4,225 sockeye counted yesterday

 

The rain brought the river up (holding at 585 CFS right now) and all those fish that were stuck below the weir pushed.  4,225 went through,  but unfortunately it doesn’t sound like there are any fish coming up behind them to replace ’em.  And more bad news from Fish and Game:

News Release:  Situk,  Lost and Ahrnklin Rivers Closed to Sport Fishing for Sockeye and Closed Area Below Situk River Weir Expanded

From July 12th to August 15th,  sockeye salmon may not be targeted,  retained,  or possessed in the Situk,  Lost,  or Ahrnklin Rivers;  Sockeye salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

(Translation:  You can still fish for dollies and rainbows,  along with any early humpies that may show up,  but you can not deliberately target sockeye (or kings) anywhere in the Situk,  Lost and Ahrnklin River Systems.)

Back to the News Release:  Additionally,  sport fishing is not allowed between regulatory markers located approximately 300 feet upstream of the Situk River weir (river mile 1.8) to markers approximately 2,100 feet downstream of the weir.  This portion of the river encompasses the entire “Rodeo Hole”.

(Translation:  The area around the weir to 100 yards above and below is always closed to fishing when the weir is in operation.  They just expanded the downstream closure to include the entire Rodeo Hole.  No fishing allowed period.  It remains open for the targeting of dollies,  rainbows and humpies below the Rodeo Hole.  But you can not target kings,  or sockeye at all anywhere in the system.)

Total count as of yesterday for sockeye is 9,489.  Year-to-date last year was above 52,000.  Yesterday was a good push and it came after the Emergency Order was issued.  If fish continue to move in like yesterday,  then we could see a reopening.  In the meantime…  ADF&G does not expect us to reach the minimum escapement goals for sockeye and kings this year.  If we don’t start seeing multiple day counts above 4,000 fish,  you can essentially write off this year.

Here is the Emergency Order in PDF:  20_E0-01-RS-H-20-18(F)1

And just in case we have all forgotten what sockeye look like:

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Heavy Rains May Bring in Some Fish?

It has been raining all day and the river is near getting blown out.  Probably past that point for sockeye.  Not pleasant for the people here right now,  but the river has been so very low,  this rain could help attract some sockeye into the system.  Just about 200 fish through the weir yesterday and one day this weekend saw just a single fish counted.  But there are quite a few fish in the lower river that have seemed to be stuck there with no drive to push them above the weir. That brings us to only 5,200ish total so far.  A far cry from the 40,000 we should have by now.

I spent some time going through ALL the ADG&G rivers to see how they are doing.  Since the Situk is one of the lower rivers,  we tend to be a little later than farther north/west.  Some of the rivers are looking very promising,  some not-so-promising.  The Copper River count indeed was more than 200,000 fish behind last year.  That deficit has shrunk to about 90,000 now,  so they have been making up a lot of ground the past couple weeks.  Copper is really the next river up the coast,  so should give us an indication whether there are fish coming this way.  Some of the other rivers are downright dismal though,  but one stream was well ahead of last season this date too.  Kind of a mixed bag of encouragement/discouragement.

Wish I had better news,  but this is our reality right now.  The whole town will be struggling financially this coming winter unless something changes soon.

Episode IV – A New Hope

Maybe I’m just a little desperate to get some good news,  but I think I have some good news!  Late last night,  a big push of fresh sockeye came in (along with hundreds of kings).  One of our long-time guides the lower river was just thick with fish,  large schools parting around his boat.

This is the first positive news I have heard off the river,  but unfortunately I don’t have any confirmation on this story yet.  I heard it second hand and along with the sockeye,  the report said there were 500-600 kings…  So sounds like there could be a touch of exaggeration…

And talked to Chris this morning.  He said the fishing is getting better.  He was off the river yesterday by 6pm,  so he didn’t see the wall of reds come in,  but he at least said it was getting better.

Fish and Game did update their weir count page.  Now we’re up to 4,924 as of Thursday.  Yes,  last year’s year-to-date number was 43,729…  1,272 passed on Wednesday alone,  which is our first thousand+ day of the season.  Wed had 12 large kings pass as well,  so it was a good day.

Weather is changing from the gorgeous sunny skies turning to overcast and rain through the coming week.  Flows are extremely low,  so the water is needed.  This weather change could be what is starting to push the fish into the system and out of the ocean too.

No Good News

There have been rumors that the runs have arrived up in Kenai and Copper River,  or there are a lot of jumpers out in the bay…  but nothing has materialized around here.  Yet.  Weir count as of Monday (they haven’t updated the site over the holiday) is still stuck below 3,000 – 2,897 to be exact.  We saw over 500 go through on the 2nd,  but we should be seeing a couple thousand every day by now.

