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Thread: Jet boating the Upper Susitna

  1. #1
    Member akhilux's Avatar
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    Default Jet boating the Upper Susitna

    Has anyone boated the Big Su' off of the Denali Hwy?
    20' Wooldridge Sport 08' 150hp E-Tec
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  2. #2
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    There are a lot of folks that boat up and down the Big Su from where the Denali Highway crosses it. During hunting season, you'll see anywhere from 10 to 20 boat trailers parked there. Most are airboats, but I have seen a lot of jets also. I haven't done it personally, but the consensus seems to be that the jets can provide challenges, as the river is very shallow. Props are out of the question, from what I've been told.
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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    They call that stretch of water "the sahara" for good reasons........



    Release Lake Trout

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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    I have dropped in at the bridge and ran up past Talkeetna a few times. Keep your GPS on going up river logging your path. Use it to follow your track on the way down. It's a pretty easy run if you have some experience running a jet boat.
    It can get pretty windy on the river as it's a wide open delta, dress warm.
    BK

  5. #5

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    Watch the weather closely! The water depth can change dramatically if the temperature changes since this is a glacial river. It has been known to drop or raise multiple feet in less than a day, stranding a number of people. If you are out there and get a sudden freeze over night, you might be hanging out there until you can get flown out.

  6. #6
    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    I have run the strech down river from the Denali to Tyone Creek. Akhilux, I would advice not taking your boat down unless it is a high water year. I normally ran it with an 18' flat bottom with a 70hp jet. Light and easy to get unstuck. Reason is you can run out of water real quick and it is no place for a big heavy boat. I have also seen that part of the river high, then 2 days into the hunt it dropped 4 feet due to cold weather.

    The first 10 miles or so is wide open sand bars (1-2 miles across) and the "channel" is hard to read. However, once you get past this point and into the canyon, it is a normal river to run with some big rocks. Problem is the first 10 miles. If you run your boat aground or (as I have seen a Thunderjet with an inboard) blow up your engine, it is very very difficult and expensive to get your boat out. There is no room for towing because most of the "the sahara" you are pumping mud.

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