Road Open…

As of yesterday,  the road was open and freshly plowed to just past 9 Mile.  Then…  it clouded up last night and started snowing.  Not to worry,  only an inch accumulation is “possible” overnight.

Detailed Forecast

Except we had 4 inches by 4am and 6 inches by 10am.  Still drivable,  but we’re now looking at snow throughout the coming week and that should be enough to shut the road down for a few days,  till DOT gets caught back up on the airport and all the roads around town…


Chris went Post-Holing yesterday up above the bridge.  Spent about 2 hours stomping around without seeing a fish. The bridge hole is completely iced over except for a little spot directly under the radar gage.  Water very low at less than 100 CFS by his estimate (75 CFS by the gage,  but the gage is completely erratic with chunks of ice causing it to spike and drop).


We still don’t have a lot of snow,  but the change in the weather trend is definitely scrapping my “early run” prediction and looking like it’ll just be “on-time”.  Our winter finally warmed enough to give us some snow,  after being so clear,  cold and dry through January and February.

But we’re getting closer to spring!


Photo by Don Newman


Tsiu River Action

I’m going to cut and paste some info from our State Representative Louise Stutes.  She is the Rep for House District 32,  serving Kodiak,  Cordova,  Yakutat and Seldovia.  This comes from her newsletter regarding actions being taken regarding resource allocation on the Tsiu River.  In a nutshell,  the State of Alaska Board of Fish put restrictions through on one user group to benefit another user group,  without giving proper public notice and allowing adequate opportunity for public comment.  For years,  ONE lodge has been working to eliminate commercial fishing on the Tsiu.  This year,  they were successful in getting additional restrictions on the commercial fishery through some shenanigans instead of an open public process.

If you have been along for this ride for a while,  you know my odd and sometimes contradictory beliefs…  Yakutat is a small village with a very limited economic base.  For Yakutat to survive,  we need both the commercial fishery and the sport fishery.  If you are of a bent that would love to see the commercial fishery end so you get exclusive use of the resource for sport fishing,  you’ll find yourself unable to get here,  due to not enough passenger traffic to justify our twice-daily jet service.  Be careful what you wish for…  You need the cargo hold filled with fresh-market salmon for the plane to keep flying,  just as the commercial fishery needs your sporty butts in the seats to ensure that cargo hold still comes in every day for their catch.  Without both,  we lose both.

From Rep Stutes’ newsletter:

Board of Fisheries

At their recent meeting in Sitka, the Board of Fisheries passed a proposal that myself, Senator Stevens, and Cordova District Fishermen United are very concerned about.

Proposal 165, as noticed, was viewed by user groups as a housekeeping measure to adjust the marker, but what was ultimately voted on after it was amended by RC 331 was a very substantive shift in allocation that will cripple the set net commercial fishery on the Tsiu River.

To view Proposal 165 and RC 331 please click the following links: Proposal 165 RC 331

Basically, the public notice did not align with the intent of the Alaska Administrative Procedures Act as no one would have known that the proposal would affect allocation. The result was that there was a lack of representation at the meeting from the community of Yakutat.

Myself and Senator Stevens wrote a joint letter to the Board urging that they address this at the upcoming Board meeting on March 6th.

Cordova District Fishermen United also wrote a letter to the Board requesting identical action.

Specifically, we requested that the Board of Fisheries take up reconsideration of the proposal as amended or make a board-generated proposal to readdress the situation on the Tsiu River. If reconsideration is no longer possible, we requested that they formulate a board-generated proposal at the meeting that mirrors the original language in Proposal 165, put it out for public notice, and hold a special meeting in April to take up the proposal before the commercial fishery this fall.

This effort to segregate commercial and sports fishermen on the river through the Board process is nothing new. It has been attempted multiple times and has been fully discussed, considered, and defeated or overturned under reconsideration every time. Proposal 301, which failed 3-4 upon reconsideration, as well as ACR 9, which also failed 3-4, at the 2012 October work session were nearly identical to Proposal 165. Another Proposal, 247, which failed 1-6, in March of 2013 was much of the same. Because of this ongoing effort, a group of local entities and individuals approached the Board and set in place a process to form the Tsiu River stakeholders working group.

This group was formed with the expressed purpose of engaging in a collaborative process with all stakeholders on the river to address concerns of user groups. Participants include lodge owners, Yakutat Seafoods, guide businesses, subsistence users, commercial and sports fishermen, Yakutat Coastal Airlines, the City and Borough of Yakutat (CBY), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Since the formation of the working group, annual meetings have been held in accordance with the agreement with the Board and conflicts have not been evident. All stakeholders were invited to participate, and it has been very successful in resolving any conflicts that have arisen between user groups.

I am very concerned about the precedent set when proposals are amended to the point where the public notice wouldn’t actually provide a reasonable person of notice of what would be voted on. Moreover, in this case, there is seemingly a subversion of an agreement with the Board of Fisheries, as well as a collaborative public process that has been effective in keeping user groups happy with access to their respective fisheries.

Hopefully, the large volume of letters that the Board received on this issue are enough to prompt their reconsideration of Proposal 165.

I intend to take a look at legislation in the future regarding how the Board of Fisheries notices and amends proposals to ensure that the public is kept in the loop about potential changes that could affect them.

