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Thread: Rivers for a 7-10 day float in August

  1. #1
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Rivers for a 7-10 day float in August

    Hi again everyone,

    Now that I've got the raft, it's time to start planning a trip for next summer. My Dad, my brother, and I are looking for a river for a good 7-10 day float fishing trip mid August 09. We'll be looking mostly for rainbows dollies and grayling, but wouldn't mind a silver or two to add to the freeze dried food. I've heard the Stuyahok can be good as well as the Naknek, Alagnak, Upper Nush, American...How do I narrow it down? None of us has a lot of whitewater experience, so we're looking for a mellow float with lots of fish and gravel bars to camp on. I've also heard some of the rivers up toward Denali can be good long floats with excellent fishing. Anyone know anything about the Chulitna or any of the rivers around there? I suppose those would be cheaper to get to anyway....

    Thanks for the help.

    Scott

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    Member ruckus's Avatar
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    Default possibilities

    I floated Lake creek last summer. Lake creek and the Talachulitna see alot of fishermen but are good bets. I ran into a guy and he said the Chilikadratna(sp?) was his favorite river. I have been doing some research and it seems like it could be a great float.

    enjoy
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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default first float...

    Everybodies first week long float is generally the upper Gulkana River. Easy water to gain a high volumn of low intensity rafting experience. Lots of arctic grayling and plenty of rainbow trout. I am not aware of what salmon might be there in Aug. My many floats on the Gulkana have all been during June and July. The Gulkana is also a "cheap float" with vehicle access at both the put-in and at the take-out.

    I really believe that Lake Creek is more water than you will want on your first week-long float trip. Get a high volumn of that low intensity experience before you do Lake Creek. The class III and class IV sections can be "too much experience way too fast".

    Just my opinion....

    Dennis
    Alaska True Adventure Guide Service
    Last edited by AlaskaTrueAdventure; 10-25-2008 at 01:03. Reason: just 'cause

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Lots of choices!

    You might have a look at the Goodnews; it will fit your time frame nicely, and the fishing is fantastic.

    Ultimately it will have a lot to do with your budget; some rivers are more expensive to access than others.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default

    Mike told you all you need to know!

    The Goodnews River is hands down the PERFECT river for you. There are rivers all over the state that would make nice float trips, but if fishing is your priority, think SW Alaska. The Goodnews is a shining example. A "gem" is what Scott Haugen, author of "Flyfisher's Guide to Alaska", says about the Goodnews. That book is for sale on Amazon and the forum store. Buy it. The Goodnews would also make a perfect first float trip. Great camping, plenty of firewood on most the gravel bars, wildlife, great scenery in places, and not over used. We saw three other groups on our 13 day float. Not the solitude I am used to with our NW Alaska floats, but nothing compares well to the arctic for solitude. I floated the Goodnews last year with my wife after talking with Mike. What a perfect river for a float trip. We plan to go back ourselves. No rapids or hazards to amount to anything. We float Alaska rivers each fall and this is as easy as they come. Mid August to early Sept is prime time for silvers and the Goodnews has lots of them. Below is a brief trip report with pictures. I would be happy to talk further with you about this river. I will tell you anything I can. Shoot me a pm if applicable.


