From: David Dapkus
Subject: Field Inspection of the King Salmon River August 3 - 9, 1978
A field inspection of the King Salmon River was conducted August 3 to August 9,
1978 by an interagency team as part of a HCRS study of the river area. This
study is part of HCRS's technical assistance to the Fish and Wildlife Service in
evaluating river related resources within proposed National Wildlife
Refuge/Range areas. The headwater creek's that form the King Salmon River are
located entirely within the existing Katmai National Monument. King Salmon River
starts at the confluence of Takayofo and Contact Creeks, which join on the
boundary of the existing National Monument. The land surrounding the King Salmon
River from this point downstream lie within "d-2" lands proposed for designation
as Becharof Wildlife Refuge (35 miles+), and on State selection lands (25
miles+), the state selection lands are within a village withdrawal area.
Participating in the inspection were the following people:
Robert Leedy, Fish & Wildlife Service, Anchorage
Mary Evans, Fish & Wildlife Service, Anchorage
Tom Schoder, Bureau of Land Management, State Office
John Merrick, Bureau of Land Management, Anchorage District Office
Sandy Rabinowitch, Div. of Parks, State of Alaska
Howard Wagner, National Park Service, Anchorage
David Dapkus, HCRS, Anchorage
Two 13-foot Avon Adventurer rafts were used for the river inspection.
The entire team left Anchorage at 10:30a.m. via Wien Airlines for King Salmon.
After arriving in King Salmon we walked to the nearby Peninsula Airways office
and confirmed our put in and take out times. Spent three hours in King Salmon
before takeoff at 3:00 p.m. We loaded the Peninsula Airways goose with all the
equipment and people, then took off for a lake listed as number 592 that outlets
into Contact Creek. It took 25 minutes of flying to reach lake 592. This lake
was about 3/4 of mile long and 1/2 mile wide, but extremely shallow. The pilot
made a good landing and a take-off in this very shallow lake. We inflated the
rafts, loaded up the gear, and paddled across the lake and started out on the
small outlet to Contact Creek. This outlet was about eight feet wide and two
feet deep. We paddled down it only about three hundred yards to camp on the
tundra. We saw many fingerlings in the creek; some of the crew went fishing but
caught nothing. The entire day had been sunny and warm.
NOTE: These reports may not
contain important information about: 1) safety, 2) land management and ownership, 3) fishing and other
regulations and 4) possible errors >
We awoke to low cover fog, but no rain. This fog burned off by 11:00 a.m.,
leaving the remainder of the day sunny and warm. This unnamed creek from lake
592 was about eight feet wide and 1"-2' deep with little or no current. The
creek was lined with tundra for about 1/2 the distance followed by dense (10
foot high) willow brush for the remaining distance. It was about 1 1/2 mile to
Contact Creek. Contact Creek was about 20 feet wide, inches to four feet deep,
and two to four mph. There were no rapids, but there were many sweepers. Contact
Creek was clear with the creek bottom consisting of fist size rocks. Willow
brush lined the creek. Beyond the 50' wide band of brush was open tundra. The
creeks and the river rated Class I whitewater on the International White-water
The scenery was outstanding. Both creeks flow through a wide basin surrounded on
the sides by the snow capped tall mountain peaks that make up Katmai. Dominant
vegetation was tundra with thick brushy willow stands along the creeks. Fair to
good opportunities exist in this area for hiking to the nearby ridges and
mountains. Good campsites on small gravel bars for parties of four to eight
people were abundant. Wood was also abundant.
We observed nine grizzly bears in one day between lake 592 and the confluence of
Contact and Takayofo Creek's, a distance of about four miles. Eight were in the
river or within 15 feet of it. We had one long wait just up stream from two
grizzlies fishing for salmon. They finally left, allowing us to move on. We
observed two bald eagles, one was immature. King, red, and dog salmon were
extremely plentiful in all three creeks. We camped on a large gravel bar about a
1/4 mile up Takayofo Creek from its confluence with Contact Creek. This was on
the right or south side of Takayofo Creek where an unnamed tributary came in
from the south.
Low fog cover for the second day, again burned off by noon with the afternoon
sunny and hot. There was no noticeable difference in size between Takayofo Creek
and the King Salmon River. Contact Creek was small and contributed little water,
Takayofo Creek carried most of the water to the river. Only by noting on a map
would one know that the two creeks formed the river. Takayofo Creek and the
river were silty, the remaining creeks were clear. Riverbed was mixed sand and
gravel. The River was 100 feet wide, two feet deep, with a current of three to
four miles per hour. There were a few sweepers. It was all Class I except for a
100 yard long Class III rapid about two miles above Gertrude Creek.
The scenery below the two creeks was pleasant, but not outstanding. Snowcapped
peaks could be seen in the background; low, rocky mountains and high ridges with
large rock outcroppings across the crest were visible in the foreground. We
camped on a gravel bar at Granite Creek. Good campsites on gravel-bars along the
river were numerous, however there was little firewood. There were no
opportunities for decent backpacking or hiking in this area once one is outside
the existing monument. We observed four grizzlies and two bald eagles, one was
immature. We also observed Canada geese, Arctic terns, one owl (small and
unidentified), and many gulls. Red and chum salmon were often seen, they were
usually very red. Arctic grayling, rainbow and Dolly Varden trout were in
tributaries to the river.
This day was hot and sunny with no morning fog. The river continued to be murky
and its tributaries clear. It was braided and shallow-inches to five feet deep,
but usually two feet deep. The river varied from 75 feet to 150 feet wide, while
flowing at 2 to 3 mph. Recreation opportunities remained the same, primarily
hunting, wildlife observation, floating, and fishing.
