Overdue October Update

After our big storm and flood,  I went silent once again…  Had a great trip to the cabin with the family though.  Back to work now…

The flood pushed most of the fish far upstream,  as we would expect,  but this run has legs.  We continue to see fresh fish moving in with spectacular fishing just about everywhere.  Had a genuine first-hand report a couple days ago from a couple who floated the river over a few days in a raft.  The upper river held mostly blushed fish,  with chromers mixed in.  The fishing was phenomenal throughout the entire float,  all the way to tidewater.  He reported landing 20-30 fish each every day,  without spending a lit of time doing it.  Just a relaxing week of camping with fishing added…

Brown bear pouncing on a silver on the Middle Italio

Brown bear pouncing on a silver on the Middle Italio

Yesterday,  the last group from out at one of the East River lodges passed through and said the fishing was great.  Fish everywhere.  And now,  there are no fishermen anywhere…

Our trip to the Italio was of course “problematic” through the storm.  I left Tanis and my mom out there to clean up camp and close out the cabin.  We closed the shop over the weekend and went out to join them.  Fishing in front of the cabin was easy,  with follows and takes on nearly every cast with bass poppers.  ALL chrome-bright fish (well,  except one that bled and we still ate him).

The Italio Hillbillies heading out to the Old

The Italio Hillbillies heading out to the Old

At the end,  we went to the Old Italio for about an hour.  It was just silly.  Blue skies with not much wind.  The takes on poppers was averaging 3-4 per cast.  The silver would suck the foam popper under,  I’d slack the line and the fly would pop back to the surface again.  The strip some more and another would follow,  or take a strike and suck it under again – and again.  Man,  I love that!  I’d actually have to land one about every 5th cast,  when the fish was too aggressive and did his own hook-set.  ALL were chrome-bright.

Fighting a fish on a white popper

Fighting a fish on a white popper

We didn’t even fish the bigger holes.  Just one smaller group with probably 3200 fish in about a foot of water.  Just enough wind to put a chop on the surface,  so the bright sun and our shadows didn’t spook the school.

With the mega-tide and flood,  I figured all the fish in the Old would have pushed,  but at least half remained after the flood – or they are still coming in that thick.  The incoming waves on the Middle Italio was definitely slower than pre-flood levels,  but still coming in fresh throughout the day.

Teen in front of the cabin,  watching a bear fish upstream

Teen in front of the cabin, watching a bear fish upstream

Hoping to head out again this weekend for one last fishing trip and to fill our freezer for the winter.  I’ll post more photos of our trip,  but wanted to at least get this report published before I found another reason to stay away from the computer.  It doesn’t take much of a reason this time of year…

Two silvers trapped in a  deep puddle,  waiting for high tide to escape

Two silvers trapped in a deep puddle, waiting for high tide to escape

Only Two More Assembly Meetings for Me…

My time on the Yakutat Assembly is coming to a close and I’ll soon stop posting the assembly packet info here.  Lucky you!  The deadline for signing up for the election ended yesterday at 6pm and I was told 4 people threw their names into the hat,  for the three positions.  Nick Holcomb and Nelson Inada are running to retain their seats,  while past mayor and past assemblyman Daryl James and newcomer Martha Indreland are also contenders.  The election will be held October 20th. (this is a correction – I initially posted it was to be Oct 13th…)

My internet was down at the time of the last assembly meeting,  so I was unable to post the documents then.  I’ll do that here.  Not much was on the September 17th agenda – just a budget request from the school to buy $9,000 worth of computers (approved) and acceptance of financial reports for June and July.

