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Thread: Alagnak Stories/ Advice?

  1. #1
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Alagnak Stories/ Advice?

    I think we've decided on the Alagnak for our first fly-in float trip. It sounds like the fishing and the scenery are both spectacular (as they are on most rivers over there, I'm sure) but the Alagnak is half the price of the Goodnews and others.

    I'd love to hear any advice, comments, or stories about the rafting or the fishing any of you Alagnak veterans would care to share.

    We're also still trying to decide on the exact dates. It's going to be between mid August and mid September.

    Anyone care to make a recommendation?

    We'll be looking for Rainbows, Dollies, Grayling and Silvers.

    Thanks in advance,

    Scott

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Unless you have good oar skills and whitewater experience, put in on Nonvianuk Lake. You will still encounter Class II rapids on a decent gradient before reaching the confluence with the Alagnak, but nowhere near the Class III you'd see if you put in on Kukalek.

    If you are targeting Silvers and 'Bows (grayling and dollies are there, but not in any distinct concentrations) I would opt for the end of Aug/beginning of Sept. The bead will work well on trout, but certainly bring along some mouse patterns for explosive topwater action. The usual suspects (ESL, Popsicles, etc) will produce silvers.

    If time allows spend a few days in the braids! Find a good campsite with access to wade-able water and work it for the species you want to target.

    A word of caution, if, once you are below the first lodge past the confluence, you hear a LOUD engine that resembles a floatplane flying at treetop level, get out of the main channel!! The lodge has a 32' jet sled they use to haul supplies and clients around on, and they have to stay on step and in the main channel or else they will ground. If you are wading and hear em coming clear out as well....The wake is impressive.

    Make sure you are certain of your haul-out location (I imagine it will be at Estrada's), many first time floaters stop on river right at the old cabin, the pick-up point is about 1/4 mile downriver on river left.

    Good luck.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default people

    20 years ago I floated the river in september, and saw maybe 10 people.
    We caught average fish, most rainbows we caught were under 5 lbs.
    I never went back because I thought that was alot of people activity back then...
    I flew over it in the cub last year and it had lots of people using it.
    Over the past 10 years have Read lots of articles on fishing it etc.
    I think many of the Trout are veterans of C/R .
    but you should catch fish.
    It is beautiful and is budget friendly.
    Silvers do give it that added action.
    power boats will share parts of the river that the jet pump will push them..
    Sounds like a fun trip and you should have success with the patterns suggested above.
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default How crowded is it now?

    You bring-up a good point. I know the Alagnak is more crowded than some of the other rivers in the area. How much so? Should we expect to see multiple boats every day or is it more of a boat or two here and there on the upper part of the river? I know the lower section has several lodges and jet boats, so I fully expect to see more people there.

    Hippie, you described my plan to a "T." I figure the lodges will be hitting the lower sections of the braids pretty hard with jet boats, so I plan to stop in the beginning of the braids at the first good campsite we find and spend a few days there. We are planning a minimum of 10 days for the trip and possibly more, depending on how work schedules look when we actually book the dates.

    Branch River Air will be flying us over and we are planning to float from Nonvianuk. Is it worth camping for a day or so at the confluence of the Nonvianuk and the Kukaklek and hiking back-up the latter toward Kukaklek lake? I'm guessing there is less pressure on that section of river because of the whitewater challenge.

    Thanks for the advice.

  5. #5
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottsum View Post
    Is it worth camping for a day or so at the confluence of the Nonvianuk and the Kukaklek and hiking back-up the latter toward Kukaklek lake? I'm guessing there is less pressure on that section of river because of the whitewater challenge.

    Thanks for the advice.
    In a word, no. There is much better fishing downstream, and besides the land at the confluence is owned by a Native Corp (forget which one at the moment) and the charge a per person, per day fee to stay there that, as I recall is on par with a 4 star hotel.

    As to crowds, well, in another word....Maybe.