Heavy Snow this Week

Looks like we’re finally seeing our winter snows.  Looks like we have had near 2 feet fall over the past several days.  Moving into a sunny stretch,  so the snow isn’t going to go anywhere.  Now that we have some snow on the river banks,  this will slow the warming of the river a bit and delay the spring steelhead run enough to make it essentially “back on time” instead of a bit early…

Of course a lot can still happen in the month remaining before April 1st.  Roads are shut down because of this snow,  so Chris hasn’t been able to get out and give me a real report this week.  He was planning to help Kraig from Yak Lodge see where the log jams are and see if they could make a dent in them.  I have heard the river is pretty blocked right now,  but plenty of time to get it in shape before April.

Glacier Bear Starting to Serve Food!

Beginning February 22nd, 2018,  Glacier Bear will be serving burgers on Thursdays and Saturdays from 5pm to 8pm!  Yay!  We can actually go out to dinner again!!!

They will be serving on the bar side and only letting you in the restaurant side if you call ahead and have someone who can’t be in the bar.

Spring is nearly here!

Another Chris Sighting…

Chris called last night to say he went “fishing” again…  This time,  they walked above the bridge to the “braids”,  then worked their way back down to the bridge.  Did NOT see a single fish…  but the river is flowing and looking relatively good.  All the river ice is gone.

LOTS of changes to the river through this area.  Christmas Tree Hole is VERY different,  along with the big log jam just below it.  The big tree that was blocking the entire river there is gone and the hole above the logs is filling in quite a bit.  Some really good changes,  some not-so-good.  Nice to have a winter that rearranges everything and reworks all the holes,  so the first time out seems like you are hitting an entirely new river.

No fish,  but an unbelievably large number of river otter…  Not necessarily a good thing for fishing…  Light dusting of snow last night,  bright sun this morning.  Supposed to be overcast through most of the coming week,  with some snow and a little rain later on.

Like I have been saying…  Looking like the run will be a little early (if things continue to hold like they are now),  but not grossly early like two years ago.  We were catching good numbers of fish this time of February in 2016,  but it is definitely colder now.  It’ll probably be another month before we see anything really start to trickle into the river.  I have heard of just a single fish or two coming in on warmer days down below.

Warming Up

Chris and Adam hiked up to Situk Lake this week just to see what it was looking like up there.  Thick lake ice,  but water was flowing out from under the shelf at around 50 CFS.  They looked downstream a ways,  but didn’t see any fish in the upper river at all.

This week,  we have seen some warmer weather,  with some mixed rain and snow.  Today is back to gorgeous clear skies with a high air temp just reaching around 33 F at the airport and not quite 31 F at the bridge.  Water temp popped up to 37 degrees and basically stayed up there for 4 days.  That broke the flow gage loose from the ice and is now showing 129 CFS earlier today,  but has dropped back down to 109 this evening as the snow freezes back up and stops flowing into the river.

Chris was supposed to float it today.  It’ll be a long slow drag at 109,  so doubt I’ll hear from him tonight.  But it is looking like the ice has broken out of the river and it is flowing.  Not much flow,  but not desperately low either.  Next change of some rain and/or snow is looking like Wednesday.  Other than an occasional lonely stray,  I doubt there are many fish in the river right now (just too cold still),  but we seem to be trending up a bit and hopefully if we see some real precip,  we’ll have some conditions that may be favorable for landing one or two fresh steelhead early.

I’ll update you if Chris calls in,  but if not…

Yakutat Land Sale Update

OK…  The Borough Manager wanted me to update everyone on the status…  The Borough Assembly had a work session this week to fix some issues regarding the new land sale.  This applies to the posting:

Yakutat Land for Sale

As I mentioned in the original posting,  one of the nine lots was donated to the local Humane Society that went out of business.  The city has taken this one off the table for now,  until they can reincorporate the HS and give the property back to the city.

There are two lots up around Post Office Lake that will be available “over-the-counter” at the city office,  but apparently the assembly has to approve a new ordinance for just these two lots.  Hopefully that will happen soon.  They have road access,  but not utilities and you’d have to bare the cost of hooking up to city water and sewer and AVEC power.

Then there are 6 lots down in the “Old Village” area…  Originally the city did not intend to put in road access or utilities,  but at the work session,  the assembly decided to pay the cost of putting in all these things and rolling those costs into the sale price.  Otherwise,  these lots really wouldn’t have had much value to anyone except for the people with adjacent property as a way of expanding the size of their existing lot.  Now,  they will all be buildable and usable by anyone,  thus more valuable.

And the city is rewriting the ordinances to be clear the city can and will finance the purchase of the land as well as the utility services cost.  The rate is 8%,  so a bank loan is probably going to be cheaper,  but the city financing doesn’t require any down payment,  or any significant credit check.  Heck,  if you have bad credit and default,  the city takes the land back,  sells it to someone else and keeps what you paid into it.  Pretty low-risk for the city…  But allows anyone to be able to afford a land purchase regardless of credit history,  age and anything else that could be an obstacle for getting a bank loan.

Who wants to be a real estate tycoon in the World’s Largest City (by area)?