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Thread: Tustumena Lake

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    Member Blue Thunder's Avatar
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    Talking Tustumena Lake

    Is Tustumena Lake accessible with a 22' jet boat. From what I can see it looks like you have to go up the Kasilof River a couple of miles? Is this allowed and what is the water like getting into the lake. Thanks

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    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    Boy, I guess I screwed you up on the name of lake... I knew it was named after one of the Big blue canoes, that named after something else, good luck.

    It is on a map, its a big lake and I am fairly certain the road system connects, I think any map of the peninsula should give you enuf info to find it.

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    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    Yes it is accessible from the road. I cannot remember which road. You should have no problems getting to the lake from the launch. The lake on the other hand can get very nasty, very quick. There are also a lot of rocks that your hull can find. Some of these rocks are a long way from shore. Watch the wind and your depth and all should be well.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    I've done it in a 35 hp. jon boat with no problems. You should be OK. We found some shallow water, but your jet will work great.

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    Coming from the north, take a left on the second Johnson Lake Road, which is directly across the highway from North Cohoe Loop. Take the second right onto Tustumena Lake Road. This gravel road can get pretty nasty and is quite narrow once you get past the residential area (the first couple miles). Just follow the road all the way to the end.

    The boat ramp is pretty wide and makes for an easy launch. There is no dock, but there is a little bit of room to pull up to the bank to load gear/people on either side of the launch.

    Go up stream a mile or so and you'll be entering the lake. The river isn't bad at all, just don't hug either bank. Center channel has more than enough water all the way out. When you get to the lake, do NOT take a quick left along the north coastline. There is a shallow bar that extends out quite a bit on this first point. From the river, follow the western shoreline south for a half mile or so before turning out and heading to your destination. Always give the shoreline at least 200 yards clearance when running on step. There are many rocks under the surface.

    Once you're breaking out of the river and onto the lake, if the waves are rough here, turn back now. This is a rather protected area and the weather is only worse the further you go. Waves tend to run south to north. By the time the wind off the south glacier pushes the water 20 miles north, it can stack up pretty high with a very short frequency. Quite dangerous to small craft. Even if the water is good, always keep your eye (and binos) to the south. If you start seeing white caps down south, it's time to head in... quickly if you're in a small boat.
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    Talking

    Thanks for the info. This is exactly what I was looking for. Drove up to the ramp today and the road was ruff but not real bad. Any info on fishing and where to try. Thanks

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    I've never had any decent luck fishing in the lake itself. Salmon coming in from the Kasilof are heading to streams on both the East and West sides of the lake about 1/3 to 1/2 way down. Lots of them end up on the East side, but who knows what route they take to get there. During many moose hunting trips on the northern side of the lake, I've seen plenty of salmon jumping right next to the beach, so they may follow the shoreline. Never was able to catch one, and they are getting pretty red at this point anyhow. I've heard there are trout out there. Haven't caught one yet. It's a BIG lake.
    Winter is Coming...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    I've never had any decent luck fishing in the lake itself. Salmon coming in from the Kasilof are heading to streams on both the East and West sides of the lake about 1/3 to 1/2 way down. Lots of them end up on the East side, but who knows what route they take to get there. During many moose hunting trips on the northern side of the lake, I've seen plenty of salmon jumping right next to the beach, so they may follow the shoreline. Never was able to catch one, and they are getting pretty red at this point anyhow. I've heard there are trout out there. Haven't caught one yet. It's a BIG lake.
    I imagine with down riggers, a good trolling motor, and a little experience and experimentation, one could really do well. I would expect to find large lake trout, rainbows, dollies, and I bet some of them are really, really, big. I fish Kenai Lake on occasion and have fairly well with the lakers.

  9. #9
    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akgramps View Post
    Boy, I guess I screwed you up on the name of lake... I knew it was named after one of the Big blue canoes, that named after something else, good luck.

    It is on a map, its a big lake and I am fairly certain the road system connects, I think any map of the peninsula should give you enuf info to find it.
    well actually...

    tustumena lake is a mispronunciation of a native place name...the local natives called it dusdubena...the pronunciation change came about probably circa 1880 or so is my best guess...

    in the local athabascan dena'ina dialect dusdu is "the peninsula" referring to caribou island, and bena is "water"...

    all together dusdubena means "the lake with the peninsula"...

    when you are high up in the mountains and looking back towards cook inlet it all makes sense...

  10. #10

    Smile Watch the wind..

    Joat is right on with his warning about the lake. I personally know several experienced Alaskans who had some hair raising experiences on that lake when the weather kicked up, they all said it happened fast. Several of them spent the night on the beach and were glad to do it. Lots of lives have been lost in it and Skilak Lake. Have fun and play it safe.

