While I was living in Colorado, I had the opportunity to hike and fish some great alpine lakes. However, back then I didn't have the packraft and always dreamed of utilizing one to get away from the bank and search "un-touched" lake shores. A common problem with alpine fishing is that it can be hard to get good bank access once you finally reach these lakes. Many times the trail follows a river up to the lake and the outlet can be clogged with big, unstable, logs as well as marshy edges due to snowmelt. Sometimes it can be 10-20 swampy yards to even get to deep enough water to fish. If you are fly fishing, the brushy lake shore can limit your backcast and make for a really frustrating day. The Alpacka packraft and Packraft Fishing Table allows you to get away from marshy edges and log jams, and have a totally liberating alpine fishing experience. Now you can stealthily paddle right up to the shadows and log jams to comfortably fish anywhere.
I love kayak fishing, but high alpine lakes and hard-plastic kayaks don't mix. Carrying a heavy, bulky, plastic fishing kayak up those mountains is not possible. The Alpacka packraft and Packraft Fishing Table allow me to bring my fishing kayak anywhere, including up steep mountains. Even if you have your regular hard-plastic fishing kayak, this portable combo can be your "to-go" or light weight set-up. Great to have in any kayak fisherman's quiver.
This past week I had an opportunity to get away to the mountains for some much needed hiking, packrafting, and fishing. The Cascade mountains in Washington state have tons of alpine lakes to hike and fish. I had marked this chain of alpine lakes on the map and have had it on my to-do list for a while. Only 2 hrs from Seattle, I packed up the Packraft Fishing Table and was off on a quick two day adventure. The 7.5 mile trail up the mountains is steep, but it rewards you by taking you along side waterfalls and numerous lakes en-route to the last and highest lake.
As the trail crested the last mountain, it dropped me off at the last and most beautiful of the lakes. I put the packraft in on a rock ledge and paddled across the lake. I put on a small Dick Nite and started trolling up the opposite lake shore, which was only accessible by boat. As I turned the corner to the back part of the lake, there was a large hidden meadow of wildflowers in bloom, crystal clear waterfalls, and stark white snowfields. It was the start of this lake, the small mountain waterfall, and one of the many starts to the larger river in the valley below. After exploring that, I trolled around the lake some more and tried the chartreuse rooster tail. Still nothing, not even a nibble! The lake was really clear and you could see a long way down. I stopped every now and then to see if I spotted fish, but I never saw anything swim.
After a few other unsuccessful attempts fishing and trying a few fly patterns, I started to paddle back to my camp. As I headed back, the wind died and the mosquitos came to life. The wind blowing earlier in the day meant I wasn't carrying my Cedar Oil and was helplessly paddling back to my supply, getting picked apart on the way. I asked some of the other fisherman up there if they had any action and they didn't catch anything either. I ate my dinner, climbed into my bivy, and enjoyed a beautiful view of the sun setting over the mountains.
While I didn't catch any fish it was still a great trip. I always say that fishing is not catching and that if catching is your sole purpose in the activity of fishing, then you will not be a very happy person. While the packraft made fishing better, it really made the whole trip. There were a lot of people up at the lakes and on the trail hiking. While I am not opposed to seeing people, I do seek solitude in the wilderness. The packraft allows me to paddle my own trail and access areas that others can not get to. It gave me a part of the lake all to myself. Check out the video of the adventure below.
Kristy and I just returned from the 1st annual American Packrafting Association "Packraft Round up" in Montana. We didn't know what to expect from the event but it blew those would be expectations away.
We drove 10 hours over to Montana from Seattle and it was a gorgeous drive. We saw desserts, mountains, lakes, rivers, moose, and deer. All the different climate zones are amazing to drive through.
As soon as we go there, Kristy and I got on the river. We packrafted around the first two bends in the N. Fork of the Flathead river and then hiked back to camp for the evening. It was nice little jaunt and got us even more excited for Saturday.
That night Moe from the American Packrafting Association spoke and kicked off the weekend. It was so cool to see all these packrafters together. People came from all over the world, the Canary Islands, England, and Australia. The people that this event brought together was amazing. One guy biked into the event and another floated down from Canada for 3 days to the campsite. Some of the pioneers of packrafting, whose videos we had all watched a 1,000 times on YouTube, were there. It was such an inspiring and incredible group of people to camp with. That night we were split into groups based on experience and made our packrafting plans for the next day.
The next day our group, the "Aquapaddlefiles", packrafted together down the N. fork of the Flat head river. It was an amazing day on the river with some amazing people. It was great to be able to push ourselves packrafting. We took more difficult lines, practiced self-rescues, and surfed waves. There was no serious consequences on the river and we were surrounded by some of the best packrafters in the world. We all learned so much. Below is a video of the day on the river.
That night John McLain and Matt Brain gave a speech about the beginnings of packrafting in Tasmania Australia and showed some amazing footage of some really cool rivers. As he was preparing for this talk he discovered his old videos and was able to show it to us all. The trips he was doing at 15, in the 80's, were incredible. He is a true pioneer and has some amazing stories to share! Check out some of their material below.
We had to get back early on Sunday and decided to take our time and fish on the drive back. I caught a cut throat trout and kristy caught two bull trout. We didn't get the chance to fish from the river with The Fishing Table, as that was not the main focus of the trip, but we were extremely please to wet our lines and catch some Montana trout.
The sport of packrafting is growing a lot and I am excited to be a part of the growth. It is amazing to see and hear about how people are using these boats for all sorts of things and are taking them to some amazing places. Make sure to join the APA, its free! They are great people and we cant wait until the 2nd Annual APA Round Up!
This past Sunday, we enjoyed a wonderful evening of trout fishing from our packrafts. We drove 45 minutes outside of Seattle to a local lake that we hadn't been to in 2 years. We launched the packrafts and started trolling with The Packraft Table. We got hung up in the weeds and were forced to switch it up. I put out the anchor and we switched tactics to still fishing with sinker & bait. Within two seconds, I had a fish on. I landed the trout and it ended up 13 in.
We wanted to, and are able t,o keep our catch at this lake so I filleted the trout right there and he was on his way to the smoker.
I re -baited and cast again. About 5 minutes later, fish #2 on! Landed that 11 in. trout.
Now Kristy immediately switched to my tactic.
10 minutes later it was fish on for Kristy.
We both caught one more and headed back to dock. It was a great packraft fishing evening
We are looking forward to smoked trout on our salads and some fish tacos. It was such a relaxing evening and a lot of fun. I can't wait for packraft salmon fishing coming up in 2 weeks!
Author : Jon Dykes
Inventor of the packraft table