    We floated the lovely Goodnews River Aug/Sept 2007 for 13 days. We flew into Goodnews Lake with Rick Grant (Tikchik Airventures) on a bright and sunny afternoon. The lake is very large and we had been told it had some great lake trout fishing. We saw thousands of reds near the shore and some dollies, but never caught a lake trout. We paddled the 60 miles down to the village of Goodnews Bay where we had a wheel plane return trip to Dillingham. A river pick up on floats was planned but bad weather called for a motor boat pick up and a 5 mile ride to the village where our wheeled plane awaited. Rick had this back up plan well coordinated with us ahead of time. Along the way, we caught dollies pretty much throughout the whole river. The wife got 13 on as many cast at one place in the upper Goodnews. There were spots where we would see many rainbows darting around under our Ally canoe. Feeder creeks were productive in most all cases. We floated over some rainbows that were very large. The silvers were found about half way down and fishing improved as we got towards the terminus. Bright conditions and unexperienced fly fisherman made for pretty slow action at times. Then we would catch some every cast. Like a lightswitch being turned on and off. We would find them 50-60 at a time laid up deep beside cliffs in outer curves of the river. We would beach our Ally pack canoes and try to sneak back up towards the banks in order to cast at them. We had taken lots of bright pink flies and caught only a few on them. I finally got some success on a #2 olive bead head wb. The darker colors worked out well. In hindsight, I may have been better off with some smaller offerings. We found a few rainbows mixed in with the silvers. They were being very defensive darting in and out of the mix. Hard to get their attention although we did catch a few. None larger than 22" but we were not fishing for them to be honest. We were there for the silvers. The weather was unusually nice the whole trip. Bright sunny days and 60+ degrees on several. Dang! We did not get the weather we had expected (and hoped for). I would have preffered overcast days of course. We saw bears about every other day. All "good bears" at least. On the final night, it was raining pretty hard and I heard an unmistakable sound as a brown bear walked across a small creek near our tents. It was 0300 and the last thing I wanted to see was walking straight toward my tent. He was about a 7.5' bear and had got to within 20 yards of my tent when I got out to take a look. Having floated a few NW Alaska rivers, I had been around bears a little bit. But, I was pretty scared this time. He was walking right towards me when I shined the Surefire M6 in his eyes. All 500 leumen! He froze with his front left paw in the air for what seemed like 20 seconds. Then he turned away and went back to from which he had came. I slept pretty lightly the rest of the night. Luckily it was our last night. He had came across us by chance I feel. It was a windy and rainy night. The river was an easy paddle in our Ally pack canoes. No hazards to amount to anything. Just several places where mid stream rocks had to be avoided. No problems with unusually shallow areas. Some swift sections, but nothing that would classify as Class II. Beautiful mountain scenery all the way down. Wonderful camping sites that were numerous and most always provided abundant firewood. Just a few caribou were seen running the shores of Goodnews Lake. That herd has taken a decline of about 80% from what ADFG told me. They had stopped by one morning to check our license in a jet boat. Nice enough and they hung around for about 15 minutes chatting. They are true stewards of the land. We had some slow fishing for the first 15 miles or so once we entered the river from Goodnews Lake. After that, it picked up pretty good and by the mid way point, we were catching dollies, bows, and silvers. The dollies were consistent through the whole river. Including the lake even. Most our fish were caught on purple esl with pink heads, Battle Creek Special, and Olive BHWB. All in size #2. 3/8 to 1/2 ounce Blue Fox Vibrax spinners are the ticket for spin fisherman. Silver, gold, and blue/green for dollies/bows. Pink bodies with nickel blades for silvers. Also caught some silvers on a Pink Marauder (Hills Discount Flies). I feel that they would have worked even better if we would not have had bluebird skies every day. And we did much better in the evening on the silvers. Next time I will fish harder in the first and last two hours of the day. The bright sunny days really cause lock jaw. Locating the pods was not hard in the gin clear Goodnews. We will definately go back. Repeatedly I will even say. I am wanting to try for kings in early July. After floating this river, I can see where it would be a good place to fly fish for them. Good bank access and not very deep or wide. We could wade the river in many sections and could wade out enough to cast to the middle in 70% of it. A wonderful float with great scenery and very high fishing potential. I hope that our catch rate will increase on future trips. I will also hope for more typical SW Alaska weather. Here is a link to pictures from the Goodnews trip.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2114408...22658629/show/
    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

    I wouldn't call Chulitna a good fishing trip. It's a nice float though. The only fishing is the first few miles from the put in, and some of the side streams coming in -- mostly the ones on river left. Nenana is basically the same, but with bigger rapids in the canyon section. I don't think these are what you're looking for.

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    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Hey, thanks for all the good input everyone. I am definitely planning to do the Gulkana once or twice this summer, but I was under the impression it was more of a 3 or 4 day float. Am I mistaken here? I will also do some more looking into the Goodnews. The river looks beautiful. Is the rainbow fishing as good as some of the other rivers in the Bristol Bay region?

    Thanks again,

    Scott

  8. #8
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Alagnak in August?

    What do you guys know about the Alagnak? It looks like this could be great river for an extended float as well.

    Thanks in advance

  9. #9
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Alagnak

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottsum View Post
    What do you guys know about the Alagnak? It looks like this could be great river for an extended float as well.

    Thanks in advance
    Scott,

    The Alagnak is a beautiful float; you should do well there for rainbows. Lotsa bears and lotsa people though. Some of the more popular campsites become a little more "poopular" later in the summer, if you take my meaning. Consider packing it out...

