Prices have increased since then.

    FYIW: PapaBear's prices seem in line with other quotes offered on the web.

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    I am going to look into tikchickairadventures in the next few weeks and try and get a few names of bush pilots around the Bethel area. I think you are right about the raft rental though, better to just rent it in the town your flying out of. Thanks for the information

  5. #5

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    I reserved with Papa Bear this year and they have been extremely professional to deal with to this point and have heard nothing but praise for them. They charge per person and not plane load so it can depend on your # of people which is cheaper. We are keeping to only two people this year so they were actually cheaper than others like Tikchick Airventures. If we were 3 per plane load then Tikchick Air Adventures would have been about $200 cheaper per person.

    Both have great reps. Beyond the price and solid saftey reps, I chose PB this go around because they offered a very complete package with onsite lodging, picking up USPS and freight shipments in advance and took care of reserving the wheeled pick up in Quinhagak too. It made it a very easy choice. I also was mailed GPS coordinates of key navigation spots,ect. upon reservation payment.

    Another plus is that they actually answer emails promptly and with good info. Beyond a sketchy rep, nothing gets you crossed of my list faster than a pain in the ass person to contact or someone who does not respond when asked for simple quotes. Tikchick Air Adventures does a very good job with emails too.

    And like danatherock said, bush flights are just expensive and most places I've found are pretty similar in price for the same kind of plane. The best prices per person occur when you can match the plane to the actual load as close as possible.

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    Default Trip On?

    I'm looking for an unguided float trip. What PAPABEAR offers looks enticing. Unfortunately we will miss the kings and silvers because our time line is the first or second week of August. Probably 2009. We have several unguided float trips under our belt and have backpacked a lot of trips too. AS we are going in late summer we are hoping that we can find a river to float in our one man 8' catarafts, with two additional going in a raft with the majority of the gear. Our priorities are FLYFISH, and CLEAR WATER. Both the Aniak and the Arolik look like good bets. We would be on the water for 6-7 days. On our trips here in the 48, we have found that about 40 to 50 miles is max when we stop and wade fish. Any help someone can give me would be appreciated.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default thoughts...

    If you are planning a trip two years in advance perhaps you could shift the weeks a bit. Doing so would improve the timing for silvers for sure. Below is a link to a video of the Aniak from the forum store. I ordered this a while back. Great insights here for anyone floating the Aniak. The folks who made this DVD, the Duke Brothers, are from Idaho I think, and they made about 4 DVD's of float trips on Alaska rivers. Check out this...

    http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/sto...754f315ed7217b

    Dan
    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.

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    Default Matching weights and planes and prices

    Essentially when you choose a plane you are looking at weight of the cast and crew that will fit in the plane, coupled with how fast it goes. if you have 5 guys you are going to straight up pack a beaver...and that's if you go light, in fact in one trip it's probably nearly impossible. I have floated the Arolik three times and we did it with freshwater adventures using their goose. It carries around 1800 pounds, it's fast, and you will never bulk out that fuselage. We had 4 guys, ten days worth of food, two rafts and didn't really skimp. (but note that in August, the north fork, which you must float before you get to the main channel, can be very low and draggin raft for 8 miles is not cool so you may want to get down to necessities.

    In comparison, a beaver carries around 1200 pounds and it's not too hard to have too much fluff to jam into it especially if you are filling four seats with people. These weights are what the operators quote you by and many of htem have scales at the dock to make sure everyone is safe.

    So, if I had 5 guys, 2 rafts, and enough stuff to have some comfortable fun on the river, I'd shoot for the goose out of Dillingham...the only way it would pan out better than that is if you are all midgets, and eat dried food, and could fit in a beaver. Two trips with a beaver will cost more than one with a goose, unless PB is that much cheaper than Dillingham operators.

    Even four guys wouldn't fit well in a beaver...three guys, one raft would.

    Just PM me, the options and combinations and variables are endless and I'd be here all day describing the nuances of it all.

    Thanks

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    Default Arolik Float

    Another operater in Bethel is Tikchik Adventures www.tikchikadventures.com , they rent rafts and do dropoffs on all of the rivers in the region. Last time I checked they were the least expensive.

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    Thumbs up Tikchik...

    Tikchik run a tight ship. They are good and reputable. I used them this past Sept after reading of them in "Fish Alaska" magazine. I would definately use them again.
    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.

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    Default arolik

    andrew,
    i floated the arolik a couple of times 7-8 years ago. it was a great trip, no other floaters and great fishing. we went with freshwater adventures out of dillingham. we stopped going because of access problems. we floated down to a place called bessie creek and got picked up by people from quinahagak in jonboats and boated out to the ocean and then over to the village. since then a couple of things happened. a road was built to the river over native land. a company called alaska west "leased" the river from the local native corporation. at the time this happened we were told that we couldnt be picked up via the road because the native corporation lease was for exclusive use and they were trying to discourage other users. the arolik flows through native lands on the bottom half but is considered "navigable" so if you stay below high water you are legal. the people from the village would also no longer pick us up by boats for the same reason. i wouldnt want to try and row the last few miles of river as there is no current and the wind generally blows upriver. its only a few miles from the mouth of the arolik to the mouth of the kanektok but it is essentially a very shallow mudflat that can only be done at high tide. last i heard alaska west still had the river and was running jet boats up the river to take their clients fishing. i would assume they are only accessing the last few miles of river. anyhow, if outfitters are offering trips there again i assume this has been worked out but if you havent heard definitively about this issue i would ask some questions. if you do go i would recommend a gps and a good map. the arolik is a braided river especially lower down and there are two mouths and it would be very easy to go down the wrong braid and end up in the wrong place.