#1 Notice Sept 17 4.1 5 8.1

#2 Financial Reports June July

#3 Info

Mgr Memo 9-10-15 YPI over time
This warrants more explanation…  The City Manager is disclosing to the Assembly the results of changes to how Yakutat Power has operated since he assumed his manager position.  Comparing the overtime for employees of YPI first 6 months of 2014 (before changes) was $24,887.70.  First 6 months of 2015,  overtime dropped to $4,715.10.  Total salary cost went from $214,516.86 to $164,321.56 for the same period.  Keep in mind though that total payroll costs are double what the salaries show,  with healthcare,  taxes and other expenses added in.  The reduction in operating staff would actually show a significantly larger cost reduction if these figures included those costs as well.

Also,  this spring I priced the cost of bringing in Iso-tanks of diesel on the AML barge to reduce the cost of fuel to Yakutat Power.  With this threat,  Delta Western immediately lowered their cost to YPI for fuel by $1.50/gallon.  Since then,  they have adjusted their rate to reflect what the actual cost would be to buy fuel independently,  which has saved YPI roughly $180,000 in the first 6 months of 2015.

Seattle OPIS prices for #2 diesel fuel as of last month

Seattle OPIS prices for #2 diesel fuel as of last month

Washington DC
This was our City Manager’s agenda for his trip to Washington DC last month (he was on the phone for the assembly meeting…)

Now on to tonight’s packet:

#1 Notice Agenda Minutes

#2 8.1 and 10.1

Again,  not a whole lot on our plate tonight either…  A resolution designating judges and clerks for the election and a change to Bob Pate’s gravel pit lease.  We are scheduled to have an executive session to discuss the two power plant offers from AVEC and AP&T,  plus the evaluation we requested of the two companies and their operations.

First (and last) September Storm

We are getting absolutely hammered right now!  We have had a pretty mild September so far,  but with just one more day in the month left,  we’re getting our usual allotment of nasty weather crammed into the last week.

Sheets of rain blowing across the airport ramp and slamming into the side of the hangar.  I LOVE the power of a storm like this.  Reminds you of just how little we control in the world.  Of course this makes for less than ideal fishing conditions…

It had been looking like our week of dry weather would allow Tanis and I to get one last week of commercial fishing in before the season ended.  The Akwe River is tough to fish in a flooded fall.  The clear water allows the silvers to see the net and just swim around.  To give you an idea of just how fruitless it can be fishing for silvers,  on Sunday,  Tanis fished all day from the noon opener,  through our big Equinox tides and had only 6 silvers and one chum to his credit.  I easily could have landed over 1,000lbs of silvers with a fly rod…

It has been many years since I have seen that many fish out there!  The numbers of silvers in the Middle and Old Italio Rivers are staggering!  From the air,  the Old looks black in every single hole all the way up to the grass humps.  At least 5-6,000 fish trapped in the flats unable to get up into the tributary creeks.  Well,  that was until yesterday and today…  Equinox tides with storm surge and now flooding from the rain will push all those fish out and into the creeks,  beyond reach.  This will be an extremely healthy storm for the health of the run.  Some of the smaller streams like this have suffered over the past decade with an occasional dry summer killing off large numbers of the salmon fry.  We had a relatively wet summer and this flood will get all the fish up where they need to be.

On the Middle Italio,  we have to drive the ATV across the river to get to the Akwe to fish.  EVERY time we drive across,  we spook a school passing through the crossing.  The ford is the shallowest place obviously and not a spot for fish to hold.  There are so many fish constantly streaming in that we catch a batch every time we cross,  both directions.  There is a massive run this year!  That doesn’t seem in any hurry to end…

Of course the Akwe is a different beast altogether.  A much bigger river,  it has water from bank to bank right now with no sandbars.  We get one 15 fathom net per permit,  which does little to block the passage of silvers in a river about 100 fathoms across.  Silvers like to travel across the shallows,  so placing the net in the deepest part of the channel guarantees you’ll catch nothing…

There was a group of day fishermen that had been dropped off yesterday on the Akwe Spit.  They looked absolutely miserable out there fishing in the wind and driving rain,  but had a pile of fish on the bank.  More fish than we had between both Tanis and my nets.  I pulled my net last night and flew to town,  while Tanis is still out there struggling through the storm.  His grandmother is out there with him…  My mom has as much commercial fishing experience as I do,  so she should be able to keep him out of trouble.  I hope!  He hasn’t ever had the “opportunity” to fish in a storm like this,  so it should be educational for him.  He wants to do this for a living,  but needs to experience just how miserable it can be…  how unproductive it can be…  how dangerous it can be.  If he hasn’t pulled his net by now,  he could lose it in the swift current and shifting sands.

