Upper Tanana River



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  • Upper Tanana River

    Trying to find out some specifics of the upper Tanana (upriver of the Alaska Hwy) between July and the middle of September.

    How far can a guy make it up river using an 18' jet?

    Any fish, moose?

    Not looking for anybody to give up their honey spot, just want to do some pre-planning before I drive 500 miles. My 12 year old son is extremely excited for his first moose this fall so I am trying to adequately plan a memorable time. Would appreciate any advice or information.

    Thanks in advance,

  • #2
    You might be a bit more specific as to where. By upper Tanana up river of the Alaska Highway do you mean up river from the hwy bridge near tok? If so then that will put you right smack in the middle of the Tetlin Native Reservation. You would not be welcomed there during moose season. As for fishing in the area it is lousy compared to most places in the state. The eastern interior unfortunately is not known for its fishing. Yes there are some grayling, burbot & white fish that can be had but thats about it. As for running your boat from the bridge the locals do it as access in to the village. But don't count on putting in there this summer as there is construction of a new bridge to be started and I'm guessing that the construction people will take over the landing area for the next couple of years as they move the highway access, etc.


    • #3
      Thank you for the information. The Alaska Hwy bridge east of Tok is exactly the location that I had in mind.


      • #4

        what John said. The river is used heavily and hunted heavily during moose season. Moose densities are very low along it due to the heavy hunting by locals. Lots of private land along both sides of the river up and down. And yes, the boat launch will be a big ? mark for this summer as they start construction on the bridge.


        • #5
          Moose densities are not high, but if you are looking for a moose with large antlers, this is a good bet. The genetics are there that produce big racks. Getting a bear along the upper reaches of the Tanana is pretty much a slam dunk, if you want one. Grayling and Northern Pike fishing is well....phenomenal. Every clear water tributary is a sure bet. I only set out Burbot lines once and caught fish around 6 to 8 pounds, so I would say it has average sized burbot, but quite a few of them. Never had a problem with private property issues. The State DOT has said they will make the launch available, and adequate parking will also remain. You might be better off, to launch at Northway, save some fuel and boat time.
          "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
          ~~Abraham Lincoln~~


          • #6
            Stay near town or an area with cow harvests

            The last numbers I saw for moose populations in the upper tanana area were about 1/2 a moose per square mile whearas the lower tanana and matsu may have been anywhere from 3-6 moose per square mile if I can remember correctly. We have alot more bears and wolves than we have moose. That being said I would advise you to head to an area closer to where you are. This way you could get out a few times during the summer to do some scouting. If you find a good moose in the summer and spot him a few times chances are you can get a feel for his summer feeding areas. In the early fall they will still be in the same general area.

            There are places that have cow tags available on drawings and these are in place due to high moose populations. Delta, Salcha, and Fairbanks are some areas that there are alot of moose and several drainages off the tanana to hunt. ie: shaw creek, delta creek, goodpaster river, Salcha river, salchacket slough, chena river. The list goes on... I don't know much about the anchorage area, but seems like every time i've been out down that way climbing mountains I've seen moose along the lower elevations. Any small stream along the inlet and the flats probably has more moose running around than we have here and you would be able to get there more often for scouting.

            We've been in the area for about 3 years now and I've floated many of the streams/rivers up here. I have not seen one moose while on the water and I think this is especially true in the early season while it is still hot. 07' saw 80+ degree weather most of the season and the moose were high in the hills and mountains where it was cooler. I went half way up a mountain one day to get a good view of the sloughs and kicked up a cow and calf 1000ft above the river. don't get me wrong there are plenty of moose in the area... you just have to spend alot of time to find the congregational areas. With that being said the probability of randomly finding a moose goes way down. With a 1/2 moose per square mile and then having areas where moose tend to congregate there tends to be alot of acreage that moose hardly use. I would lean to hiking or machining into the mountains before floating if you really want to come up here.

            However, unless you only want a rack there is alot more to a hunt... especially with your son... than shooting an animal. There is some beautiful country up this way... but most of it you can't get to on the water. If you get out and walk to a spot that is un attainable by 4 wheeler or boat you'll suddenly find yourself alone and chances are there will be plenty of animals. As someone else said there are three villages in this area and alot of activity on the river. You wouldn't be by yourself out there thats for sure.

            As I said before there are plenty of moose here... you just have to find them... and I've never found any right on the rivers in the early season when its been hot. But then again i've only been hunting here for 3 years. I have found some spots in the hills though that must be more like 2-3 moose per square mile which means somewhere else the density is 0 or next to nil.

            Probably anywhere you hunt it will be hard to just go out and find moose. One thing I've learned over the years is that the people who are always or nearly always successful are the people who spend alot of time in the woods. The more your out the more animals you'll see. Start plotting the spots you've seen animals on a map. Pretty soon you'll have your own map showing high use areas. These are the spots to hunt.

            Hope some of this helps and I really hope you have a special memorable hunt with your boy!

            It always seems the more a man thinks he knows the more mistakes he makes. These are just my personal observations and I'm trying to be helpful... not an expert! I had no one to teach me and have learned by trial and error so I try to help others to keep from so many errors.

            If you want any more specific info pm me and I'll be glad to share what I know about the area.


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