Alaska Dispatch Article…

a FRIEND I HAVE FISHED WITH…  OOPS!  Caps Lock problem…

A friend of mine who I have fished with just sent me a link to an article about the Situk.  I haven’t had time to read it and I’m running out the door right now.  I visited with a reporter for the Alaska Dispatch last week about fishing the Situk for steelhead and sent him a few pictures.  Here is the link…

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140417/spectacular-steelhead-fishery-yakutat-good-way-kick-season-anglers

Flying the dead outboard to Petersburg this weekend (right now while there is a break in the weather),  so will read it when I get back.

What to do when your Assembly Meeting gets Cancelled…

Only two of us showed up for the assembly meeting tonight,  so it was cancelled lacking a quorum.  Tanis is driving now…  so we took the long way home tonight.  Chris had blown off the boring meeting (wisely) to check out the cutthroat fishing on some local creek which shall remain unnamed (so I don’t get in trouble…).  We stopped by on the way back to the airport and…

Lots of extremely aggressive sea-runs

Lots of extremely aggressive sea-runs

that have not been endlessly molested (yet)

that have not been endlessly molested (yet)

Now you see it...

Now you see it…

Now you don't.

Now you don’t.

 

Akwe Sea Lion Videos

Here are a couple videos I uploaded last night to accompany yesterday’s blog post about our trip to the Akwe…

This video was taken by Chris – https://vimeo.com/92258785

This one by Tanis – https://vimeo.com/92228665

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Eulachon Done

Boy,  the years just seem to get busier and busier,  with no end in sight!  Steelhead are starting into the Situk again as of yesterday – the water temperature stayed warm overnight,  so we seem to have a run starting finally!  That means the shop should finally start to see some business.  Good thing,  since our spring orders are arriving and at some point,  I’ll need to pay for them.

Tanis and the outboard in the back of the plane

Tanis and the outboard in the back of the plane

Not content to just while away my time at the fly shop,  Tanis and I also need to get ready for our commercial season coming up this summer.  Our outboard crapped out on us toward the end of last season,  so we need to get it sent off to Petersburg to the repair shop.  Last night,  we loaded the recently repaired Yamaha Enduro 75 into the plane,  so we can swap it out with the dead one still out at the cabin on the boat.

A nice and calm evening,  we flew out – just Chris,  Tanis and I for a quick overnighter.  Haven’t been out to the cabin since January when the big storm hit.  The cabin is holding up OK.  Lost a little more of our roof,  but at least no critters had been inside and cuddling on my bunk – this time.

OK,  one giant rodent trapped inside the cabin,  but it didn't have a chance to make a mess

OK, one giant rodent trapped inside the cabin, but it didn’t have a chance to make a mess this time!

In the shed,  something are the buttons out of my Honda!

In the shed, something ate the buttons out of my Honda!  Never seen that before!

First things first…  we pulled the Honda ATV out of the shed and ran down the beach for a beachcombing trip.  I promised Chris he could have the first glass ball (unless it was really cool).  No glass “balls”.  Just a single rolling pin up in the dunes and that was technically NOT a “ball”.  Sorry Chris!  We didn’t check things too closely because the Stellar Sea Lion colony had camped out at the Akwe Mouth.

One of two groups of sea lions,  fat and feeding on the eulachon run at the Akwe Mouth

One of two groups of sea lions, fat and feeding on the eulachon run at the Akwe Mouth

Fun to watch - from a distance!  They like to fight more than my kids!

Fun to watch – from a distance! They like to fight more than my kids!

We crept out onto the edge of the bluff and watched them for a while.  Stinky,  noisy and testy…  If slugs were higher on the evolutionary chain,  this is what they would probably look like!

We didn't notice this until we looked at the pictures...  This sea lion has "BEER" shaved into his side (I think)...  Other than the arrow I just added,  this is an undoctored image!

We didn’t notice this until we looked at the pictures… This sea lion has “BEER” shaved into his side (I think)… Other than the arrow I just added, this is an undoctored image!  Weird!