So nothing good to report.  I have heard several day-trip flights go out to Akwe and Italio,  but no idea if they were successful.  Hope you had a good 4th.  Boy,  it was hot here in Yakutat.  Miserably hot.  We cracked 75F!  We closed the shop and Teen and I went for a lovely stroll along the beach,  while everyone else was in town for the parade.  Peaceful,  just a couple eagles circling,  quiet surf lapping at our feet.

Gotta do something if the fish aren’t in…

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The Ambulance

As we approach Independence Day this week,  maybe it is a good time to reflect on the miracle of being born in this country and the freedom espoused in the Declaration of Independence.  And of the debt owed to so many who have fought so that that freedom remains after more than 200 year.

Liberty-1943

From our propaganda collection

 

Sitting out in front of the hangar in our parking lot is an Army ambulance.  Not WWII era,  but rather a 1967 Viet Nam-era vehicle.  This ambulance came to Yakutat as surplus and served as our first official EMS vehicle.  As a kid,  I remember it parked in the brush just about 100 yards from where it sits now.  It unfortunately rotted away in the weeds for a long time and is far too gone to be restored.  Although it is a neat decoration for the hangar,  she is in a real sorry shape.

Last year,  there was a huge armory auction down in California.  Among the various Shermans and artillery was a 1967 Army ambulance exactly like ours.  They had estimated its value to be between $5,000 and $10,000.  I fantasized about buying it and secretly one night swapping it out with our derelict version and then wait to see how long it would take anyone to notice.  Unfortunately,  the bidding got out of hand and it ended up selling for a whopping $65,000!  Oh well.

Today,  I stumbled upon a find…  A nice drivable 1967 Army ambulance.  Not restored,  but preserved in relatively good shape.  It is OUR ambulance!  The seller wants $14,750 for it.  No idea how to get it from Virginia to Seattle for the barge trip to Yakutat…  Would make for a fun road trip and there are “bunks” in the back you can sleep in!

https://classiccars.com/listings/view/1083719/1967-jeep-military-for-sale-in-lynchburg-virginia-24501

Unfortunately this isn’t to be…  We’re still trying to get out from under the fuel facility debt,  so this year doesn’t have any extra cash for artifacts,  no matter how cool they may be.  Oh well.  Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm.  Although if anyone out there needs a tax deductible donation for their taxes…

Here are a few more of our original propaganda posters…  Tried to give you a variety…

Something Good to Talk About

Back in May,  I stumbled onto a blog post for someone who was coming up to fish steelhead in the Situk for the first time (Living on River Time).  Since we’re in a lull right now,  I went back to see how her trip went.  She has three posts about her Yakutat trip,  but Amanda’s other posts are well worth reading too.  She is definitely doing a better job of posting than I have been!

Looks like they arrived just before the river blew out and got to see a lot of rain fall.  Not exactly ideal conditions for a once-in-a-lifetime trip,  but we’ve all had our trips turn out a little uninspiring on occasion.

Here are the three posts about Yakutat

Trip Prep:
https://livingonrivertime.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/last-frontier-pre-trip-prep/

The Adventure:
https://livingonrivertime.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/last-frontier-the-adventure/

The Reflection:
https://livingonrivertime.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/last-frontier-the-reflection/

Like I said,  she is a good writer and worth taking the time to read.  I’m adding a link to my “Fly Shop Friends” links…  Bummer I didn’t get to meet them,  but maybe next time…  I rarely get to fish anymore,  so it is nice to at least get to experience the adventures of others…  Thanks Amanda!  Keep it up.

ADF&G News Release – Situk Closure 2018

Well,  I seem to be making up for my lack of posts today…  Our local ADF&G biologist just stopped in to give me the bad news…  As of Sunday morning July 1st,  retention of sockeye on the Situk River System will be prohibited until further notice.

23% of the run should be in the river and already counted by the 28th of June.  We only have 1,678 as of today.  Barring a miracle,  we will not be coming even close to the minimum escapement goal.

Commercial fishing on the Situk/Ahrnklin Inlet is also closed until further notice.  The news release says,  “ADF&G will continue to closely monitor sockeye salmon returns and TAKE ADDITIONAL ACTIONS as necessary.”  I can’t imagine what more they can do than closing sport retention and commercial fishing.  Subsistence for local rural Alaska residents will still be allowed for the time being.

Retention is closed.  Catch-and-release is still legal,  so if you aren’t looking to fill your freezer,  this can still be a fun time to be on the water.  Especially since most of the visitors will be thinking about cancelling their trips,  leaving the river vacant to other anglers.  Also,  there were decent fish in the Akwe when I flew over.  I didn’t really look hard in the East River other than for kings at the mouth,  so I don’t know what is happening there.  But this closure only effects the Situk and not Italio,  Akwe,  East and any other rivers in the area.

Here is the press release:
Sockeye Closure