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Thread: Gulkana River Speed

  1. #1
    Member Limetrude's Avatar
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    Question Gulkana River Speed

    I am giving some thought to taking my 16 foot jon-boat out to the Gulkana this week to try for for reds and a king, but wondering if I will be able to make any headway. First of all, it is only a 9 horse long tail motor. I can run shallow and don't need to worry about hitting bottom with the motor, its just a matter of only being able to do about 12 mph over still water. I have run the Tanana, Chena, and Chatanika during breakup... a whole lot in the Fairbanks area and feel comfortable with those, but the only one that even compares to the Gulkana is the Chatanika at flood-stage. Thus I was wondering if anyone could give me some info on the water speed and also how insane it can be with respect to other boaters. Lastly, any details regarding where I can launch down by the Richardson Bridge (if any) would be very helpful.

    Thanks...

  2. #2
    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    Launch at Sourdough Campground, and a 9 horse surface drive should be fine. If you've run up the Tanana, the Gulkana shouldn't be a problem.

  3. #3
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    beware if you go down river - you dont see many boats below sourdough for a reason

  4. #4
    Member barleydog's Avatar
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    I would like to run up the Gulkana with my 18 ft. that sports a 90 prop. Is this a safe venture? Can you get into fish close to Sourdough campgrounds or do you have to travel a great distance? Always wanted to try the river at least once at Sourdough... Thanks!

  5. #5
    Member Limetrude's Avatar
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    Default Not a problem

    Barleydog,

    I just got back from my Gulkana Trip. Here is what I can tell you:
    1. The kings were in, just somewhat reluctant to bite. We only saw one boat that could consistently catch them the entire time, there were probably more since I did see several carcasses at the end of the weekend but we for sure did not have the right technique.

    2. There were many boats up there, including a few that were quite large, I am sure they drew a good foot of water or so when not on step. Before I can answer your question fully though, how much water do you draw with that prop? I would estimate that if it is less than a foot or foot and a half I would say you won't have any problems if the water stays at the levels it was on the 21st. I drive a 9hp go-devil longtail and had absolutely no problems. You do need to be careful as there are a few rock gardens up there, but once you get about 3 or 4 miles upriver from sourdough you are past the majority of them at least until the confluence of the west fork (I did not go further so I am not much help beyond that). The hard part was navigating those rocks on the way back down with wind and rain hiding them just below the surface waves.

    3. While I would not call it a "safe" venture just because of the rocks etc, if you stay in the main channels and are good at reading a river, I think you would manage ok.

    4. There are some good holes after about 5 miles up from Sourdough. You would do well to go at least that far.

  6. #6
    Member barleydog's Avatar
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    Thanks Limetrude!
    I draw around two ft. of water maybe 1 1/2 on step. I'm pretty cautious, so I'd probably take it slow upstream and possibly fish holes that are a little closer than 5 miles. I'd hope that scoring a couple fish in the lower reach would be possible? Sorry you didn't catch any biggens last week. Hopefully we'll be able to play with a couple Chena fish next weekend.... If the run cooperates???

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