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Thread: Float hunting the Kobuk

  1. #1
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    Default Float hunting the Kobuk

    Hello,

    My brother and I have planned a float hunt/fishing trip on the Kobuk for about 10-12 days this coming Sept. This will be my first time up there, brother has been in Fairbanks the last 2 years. Our boat is a 18' cataraft. All the flights and everything have been booked.

    We will be hunting Moose and Caribou and he might possibly go for a brown bear as the tags are cheap for him (res). I was wondering, what types of ranges (generally) do you shoot at up in AK near rivers? I'm looking to buy a new rifle and was thinking of a 7mm WSM or 300 Win Mag. Any tips on rifle brands? Also going to be buying a scope. After the AK trip I will be using it for Elk here in Utah.

    As far as the fishing goes, would you recommend a fly rod or spinner? I would really only like to have to take one rod that will work for all the various fish up there, but would like to catch a few sheefish if possible.

    My borther has the Stratham float hunt book and I just ordered a copy for myself to read up on. Any other tips to make the trip that much more exciting will be appreciated! Also, I wasn't sure where to post this, the fishing, hunting or whitewater forums. Great to have a river that provides all 3! Thanks in advance!

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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    I would say 100yds and under. I've hunted off several northwestern rivers, and every shot was under 50yards, some less than 50 ft.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

  3. #3

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    Probably easier to find .300 WinMag ammo if you need to get some in village en route, so I'd go that way, use good 180 grain bullets in Barnes X, Nosler Partition, Accubond, etc. As for brands, go with Savage, Ruger, Winchester, or Remington.

    Shots could be close to far depending on terrain, consider a 2-8x or 3-9x variable scope. Leave the magnification on its lowest (2x or 3x) setting, if you need more power you'll have time to turn the dial up. If you can practice shots from 50 yards to 300 yards that would be good, just know what your point of impact is at the ranges you're comfortable shooting and you're set.

    If you're only taking one rod I'd take a spinner, possibly a little more versatile for all-around fishing.

    I'd recommend that you get the rifle scope soon, and start practicing! Get the rifle sighted in from the bench, and then once it's dialed in, practice offhand (50 and 100 yards) and sitting/kneeling (100, 200, and 300 yards if your range goes that far). Practice shooting the first shot, and then following up with two more shots as quickly as you can hit the target consistently.

    Bring a camera and take plenty of pics, and enjoy! But get that rifle NOW, and get thoroughly familiar with it before your hunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdhunter View Post
    Bring a camera and take plenty of pics, and enjoy! But get that rifle NOW, and get thoroughly familiar with it before your hunt.

    That's the plan mdhunter, I have a 300yd range less than 10 minutes from my house, so I plan on getting very familiar with my rifle!

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    I hunted on the Kobuk a couple years ago. The banks are "forested" but up the bank, which is sometimes high, its tundra, at least where i was. So the 50-300 is good advice. 300 win mag would be my choice. If you find the caribou migrating across the river, go up the bank and take a look. We did see a lot of bears, black bears along the river belt, interior grizzly up on top. Lots of grayling and some sheefish. The spinner is the best advice. Silver spoons worked for the sheefish. Spinners, like the Mepps worked for the grayling.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    I assume your getting dropped off on the upper river, maybe just down from the Park boundary? Upper K. should be real good bear hunting. Blacks and browns. Chum salmon spawn up there and bears will be looking for fishing holes. Blueberries on the tundra will help also.
    Caribou are hit and miss. Doesn't seem like they migrate thru that area much anymore, and later in fall if they do. Never know tho. Only take s a few to make you successful.
    Decent numbers of moose, but as non res, you need a drawing permit for them. Your bro can hunt sept 1-20 with 50 in. antler requirement.
    Spinning rod/reel for sure. Sheefish should be way up Kobuk in Sept and ready to bite. Should also be Dollies in the pools and smaller side creeks.
    Good luck. Should be pretty scenic in Sept.
    Shots can come at any distance up there. Bring quality binocs.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Britt, PM me regarding the Kobuk. I will be up there and on the Ambler helping some of my close freinds build cabins and a lodge next summer. One of my freinds was once the hunter and gatherer of the year in that region. Out of respect to them.....I must remain somewhat tight lipped.

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    Sounds good.
    Local hunters on Kobuk River that time of year wait on the south bank, on your left as you venture downstream.
    They wait for Caribou Bulls to ventures down trails and cross the rivers from the North.
    Subsistance hunters pick them out and shoot them in the head from a boat. Its a harvest with minimal meat damage. Its easy enough to shoot them when they gain the southern bank , though.
    The caribou will cross at the same places the trails lead as they follow those that went before them.
    If you see Cows crossing, Bulls are often following a bit behind at that time of pre rut.
    If you missed some croossing, there will be others sooner or later on their trail, unless they smell blood. Thats why its best to shoot them in the water on on the South bank where they emerge from their swim and rest a minute.