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  10. #10
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Goodnews River

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottsum View Post
    Hey, thanks for all the good input everyone. I am definitely planning to do the Gulkana once or twice this summer, but I was under the impression it was more of a 3 or 4 day float. Am I mistaken here? I will also do some more looking into the Goodnews. The river looks beautiful. Is the rainbow fishing as good as some of the other rivers in the Bristol Bay region?

    Thanks again,

    Scott
    Scott,

    The Goodnews is home to the beautiful "leopard rainbows", so-named because of their gorgeous spots. Wonderful fish. I don't know how the sizes compare to other Bristol Bay streams, but we were more than satisfied. It's a great float.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  11. #11
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default

    I have not been, but read up on it. I don't think it would fit well into your "mellow float" idea. There are some sections of rapids that may demand your attention from what I read. I would look further into this before deciding on the Alagnak. Scott Haugens book, "Flyfishers Guide to Alaska" has a write up on most all popular float trip rivers (and every thing else). Great book and it can be ordered on Amazon or the forum store.
    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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    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the input guys. I was afraid the Alagnak would be more crowded due to its close proximity to King Salmon. I have done some reading about it in a couple of books and some magazine articles. The "braids" just look awesome. They look like the Kenai river side channels I love, but all over, for several river miles. It looks like a group could spend a couple of days just rowing across from island to island and fishing around them. Aerial photos can be deceiving though. Mike, do the islands in the braids have any wadeable gravel around them or are they alder-choked nightmares that you just want to fish through from the boat?

    I should clarify too, that while I'm looking for a mellow float, it doesn't necessarily have to be featureless and flat the whole way. I just don't want to get into any class 3's and 4's just yet. Some mild rapids are fine, and even welcome after a few miles of slow floating.

    From what I've read, it sounds like the Goodnews is home to more dollies than rainbows. Can you guys comment on this? What I'd really like to find is some good "mousing" water for rainbows. I have read that it can be effective in the Kenai and Russian rivers, but I have tried repeatedly with no success.

    With the time and money I'll be spending on this trip, I'd just like the fishing to be at least a little different from the Kenai.

    Thanks again,

  13. #13
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Couple of options

    Great info guys I want to go now as well.

    Mellow Float lots of fishing no Rainbows but other potential is the Holitna Little Spendy becuase of Flights but all 5 Salmon, Dollies, Grayling, Pike etc... plus Tarpon of the North. August means the Kings will have dropped eggs. Just food for thought. Bubba and Bubbe Fishing i.e. Dukes Brothers have accomplished a Video which is available I think through this Forum.

    ATA mentioned the Gulkana which if fished properly from Paxon down to the Richardson Bridge could take 7-10 days and well worth the extended trip if you plan on chasing bows.

    Most people accomplish it in 3-4 days beacuse they can. If you were to fish it well it would take 5-6 days, fish hard 7-10. More adventure on the river would mean going in on the Middle Fork and floating down. Lots of feeder creeks and above average fishing. Mind you the West Fork of the Gulkana is a commitment Trip and if the water is low well a lot more effort. Go Light!!!!!

    Hope you enjoy your summer and best of luck.

    P.S.

    Some of the biggest suprises come from your own back yard :-)

    Richard Mousseau
    www.bluemooserafting.com

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottsum View Post
    From what I've read, it sounds like the Goodnews is home to more dollies than rainbows. Can you guys comment on this? What I'd really like to find is some good "mousing" water for rainbows. I have read that it can be effective in the Kenai and Russian rivers, but I have tried repeatedly with no success.

    Thanks again,
    Not so. There are many rainbows on the Goodnews. I saw some swim under our Ally canoe that looked like silvers. If you are considering the Goodnews, but fear you will not catch many bows, I would suggest reading more. You may have gotten hold of some bad info. I floated it in Aug/Sept 2007 and there are plenty of bows on the Goodnews. As for mousing, I could be mistaken, but I think of that as a spring/early summer thing. If you are going in mid/late August, it will be egg time. Not saying that you won't catch any on the mouse, but they will likely be keying in on the egg drop that time of year. Also, the Goodnews is a premier silver salmon fishery and your trip timing is perfect for that. If floating the Goodnews in mid/late August, you would be expecting dollies in the upper 1/3, bows in the middle 1/3, and silvers in the lower 1/3. This is a great float trip and has lots to offer. I will be repeating this trip myself. If you are wanting rainbows more than the other species, you may also want to research the nearby Kanektok. It is a little longer than the Goodnews (90 versus 60 miles) and is a great fishery for rainbows. I know a guy that has been the last seven years. If you want, I could put you in touch with him. He, like me, is always happy to talk fishing. He goes the to Duncan Bros Lodge (name may be wrong). It is a tent type lodge from what I understand. He goes for the bows. With great success from the pictures I have seen. Shoot me a pm if you want to send him an email.
    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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    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Mousing

