Introducing the “Poodle-Llama”

I’m brilliant!  Just ask me!

We have been out of black and white Dolly Llamas since spring.  It takes 5 months between placing a fly order and actually receiving the flies,  so zero chance of getting these flies this season.  We’re trying to sell down our inventory before closing anyway and still have just about every other fly imaginable for silver season.  Lots of “other” Dolly Llamas,  just not the famous and sought-after black and white “skunk” color.  I do have a LOT of all-white ones…  Hey,  if I get some black fabric dye,  I can dip one of the bunny fur strips in it and voila!  Black and White!  See?  Brilliant!

I had my wonderful mother-in-law send me some Rit Dye by expensive express mail,  that came in last night.  I broke out a pack of white Dolly’s and…  all the other Dolly’s have two strips of straight-cut bunny hide.  The whites…  Just one.  So much for my “brilliance”.  Should have thought about actually looking at a fly before making my big plans…

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So… dipped the trailing hook and bunny strip in the boiling black slime anyway and created what I can only really call an ugly Poodle.  We now EXCLUSIVELY carry the new – inventive – wonderful – unique – spectacular – never been fished “Poodle-Llama”!  Get ’em while supplies last!

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Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

Poodles

What Storm?

The forecast was calling for 40 knot winds and up to 4 inches of rain Thursday night and Friday.  And…  Maybe 1/2 inch and virtually no wind.  Flow on the Situk popped up just a bit,  then went back to dropping.  We’re at 336 CFS right now,  the sun is out and we’re actually BELOW NORMAL for water flows.  Absolutely perfect conditions right now,  with a nice big run this season.  Turning to rain (according to the forecast) Sunday night,  but then it is supposed to alternate between rain and showers through the coming week.  I think this week is going to be really good out there.

Did I mention we’re having a really good run?  Lots of fresh fish coming into the outlying rivers like Italio and Akwe.  Situk is doing just fine too.  Tsiu is hot.  Talked to one group on the Yana that only did OK,  not great.  Not seeing much traffic in the shop,  so not talking to a lot of people who have been flying out.  But right now,  if you aren’t doing great,  I think it is user error…

2 1/2 weeks left of the fly shop.  It has been good to say hello (and goodbye) to so many of our friends.  And I may have a lead on getting some black and white Dolly Llamas in the coming days…  I’ll keep you posted.

Bob

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Beautiful clear skies, just as it was 20 years ago… Only planes are still flying.

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AS 66 on the ground. Rusty isn’t impressed.

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Our carrot harvest from the planter boxes in the parking lot.

Nope! Didn’t Feel It

17 quakes in the past day or so…  All clustered under Malaspina Glacier.  Very shallow.  Biggest one clocked in at 4.1 with five more in the 3-range.  Didn’t feel a thing. In my defense,  I was busy planing trim wood for the downstairs bathrooms,  making a lot of noise with the planer vibrating.

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Here is the link to the USGS earthquake site,  if you want to follow along at home…   *****LINK*****

Otherwise,  a pretty quiet day around here.  Shop was closed being Sunday,  but had one guy stop in for some flies he had on hold.  Water is still a little high,  but very fishable at about 450 CFS.  A LOT of coho out in the ocean that should be hitting the river in big numbers this week.  Looking like a good run,  although a little on the late side.  A few people have remarked on the large % of smaller fish.  The fish should be smaller though in the early days of the run.  Today’s weather was pretty nice after some initial fog and rain in the morning.  Shop will be open tomorrow (Labor Day) because I forgot to include it in our closed day list…  We’ll be here every day 10am to 6pm except Sundays and September 15th (our anniversary).  Got another call from someone who was told by a lodge that we were already closed…  Not yet.  Still have a LOT of flies to move.

50 years ago… About an Hour from Now…

Hard to believe,  but 50 years ago already,  Alaska Airlines flight 66 took off from Yakutat within about 15 minutes of when I started typing this tonight.  35 minutes later,  111 souls perished when the 727 slammed into mountainous terrain while on approach to the Juneau airport.  I was only three years old,  but I can remember the mood and feelings of the adults around me at the time.  No details of course.  But even at 3,  the event affected me.  Rather than typing up some bull from my noggin,  I’ll just post some text from a book I have on the shelf…  This event had a dramatic impact on Yakutat that lingers to this day.  May they rest in peace.

