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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    SE Pennsylvania
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    Default Floating remote Alaskan waters

    Hey folks,

    A couple of friends and I are doing a DIY float trip in Alaska next summer. We will get dropped off with gear via bush plane and float for 5-6 days and then get picked up. Fishing for Dollies and Sheefish.

    Just wondering if anyone had some tips from experience to share to make the trip better. I've read a ton about preparing for the trip, gear lists, and overall how to make sure we are prepared. We'll have 2 boats, camp gear, rain gear, tarps, bear fence, etc etc.

    One question specifically I had is what do you do if you're floating down a river and there's a bear in your way in the middle of the river fishing and doing his thing? Do you try and scare them off when you're upstream? Do you just float silently down as far away as you can? Will they bother you if you're in a boat? The bear aspect and unfamiliarity with them is the biggest concern/question mark we have with this trip. We will be armed but obviously don't want to hurt anything but the fish.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Languedoc/near montpellier
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    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    I think Ard will give you good infos when he sees your post

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    Quote Originally Posted by cwb124 View Post
    Hey folks,

    A couple of friends and I are doing a DIY float trip in Alaska next summer. What river will you be floating? Enquiring minds want to know. We will get dropped off with gear via bush plane and float for 5-6 days and then get picked up. Fishing for Dollies and Sheefish.

    Just wondering if anyone had some tips from experience to share to make the trip better. Don't get so caught up in the fishing that you don't take the time to appreciate the other aspects of the trip. Also, know that in Alaska, weather often plays havoc with schedules, if it happens to you, just roll with it. I've read a ton about preparing for the trip, gear lists, and overall how to make sure we are prepared. We'll have 2 boats, camp gear, rain gear, tarps, bear fence, etc etc.

    One question specifically I had is what do you do if you're floating down a river and there's a bear in your way in the middle of the river fishing and doing his thing? Do you try and scare them off when you're upstream? Do you just float silently down as far away as you can? Will they bother you if you're in a boat?

    When you see a bear in or near the river pull to the bank or a gravel bar as soon as you can and make your presence known. Do not approach the bear either afoot or afloat. If the bear just keeps doing his thing relax and enjoy the show. Bears (and moose and caribou and .....) have the right-of-way and if they don't yield you'll just have to wait. On a Kisaralik float several years ago we had two occasions where we spotted bears from a distance and pulled over to observe and photograph them, one was digging up ground squirrels on a hillside and the other was fishing. Watching and photographing those bears was a very memorable part of the trip.

    Making plenty of noise by talking loudly is a good general rule when you're floating through confined waters or other areas where visibility is limited to short distances. The same is true when you're afoot scouting a rapid or portaging, the worst thing you can do is surprise a bear.


    The bear aspect and unfamiliarity with them is the biggest concern/question mark we have with this trip. We will be armed but obviously don't want to hurt anything but the fish.
    Just remember that the bears and other animals you will see on your trip are WILD animals. You don't need to be afraid of them but they do demand your respect.

    Rick
    Last edited by itinerant; 08-30-2017 at 09:06 AM. Reason: Signature

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Anchorage by way of DE Maine..
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    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    I wouldn't be too concerned about bears in the river up there. If you do see one I'd let it know you're coming through though. Bears don't like surprises very much. Keep your campsites bear safe. No food in or around your tents. Not as big of a concern (still a no-no) if you're on a river that is plugged with salmon but up in the NW part of the state where you will be I would keep my camp clean. Have fun catching those freshwater Tarpon!
    The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope...

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  8. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    SE Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    Good info so far. I really appreciate it.

    We will be floating the Wulik River after flying into Kotzebue, which I have been informed does not hold sheefish but can hold big Dollys so we're going after them. Also holds grayling, chum and possibly a few edible salmon.

    We will also break up the days by hopefully walking up some ptarmigan. One guy might even get a caribou tag, but it will mostly be a fishing expedition.

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  10. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Pinedale, WY
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    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    This sure sounds like an awesome trip your planning and I hope you take lots of photos and take the time on your return to write up a trip report, I'd love to see what that area looks like.

    Not sure if you have thought of this or not, but it would probably be a good idea to look into one of those satellite devices. A few years back I bought an InReach from Delorme. With their basic plan it gives you the capability to hit an emergency button and that will notify them that you are in trouble and has some limited email capability, I think it will do up to 160 characters, but not sure. You can add the application to a home computer and someone there can track your progress as long as you have it on, but then you would need a small solar panel for recharging like the one I use for my GoPro and cell. The other option might be to look into what a satellite phone rents for. Having some way to communicate your situation would be priceless if you have some sort of emergency while your in the field.
    Larry


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  12. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Anchorage by way of DE Maine..
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    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    If you're on Facebook, look up Alaskan Salmon Slayers. Dennis and his crew just did a trip up there a couple of weeks ago. He is more than willing to help with any questions I'm sure. Looked like a fun trip!
    The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope...

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  14. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Detroit Lakes, Minnesota and Bozeman, Montana
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    I have floated a very remote western Alaska River, but with a guide. One of the biggest challenges you should be prepared for is braiding. Most of the rivers up there are bigger and wilder than those in the lower 48. You can come to a section that braids into several channels and if you take the wrong one, you may float for a mile, then find it impassible, and have to go back. We spent part of an afternoon taking turns sawing our way through a log jam with a rope tied around the waist of the guy on the saw. So be sure you know the river. We saw a lot of bears, including one in the middle of the river one day. As stated previously, they tend to be preoccupied with eating salmon. But I would have my bear spray ready as you float by, just in case. We had a black bear with two cubs come into camp one night because our guide forgot the frying pan from supper on top of the camp stove. So keep a clean camp. And we were camped on a gravel bar. Have fun and bring plenty of deed.

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  16. #9

    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    Quote Originally Posted by mcnerney View Post
    The other option might be to look into what a satellite phone rents for. Having some way to communicate your situation would be priceless if you have some sort of emergency while your in the field.
    This is an excellent idea and I'm embarrassed I neglected to mention it. On a Kisaralik River float a few years ago our group rented a sat phone from the outfitter who flew us out and dropped us off (Papa Bear in Bethel), you should check with whomever is flying you out for availability either from them or someone else in that area. Split three ways the cost of rental for your trip will be very reasonable.

    Rick

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  18. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SE Pennsylvania
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    183

    Default Re: Floating remote Alaskan waters

    Yeah we are splitting a sat phone rental. Think we can grab one for a week for under $100.

    Good advice about the braids. Hadn't thought of that and no map will provide adequate info.

    So my party is considering all freeze dried food for the trip. That and eating some dollys and any edible salmon/grayling we find could do the trick. I'd like to have some fresh food but they said it's not really worth it. Do you guys usually just eat freeze dried backpacking food on these kinds of trips?

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