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Thread: Gulkana Float Fishing Report

  1. #1
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    Default Gulkana Float Fishing Report

    Put in at Paxon on August 2nd, out at Sourdough on late August 7th.

    River was extremely low. Had to drag raft for at least 15 miles and negotiate boulder fields for another 15 miles, then rowed in slack water for the remaining 15 miles.

    Fishing: many grayling between Paxson Lake and the canyon. Caught many grayling on spinners and fly. Saw very few trout and caught only one.

    Campsites: in excellent condition.

    Water exceptionally clear. Started raining the day we took out on August 7th (sorry for this delayed report).

  2. #2
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Thanks ....

    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 Gotta love it.

    I just can't get enough of that post Dan!

    Salmon, just ignore the hecklers. I appreciate the post, even without pictures. I was hoping to do the Gulkana this week, and your post would have been helpful, but alas that darn work thing has interfered once again!

    Anyone want to sponsor me for life? I'll tattoo your business name on my forehead if I never have to work again.

  4. #4

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the update. We are going desert or flood next week. Looks to be flood. Friends on delta sheep hunt said it was coming down in the valley up by paxson, checked the water flow stats. Holy #@%, went from 724cfs two days ago to 1220cfs today. I'm hoping the water won't muddy up too much and get in the way of the fishin....

    http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ak/nwis/uv...te_no=15200280

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default spam

    Mods delete!!!!!!!!!!

  6. #6

    Default Enough!!

    1840 cfs today.... enough water already, I want to catch at least one fish!!!

    If anybody hasn't been paying attention, on august 6th it dipped to 580cfs on the gulkana, and now, almost two weeks later, the level has increased over 300%.

  7. #7
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default more last night and today

    It rained hard around Paxson and Summit last night and early today level might jump some more prior to being all done. What a bummer.

  8. #8
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    Default Gulkana flows

    Although flows popped up dramatically (and may go a little higher this week if some more rain comes), the river was really low before this event and so flows will not really be all that high.

    Mean annual flows for the period of record are about 3,000 cfs in May, 2,500 in June, 1,400 in July and 1,300 in August and September, so today's flow about 1,800 cfs is really just like a typical mid-June flow. High for this time of year, but not extreme. The NWS River Forecast Center is forecasting the river to go about 7.0 feet this weekend, which is just "medium" flows (7.0 feet on the gage is probably about 2,000 cfs -- I wish they would "think" in cfs, but you can eyeball the USGS graphs to do the translation).

    In a study for BLM in the late 1980s, we estimated that you need about 1,400 for a "clean" run in a loaded raft, and that good whitewater happens at flows above 2,100 cfs. So I guess I'd say don't despair -- there is likely to be some good whitewater at least, even if the river is a little turbid. And it's quite possible the grayling or rainbows will like the higher flows after being parched for the last month.

    On the low end, things may have changed over 20 years since that study (I know I personally run smaller and lighter boats in general, and have a greater tolerance for low flows and technical boating), but I'd guess it still takes 1,200 to 1,400 cfs to have an enjoyable float on the Gulkana. I heard about a recent trip in this low water period (when it got down to 600 cfs), and even skilled canoeists were having a hard time picking their way through the Class II stuff below the canyon. I've personally seen 1,100 and thought that was doable, but I was in a large but light cat (just me, a dry bag, and a dog).

  9. #9
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Default

    Here's a pic from a mid-July float this year to wet your appetite.


  10. #10

    Default float trip report

    Rediculous. That is the only way that I can describe our trip. After doing this river time again over the years, I have to say that this was the single best trip that I have had on the river, hands down. We were on the river for 6 days total, with one night on the lake.

    Bugs - there were none. It was rediculous. I put bug dope on one time, because we hiked the right side of the canyon, where there is no trail, so fishing that side we were stuck in the bushes a little. Only time ever needed it.

    Rain - sprinkled during the day, for a total of about six hours the entire trip. It only rained hard twice, and both times were during the evening after we had our tarp fortress up (one 10x20 and one 16x30)

    Wind - the only hard wind we encounered was during the last day of the float, trying to get down the slow water south of the west fork.

    Temp - a couple sunny days, most overcast. No frost, mid 30's at night, 50's during the day, some 60's. Long sleeve shirts were fine.

    Water - water level was at where I would call it perfect. A lot of hang up in the tributary, and just a few after the main fork comes in. But everything from the rain storm the week before had washed through, so the water was fairly clear. Which meant:

    Fishing - rediculous. I mean stupid. The best fishing I've ever seen on the gulkana. There were no parts of the river where we weren't catching fish. Even the west fork wasn't murky coming in, so we were still hitting grayling down there. The first day on the river, we had a "first one to 25 is a rotten egg contest." The contest only lasted 45 minutes, and everyone had caught and relased 25 grayling, and a few rainbows. I'm not exagerating when I say I caught 300 fish this trip.

    Rainbows weren't too into flies, a few small ones on flies. We were killing them on spinners. I will get to the pictures later, don't have them all right now.

    From now on I will consider dry fly fishing for grayling cheating. Tangle lakes teaser, awesome, and a green body parachute adams - that is cheating. You can't keep it out of their mouth. I had drifts where one fish would miss it, and another fish would hit it three inches later.

    Cons:

    Lost an oar off some rocks a couple miles down from the canyon, two knives from not paying attention, a gerber, broke two fly rods and and two spin rods, lost a camera to water, brought way too much crap like usual so had to drag more than we should of. I don't know if it's a con, more funny, but everybody went in the river at least once.

    First person in the water - seat wasn't fully attached, buddy fell into the lake.
    Second person in the water - my girl walking down stream, loose rocks, slipped straight back into the river
    Third person in the water - he is rowing, oar came loose, other buddy dives into the water to get it
    Fourth and fifth (both me) - I am rowing, oar comes loose again, I dive in for it, current too fast. bye oar. Then as passenger, me not paying attention, hit a rock, bloop.

    We were all fine though, we had enough extra gear for two more people as always. More funny than anything.

    So all in all, best fishing bugs weather on a raft trip so far. Most gear lost and people in the water. Great trip overall. Like I said before, once I get more pictures, I will post them. Canyon was smooth as silk. A few rocks exposed, but nothing bad at all.

  11. #11
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Not fair!

    Now you're just adding insult to injury! Couldn't you at least have looked at the negative side of something? I'm just going to have to assume that you're lying through your teeth and that it was actually a miserable trip with horrible weather and no fish!

    Nah, I'm just bummed I couldn't make it happen this year. Glad to hear you guys had a great time. I look forward to seeing the pics. I just have to make this trip happen next year!

    Thanks for the update,

    Scott

  12. #12
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Default

    Was the cranky old camp host lady still giving the BLM briefing? My experience with her was not the way I like to start a trip.

  13. #13

    Default ol ladies and good fishin

    Haha, no cranky lady. After hearing all the stories I was dreading that part, but I think we were late enough in the season to avoid her.


    OK, here are the canyon pictures that I promised.

    First part, just a rock field, nothing real special

    Falls one of two, best way (only way in a big boat) is all the way to the right. Funnest way in a small boat is on the left, taller and faster.

    Front side first falls

    Second falls back side

  14. #14

    Default more pics

    Second falls front side, the whoopdedoos after the second and final falls are where you will get wet, not in the actual falls themselves.


    To whet the appetite, pretty girl with a big grayling. Nothing sexier than a girl catching a nice fish on a fly rod...

    I will get the trout pictures up when I get them.

  15. #15
    Member Scottsum's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the pics

    Great pics Corbin. At least now I have a little better idea of what to expect next year.

    I look forward to the trout pics.

    Thanks for posting.

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