USGS Stream Data

Kenai Rvr @ CooperLndg

  • Water Temp: 36.32 ° F
  • Flow: 1470 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 7.19 ft
USGS

Middle Kenai @ Skilak

  • Flow: 1920 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 7.21 ft
USGS

Talkeetna Rvr

  • Water Temp: 32.18 ° F
  • Water Level: 5.12 ft
USGS

Situk Rvr

  • Water Temp: 37.76 ° F
  • Flow: 949 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 67.77 ft
USGS
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Posts Tagged ‘Tri River Charters’

Spring Fishing: Wet, Cold, & Fish

Southcentral Alaska has had an amazing spring this year. We had such warm weather earlier in the winter that the snow pack was low. April was filled with sunshine and temperatures much warmer than normal. Breakup was as much evaporation as run off. So when I got word that Rhett at Tri-River Charters had his Phantom boats in the river April 22nd I started looking for the first day possible to go fishing up the Talkeetna River.

I faced a couple of challenges. The last week of April and first weekend in May was out as I had work scheduled; Fishing buddy Lance had had some surgery in mid-April and is on “light” duty until his incisions heal; my brother was out of town for his son’s graduation from college (congratulation DJ); and the weather had been so warm that the river was starting to blow out every afternoon. My window of opportunity was short. I needed a fishing buddy. To my rescue came Jae McKee, a friend I’d known for a while, and we had talked fishing. Jae had guided a bit on the Talkeetna when he was younger and I always wanted to get out with him to learn a bit more about the river. Our schedules matched up on Tuesday, May 6th; and as luck would have it, it was supposed to cloud up and get a bit cooler the first part of that week. I scheduled a 7AM shuttle ride with Rhett, borrowed a second pontoon boat for Jae, and started dreaming of big fish, eating little fry, dancing on the end of my line.

1_TalkeetnaRvr_2014-05_0504We decided to spend Monday night at Jae’s cabin in Talkeetna, saving us from the 4AM alarm clock. We got out of town about 9PM due to a meeting I needed to be at, but noticed that, just as scheduled, the skies were starting to cloud up.

We woke up to wet everything. It had started to rain at some point during the night and although the rain wasn’t heavy, the drizzle was still coming down, and it was very cool.

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Sad Day in the Neighborhood

Well friends, it was a sad day in the neighborhood the last weekend in October. I finally came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to get out to fish again before winter arrives and makes the water hard.

It’s a yearly mental adjustment, that this year, was harder than most.

We’ve had a very warm and prolonged fall this year. Halloween has come and gone as I write this, and it’s still well above freezing around Anchorage. So warm in fact that it was raining on the last Sunday of the month, as I put in some garlic starts in the ground. This is supposed to be a good thing in my life as Lance & I always try to make one last trip in the middle of October with a friend of ours that guides all summer on the Kenai River.

The challenge each year is that my work schedule keeps me running non-stop until mid-October; which usually corresponds with the start of winter here in south-central, plus or minus a week or so. This year looked good for fishing. We had set a date with Damond for Thursday the 17th (Plan A). Given our extra warm fall, both Lance & I were looking forward to one last fling at fish before the dark of winter set in.

But Mother Nature can be a cold hearted wench sometimes. An ice dam from a glacier that feeds into the Snow River, which is the head water for the Upper Kenai Lake, broke (probably due to excessively warm weather) and started releasing nasty goop into the watershed in early October. Projections were that it would subside within a few days.

Damond checked in with Lance the first week in October and let him know that we were still on for the 17th. The following Wednesday Damond called again; this time with not so good news. The middle river had come up six inches since Monday and was now running the color of concrete. The glacier was actually releasing more discharge, not less. He and a friend had scoured the dunes below Skilak Lake and had even tried the inlet below the canyon (both hot spots for trout in the fall) and hadn’t touched a fish. Even what few silver salmon that had been fishable were now hidden by the silt ridden water. We could drive down, but…. (you can figure out the rest of this story).

We decided to try Plan B.  Earlier in the year we had talked to Rhett, owner of Tri-River Charters, about how the Talkeetna fished in the fall; specifically October. We’ve had tough fall trips on the middle Kenai before, we were looking for options. Seems there’s a window of opportunity for good fishing when the water clears and as long as the river is runnable it’s fishable. Wednesday afternoon I called their office to see if it was possible to be run up to Clear Creek with our pontoon boats. Bad news; the answering machine picked up my call, and no one called back before the 17th had come and gone. Plan B was shot.

Plan C… Was there anywhere we could go at the last minute? It was too late in the year for the Russian to hold any fish and the upper Kenai would be as bad as the lower. We were not very familiar with the east side streams of Susitna so that would be a hunt and prospect at best, and it was going to be raining. Sufferable if you’re in a boat, not so good when you’re hiking and walking. We were toasted.

So Thursday I slept in a bit and caught up on office work.

Jump to the weekend before Halloween. I’m cleaning up the last of the flower pots from the yard and storing everything under the deck. I see my raft sitting over at its summer residence, and it seems to say: “If we’re not going fishing, you need to put me away for the winter. And buddy, the chances of you going fishing again doesn’t look real good.” Yea, yea… I know.

It’s tough when you have to face reality. I think as fly fishers we’re very good at thinking that life is going to be better than it probably will be. The fish will always be there, the weather will be better than it turns out, and the next good fish lives around the next bend or in the next stretch of water. But this time the calendar and my work schedule were tapping me on the shoulder saying: Look around buddy, winter is anytime and you need to put away your summer toys.

PontoonBoat_Dismantled

So, after the yard was finished, I cracked open a cold beer and hauled the raft out to the lower deck. (This was personal work, so beer is allowed.) I took off the storage bag and side pockets, unstrapped and flatten the tubes, packed everything into a tote, and then into my car, for the ride to a warm storage unit. By the time I’d finished it was starting to get dark and a bit cold for the light shirt I had been working in, and my beer was on empty.

I felt a sudden wash of melancholy. The next two weeks would be filled with travel and work, bringing me back home several days into November. Winter was late, but inevitable. And although I was physically ready, it would be a long dark wait until mid-April when I’ll have the chance to float an early-season river.

And that my friends, makes a sad day.

 

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Talkeetna River Trip

Gearing up our boats on the Talkeetna River_0002

 

Finally… a day of fishing! Our first trip out was about 10 days later than normal this year. The water levels on the Talkeetna River stayed very low due to a cold spring, and when they did come up enough to get a jet boat upstream, it was a matter of juggling three different schedules on short notice to make a date for Friday, May 24th.

Tri-River Charters ran us and our pontoon boats up river on their 21’ Woolrich. Strap three 9’ boats to the back of a river boat, add the three of us, two additional anglers headed upstream, plus the captain, and you have a full boat. Good news is that we were able to get a “freight run” price which kept the trip really reasonable, dollar wise. We asked to be dropped off just upriver from Fish Creek; and geared up our boats against a steep bank.

10:00AM launch – 11:00AM fishing: not bad.

We were greeted by sheets of bank ice on much of the river. It looked more like early May as opposed to the third full week into the month. However, the day was absolutely gorgeous, with sun all day long and temperatures that had to be in the 70’s. It was a weird way to fish; being almost too hot in shirt sleeves, while casting our flies into water that was cold and off color from ice and run off. It didn’t take us long to realize that the main stem Talkeetna was turning darker as we watched. Visibility went from almost a foot in the morning at the launch site to about 6” in just a few hours. We decided to concentrate on the areas where clear water from Fish Creek and Clear Creek mixed with the Talkeetna. Read the rest of this entry »

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