    Dan Heiner, in Fly-Fishing Alaska's Wild Rivers says the Goodnews is probably best known for it's dollies and silvers, while the nearby Kanektok is better known for its kings and leopard rainbows. He also says he saw the biggest rainbow of his life brought to the boat on the Goodnews, so he's not degrading the river by any stretch. I know the mousing is better early season. I'd rather go then myself, but the other two in my group want the opportunity to catch some silvers as well, so I'm trying to find a compromise. I've heard and read that mouse patterns can be effective throughout the season on some western rivers and that's what I'm looking for.
    I've caught hundreds of nice rainbows on beads and flesh on the upper Kenai; some in the 27-28 inch range. I'm just looking for something a little extraordinary for the money. My biggest fear is that I'll spend a few thousand dollars and all the time and effort to get over there, and discover that the fishing was just as good at home. Although, I'm sure the most crowded days over there don't even compare to here.

    I've had some absolutely epic days on the Kenai and I don't take them for granted. I guess the grass is just always greener somewhere else.

    Thanks for all the info and advice.

  16. #16
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Seems that we have different goals for our float trips. For me, it is more of the wilderness experience and solitude. I could have an mediocre fishing trip, but still have a wonderful float. But it is always my goal to integrate some great fishing along the way. If the Kenai is your home waters, I can see where you would be worried about spending a couple grand and not catching bigger fish than you are used to. It is a valid concern. As for the Dan Heiner book, it was one of the least helpful I bought. Out of the ten or so I got for fishing Alaska, it is number ten There are two books that may offer you some good ideas. One is "Topwater, Flyfishing Alaska" by Troy Leatherman. And the other is the forementioned book by Scott Haugen, "Flyfisher's Guide to Alaska". Troy's book is the how/where/when, and Scott's book is the where (100+ maps). These are by far my favorite two Alaska fishing books. Both are on the forum store (and Amazon of course). Lots of good info in these two books for the float tripper. Where ever you decide to go, catch plenty and take lots of pictures. Below are a few from our Goodnews trip in '07.





    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.

  17. #17
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    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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    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default I'm with you

    I'm with you on the solitude and the wilderness experience. I've had lots of excellent days fishing, even if the catching wasn't all that great. This trip is really about spending time with my Dad and Brother, and I really don't care if the fish are bigger, or if we catch more numbers, I just want a little variety for the money. I fished the Upper Sacramento in California two weeks ago and had an absolute blast catching 12-16 inch rainbows on nymphs and dry flies.

    I'm really pretty easy to please when it comes to fishing, but I have been trying to catch rainbows on mice for a few years now with no success and it's just become one of those things I have to do. Bristol Bay streams are famous for it, so I'm trying to maximize my chances on this trip. My wife says I have issues. Of course, she also says I like fish more than people, so what does she know anyway

    I'll check out your two book recommendations.

    Thanks again for the helpful advice.

  19. #19
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottsum View Post
    I have been trying to catch rainbows on mice for a few years now with no success and it's just become one of those things I have to do. .
    I know what you mean. Lived in Nome for a year. Caught hundreds of silvers. Floated the Goodnews during its prime for silvers. But I still have not got one on a wog. My white elephant if you will.
    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.

  20. #20
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Default M-i-c....k-e-y....

    M-O-U-S-E!!!! <grin>


    We've had plenty of luck on the Alagnak with mice (prefer the moorish mouse) over the years....Not terribly hot in June/July but definetly a high sticking BLAST in Aug-Oct.....

    From the lake outlet at Nonvianuk all the way to Estrada's...On the drift, or on the wade......Nothing like it.


    If you set aside 2-3 days to camp in the braids you can certainly make the Alagnak an easy 10 day float.....

    Campsites can be difficult to find on certain stretches of the river...Just a word of warning...And there is some moderate whitewater on day 1 below the lake....Nothing to pucker up anyone with some time on the sticks....
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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