I dropped the kids and grandma off out there on Saturday,  then flew back to town.  Tanis hung his own net for the first time without my help and then went out and set it before I made it back out on Sunday.  He was pretty proud of himself.  I’d hate for him to lose his first net,  but we all have to go through that at some point…  He spent most of Sunday hung up on a nasty snag and we had to work pretty hard to get the leadline free,  tearing off the last 15 feet of web in the process.

Fishing is still pretty spectacular around town,  although this storm is really going to blow most of the rivers out.  Ankau and the Lagoon are not flood-prone,  so the few fishermen that are here can still easily catch a limit without dealing with horrendous flood waters.  The Situk will be pointless to fish,  unless you can find a small out-of-the-way back eddy where the fish are trying to get out of the current.  Or fish Old Situk Creek – that is a lot of fun late in the season like this!

I need to fly back out to the cabin today,  but not really looking forward to it till the weather calms a bit.  Flying back and forth every morning and night this week hasn’t been a whole lot of fun.  Days like these remind me why I do NOT want to be a commercial pilot!

I can’t believe we have such a good internet connection this morning!  I would have expected the storm to knock our satellite connection out.  Strange!  We did catch one beautiful steelhead out in the nets…  Looks like we may see an early steelhead run this fall…  I’ll keep you posted on that through the coming month.

Fishing Continues to be Excellent!

Silver fishing has been excellent over the past couple weeks,  although we are starting to see a decline on a couple rivers toward the end of their runs.  Tsiu is slowing down now,  but would still be considered excellent by anyone’s standards.  Yana is exceptional,  along with the Old and Middle Italio’s.  Those three are probably the best silver fishing anywhere on earth right now!


Akwe and East Rivers have been slower than the others this season mostly due to high water making it difficult to keep the fish contained in holes.  With the several dry days this past week,  they have returned to their optimal flow levels and are now filled with fresh fish.  Both have later runs compared to other area rivers,  so with this year’s later than normal run,  expect East and Akwe to continue to be hitting well into late October.

Hi Rick,  we missed you this year!

Hi Rick, we missed you this year!

Here around town,  the Situk has been (here’s that word again…) excellent.  Tremendous numbers of fish,  with the guides reporting more than 100 fish landed to nearly every boat every day.  Fishing has been so good,  anglers have been able to get frequent takes on bass poppers and other large dry flies on the Situk – that is usually reserved for the Tsiu and Italio.  Lost River has really not been the best fishing so far this year.  Again,  Lost and Tawah have very late runs,  so their best fishing may still be ahead of us.  There are still a tremendous number of humpies in the upper parts of Tawah,  but Christmas Tree and Broken Bridge have been very good (but not “excellent…”).


Each day on the incoming tide,  a couple hundred silvers have been stacking up outside the culverts at the Lagoon.  This is a great place to get away from the flooding and winds during a storm,  but be advised that ADF&G reduced the bag limit at the Lagoon to 2 fish daily this year,  down from the 6 fish limit it used to have.


We are reducing our shop hours to 10am to 6pm now,  but as usual,  we’re here anyway and if you need assistance after the PM jet time,  let me know ahead of time and we’ll keep the doors open,  or pull up to the door and honk…

Yes, we’re still alive

Yes,  we’re alive and well,  but our internet hasn’t be working well enough touse the WordPress interface for days.  Sorry.