This morning,  we went back out intending to paddle my little Jon Boat across the mouth,  in search of more glass balls.  To our surprise,  the sea lions were GONE!  Not a single one on the beach.  Just about 5 or 6 in the water swimming around.  There had been two groups totaling about 300 just a few hours before.

No more sea lions (or beer),  but Tanis found a couple of these!

No more sea lions (or beer), but Tanis found a couple of these!

The Stellar Sea Lion is dwindling in numbers pretty dramatically,  but two of the biggest concentrations around are at the mouths of the Akwe and Alsek Rivers when the Eulachon are in.  The Situk still has a LOT of Eulachon right now,  but the run on the Akwe is definitely done!  Just a handful still swimming around,  but evidence of the run is everywhere!

Death as far as you can see!

Death as far as you can see!

The sea lions smelled worse than the dead fish,  but this just gets "better" as the summer approaches

The sea lions smelled worse than the dead fish, but this just gets “better” as the summer approaches

All along the shoreline of the river,  the sand is absolutely covered with dead fish!  Miles and miles of beach on both sides of the river are coated with drying stinky smelt.  Farther upstream where the Akwe zigzags back and forth,  every little pothole is filled with carcasses up to a foot thick.  What a mess!

Last year was a huge run of Eulachon on the Situk and Lost Rivers.  This year,  the massive run hit the Akwe.  These fish are extremely oily and don’t break down easily.  The deep holes in the river will sit and perk with the decaying sludge throughout most of the summer.  A big tide,  or summer flood will wash some of it out a little at a time and it’ll get into our nets.  When shaking the moss out of the gill-net web,  it’ll fling 3-month-old rotten Eulachon spooge all over us.  Yum!

Even more dead fish in the water than along the shore and I thought there was a lot on shore!

Even more dead fish in the water than along the bank and I thought there was a lot on shore!

These are just the little low spots along the edge.  I bet there are 3-4 feet of them in the deep holes.

These are just the little low spots along the edge. I bet there are 3-4 feet of them in the deep holes.

I have never seen this much of a mess before!

I have never seen this much of a mess before!

No eagles anywhere!  They had already repeatedly gorged themselves and left.

No eagles anywhere! They had already repeatedly gorged themselves and left.

With a strong El Nino year expected,  our summer should be warmer and drier than usual.  If that is the case,  this big run will make for an extra special rotten mess in the river.  Something to look forward to in June and July…

The amount of biomass these rivers sustain is truly incredible.  Beyond the hundreds of thousands of trout and salmon that return here each year,  the sheer weight of the Eulachon lying in and around the Akwe is unbelievable.

I think I figured out why the sea lion colony disappeared…  Besides the run being over and the fresh fish done,  the wolves seemed to arrive last night as well…  Plenty for them to eat without having to wrestle a giant testy slug,  but I’m pretty sure it was time for the colony to head back out to sea…

That's a really big dog!

That’s a really big dog!

What a mess!

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Don’t Panic about the Tsunami…

The Yakutat Police Department has decided that this Friday is a Good Friday to test the Tsunami Warning system.  At noon April 18th,  2014,  expect to hear “a test announcement,  quickly followed by a real tsunami announcement and finished with a test announcement”.

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If you hear the warning,  don’t panic and run for higher ground.  Unless there is an earthquake and it isn’t just a practice run…  Hopefully we’ll know the difference.

Click to Open PDF of Tsunami Warning Test Posting

Braving the Situk in April

A couple pictures from John Hohl,  fresh off the river this weekend…

What a terrible way to spend the weekend!

What a terrible way to spend the weekend!

He camped his way down the river.  When the rain hit,  the river came up and he said there was a big push of fresh sea-liced steelhead in the middle river.  They rushed downstream to hit more of those chromers right out of the ocean,  only to find no fish at the bottom!  They pushed in on the storm,  but the water temp dropped,  turning off the incomers.  But there were still plenty mid-river…

There are some really nice fish in the river right now!  Not in numbers,  but in size...