    Last year at the launch we had 6 other groups camped around us. It looked bleak, but luckily all of the groups worked out launch dates/times that in the end resulted in each group having a "window" that would allow them to float without daisy chaining with others. In the end we saw 1 raft every day for a few minutes. We DID see jet boats every day, which is par for the course. Have floated it and seen no one at the lake as well, but those trips are becoming quite rare.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
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    After Sept. 1 especially on the lower half you be with moose hunters. Some with rafts and some with power boats. Just be aware that if you want to get a poto of the bull on the edge of the river do it and get out the way . The native corp that owns the land at Nonvionik is the village of Igiugig and Royal Wolf Lodge has the rights to the land above high water. Should be good float, bring the bug dope and the bug picks for the camp site.

    George

  7. #7
    Member Buck Nelson's Avatar
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    Years ago I floated the Alagnak with my dad, brother and a friend. The friend literally never caught a single fish on the whole trip! The normal salmon runs just weren't happening in that drainage, thus most of the rainbows and grayling had abandoned the river and headed to other waters with more food. At the time I'd never heard of such a thing.

    I've now learned to ask "how's the fishing?" before flying out. Things can change fast, including water levels as well as boom or bust fish runs. By staying flexible a guy can sometimes salvage a trip.

    The Alagnak is a beautiful river and the fishing is normally very good. I'd like to float it again someday!

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    I floated it last year in very late June into early July. Not the best time, but that was when my friend could make it up here. We floated for 7 days. We used Branch River Air. Are you using them for a raft rental as well? if so i would tell you not to. (if you are and need further info on this, PM me). We flew into Nonvianuk lake as we didn't have the whitewater skills to do the other top half. We did stay at the headwaters an extra day and paddled out the very top of the headwaters and float down a bit and anchor and from there we caught several 'bows and lakers (some decent size ones too, and there was a laker that approached 4 ft long below our raft (could see it with the sun), he was chasing the 25 in laker i had just hooked.

    The river was unusually high for that time of the year for the Alagnak which made for some hard fishing. we were fishing early season 'bows with black leeches with/without beads ahead of them and large flashy streamers. if in aug or sept i would concentrate on beads, and if in september flesh patterns as well. on the braids, you can supposedly skip mouse patterns across during twilight times. we couldn't do that b/c of water levels. water was just churning through these tight chutes in the braids, not easy to drift a fly. We caught some big 'bows in the 23-27" category, but numbers were very low for that time frame. A lot of the water at that time was not good for fishing secondary to fast deep water from high levels.

    I would go in early sept if you can swing it. it is getting fairly chilly at that time and most folks do the august bit trying to target bow and silvers. we got a great deal of reds in early july, just thousands of them swimming by. if we do it again, it will be the first week of september. we didn't have a lot of areas to camp b/c of high water levels, especially in the braids. i would hit that hard for a few days (not sure how long your float was). it is only a 40 some mile float. as the previous post said, get a good mental picture of the take out. branch air will show you on an aerial where they will pick you up.

    good luck and pm me with any questions.

  9. #9
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Kukaklek Lake fork

    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaHippie View Post
    Unless you have good oar skills and whitewater experience, put in on Nonvianuk Lake. You will still encounter Class II rapids on a decent gradient before reaching the confluence with the Alagnak, but nowhere near the Class III you'd see if you put in on Kukalek.

    If you are targeting Silvers and 'Bows (grayling and dollies are there, but not in any distinct concentrations) I would opt for the end of Aug/beginning of Sept. The bead will work well on trout, but certainly bring along some mouse patterns for explosive topwater action. The usual suspects (ESL, Popsicles, etc) will produce silvers.

    If time allows spend a few days in the braids! Find a good campsite with access to wade-able water and work it for the species you want to target.