Fishing is still excellent!  Running down the rivers,  Tsiu is on the backside of its run and slowing down now.  Yahtse is slow – not the better choice for a fly0out unless your goal is isolation.  Yana is exceptional – still just about the best fishing you can have without a prescription.  Now to town…

Situk has been exceptional even with the higher water.  We have not had any big floods above 800 CFS,  so it has always been fishable this season,  but it has been stuck over or around 500 for weeks.  Had a report yesterday from a local who went sport fishing in the river (a rare occurrence) and he said they struggled and he blamed the nets.  NO ONE else has reported having a tough time at all.  Fish up at 9 Mile are about 75:25 blushed to chrome.  You just need to sort through the fish to get the bright ones you want to keep.  But very few people are fishing up there and it is a great way to get away from people while still on the road system.

Lost has been relatively slow all season,  Tawah Creek has been OK,  but not great.  They tend to have really late runs,  so we may yet see the peak there in another week or two.  The lagoon by the old barge has been good,  with hundreds of fresh silvers OUTSIDE the culvers milling around on the incoming tide.  The state board of fish reduced the daily limit on the Lagoon to 2 this year to match all the other road system rivers and streams.  Even though it is saltwater,  it was added to the list of 2-fish areas,  just like Ankau.  Speaking of Ankau,  it is very good right now as well.

Old and Middle Italios are just about as good as they can be…  New Italio and Akwe are very fishy,  but their water has been very high.  We have sunny weather all week this week,  so they will be dropping and by tomorrow will be very fishable.  Still no good reports off the East this whole season.  One group passed through who stayed at one of the lodges and they spent most of their week fishing the Doame instead of the East.  Doame has a good run and they all have to pass through the East to get there…  According to Yakutat Coastal,  there are a lot of fish finally moving into the East,  so that should finally have its run in as well.  East has a later than average run for the rivers around here,  so it should be very good going into the end of September and early October.

I have a lot more to catch you up on and I’ll try to get those posts up before m internet crashes again…  Oh,  a couple fall steelhead have been reported caught on the Situk already…

Italio is On (and so is Yana)

I had to fly back to town tonight to work the morning mail plane,  so posting a quick update…  VERY good conditions on the Middle Italio and Old Italio now.  Tides were absolutely perfect with a 9.7 footer at 2:06pm.  Hordes of day fishermen dropped off at the Middle,  but the two air taxi’s did a very conscientious job of spreading them out between three air strips.  Old Italio has three pockets of fish – one with several hundred,  but the sand is extremely soft and the planes would get stuck if they attempted to land there.

Akwe was flooded!  We considered commercial fishing this week,  until we saw how much dark brown water was flowing through there.  All the sandbars were submerged.  Couldn’t see any fish in the Italio/Akwe confluence hole.  Even with the dark Akwe water,  you can usually see fish in the clear Italio water as they mix.  Not last night though.  None visible.

Teen heard from the Yana group that flew out there first.  Excellent.  One said it may have been his best fishing day ever,  but he wasn’t quite willing to commit to that – yet.  LOTS of bears,  but they didn’t act aggressive and kept to themselves.  It only takes one stupid fisherman to train them that people are a food source and the entire world changes out there.  Hopefully everyone will work together to not give ay fish to the bears and run off any that act aggressively.  Well,  I can dream can’t I?

A friend just wrote this in an e-mail today:

“I can tell by your writings that you are rushing to get a posts up only because you feel an obligation, not because you have the time either.”

OK,  I admit it…  Sometimes you guys get so cranky when I don’t have fresh posts and this has been a tough fall to stay ahead of the game.  :-)  Most of the posts have just been fishing reports.  My apologies.  October is coming and I’ll get back on track by then,  I hope!

So…  we flew out to the cabin last night very late.  Tanis had obligations until 2pm and then didn’t actually show back up here to fly out till 6pm.  We touched down just before sunset.  Not a soul anywhere in sight.  Tanis headed to the lagoon to look at ducks.  My friend Brian headed to the cabin to unpack.  I grabbed my 6wt XP and headed to the water.

