|Three Alternatives to Goodnews/Kanektok Rivers|
There are three rivers that are alternatives to the main Goodnews and Kanektok Rivers .
The chances of seeing other rafters at Arolik Lake are about 30% with another 20% chance of seeing them on the river itself. It's about a 20% chance of seeing motorboat traffic on the lower 1/3 of the river.
Kukatlim Lake offers about 40% chance of seeing other rafters and about 20% chance on the Kukaktlik/Middle Fork Rivers. There is a 30% chance of seeing motorboat traffic in the lower river.
The chances of seeing other rafters on the King Salmon River lake access are about 50%. On the river you should have about a 50% chance of seeing both rafters and motorboat traffic. The sightings of motorboats increase as you approach the Nushagak River and while you are actually floating the Nushagak. These percentages are worse case and reflect peak dates.
The Arolik gets floated by approximately ten groups each year. None of the three rivers will have more water than the other on the average. They each have their unique challenges when the water is low. For example, the Kukaktlik River is one of the first rivers rafters drag as water levels drop in July. The Arolik River is always shallow at the top, regardless of the water levels. The river leaving the lake drops 250 feet in an 8 mile stretch but after joining the south fork the river floats well, even in low water conditions.
The King Salmon River starts with a ¼ mile portage that feels more like a mile of packing your gear. The river itself starts out shallow and some dragging may be required in low water conditions. There is a fair amount of logs and sweepers both on the King Salmon/Nushagak Rivers. I think all three rivers fish about the same generally speaking. Rainbow fish better on the low water levels, silvers on the other hand, fish the best during high water and wouldn't be affected by dirty water. Combination rainbow trout/silver salmon is best in August. The first week in August would be at the end of peak rainbow fishing and at the early beginning of silver fishing. As August progresses and more and more storms move through, the water levels begin to rise and silver fishing picks up progressively as rainbow fishing gets harder. As the storms become less frequent the water levels slowly retreat and the silvers die off in late August to early September. The rainbow begins feeding aggressively again.
Arctic Grayling is always better in slower, narrower, shallow water like you would expect to find in the top 1/3 of most rivers. Arctic Char seem to be abundant all season long in water like you would expect to find in 2/3 of most rivers in the entire Bristol Bay area.
All three rivers are great alternatives to the Goodnews or Kenektok rivers unless the water levels are low. In that case the larger rivers would be the most logical choice. Anglers that book flights to any of the three rivers listed often bring a map of their alternative to be prepared in the event of low water. In extreme cases of low water like we experienced in 2004, even Goodnews/Kanektok rivers were to low to float without dragging, especially the heavier boats. FWA recommends keeping your raft as light as possible when floating any of these rivers.