The scenery was coastal flatland. The area was definitely wilderness, but it was
also definitely flat with mountains appearing extremely small on the eastern
horizon. We observed three grizzly bears, usually on gravel bars where they were
fishing for salmon. We saw three caribou in similar areas. A confrontation also
developed between a grizzly, a caribou, and a flock of Canada geese, which we
watched with great glee for at least 20 minutes. The bear finally went one
direction and the caribou another, while the geese remained on the gravel bar.
We saw at least 200 Canada geese and lesser Canada geese along with gulls,
Arctic terns, and one bald eagle. Although the fish (grayling, Dolly Varden, and
salmon) were in the river, our efforts in catching some were fruitless.
We had a strong upstream wind against us all afternoon. It stopped about 8 p.m.
The mosquitoes appeared as the wind disappeared, so we disappeared into our
Continued clear, sunny and warm day, however we experienced up to 30 mph
tailwinds in the morning and a cross wind in the afternoon. I suspect the
current was only one mph and without a tailwind it would take much longer to
float the river. We camped on one of the numerous fine sandbars about ten miles
from the river's mouth at a big unnamed tributary. Campsites continued to be
plentiful. Firewood was limited but we found more than we did the first few
The riverbed and banks consisted of gravel, small rocks, and some sand. The
river was 150 feet wide, 3 feet deep with some 8-foot deep pools, and had a 1
mph current. It continued to be silty with clearwater tributaries.
We saw two cabins, one in use this year as noted by a 1978 calendar. Scenery was
unchanged from the previous day.
We observed an occasional spawned out salmon in the river. We also observed
about 100 Canada geese along with gulls, Arctic terns, ravens, and one bald
eagle. We also saw a sow grizzly bear and two cubs. They were located just below
the second cabin (cabin marked on the map).
It was a cloudy day, but warm and no rain or wind, a welcomed relief. It was an
easy paddle of ten to twelve miles from camp on the winding King Salmon River to
the Egegik River. We crossed the Egegik River to the village of Egegik in the
afternoon. The King Salmon River braided into several channels and had a current
of zero to one mph. It was roughly 200 feet wide, two feet deep, and silty with
a sand bottom. The tide affects the lower four miles of the King Salmon River.
We caught both the King Salmon and the Egegik river at low tide and followed the
main meandering channel through the mud flats of both rivers to the village of
Egegik, which lies on the south bank of the Egegik River. This channel flowed
along the east side of the King Salmon River and went directly across the Egegik
River to its south side.
Several low, mixed rock and dirt bluffs stood out along the lower King Salmon
river. These bluffs were 50 to 100 feet high. Good campsites on gravel and
sandbars continued plentiful. We observed many Canada geese, gulls, and Arctic
terns. Also saw several bank beaver lodges but no beaver. A few spawned out red
salmon were still in the King Salmon River.
We arrived at Egegik about 1:30 p.m., and walked into the Peninsula agents
office near one of the canneries. We were a day early but the agent called King
Salmon and Peninsula picked us up at 3:00 p.m. in a single engine Otter and took
us back to King Salmon. We arrived there at 3:30 p.m. We spent the night at the
KingCo Motel in King Salmon.
We left King Salmon via Wien at 12:25 p.m., arrived Anchorage International 1:10
We traversed the 60-mile long King Salmon River and about five miles of its
tributaries in 4 1/2 easy days. An open canoe would probably be the most
enjoyable craft to float the river. The river had one Class III rapid with the
remainder being Class I. The values of the river area are the scenery around the
headwater tributary streams, and the fish and wildlife, most notably the
abundant grizzly bears.
Access is by commercial flight to King Salmon then charter into the headwaters
area of the river. Gravel bars large enough for a Super Cub and perhaps a Cessna
185 are located along the upper river. However these should be checked out with
the charter company first. It has been reported that small airplanes can land at
a lake that forms the headwaters of Gertrude Creek.
Complete river log
King Salmon River
Other information resources
List of rivers for which information is available on this website
Alagnak River | Alatna River
| American Creek
| Andreafsky River | Aniakchak River | Awuna River | Beaver Creek | Black River | Bremner River | Canning River | Charley River |
Chilikadrotna River | Chitina River | Colville River | Copper River | Delta River | Fortymile River | Gulkana River | Huslia River | Ivishak River | John River | Kakhonak River | Kanektok River | Karluk River | Kasegaluk Lagoon | King Salmon River | Kobuk River |
Koyukuk River North Fork | Little Susitna River | Mulchatna River | Nigu Etivluk rivers | Noatak River | Nowitna River | Nuyakuk River | Porcupine River | Saganirktok River | Salmon River (Kobuk) | Selawik River | Sheenjek River | Squirrel River | Talachulitna River | Tlikakila River | Togiak River | Unalakleet River |
Back to the main river logs page
Where next on
hunting books, Alaska fishing
boating page, main Alaska hunting
and main Alaska fishing page
General information about boating, hunting and fishing in Alaska
with leads on where to find out more.
lodges, fishing guides,
charters, air taxis,
and much more. Hundreds of listings throughout Alaska.
What is it like to
and fish in various areas of Alaska?
Alaska outdoors swap n sell,
and Alaska shooting
Read what people are saying about
hunting, fishing and shooting in Alaska. Post
your own comments. Buy or sell Alaska outdoors gear.
Stories and information about hunting and fishing in