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.

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