Visiting the Refuge
Following is some basic, introductory information for visitors to Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Much of the information is directed towards float trips. If you do not find answers to your questions here, please feel free to contact us or visit the Alaska Geographic online bookstore. To see a "do's and don'ts" sheet for quick reference, click here.
For specific information on regulations and enforcement, see our regulations page. U.S.G.S. topographic maps are available to plan and enjoy your refuge trip.
Fishing and Hunting
River Conditions and Rangers
- There is a three day camping limit on all the rivers throughout Togiak Refuge. After the third consecutive day in one location, the group must move their camp at least one mile.
*For visitors to the Kanektok River, be aware that there is a one day limit at the outlet of Kagati Lake due to its frequent use.
- We ask that you please practice leave no trace (meaning after you camp in an area, there should be nothing left behind to show other groups that you were there). We specifically require the following practices:
- Proper disposal of human waste: bury 8-12 inches deep, at least 100 feet from the water, and burn or pack out (do not bury) paper. On the lower portion of several refuge rivers, where the uplands are privately owned by Native corporations, the only way to avoid trespass is to pack out your waste or to get a use permit from the appropriate Native corporation.
- Trash: Trash that will burn completely, such as paper, may be burned. Make sure your fire is hot enough to burn the trash completely. All trash that is not burned must be packed out. It cannot be buried! Buried trash can attract bears and cause other problems for fellow campers, and is illegal. Be sure to check your campsite for trash just before you leave it; pay special attention to any remnants of aluminum or other trash in the fire ring. Rangers will check your campsites after you leave!
- Fires: campfires are allowed, using driftwood or other fallen wood. To preserve the wilderness experience, we ask that you leave no trace behind: scatter your fire ring, wood and any other remnants from your fire and collect any trash scraps left in it. Using stoves for cooking, rather than fires, is more efficient, reliable, and keeps your cookware from turning black as well.
- For more detailed information on low impact camping, please visit the Leave No Trace website.
- Be aware you are traveling in bear country. A large proportion of visitors to Togiak Refuge see bears, especially those visitors on float trips (who tend to travel quietly).
- The scent of food, especially fish, is a strong attractant for bears. To avoid encounters, keep a clean camp, boat, etc. and dispose of any fish parts by tossing them into deep flowing water so they are carried away. You may wish to consider storing food scraps in your trash inside a sealed ziploc-type bag, rather than attempting to burn it, which may create a smell of food around your campsite.
- Please take time to view some of the following information on bears. Even if you have heard about bear safety before, it is good to have the information fresh in your mind in case you need to respond to a situation quickly.
- ADFG's "Bear Facts" Brochure has practices you should observe while in bear country as well as basic information on bear behavior.
- Bears and You is a publication of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation which has basic bear safety guidelines as well as tips on differentiating between brown and black bears.
- Living In Harmony with Bears, produced by the Alaska chapter of the National Audubon Society, takes a more in-depth look at bear behavior and what humans can do to live and play safely around bears.
- Safety in Bear Country is an ADFG publication for hunters in Alaska which details bear safety in hunting situations.
- Bear Deterrent and Repellant Products ranging from large, industrial systems through backpacking equipment. List compiled by ADFG.
- Please avoid trespass on Native lands. On the Kanektok, Goodnews, and Togiak rivers, signs have been placed on the riverbank to indicate to visitors the boundary between the Togiak Wilderness Area and the non-wilderness portion of the river. On these rivers, all lands along the river below the wilderness boundary are owned by Native corporations. All areas above the high water mark (i.e. all vegetated uplands) are private property. Use bare gravel bars for camping and walking. See our land ownership page for more information.
- If you plan to use Native corporation-owned uplands, you must obtain land use permits from the village Native corporations.
- Another type of Native lands to be aware of are Native allotments that belong to individuals. These are scattered throughout Togiak Refuge, including within the Wilderness Area. Fish racks, cabins, signs on trees, or any other alterations to the land may indicate Native allotments. Native allotments are private property - no trespassing.
- No alcohol is allowed in, the following "dry" villages: Quinhagak, Goodnews Bay, Platinum, Togiak, Twin Hills, and Manokotak. Any alcohol brought on the trip should be consumed or disposed of prior to reaching a village.
- You may see local residents using the rivers for subsistence harvests; please be respectful. No fishing is allowed within 300 feet of a subsistence gillnet.
FISHING AND HUNTING:
For information on subsistence hunting and fishing, visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Subsistence Management homepage.
- Please educate yourself about current regulations and ethical behavior. Visit the links available from our fishing and hunting pages to learn more.
