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Thread: Gulkana Next Week

  1. #1
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Gulkana Next Week

    I'm planning a 5 (or so) day trip down the upper Gulkana next weekend. Anyone have any recommendations and/or advice? Out of the ordinary hot flies?

    Bluemoose has given me tons of good advice already, but I thought I'd lay-off him for a while and see if anyone else wants to chime-in.

    If anyone's floated it in the last couple of weeks, I'd love to hear a current report and I also need info about a possible shuttle from Paxon Lake campground.

    Thanks in advance.

    Scott

  2. #2
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Default

    I've been meaning to post a trip report but just haven't gotten around to it. We (8 adults/9 kids/2 dogs/4 boats) floated it July 10th to 14th.

    The BLM is requiring you to register now and receive a "Leave No Trace" and porta-potty briefing in their newly constucted cabin at the Paxson boat ramp. They have the PETT system http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product.a...39&deptid=1607 available to borrow if you don't have your system to deal with waste.

    We launched late afternoon and it took the slowest boat about 2:30 to row to the outlet. Bring bug nets because this is where the bugs start. We camped the first night just below the Middle Fork confluence near the trapper cabin - river left. The second night was on the downriver side of Potty Island. Third night below the rapids in the middle of the boulder garden (can't remember the camp name). The last night was a gravel bar an hour or so above the West Fork confluence. All the sights were relatively clean and we left them more so.

    The third day everyone has the rapids on their mind. Last year I completely unloaded the boat and ran through hitting my line and having no problems. This year I just portaged the essential and expensive stuff and ran through with my kids in the bow. The water was lower than last year requiring a bit more manuevering and making the bottom hole stickier. I still hit my line but got stuck in the hole at the bottom. I floated the center tongue of water over the ledge but had more weight in the back of the boat and didn't have the momentum to punch through. We got surfed for a good 5 minutes before flushing out, much to my kids' delight but to their mom's consternation on shore as she watched us struggle. Weight forward or stern first the way I was loaded would have probably gotten us through with no problem. The other 3 boats ran empty after watching me and had no problems.

    The grayling fishing was once again fantastic in the upper part of the river. Elk Hair Caddis seemed to work just fine on the fly rod and Mepps or Panther Martins on the spinning rods. I didn't get to fish the good rainbow water as I was deemed the only qualified oarsman at these times. My wife managed a few good rainbows on spinners in these areas. The water was a bit lower and warmer this year and the fishing steadily declined by the 4th day as we moved downriver.

    We only saw a few other groups and never had competition for campsites. It was a great trip other than the cranky old lady that serves as camp host and BLM river briefer. Her husband is slightly nicer. Once on the river we had a great time and the weather was fantastic. The only negative was the biting flies. Bug spray seemed to help or just executing them after shooing them away fails.

    Sourdough Lodge will run a shiuttle for $55 for anybody contemplating a single boat trip. Enjoy this trip before Big Brother Steps in and requires a lottery reservation like many other western rivers. It looks like the BLM is moving that direction. The not-so-nice lady told us there had already been over 600 people down the river before we left.

  3. #3
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    Default Gulkana

    I rafted the lower section last week and the water level is LOW! I don't know about the upper section but this time of year you should expect to drag unless you are running very light! Not much rain and the level at the bridge is low enough to wade across at many spots!

    Enjoy and Big Brother is Not watching!

    Walt

  4. #4
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default How light is light?

    So with a 14 ft sb with frame and casting decks, and enough gear and beer for two guys over 230, should I expect to be dragging frequently, or just a few tough spots? (Maybe we should bring whiskey...)

    With the Kenai running so high, it just seems impossible that the Gulkana can be so low, but I guess that's the amazing thing about living in a state so large.

    Rumor has it, with the low water comes spectacular rainbow and grayling fishing on the Gulkana, did you do any fishing Jim, or just enjoy the scenery?

    Thanks

  5. #5
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Get in touch with KMAC

    KMAC is either on the river as I type or is heading that way in the next couple of days.

    He is a forum memeber so he should be easy enough to find. We had a several conversations about the water flow and obstacles he will hit using cats in Low water i.e tub grab on the rocks and running the the falls or lack there of during this extreme low water condition.

    about 12 years ago similar conditions on the upper river and yes you will drag but going light you will not have that many issues in your round boat. Expect the first 2.5 miles to be well just not that fun the flow is down to about 1/2 of normal conditions this time of year. There will be spots that will require walking with your boat but as long as your are prepped to deal with it and add some time for your trip it should not burden you to much.

    Being that we also have a lack of normal salmon numbers the fishing may be a little tuffer than fishing beads and flesh for bows so ensure you take a selection of nymphs and drys i.e. standard trout fishing and hit all the normal places i.e. holding water. As always the falls and below make for great pocket fishing i.e. cover and cooler water temps so don't pass them by without giving it a good effort.

    You will also find some deep pools that should have reasonable fishing. We did receive a little bit of rain but not enough to help. They are calling for cooler temps and rain sometime late next week so with any luck we will have help witht he smoke and the water levels.

    That being said and although not the Gulkana for those planning on float hunting Birch or Beaver Creeks based on our current water conditions pray pray pray for some rain.

    Tight Lines and Best Wishes

    Blue Moose

  6. #6
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Other options

    Thanks Moose, do you or anyone else have any recommendations for other rivers that are road accessible and might be running a bit more "normal" right now. My brother's got a bad back, so he won't be any help for the dragging.

    Good trout and grayling fishing and a remote feel are what we're after and a 4-6 day float with plenty of time to stop and fish in that time.

    I was really looking forward to the Gulkana, but it sounds like it might not be the best option right now.

    Thanks

  7. #7

    Default I think KMAC

    left today. I should be on the cat with him, but couldn't make the time with daughter's birthday and sheep hunting soon! Next year is set in stone, so hopefully the weather will cooperate!

  8. #8

    Default going last week in august

    I'm not sure if I'm hoping for more water or not... Hydrology report means we are goin to be dragging, but we are young and strong so not really worried about it. Plus the fishin is better and the canyon is funner at low water. Still two weeks before we go, and according to rainfall report, it should be helping the river out a bit. Just maybe a little break for that week.

  9. #9
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Should be improving

    However we need more than 1/4 of inch of rain to fall. They are calling for some more on and off the next couple of days.

    The Poor Chena is drying up as well. Dang what a brutal Summer fo float fishing.

    Bummer

  10. #10

    Default We are climbing

    Got over 700cfs finally... shouldnt be too bad of a dragger...



    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMoose View Post
    However we need more than 1/4 of inch of rain to fall. They are calling for some more on and off the next couple of days.

    The Poor Chena is drying up as well. Dang what a brutal Summer fo float fishing.

    Bummer

  11. #11
    Member Heg's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by corbanzo View Post
    Got over 700cfs finally... shouldnt be too bad of a dragger...
    We are heading up to the Gulkana in mid-September. I have never floated the river at or below 700cfs. Please let me know how your trip works out.

    Thanks,
    Heg

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