Appreciating the Dynamics of Fishing our local Alaska Rivers
There are many, many fishing venues across Alaska. From surf-fishing to saltwater downriggers, large lakes and pothole 'honey holes".... For me, I love the dynamics of the Alaska river systems. Quite frankly, it's hard to find a more beautiful and mysterious ecosystem in Alaska than these clear-water gems. Now, not all rivers in Alaska are 'gin-clear.' Actually, the majority of them are glacial, silt-laden ice-water rivers with little to no visibility and support little life. But, really, these glacial rivers are extremely important to the networking relationship all Alaska tributaries share.... they are the backbone of the freshwater ecosystem. They are the artery in which thousands of adult salmon migrate through each summer season in seek of natal streams: their birthplace; the place in which they will spawn, die and complete the most amazing cycle in nature. Our local glacial river system is a giant. The Yentna River; "Yentna" actually means the 'backbone river,' in the local native Dena'ina tongue. The Yentna runs mostly Northwest to Southeast from the Yentna glacier in the Alaska mountain range to its terminus at the confluence of the Susitna river. Many clear streams intersect the Yentna throughout its length. These streams support nutrient-rich habitats for aquatic invertebrates, small minnows, salmon smolt (aka baby salmon), native rainbow trout, arctic grayling and many non-fishy wildlife species.
Lake Creek, our home river, is one of the largest and most dynamic tributaries of the Yentna River drainage. Lake Creek is like very few in Alaska. Although many clear-water river systems dot the state of Alaska, very few are the perfect balance of diversity that we wade-fishing anglers believe to be a masterpiece. Literally, the numerous gravel bars, mid-stream islands, pinched-off oxbow backwaters, sandy-bottom eddies, pea gravel riffles, deep water runs and the ideal bottom content spawning salmon dream about (well, if they actually do dream). Animals all do have their preferences in nature. Lake Creek and this gorgeous river valley is definitely a work of natural art. To see the prevalence of salmon and trout that abound and the other birdlife and mammals that depend on the local rivers is truly a spectacle. Many Alaska salmon streams are wide, sandy and slow moving in flat, open tundra. These rivers are born from wetlands near sea-level. Most mountain-fed rivers in Alaska as mentioned before are glacial. Ours would be a glacial river as well if it weren't for Lake Chelatna at the border of south Denali National Park. Glacial streams from the surrounding mountains drain into Chelatna which acts as a giant settling pond for all glacial sediment hence purifying the water as it runs clear and becomes Lake Creek at the outflow. Numerous other spring-fed tributaries also join Lake Creek proper at various points downriver. This perfect architecture leads to the clear, gravel-bottom stream that supports such a wealth of fish and wildlife. We are so blessed to have all this as our backyard. Enjoy it and respect it. Welcome to the great experience of fishing Alaska's remote rivers.