- You will need a current license, available from retailers in Dillingham and Bethal as well as online through the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. You may need a specific tag as well; for example, anglers fishing for Chinook (king) salmon are required to have a current king salmon tag (or "king stamp") in addition to their regular license. It is your responsibility to be sure you have all the necessary documents.
- Please practice good catch-and-release techniques. This will help to conserve the fishery and is also culturally respectful. Many subsistence users do not agree with catch-and-release fishing, since their traditional concept of respecting nature is to make use of a fish that allows itself to be caught. Using the best techniques to avoid unnecessary mortality will help to reduce conflicts and demonstrate your respect for the resources as well.
- Fisheries biologists are conducting several studies on Togiak Refuge that involve tagging fish with both external tags and/or radio transmitters. External tags (sometimes referred to as "t-bar anchor" or "spaghetti" tags) are small plastic tags usually attached near the dorsal fin (see image). Some external tags may be a small plastic disc. Tags may be various colors, and usually contain a code number for the fish as well as the location of the agency office that tagged the fish (i.e. "486327 - Togiak NWR, DLG 99576"). Fish that have been implanted with radio transmitters will have an antenna extending from their belly and possibly an external tag. To learn more about why fish are tagged, click here. We ask that you report the catching of any tagged fish. Click here to link to a printable fish report form. If you do catch a radio tagged fish, we would greatly appreciate the release of that fish. However, if you do choose to sacrifice it, please return the transmitter to Togiak Refuge.
- Accurate reporting on creel surveys is essential to fishery managers in Alaska. Creel surveys help managers approximate the impact of sportfishing. Various personnel may survey you during your trip regarding catch and harvest information, or creel surveys may be mailed to license holders. Please respond to and provide accurate information in these surveys!
- Game animals are important to Alaskans, many of whom depend largely upon them for food. Respect the animal you are hunting by preparing adequately for your hunt. Be aware that Alaska's meat salvage regulations reflect the high value we place on game meat and that wasting of meat is taken seriously.
- Hunt Alaska is a comprehensive resource of hunting information produced by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
- Hunting for Trophy Meat will educate hunters who want quality food from their hunt.
- Some moose, caribou, and other game animals within the refuge are fitted with radio collars as part of long term monitoring studies. Collared animals are tracked from the air, and are important sources of information on life span, calf production, home range, and other life history traits. When hunting, please avoid taking radio collared animalswhen possible. Although it is not illegal for you to do so, it is detrimental to our management efforts, since each collared animal is an ongoing source of data. If you do take a radio collared animal, please return the collar to Togiak National Wildlife Refuge or the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
RIVER CONDITIONS AND RANGERS:
- River Rangers patrol the Kanektok, Goodnews, and Togiak rivers during the summer months. Rangers perform a variety of functions, including collecting information for angler surveys and public use data and making sure you're practicing low impact camping. You will probably encounter the rangers during your trip - feel free to ask them questions or stop in at their camp. They are our best source of current knowledge about the rivers. Learn more about the River Ranger program on the Public Use page.
- Expect motorboats on the river, and if possible please yield to motorboats in the area because they are often only able to travel in certain channels and deeper water. Also, rafters can usually hear approaching motorboats giving them time to move to the edge of the river; whereas motorboat operators often do not see rafters unitl they are in close proximity.
- There is no serious white water on these rivers but there are many sweepers - overhanging or fallen trees, etc. - pay attention and be prepared to navigate!
- For those traveling to the Kanektok River, there is a weir across the river (used for counting fish) you should be aware of:
- The location of the weir (latitude/longitude) is: 59° 46.212`N, 161° 04.010`W.
- The weir's hinged design can be crossed by boats and rafts.
- When you reach the weir, sections suitable for passing over should be indicated with flags. The floating sections of the weir can be traversed.
- The weir should be staffed during regular traveling hours.
- The weir is made of plastic, so please avoid standing on it.
- Fishing is prohibited within 300 feet of any weir, upstream and downstream, unless otherwise indicated.
- For those traveling to the Middle Fork of the Goodnews River, or the Kukaktlik River (flying in to Kukaktlim Lake), there is also a weir on this river.
- Located approximately six miles upstream from the confluence with the North Fork of the Goodnews River (latitude/longitude 59° 09.48`N, 161° 23.76` W).
- Floating weir design allows boats to cross unassisted.
- Weir is staffed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from late June to mid- September.
- Please avoid standing on the weir.
- Fishing is prohibited within 300 feet of any weir, upstream and downstream, unless otherwise indicated.
Last updated: April 25, 2011