There are some really nice fish in the river right now! Not in numbers, but in size…

WOW!  Nice fish John!  I need to hire your personal photographer too!

Last-Minute Trip to Juneau this Weekend

A friend needed to do some last-minute work in Gustavus and asked me if I was free on Friday…  So off we went!  Here are some pictures from the flight…

Lots of snow up there in the mountains,  even though our sea-level snowpack was low this winter

Lots of snow up there in the mountains, even though our sea-level snowpack was low this winter

Coming up over the Brabazon Range - AKA our foothills

Coming up over the Brabazon Range – AKA our foothills

The mighty Alsek River is just a trickle in winter

The mighty Alsek River is just a trickle in winter

Eden was alert for about 1/16th of the trip - she is already pretty jaded about flying

Eden was alert for about 1/16th of the trip – she is already pretty jaded about flying

Coming out of Canada and down into Glacier Bay National Park

Coming out of Canada and down into Glacier Bay National Park

We dropped into Juneau to pick up parts from the FAA (leaving the kids with friends),  then off to Gustavus.  I dumped Dave there,  then went back to Juneau for Costco and Home Despot and pizza at Bullwinkle’s.  Saw Byron at Costco,  but he didn’t say “hi” to me (probably doesn’t know who the heck I am like any of the other little bugs he has tried to squish in his rise to power…).  Loaded the plane and off to retrieve Dave and home…

Dave was in a hurry to get back,  so we took the shortcut over the mountains back instead of through the lower passes

Dave was in a hurry to get back, so we took the shortcut over the mountains back instead of through the lower passes

There are some incredible looking remote rivers and streams throughout Glacier Bay - who cares about the glaciers!

There are some incredible looking remote rivers and streams throughout Glacier Bay – who cares about the glaciers!

Saw a few whales in Glacier Bay proper,  but more out in the ocean later in the trip

Saw a few whales in Glacier Bay proper, but more out in the ocean later in the trip

This needs a chairlift...

This needs a chairlift…

Another beautiful stream cutting through the mountain peaks

Another beautiful stream cutting through the mountain peaks

...and another

…and another

I’m so used to flying LOW…  I think this was the highest I have flown since flying the plane out of Denver!

Brady Glacier

Brady Glacier

Coming out to the coast,  with more incredible-looking streams that see few visitors (if any)

Coming out to the coast, with more incredible-looking streams that see few visitors (if any)

I think this valley is where I would have wanted to Homestead 150 years ago...  Too late now!

I think this valley is where I would have wanted to Homestead 150 years ago… Too late now!

La Perouse Glacier is the last glacier in Alaska to calve directly into the ocean surf

La Perouse Glacier is the last glacier in Alaska to calve directly into the ocean surf

Another angle of La Perouse

Another angle of La Perouse

Lituya Bay - home of the largest wave ever recorded.  You can still see the bathtub ring easily around the side of the bay from the giant wave in 1958 - the brown ring along the shore on the left side...

Lituya Bay – home of the largest wave ever recorded. You can still see the bathtub ring easily around the side of the bay from the giant wave in 1958 – the brown ring along the shore on the left side…

Mt Fairweather as viewed from the ocean

Mt Fairweather as viewed from the ocean

Sure a lot of whales out in the ocean from Cape Fairweather to Dry Bay!  Quite a few Grays and a couple Humpbacks traveling north.  Thousands of Stellar Sea Lion at the mouths of the Alsek and Akwe Rivers,  feeding on the Eulachon.  Two of the largest gatherings of these stinky beasts anywhere in the world.  The Akwe also had thousands of Trumpeter Swans all along the 10 miles of river as it runs down the coast.

Home again...  The Situk with lots of tree debris down from the January storm - Rodeo Hole is directly under the plane and out of sight...

Home again… The Situk with lots of tree debris down from the January storm – Rodeo Hole is directly under the plane and out of sight…

Now back to a fishing blog instead of flying and Northern Lights (and political whining)…