American Creek Logistics

By Scott Richmond

The rafting and general camping gear was provided by Rainbow River Lodge, the outfitter. It was good quality gear. I was especially impressed by the rafts, which were high-quality 14-foot boats from NRS. These were three-chambered, tough rafts with large tubes. The large tubes are essential; you need the floatation to transport three people and all their gear for a week in shallow water.

I was impressed with the outfitter. Unlike some pilots and guides, who can get pretty grumpy by the end of the summer, Chad and his crew where helpful and cheery. Also, some outfitters just throw you and your stuff in a pile and leave. Not Rainbow River Lodge. The rafts were all pumped up and ready to go. It was a well-run show.

Costs--Typical

  1. Round trip airfare, Portland to Anchorage--$650
  2. Charter flight, round trip Anchorage to Iliamna--$400
  3. Rainbow River Lodge (Outfitter)--$1,300
  4. Motel in Anchorage for night before trip--$100
  5. Meals in Anchorage and while traveling--$100
  6. Food for float trip--$250
  7. Alaska fishing license--$30

Supplied by Outfitter

  1. Round trip floatplane transportation, Iliamna to American Creek
  2. Rafting gear: oars, spare oar, life jackets, cargo net, patch kit, dry bags. One raft per three people.
  3. Camping equipment: four-person (for three people) external-frame tent with rain fly and ground tarp, two two-burner Coleman stoves and propane bottles, pots and pans, chairs (one per person), sleeping pads, plastic spoons and cups, toilet paper, VHF radio

Supplied by Anglers

  1. Food: Freeze-dried food for seven-day trip plus two extra days in case of delayed returned, spoon (2), cup, water bottle
  2. Water: gravity purification system suitable for large group, five-gallon storage containers (one per boat)
  3. Camping gear: sleeping bag and pillow, tarp system large enough to cover the group in case of bad weather, cord for tarp, hatchet, fold-up saw, headlamp and spare batteries, shovel and toilet paper
  4. Clothing: heavy fleece top and fleece pants (two pair of each), light-weight fleece pants and top for layering/sleeping/warm weather, camp wear, rain jacket, sweater, hats (rain, wool, ball), rain pants, briefs, socks, sun glasses
  5. Personal: baby wipes, toothbrush (not paste; it attracts bears), DEET, headnet for mosquito protection, bear bells (optional), water bottle, book to read, whistle for signaling, wash cloth, towel, spare eye glasses, sun glasses, eye glass cleaner, camera gear, bear spray (buy in Anchorage)
  6. Fishing gear: waders, boots, wading belt, wading staff, rods (2), reels (2 with floating lines, plus one spool with sink tip line), spare leaders (1X mono sufficient), tippets (1X, 2X mono or superfluoro), indicators, split shot, flies (flesh flies, Egg Sucking Leeches , other), beads and hooks (see 0928Using Beads to Make Egg Flies), hook hone, line cleaner and dressing, floatant, nippers, pliers, forceps
  7. Other: GPS, walkie-talkie, fix-it kit (see 0900A Fix-It Kit for Fishing)

Other Tips

  1. When cooking lunch while drifting between camps, we used flameless heating kits from Mountain House. You put a heating pad in the bottom of an aluminized envelope, pour measured saltwater on top of it, and put your freeze-dried food packet (cold water added) in the envelope. Twenty minutes later you have a hot meal. It saves getting out the Coleman stove while you're on your drift.
  2. I got two waterproofed topo maps from www.offroute.com. Go to their site; it's pretty slick.
  3. We carried a satellite phone, but it didn't work for sour apples up there and was a big disappointment.
  4. You need to have a VHF radio to communicate with planes. Float planes are always buzzing around, and if you have an emergency, you can contact one. However, make sure you learn how to use the radio first.
  5. We also had Garmin Rhino two-way radios. These slick gadgets also have GPS on them and will tell you where the other party is located. We were slow to get onto using them and would have saved some work if we'd started earlier.
  6. My fishing gear was a seven-weight nine-foot Winston Boron IIX rod. I found it perfect for this fishing. It had enough backbone for the large fish and for flinging nymph-and-indicator rigs. I used a Loop Evotec LD 6Nine wide arbor reel spooled with Scientific Anglers Steelhead Taper floating line. Like the Winston, the Loop is a delight to use. I carried a spare rod and spare reel, as well as a spool with a sink-tip line; fortunately I didn't need any of them.
  7. When you make your gear list for a trip like this, think: if I break or lose this item, how screwed will I be? Then pack backup gear as appropriate. Some things are more likely to have a problem than others, of course. For example, I carried an extra pair of waders, but not an extra pair of boots. However, I use the Korker Konvertible boots and carried an extra pair of soles.

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).