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    Coming from the north, take a left on the second Johnson Lake Road, which is directly across the highway from North Cohoe Loop. Take the second right onto Tustumena Lake Road. This gravel road can get pretty nasty and is quite narrow once you get past the residential area (the first couple miles). Just follow the road all the way to the end.

    Actually, if you take the second entrance you'll be blocked by a mound of dirt and Crooked Creek as the road was never repaired after the flooding several years ago. Instead, take the first Johnson Lake Rd., it's on the left (coming from the North), just after Tustumena Elementary (on the right side of the highway, you'll see the CES Fire Station). Then turn left onto Tustemena Lk. Rd.

  12. #12

    Default watch your anchoring

    if you anchor overnite be sure the boat is anchored with bow pointed into the waves and in 3 feet of water so you can ride out wave. otherwise you may find your boat full of water with a dead battery in the morning... I tie a land line off each stern corner to keep the boat pointed the way I want and as extra insurance from being dragged off anchor out into the lake......The USFWS told me they help lots of people every year on Tustemena who just beach their boats only to have them swamped in the night by waves......

    There is a great campsite on the south end of the big spit that sticks into the Lake. you can put your boat on either side of the spit to help stay out of the waves when beached.

    There is not always enough water to make the short cut on the south side of the spit (island).

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    Default It's a cool lake.. But..

    I took my RIB out there a few years ago, it's a deep V, so getting there in most boats won't be a problem, just watch your depth finder. It's also the only place (including the ocean) I have been able to put a 20" tube full of air under a wave. I was on a creek near the glacier when the wind started howling and it got bad fast (20 minutes from calm to 60 mph winds), the boat blew off anchor and I went and got it in a sevylor raft (I have many years in whitewater, so rollers/breakers aren't that scary, although high siding into the wind was a bit different) after that I came back to camp and my three season tent was allmost flat in the wind. I had my friend hold the boat on shore while I broke camp (Aluminum tent poles were bent), threw everything into the boat and went out into the lake and started heading back. When I had the boat trimmed pretty good for a following sea, I looked away for one second and the wave I hit put my tube straight through it about two feet below the crest, slammed my face into the window breaking all the nylon bolts, and sent a 30 foot wall of water straight into the air, and a six inch solid greenwater wave across the entire boat (lots of bilge pump action). It was pretty cool, but if not for the equipment I was in, it might not have been so good. Bear sign everywhere, could find a moose to save my life, and tons of spawned out salmon in the streams making to seem that good trout could be had. Have fun, be careful, take at least a float tube and handheld marine radio, wear a PFD, and anchor offshore or the waves will break over the stern and make life bad.

    Chris

  14. #14
    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    I’ve boated Tustumena Lake since 1968, the year the upper boat launch was first constructed and have ran the lake in many types of crafts.

    Yes, Tustumena is very accessible with a 22 foot jet boat…but in the spring the water level in the lake is generally low and so you will find where the river meets the lake to have an area of a few hundred yards wide that is only about a foot deep. Usually I tilt my outboard up and idle through that part but with a jet you would probably want to hit it on step.

    By mid-June the snow run-off has melted to the point the water level has risen where I can go through on step at that particular location with an outboard. Early spring is a good time to learn the entrance to the lake as all the rocks are exposed and can be found the easy way.

    The ice goes out on Tustumena Lake between April 15th to May 20th. But usually its in May. I have kept records for the last fifteen years.

    Yes, there are no power restrictions running your boat upstream from the upper boat launch to and on the lake itself. However the lake is closed to hovercraft, airboats and jetskis (not my rules, just passing them on folks)

    If you don’t have a depth finder, just assume all shorelines are shallow quite aways out into the lake. In reality, some places thats true and some its not, but there isn’t a rule of thumb as the lay of the land is inconsistent, so its best to be cautious until you know first hand.

    Many people are afraid of Tustumena Lake. It is a lake to be well respected and don’t push your luck, but not necessarily feared. I’ve lived about 4 years on Tustumena Lake cumulatively, not all at once, at the far end over the last several years so I have had opportunity to learn the weather and how it affects the water.

    If you are boating on the West end of the lake use Cook Inlet weather forecasts, but if you are boating on the East end of the lake use Katchemak Bay weather forecasts.

    Typically the water is not too rough to flat from early mornings to about 1 PM. In the early afternoon the winds come up off the glacier and you will often see whitecaps, but not always. At just before dusk, the wind will calm down and you have about an hour to make your run to the boatlaunch before dark on flat water. However, if a weather front is moving through all bets are off and it just blows and gets rough and does what it wants to do. That’s usually a good time to just wait it out and not push your luck.

    I now run a 18 foot bayrunner so I can come-a-long it all the way up on the beach on logs but yet push it off again by myself , so I can walk away from it for a week without having to worry about it. If your boat is too big to do that I would recommend a protected bay or pull it into a creek out of the surf.

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