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Long Distance Down

Our ATT long distance for the landline is down.  I can’t call out and although an occasional call will come in,  it has been hanging up on the caller mid-sentence.  I promise I’m not hanging up on anyone by my choice…  All I can say is keep trying and maybe your call will stay connected.  Maybe…  Best to e-mail…

Flooding on the East River

I sometimes describe the Yakutat area as not knowing what it wants to be when it grows up yet…  Our geology is constantly changing because it is so new.  Glaciers covered the forelands just a few hundred years ago and in the case of Malaspina,  they still do.  Hubbard wants to seal off the fjord creating a gigantic glacially dammed lake and overflowing through the Situk (like it did just 160 years ago…).  Some of our glaciers are rapidly retreating,  some are rapidly advancing…  Earthquakes and tectonic uplift and iso-static rebound…  Muskeg drying up as the ground rises to create an ever-expanding spruce forest instead of marshes,  bogs and willow…

One of the bigger events in our modern geologic history was in the mid-1930’s,  when the gigantic Alsek River eliminated one of its mouths.  The Alsek had 5 separate mouths that dumped glacially colored water into the ocean when the first European explorers passed through this area.  Through the 1800’s,  the 5 mouths dwindled to two,  as 4 of them combined into the main Alsek River.  One last off-shoot persisted into the early 20th century.  Around 1935ish (may have been ’36,  but I’m not sure…),  the channel that fed what would become the East Alsek River (shortened to just East River most of the time) dried up – mostly from the ground rising from rebound and uplift.  The East became essentially a spring creek,  fed by up-welling of groundwater.  Occasionally the Alsek would hit an extreme flood level and overflow out the East temporarily,  which would serve to clean out the vegetation that would grow in the river channel,  refreshing the gravel and restoring the amazing percolated gravel spawning grounds for salmon.

Throughout the 1980’s,  the sockeye runs on the East exploded,  with up to 2 million pounds of salmon harvested from the area annually.  This is a very small river – smaller than the Situk.  In the 1990’s,  the big runs started their decline.  I would attribute the collapse to dwindling spawning habitat for the sockeye.  Essentially,  the channel narrowed and cut a deeper channel instead of being spread out across a shallow,  wide gravel bed that stretched for several miles.  The last time the Alsek over-topped the East’s channel was twice in the early 1980’s,  last in 1984.  That is until this week…

With our unseasonably wet,  back-to-back storms this week,  the Alsek flooded enough to once again overflow out the East.  A LOT of debris washed out of the old channel.  How much will it impact those old productive spawning grounds will be determined over the next decade or more…  I did hear at least one cabin was washed away (still in one piece,  but on it’s side somewhere downstream).  Some cabins and camps are threatened right now from the Alsek eroding the bank,  but doesn’t sound too bad so far.  Of course another storm is going to hit on Tuesday,  with everything already high and the ground completely saturated.

Every day in Yakutat is an adventure!  I have so many great photos from growing up around Dry Bay and commercial fishing there with my family.  Unfortunately,  I don’t seem to have ANY of them scanned!  But here is a GoogleEarth map I just made…

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Photos and Graphs…

Flow graph right now…

Rain gage at 9 Mile – well over 8 inches now…

Forecast for the coming week…

The flood advisory stating that we should expect parts of the runway here at the airport to flood…’

The ceiling in my kitchen springing another new leak…

And here is what 9 Mile and Tawah Creek look like as of about 3PM…

Looking toward the bridge and boat launch from the campground

9 Mile’s boat launch parking lot

2 1/2 feet between bridge and water

The upstream parking lot

The parking lot is flowing a couple hundred CFS…

Tawah Creek about a foot and a half shy of flooding the road

Tawah Creek from the REL/Cannon Beach Bridge

The graph looks like it is starting to peak with the slowed rain after about 2pm,  but we’re expecting more heavy rain tonight.

Make It Stop!!!

2:00PM:

I had someone call me yesterday from Anchorage…  They are coming this weekend to fish the bay and wanted to know if they should bring fly rods to fish the river…  I said don’t bother…  We were supposed to get between 5 and 7 inches of rain over 48 hours…  After the rain started yesterday,  Tanis felt ambitious and decided to go onto the hangar roof and install the wireless weather station I bought over a year ago…  Just since he put it up yesterday afternoon,  we are showing exactly 5 inches of rain on our gage.  3.05 inches since midnight.  The 9 Mile gage is showing just shy of 8 inches since Monday.  Flows right now?