As the sun set,  wave after wave of silvers came by the cabin. There isn’t a hole there this year – just a long flat stretch around mid-calf deep.  The wakes just kept coming and coming.  I’d cast out a foot in front of the V and get a hit or follow on every cast.  Hooked about 12 fish in 20 minutes.  Managed to shake them all except the last one,  which broke me off as I tried to drag him ashore.

We stayed up till after midnight swapping bear and wolf stories and fishing tales.  Slept in till after 10am.  At least 7 plane-loads of fishermen had been dropped off,  but they were all either at the mouth,  or up above the Spruce Hole.  No one anywhere around the cabin.

There was a small batch of fish in the yard.  I landed two and hooked another 6 or so.  Tanis and Brian went upstream a little ways to a little slot along the edge of the grass,  where about 20 fish were lurking.  They landed a couple out of that difficult spot.  Then the west wind picked up and we couldn’t see where the fish were with the chop.

A second breakfast and I was ready for a nap.  Years ago,  Brian asked me what I did for recreation out here and I said “nap”.  He mentioned that last night…  My whole life seems to be adventure and excitement,  so when your “job” is fishing and flying and hiking and kayaking…  a nap is about the most anticipated thing I can come up with on a day off…  Yes,  I’m really that spoiled!

I forgot to take my camera with me,  so no photos this time.  I’ll take it back out with me tomorrow and be back on Tuesday afternoon.  Higher quality posts to follow,  OK Roy?  :-)

This is a Good Week

Lots of traffic through the shop the past few days,  with a lot of reports.  I’ll start with Tsiu…  Groups traded out at Dierick’s today.  The guy who has been going there for a decade said it was a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.  River is short,  but has no good holding water.  Just a straight shot.  Then we also had an 8,  8.5 and a 10 from the new guy with no past reference…  The ones who know just how spectacular it can be were disappointed.  The guys who are new LOVED every minute.

The first group of the season flew out to the Yana yesterday and said they would come in and tell me how it went.  They were either eaten by bears,  or are out fishing and haven’t made it in for the promised report…  So I still have no idea.

No word off the Old Italio,  but probably a lot of water and unlandable for the planes.  I’m flying out to the cabin tonight and I’ll have a first-hand report tomorrow for you.  Most of the fly-outs are heading to the Middle Italio.  Reports from yesterday said it was slow except for right at the mouth.  No fish holding at the Spruce Hole.  Same group today said it was spectacular no matter where you were.  They said the run really arrived last night!

Reports from the Akwe have been good,  if you were on fish.  One group did great reading the river and knowing where the fish should be holding.  Guys on their same plane didn’t fair very well,  not knowing how to read the water.

And I still haven’t talked to anyone in the past two weeks off the East River.  No idea what is happening out that far.

Lost has been spotty…  The storms we had the past couple nights raised the Lost quite a bit.  Muddy.  Sometimes people are catching OK,  some not.  It really has been a mixed bag.  Tawah has been better,  although still not great.

Situk hit about 750 CFS last night,  but has been dropping through today.  Dry weather expected tonight and tomorrow,  with more rain coming Monday and through the week.  Thursday looks to be the heaviest.  Fishing has been VERY good at the lower end,  but not so great above.  The float reports all have said the fish in the upper float are all dark already.  They haven’t been getting into fresh chromers till they reach the Ox Bow.  From there down,  there are a ton of fresh fish.  Water is high and borderline unwadable in places,  but still fishing well.  Crowded at the Old Man’s Hole,  with 30 guys stacked up along there most of the time…

Just talked to Tanya…  They did take a group to East yesterday,  but it was a bust.  Not very good.  If Italio just hit literally last night,  East should see its run any day too…

Need to go get the plane ready…