    A word of caution, if, once you are below the first lodge past the confluence, you hear a LOUD engine that resembles a floatplane flying at treetop level, get out of the main channel!! The lodge has a 32' jet sled they use to haul supplies and clients around on, and they have to stay on step and in the main channel or else they will ground. If you are wading and hear em coming clear out as well....The wake is impressive.

    Make sure you are certain of your haul-out location (I imagine it will be at Estrada's), many first time floaters stop on river right at the old cabin, the pick-up point is about 1/4 mile downriver on river left.

    Good luck.
    I agree. I have not been on the Alagnak in a few years, but there's a short canyon section with some pretty tight turns and narrow chutes. It's not for the inexperienced!

    If it were me I would avoid camping at the forks. We were there at the tail end of summer and we were dodging piles of human waste all over that area (sure wish we could have found the poopetrators), plus trash folks had left behind. I heard a rumor that there's a porta-potty there now (is that true?), but either way that area feels very "lived in".

    There is good fishing above the canyon, so you really don't HAVE to hit the braids as a main event, but most folks do.

    Hope it helps.

    -Mike
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  10. #10
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Hmmm.

    Doggonit, you guys are making me question my decision again.


    We will not be renting anything and we are all three familiar with fishing Alaskan rivers for salmon and trout. I've talked to people at Jims on the Kenai who've had poor luck after I've had a fantastic day. I've also had the reverse happen. I'd be surprised if we couldn't hit some decent fishing at least a couple of days out of the ten we plan to be on the river. I think we're leaning toward the first couple of weeks in Sept.

    Mike, when you say above the canyon, are talking about just downstream from the lake outlet on the Nonvianuk fork or the Kukaklek? Should we plan to camp and fish for a couple of days in that first section? Is it native owned?

    Thanks again for the advice everyone.

  11. #11
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottsum View Post

    Mike, when you say above the canyon, are talking about just downstream from the lake outlet on the Nonvianuk fork or the Kukaklek? Should we plan to camp and fish for a couple of days in that first section? Is it native owned?

    Thanks again for the advice everyone.
    The only canyon I know of is on the Kukalek side.

    The Nonvianuk campsite(s) are pretty nice, tho' firewood is always a commodity these days. The land on Noni is NOT Native owned and is open for camping, unlike Kukalek. The Park Service has a camp just downriver from Noni and they seem to check all new arrivals to the lake pretty thoroughly. The fishing at "Noni" Lake outlet is excellent!!!!

    If you are camped in a spot that allows you to either float or anchor right at the current seam at the outlet you will see LOTS of 'Bows and Lakers...They lay there and feed on the salmon goodies from the sockeye run....

    Oh, and Mike, as of last year I saw no evidence of a port-a-potty at the confluence....
    “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."

  12. #12

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    If it's a mid Aug - mid Sept timeframe; I second hippie's motion to go later (september) to see alot less people and 32-foot-long-jetboats-that-sound-like-a-flying-fortress, more silvers, and possibly more rain to wash the poopie out. In fact, I'd find out when the 32-footer shuts down for the season, bring an extra set of thermals and go after they leave.

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    I read on this Forum somewhere over 6 months ago, that they were going to limit the number of parties headed down the Alagnak every day? Being a National Wilderness Corridor, the waste accumulation (both human and garbage) was becoming a problem. Does anyone know any more info on this?

  14. #14
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default I remember that

    I remember reading that too. I just checked the Park Service's website though and they still say there are no fees or permits required to float the Alagnak.

    Here's a link to the NPS Site:

    http://www.nps.gov/alag/planyourvisi...servations.htm

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by hre814 View Post
    I read on this Forum somewhere over 6 months ago, that they were going to limit the number of parties headed down the Alagnak every day? Being a National Wilderness Corridor, the waste accumulation (both human and garbage) was becoming a problem. Does anyone know any more info on this?

    Not sure what deal is on Alagnak, but I did post something like that in the works for the Goodnews and Kanektok a little while back here:

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=27075

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