3,510 CFS…

And we are still forecast now to receive another 3 inches today and tonight.  I think we may be into an August record for flow.

For those of you who have been on my hangar tour,  one of the things I tend to say repeatedly after saying that we bought the hangar from the State for $10,  “Sometimes I think I got ripped off in the deal…”.  Today is one of those days.  The prevailing storm winds are southeast.  The concrete/asbestos siding overlaps the next piece,  so the wind and rain flows over the seams and doesn’t drive the water into the gap.  Through today’s storm,  the winds have been south southwest.  Unusual for our storms and driving all the water directly into the gaps.  We have so much water damage today with buckets under the recessed light cans in all the newly sheetrocked spaces downstairs.  Puddling on my new flooring and the mud and tape coming apart all over.  We have a huge mess to clean up and massive repairs to do throughout all my fresh renovations from the past year.  It is literally raining inside right now…

We are experiencing a brief lull in the heavy rain,  so have a brief window of internet access.  The heavy rain knocks out our internet and at times has been so heavy that the wireless connection between the weather station and the monitor in my office goes out…  99% of the wireless path is INSIDE the hangar bay!!!

Tanis is restless,  so just left for 9 Mile.  If we have a connection after this eye passes and the storm resumes,  I may have some photos to post.  A lot of you sent me messages after my post yesterday,  but I don’t think I’ll have time to respond to any of them on my limited time with an internet connection…  The HughesNet satellite internet is marginal at best in a storm,  let alone when there is a giant snowpile directly in the path.

I think I just lost connection…  Can’t get the graphs to insert…  I’ll try to post this now and if possible,  edit it and put the graphs in where they should be later…  Looks like I waited too long and will have to try to post this later tonight if we get another weather window.

5:00PM:

Internet is back… posting this without photos.  Flow now is at 4,380 CFS…

August Update…

This has been a pretty quiet summer around the shop!  I think a lot of people think we’re already closed…  Nope.  We’ll be open through the end of the season.  Lots of coho flies to move,  even if we are out of waders and jackets.

We just had a really intense storm pass through a couple days ago.  We had a passenger flight to deal with right in the middle of the worst of it.  Howling winds and driving rain.  Fear not,  we won’t stay dry for long…  Another big storm system is barreling toward us as I type.  Here is the weather service warning for the next 48 hours…

Special Weather Statement
National Weather Service Juneau AK
928 AM AKDT Tue Aug 10 2021

AKZ017-110500-
Cape Fairweather to Cape Suckling Coastal Area-
Including the city of Yakutat
928 AM AKDT Tue Aug 10 2021

...HEAVY RAIN WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY...

Heavy rain with an atmospheric river arrives Wednesday morning
and continues through Thursday. 48 hour rainfall totals are
expected to be 5 to 7 inches in Yakutat with greater amounts
possible in the mountains.

Decreasing precipitation Tuesday evening will allow area rivers
to slow or subside. However, back to back rainfall events has the
ground already saturated and rivers will respond quicker. Please
be alert to sharp rises in water levels with some streams nearing
bankfull and possible flooding of low lying or poor drainage
areas. Along with flooding potential, isolated landslides are also
a concern.

Uncertainty remains in timing of when heavy rain shifts away SE.
Stay up to date on the latest forecasts through the week as this
event evolves.

You read that right…  5 to 7 inches coming.  The river didn’t totally blow out on the last storm because the ground was so dry.  Just soaked in mostly.  Flows topped out at 466 CFS after about 3 inches of rain,  but we’ll definitely be blowing out tomorrow!

Fishing has been really good this season,  with the Situk blowing past the escapement goals for both sockeye and kings.  This makes 3 out of 5 years where the king totals have exceeded 1,000 fish.  Sockeye exceeded 100,000 fish as well.  Now,  we have the humpy invasion,  but early silvers are in the river as well.

Lots of spare time here,  with the gym equipment missing yet another barge.  They are promising to make the next one,  but they promised that last month too…  Just hoping to have something to do when the world ends…

Take care and hopefully we’ll see you soon!  Come take some of these flies off my hands at 40% off!  We’ll be open 10am to 6pm every day except Sundays and our anniversary (Sept 15th) through the end of the coho season.

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Happy Independence Day!

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