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First time in a packraft in the lower Chatanika, trying for sheefish

By Troutnut on September 28th, 2013
Yesterday afternoon a friend and I floated ten miles of the Chatanika River near Fairbanks, from a spot near the Steese Highway to the Elliott Highway bridge.

Our mutual goal was to try to catch a sheefish. Sheefish are very large piscivorous (Piscivorous: Anything which eats primarily fish is a piscivore.) whitefish, present in very low numbers along the Alaska road system in the Yukon drainage. Most people who really want to catch sheefish have to expensively fly out to the wilderness of northwest Alaska, but the Chatanika River river near Fairbanks is well-known to have a very small spawning run (about 100 fish) during which one has a better-than-usual chance (but still a very long shot) of hooking up with a sheefish. We both thought it would be fun to catch (or even see) the elusive "tarpon of the north," but we had no luck. Didn't even see one.

Another goal for me on this trip was to try packrafting for the first time in some easy Class I water. Packrafts are tiny, tough, ultra-light (often less than 5 pounds) boats used for backpacking into remote locations and floating out on a river (or paddling around a lake). I've been thinking about getting one for remote backcountry fishing and hunting, so I was happy to try it out with a borrowed raft. This wasn't "real" packrafting because we didn't have to pack the boats more than a hundred yards on this road-to-road float, but I got a good feel for the boat and was impressed with its handling and portability.

Have any of you used packrafts for fly fishing (or hunting)? What did you think?

Photos by Troutnut from the Chatanika River in Alaska

View downstream from Elliott Highway bridge From the Chatanika River in Alaska.
View downstream from Elliott Highway bridge
StateAlaska
Date TakenSep 28, 2013
Date AddedSep 29, 2013
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
 From the Chatanika River in Alaska.
StateAlaska
Date TakenSep 28, 2013
Date AddedSep 29, 2013
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
Really big (for this area) grizzly tracks next to a size 12 wading boot. From the Chatanika River in Alaska.
Really big (for this area) grizzly tracks next to a size 12 wading boot.
StateAlaska
Date TakenSep 28, 2013
Date AddedSep 29, 2013
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
Floating From the Chatanika River in Alaska.
Floating
StateAlaska
Date TakenSep 28, 2013
Date AddedSep 29, 2013
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
View upstream from Elliott  Highway bridge From the Chatanika River in Alaska.
View upstream from Elliott Highway bridge
StateAlaska
Date TakenSep 28, 2013
Date AddedSep 29, 2013
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10
Packrafts stashed on shore. It's nice to be able to pull the boats all the way out of the water so easily (in this case, because an airboat was coming by). From the Chatanika River in Alaska.
Packrafts stashed on shore. It's nice to be able to pull the boats all the way out of the water so easily (in this case, because an airboat was coming by).
StateAlaska
Date TakenSep 28, 2013
Date AddedSep 29, 2013
AuthorTroutnut
CameraCanon PowerShot D10

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