Alaska '08 Day 43, Klutina River
Thu July 24, 2008
We got picked up at 5:30 by the guide to raft the Klutina for kings. It was just Mike, his friend Don and I on the raft today. Initially he wanted to start close to the end/bottom of the river because the guide had got some fish earlier in the week at the bottom. We drove back just off the Copper Center Klutina bridge on some little goat trail only to find out that there was someone on that spot and one group had camped along the river (not allowed) and one of the jet boaters was running groups up to holes and dropping them off (also not allowed). So we had to change plans and go to the top of the river and raft down, getting to the lower holes later in the day. The ride to the top of the river (14 miles up) is up some little dirt road that is all ruts and holes. I can't believe they can run vehicles up here. The guide drove a 4x4 Ford van pulling the raft and the truck was pretty beat up. Better luck tomorrow...this was just the practice run.
Our guide, Dusty, is from Wyoming, originally a trout guide, and is up here to work the summer to give it a try. He says he likes it and will be back next year.
The Klutina River is white water the whole way, no smooth water and it runs really swift. The guide says it is the 4th fastest river in the country. The water is cold and you get wet. Its really a pretty river, we saw bald eagles and king fishers all day long. We saw a lot of reds rolling along shore, a lot of people in the campgrounds are fishing reds. We saw a few kings roll nearby and they are huge. We even saw one that either broke a line or picked up a lure from the bottom but it jumped at least 3 times completely out of the water with an orange lure in its mouth. We first saw it from the raft as we came down river, it porpoised, completely out of the water and it was over 30 lbs. Once we got ashore that same fish jumped vertically out of the water 3 times as it crossed the river, really impressive!
They run two kinds of boats on the river; rafts with oars and jet boats. We saw 4 or 5 jet boats on the river today. The guide was telling us that one of the jet boats motor quit and without power they can't control or steer the boat. The river is swift and you can get into trouble pretty quick if you can't steer, there are all sorts of boulders and snags. When this boat lost power everybody on board bailed out and the boat got caught up on a boulder, flipped and sank. It sits in the river today, they don't know how they are going to get it off the boulder. Its in the picture below but its hard to tell what it is, it just looks like a white boulder in the water.
It was a tough, long, cold (maybe 60 today), wet day on the river. I never got a hit, the guide says Mike had two hits and Don had one hooked for a minute or two. We only heard of 1 king caught on the river today.