  12. #12

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    catch anything on the Arolik, lake creek?

    Sounds like the sort of thing you would do traveling light as possible. I would take maps for another river, in case of need for a plan B.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lakecreek View Post
    andrew,
    i floated the arolik a couple of times 7-8 years ago. it was a great trip, no other floaters and great fishing. we went with freshwater adventures out of dillingham. we stopped going because of access problems. we floated down to a place called bessie creek and got picked up by people from quinahagak in jonboats and boated out to the ocean and then over to the village. since then a couple of things happened. a road was built to the river over native land. a company called alaska west "leased" the river from the local native corporation. at the time this happened we were told that we couldnt be picked up via the road because the native corporation lease was for exclusive use and they were trying to discourage other users. the arolik flows through native lands on the bottom half but is considered "navigable" so if you stay below high water you are legal. the people from the village would also no longer pick us up by boats for the same reason. i wouldnt want to try and row the last few miles of river as there is no current and the wind generally blows upriver. its only a few miles from the mouth of the arolik to the mouth of the kanektok but it is essentially a very shallow mudflat that can only be done at high tide. last i heard alaska west still had the river and was running jet boats up the river to take their clients fishing. i would assume they are only accessing the last few miles of river. anyhow, if outfitters are offering trips there again i assume this has been worked out but if you havent heard definitively about this issue i would ask some questions. if you do go i would recommend a gps and a good map. the arolik is a braided river especially lower down and there are two mouths and it would be very easy to go down the wrong braid and end up in the wrong place.

    As of 2004 the south mouth is cut off (so no worries) and there are only three to 5 large braids that look floatable, we split up and took them all and all come back to the main river without draggin, choppin or swearin. The going light part is mostly applicable to the first 7 miles out of the lake...once the forks converge you should be fine, but depending on water levels it's a real bugger til then. Pick ups are largely done now by individuals in Quinhagak that pick you up at the end of the road near the mouth with trucks or fourwheelers. It's about 100 yards of mucky marsh to hump your gear up and it will be filthy by the time you get to the turnaround at the end of the road. Not sure on all the legalities with the native organization...could just be a bluff...but I haven't heard of any tickets being issued. Alaska West does indeed run the river in one or two jons with jets and they are probably mostly in the lower 10 miles but we saw them as far up as 20 to 22 miles...(not navigable my sweet bahookie) But there are usually few other floaters.

    Lake Creek, too bad you got picked up above Bessie...the first 6 out of ten miles below there to the pullout had the largest fish of the trip...it doesn't look like much and you have to dredge bottom with super heavy flies or hardware, but that's where the nicest ones are. It's well worth battling the wind for what you get out of it, and there are salmon in those holes below depending on the tide and timing.

    I suggest you contact the outfitter regarding the accessability issues/legality...these things happen out here (posting of land) but not sure how often anyone ever gets bit...if ever.

    In general, this is not a float for the inexperienced...help is a loooong ways away if mistakes are made and the floatable section is more than 40 miles so boot scootin out isn't really an option and you may or may not see any people, and even once you are out...you are in Quinhagak for god's sake...still a lot o miles from anywhere.

    If the water is low you will literally drag your rafts for half of the first 8 miles...it cost us two knees the last time I did it (and our average age was 28)...so take your time and plan on the first day just gettin to the confluence with the south fork and camp there, catch some fish...breath deep and carry on from there the next day. Access from teh south fork is done through a few small ponds that local pilots won't touch unless water levels are decent...and then it's a substantial gear hump through alders and willows to get to the water.

    Ps, try and find a recent map...the old USGS ones we looked at might as well have been for the Kenai

  14. #14
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Used to be a great river

    The Arolik used to be a great rainbow trout river, I fished that river for 10 years. Knew every bend and ripple. These days I wouldn't call it a great fishing river anymore, it does have great scenery, good solitude, yep the bigger bows are caught in the lower river these days, but numbers are dwindling. Hardly ever see big fish anymore. I used to catch bows up to 29" there, not anymore. Big bows are getting fewer and farther between.
    The river is small compared to other drainages in SW Alaska, much more fragile. With as many groups that have been floating the Arolik within the last 5 years, the bows have definitely felt the impact.
    Sportfishing regulations for the river do not protect the rainbow trout population at all, which is a shame. A few years ago I made a few inquiries about the regs, the ADF&G Sportfish Division insisted that they wanted to maintain diversity in the SW region. Regs remained unchanged, regs still allow anglers to use treble hooks and bait. We all know what that can do to a rainbow trout population in just a few short years. Years and years of this type of fishing and there will come a day that there will no longer be any good bows to fish there. I am grateful that I had a chance to fish it when it was a prime river, a prime river indeed. Regs need to be changed to protect this rainbow trout fishery before we all lose it. Tight lines.

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