Friday, August 14, 2009

Ongivinuk River Float

During our break between Kings and Silvers a friend and I flew up to Ongivinuk lake and floated the Ongivinuk back to the Togaik and then back to the lodge. Just the Ongivinuk leg of our float worked out to be 109 river miles according to our GPS. We floated at least another 40 down the Togiak. To the left is a picture of the Ongivinuk from the plane. I think few people float this river. We found very little sign of people during the Ongivinuk portion. Just a couple fire spots on the beach.

The plane dropped us off late in the day, so we made our camp right at the lake for the evening. The lake was full of sockeye salmon waiting to spawn. Other than that there wasn't many fish around. Below is our camp at the mouth.

The first full day we drifted under heavy sky's for several miles before finding any number of sportfish. We found some dolly varden, grayling and arctic char. Some of them were good size and some of them were just pretty, like the one below. (Its a char)

And some sockeye that chased my mouse. A little dark but still fun to see a big snout chasing topwater flies. You can't really see it in this small picture, but on the far bank there is a bear watching us.

The terrain changed a lot through the float. When we started we had high tundra with fine spawning gravel. After a couple of days the river quickened it's pace and the rocks got a lot bigger. Trees lined the banks and there were occasional rocky cliffs. We saw very few spawning salmon in this stretch, so there were few char and dollies, but a lot of big grayling.

The blueberries were just getting ripe enough to eat. Cooking up some fish below.

Once we got through the steeper mountains and fast water, the river slowed down and the gravel became suitable for spawning salmon again. The fish would stack up behind the salmon and couldn't resist an egg imitation. We started catching lots of Dolly Varden and a few large rainbows. These fish weren't as big as I had hoped, but I can't complain. Most were in the mid twenties (inches).

Above is one of the Dolly Varden. Below is a trapper cabin at the bottom of the Ongivinuk. After a week of camping I opened the door to find a sign asking visitors to make sure the wood was stocked for the stove when they left. We stayed overnight and had the best sleep in a week.

After that night we reached the Togiak river. The weather changed for the worse, bringing rain, wind and cold temps. I would have enjoyed fishing the main river and walking up some of the tributaries, but my friend was ready to get back to the lodge, so we spent the majority of the next two days rowing downstream to the lodge.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tagging on the Togiak

My girlfriend has been working for the WDFW tagging and tracking salmon over the summer on the Togiak. They use a drift net to capture the kings, stick a radio transmitter down their throats, then track them to see where in the river they are spawning. I had the chance to spend a day with them netting Kings.

As soon as a fish hits the net, they pull it in, untangle it and transfer it to the cradle. As long as the fish is in good shape, it gets a transmitter and scale samples taken.

And release.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Togiak River Alaska

I've been up in Alaska the last couple of months working on the Togiak river. King salmon season just ended and we are waiting for the silvers to show up. The numbers of kings were still down, but it was better than last year. I didn't get a whole lot of time to fish and I didn't bring my camera when I did, so no fresh king pictures.
After king season ended I got to go up river and fish with my girlfriend on one of the tributaries. We caught a lot of dollies and a couple of nice rainbows.

Chum eyeball above. Some old slides of years past below. Those were the good old days. Big salmon on the fly.

Right now I am waiting for a plane to take us up river. A friend and I will be floating back down to the lodge over the next couple weeks in search of big rainbows. Will post about that later.