    Good manners will have you make your camps on the same side of the river as other hunters,the south side, and sandbars at bends are often fruitfull because you can observe both long streches, and Caribou walk out on them for crossing.
    Ask Locals how they are doing and they will often point out trails that the Caribou are using. Often you can see the Caribou decending to the river from the mountains and hills behind. Just be patient.
    Look for the trails that emerge from the willows, and where they come out as swaths of tracks on sand bars that they use to get further out on the river with.
    At Early Morning/first light, bulls crossing can be had in bunches, if you drink hot coffee in a fireless morning camp, they are often early risers.

    Lots of Moose on the Kobuk as well as Bears. they rise early too.

    If you make it to my end of the river, stop in and have coffee, Im in Noorvik.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Thanks for the insight on the Caribou. Don't think we will be making it all the way down to Noorvik though, thanks for the offer though. We will be dropped off in Walker lake and then float down to the village of Kobuk. Sounds like there is some fun whitewater in the first few miles.

    Spin rod it is. What types of gear should i bring? Spoons/spinners? Also, would you recommend a 0D or 20D bag(synthetic)? I guess it's hard to predict the weather so might as well side on the colder end. How are bugs that time of year? I guess that is also weather dependent. Thanks in advance.

  10. #10

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    While the 20D would probably be fine, you may want to bring the 0D bag to be safe, you can always leave the zipper open if you are warm.

    Bring a few Mepps and Vibrax spinners and 1-2 spoons, you should be good to go. I've never fished the Kobuk, but some areas of Alaska and some rivers are limited to single hooks versus treble hooks, check the regs beforehand.

    Yes, count on lots of bugs. You can bring DEET if you want, just be careful about getting it on your raingear. If you can find one, I've found a bug jacket to be a better option for me - got one in Dillingham years ago for $10, I wear it every time I field dress an animal and it saves me from getting eaten alive!

    If you send me a PM with your email address, I'll email you a basic gear list I've used for remote hunts to get you started.

  11. #11
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    Thumbs up Walker Lake to Kobuk Village

    I've guided this stretch for several years - so figured I'd chime in.

    As far as float - it is a gem on the upper river...
    Super clear water
    Lively stretches of canyon
    Forested with mixed tundra
    Awesome sportfishing for 20"+ Grayling, fat Char, lunker Lakers including 6' long Sheefish
    Great big jade boulders and cool jade rocks along the banks.
    Northern lights, wolves howling crisp autumn air.

    Water levels do fluctuate from year to year.

    Hunting is what you make of the wooded (Kobuk means 'big river through the woods') country and you'll see game when you see it. Over the years, consistently seeing Bear (Black and Griz), Moose, Caribou, Wolves, Wolverine, Lynx, Fox, Hare and Ptarmigan.

    Good representative success is 40% along the river for mid 50" - low 60" Bull Moose that are the genetic norm for sport-hunting w/ 3-4 brow-tines.

    Good Caribou hunting is no longer in the cards... based on your time-lines above the Pah or even above Kobuk Village.

    Larger Griz will focus on streams well below the Big Kobuk Canyon on Chum Salmon tributaries.

    Black Bear will be closer to village camp activity.

    Many more parties started to crop up below Minakokosa confluence in 2005, yet was offset by high gas prices to nearly no gas in the villages so that villagers didn't venture too far up river.

    I do have the ALASKA RAFT CONNECTION GPS Alaska River Waypoints Guide complete w/ unit available for this float trip. Details rapids & route finding, fishing hot spots, camping, hunting, and yes... the best Sheefishing holes!!!

    You will also likely find pictures of me holding Sheefish up in Mike's book about Alaska Float Hunting sold on this website.

    The upper Kobuk is a great river float trip through the Arctic forest.

    PS - there are no bugs to bug you this time of year on the upper Kobuk! Also note that if spin fishing... the big Arctic Grayling here will go for #5 even #6 Vibrax --- and the mature Sheefish are Fish swallowers so use big silver/blue Krocadile with over-size single-hook. Shees bleed like crazy and are fragile --- have a long something on hand for careful hook removal if they swallow 'er down

  12. #12
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    Thumbs up Some Upper Kobuk pics

    Some Upper Kobuk pics...
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Member atvalaska's Avatar
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    Cool can we say good old days for the 90's? i say not...

    ******Good Caribou hunting is no longer in the cards... based on your time-lines above the Pah or even above Kobuk Village********..... wow thats a little differnt than having to buzz the runway a few times so we could land..(well back in 92"). An a KASTMASTER lure knocked them sheefish out!
    WHEN IN DOUBT> THROTTLE OUT.......

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