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Driving down the Richardson to Chitina, with a stop at the Gulkana

By Troutnut on August 11th, 2011
I had good photo weather for the 7-hour drive from Fairbanks down to Chitina for the dip-netting trip detailed in the August 12th update. I stopped for a few hours at the upper Gulkana River along the way, hoping to catch grayling in a promising new spot I'd found (but not fished) on an earlier trip. That stretch of river is so enchanting one could spend a lifetime on a single mile of it and never want to leave. I was amazed to find no sign of grayling, except for another angler who said the spot fishes well earlier in the summer. I fished behind spawning sockeye salmon and caught only a round whitefish, and was treated to the sight of caribou crossing the river upstream. I think the spawning salmon have something to do with the lack of grayling, no doubt an interesting story I have yet to figure out.

Photos by Troutnut from the Copper River, Summit Lake, the Gulkana River, Miscellaneous Alaska, and the Delta River in Alaska

I like this one.  Glacial river, taiga, tundra, and the perpetual ice cover of a massive high ridge dozens of miles away in the Wrangell Mountains. From the Copper River in Alaska.
I like this one. Glacial river, taiga, tundra, and the perpetual ice cover of a massive high ridge dozens of miles away in the Wrangell Mountains.
StateAlaska
LocationCopper River
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
 From Summit Lake in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationSummit Lake
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
 From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
Here's a panorama of the Wrangell Mountains, viewed from a pullout overlooking Willow Lake along the Richardson Highway near Glennallen, Alaska.  A day this clear is rare, and the view is spectacular.  You have to view it full-sized to begin to appreciate what it's like scanning this range with binoculars. From Richardson Highway in Alaska.
Here's a panorama of the Wrangell Mountains, viewed from a pullout overlooking Willow Lake along the Richardson Highway near Glennallen, Alaska. A day this clear is rare, and the view is spectacular. You have to view it full-sized to begin to appreciate what it's like scanning this range with binoculars.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
An anonymous dipnetter works the bank near the access point at O'Brien Creek. From the Copper River in Alaska.
An anonymous dipnetter works the bank near the access point at O'Brien Creek.
StateAlaska
LocationCopper River
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
 From the Copper River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationCopper River
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
While I was taking pictures of the whitefish I caught, I heard loud splashing in the water upstream.  Two caribou cows and their calves were crossing the river.  (Only one calf is visible here.) From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
While I was taking pictures of the whitefish I caught, I heard loud splashing in the water upstream. Two caribou cows and their calves were crossing the river. (Only one calf is visible here.)
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
At this time of year, sockeye salmon in full spawning colors dot the edges of the upper Gulkana, and are visible from the road in a few places, including this one. From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
At this time of year, sockeye salmon in full spawning colors dot the edges of the upper Gulkana, and are visible from the road in a few places, including this one.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
A few spawning sockeye salmon are visible near the lower left corner of this scene. From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
A few spawning sockeye salmon are visible near the lower left corner of this scene.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
Dead sockeye salmon fertilizing the upper Gulkana River. From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
Dead sockeye salmon fertilizing the upper Gulkana River.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
A pair of sockeye salmon on their redd. From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
A pair of sockeye salmon on their redd.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
This is the delta where O'Brien Creek flows out into the Copper River's channel.  It may be one of the most intense graveyards for filleted salmon in the world. From the Copper River in Alaska.
This is the delta where O'Brien Creek flows out into the Copper River's channel. It may be one of the most intense graveyards for filleted salmon in the world.
StateAlaska
LocationCopper River
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
A small round whitefish. From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
A small round whitefish.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
 From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
Seagulls rest on a gravel bar across from the fish cleaning station at O'Brien Creek, in between meals. From the Copper River in Alaska.
Seagulls rest on a gravel bar across from the fish cleaning station at O'Brien Creek, in between meals.
StateAlaska
LocationCopper River
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
This is the home base for the Chitina dipnetting fishery that supplies thousands of Alaskans with much (if not most) of their annual protein.  Many people pay a jetboat charter to ferry them down to prime spots in the canyon, and ferry their hundreds of pounds of fish back up.  Others follow the trail to which this bridge leads and negotiate the steep canyon wall themselves, with their fish, and haul them back with the help of an ATV. From the Copper River in Alaska.
This is the home base for the Chitina dipnetting fishery that supplies thousands of Alaskans with much (if not most) of their annual protein. Many people pay a jetboat charter to ferry them down to prime spots in the canyon, and ferry their hundreds of pounds of fish back up. Others follow the trail to which this bridge leads and negotiate the steep canyon wall themselves, with their fish, and haul them back with the help of an ATV.
StateAlaska
LocationCopper River
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
A float plane takes off from Willow Lake near Glennallen along the Richardson Highway. From Richardson Highway in Alaska.
A float plane takes off from Willow Lake near Glennallen along the Richardson Highway.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
 From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
 From the Gulkana River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 15, 2011
AuthorTroutnut
 From the Delta River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
LocationDelta River
Date TakenAug 11, 2011
Date AddedAug 16, 2011
AuthorTroutnut

Most recent comments on this post (latest on top)

Shawnny3August 23rd, 2011, 8:59 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
I don't know if the piece you wrote about dipnetting can be commented on, so I'll just comment here. What a fascinating piece and photo essay! I learned a ton from it about everything from the larger management issues of the fishery to the gory details of the techniques used. I showed it to my wife, who recently ate salmon at a fancy restaurant here in PA that bragged that the fish came from the Copper River, and I also shared it with some others I thought would find it interesting.

Thanks for the report!

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
OldredbarnAugust 16th, 2011, 9:58 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2537
Jason,

Gorgeous! You are a lucky, lucky, man to get some real time to nose around up there...Whenever the market goes especially schizoid, as it has lately, I dial up your Alaskan photos and pretend I'm tramping around up there with you...Better than aspirin or a shot of bourbon!!!

Thanks!

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood

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