Rounding Out the Weekend…

We woke to crystal clear skies.  A slow morning in the shop,  with a trickle of groups passing through before the morning jet.  To my surprise,  all the reports from yesterday were fantastic!  The bite was on.

Three separate groups who had never been to Yakutat before said they had been wondering what all the fuss was about the Situk’s steelhead run.  All three said they understood after how “on” the fishing was on Saturday.  These were all new visitors,  so they had a bit of a learning curve through their week,  with heavy crowds and fish that had been hammered.  Low water conditions and a lot of fish on redds.  Not ideal.  Then the switch turned on and the Situk showed her better side.


Yesterday started off with overcast and some rain showers through the morning,  but here in town the clouds parted in the early afternoon and the sun was out.  Just 10 miles away on the river,  apparently the rain,  hail and clouds continued till dusk.  It was all one could hope for to end their trips.

Now on to today’s reports…  Mid-day,  we started to see some bored fishermen through the shop.  The world had completely changed.  Bright clear sun shining from dawn,  with the bite decidedly off.  I recommended taking the day shift off and heading back out in the evening once the shadows cast across the holes.  Didn’t hear from anyone off the river from later in the day.  We’ll find out their success tomorrow – maybe.

Apparently the crowds have dissipated significantly.  Wed and Thur were the worst,  then the crowds thinned out through the weekend.  There are open tent platforms this weekend!  Quite a few people came off the jet tonight though,  so we’ll see how many are here going into this week.

As for the week ahead,  we’re currently showing another gorgeous terrible fishing day again tomorrow,  but Tuesday some clouds could roll in and give us some relief.  Possibly even some rain by Thursday and Friday.  Flow is down to 193 CFS with water temperature spiking today just a hair above 50 degrees at the bridge.  Almost swimming temperature!  That’s a 4 degree jump from the highest temp we had seen so far.  More and more spawning now…


Today’s Photo Selection…

Eric Carlson is a pilot who comes up here every couple years to fish steelhead.  It has been a while,  so it was good to see him this week.  He flew back home tonight,  but sent me some photos off his phone from Juneau…  They had a good week even through the sunny spells and low water.  Mostly chrome-bright with several with sea lice still attached.  Here are some of his photos…

IMG_9778 IMG_9803 IMG_9809 IMG_9823

IMG_9765 IMG_9831 IMG_9837

IMG_9863 IMG_9882

They spent most of their week fishing with Frank Deveraux and if anyone can get you onto fresh chromers,  it’d be Frank.  Speaking of guides,  I have been hearing really good things from some of Eddy’s clients.  I think he is really getting to know the river well and has some good tricks up his sleeve.  Eddy works for Glacier Bear.  We’re getting more options on the river now and that is definitely a good thing.

Sunny Weekend

As we start May in Yakutat,  the sun is shining.  Although we did have overcast and light rain through about noon today,  it all cleared off and the blue forecast materialized.  That will push the steelhead into the shadows and cover through the next couple days.


Reports off the river were mixed.  Plenty of fish,  but they seem a bit tired.  The upper river has been hammered pretty hard over the past week and change.  It has been a heavy bead week,  with the bead guys from Anchorage all coming over the past two weekends.  We have a lot fewer people on the river,  but it still feels pretty crowded.  More floaters this week,  fewer campers at 9 Mile.

There are some fresh fish down in the lower river,  but I suspect in the bright sun,  any new fish are going to be hesitant to come up over the bar.  Low-clear water with bright sun and a bunch of eagles waiting to pounce…  I have a bunch of photos to post from some of the guys over the past couple days.  I’ll post them separately…


Tools from the Past

Received a random box in the mail yesterday.  It had some old tools in it.  Reading the letter that accompanied it…

“He was a very generous man.  He said he would not need these tools and gave them to me later that year.  I used those lots and now feel they should be given to you as I think Doug would have given them to you if he knew what you were doing now.”

A small wooden box with some faded letters scratched into the lid

A small wooden box with some faded letters scratched into the lid

These are some aircraft tools my dad gave to the DC-3 pilot who brought N91314 up to Yakutat in 1982.  I’m reading his long letter and getting obviously a little emotional over it,  when a group of guys staggered into the shop yesterday.  I had to compose myself and pretend not to be a blubbering baby and talk fishing…  This has been quite a week!

"MILLER" scratched into the wood...

“MILLER” scratched into the wood…

Aircraft cable tension meter and three specialty wrench heads - and a lot of emotion

Aircraft cable tension meter and three specialty wrench heads – and a lot of emotion

My dad was a DC-3 mechanic in the Air Force (among other things) and passed away from cancer in 1986.  He gave these tools to Tom in 1980.

Sunny and Warm

It’ll be sunny an warm through this weekend (again).  And crowded – although I don’t think it will be as crowded as last weekend.  We have had 4 days of overcast and showers,  which helped push a bunch of new fish in at the mouth.  Last week’s sunny spell shut off any fresh fish coming in during the day.  The steelhead just didn’t want to come in over the shallow bar in the bright sun,  with the eagles glaring at them…

Today's fishing report photos come courtesy of Don Newman and Co,  who were here about two weeks ago.  Hard to believe they have already let two weeks slip by...

Today’s fishing report photos come courtesy of Don Newman and Co, who were here about two weeks ago. Hard to believe they have already let two weeks slip by…

The fish in the upper river from the boundary down to the cabins have been fished hard over the past week.  This was our heavy bead week – the people who come this week fish almost exclusively beads – so the fish are probably getting a little tired of seeing the little plastic balls drifting by.  Successful as they are,  the beads and Dolly Llamas have been a little over-used of late and we’re seeing a lot of other weird stuff going out the door to try and shake things up a bit.

Flows are down to about 220 CFS as of now and they will slowly continue to drop through the weekend.  The rains earlier this week were forecast to be all sun as last weekend began.  The same forecast is up this week,  but hopefully it’ll change to rain earlier than expected again.  200 is low,  but still easily floatable.  Much lower and the boats will be dragging.

There's Don with a chrome-bright hen

There’s Don with a chrome-bright hen

With water temps at the 9 Mile gage hitting 46 degrees every evening,  the steelhead are definitely getting into spawning mode.  Digging redds throughout,  from the boundary to the weir.  Fish and Game should have the weir in very soon,  but as of today they weren’t ready to start counting yet.  As I said,  we are still seeing plenty of fresh fish moving in.  Even today with the mostly sunny skies,  there were good batches of fresh chromers moving in at the bottom end.

I like this shot!

I like this shot!

So far,  this has been a good run.  I have had about a dozen groups who frequent the Situk every year tell me it was their best trip so far.  A few others saying it was just fair to OK…  Depends on where you were fishing,  I guess.  Floating has been good at times and dismal at others,  depending on how many boats had passed the same schools before you went down,  or if the clouds parted and the fish went scurrying under the brush.

We do seem to be on the backside of the run now,  with fewer fish coming in this week compared to the weeks before.  Not over by any stretch,  but slowing down on the incoming and more and more redds each day.

We’re Famous!

Well,  sort of…

"OOOH!  Look at the spinny thing up there!"

“OOOH! Look at the spinny thing up there!”

A friend came in on the morning flight from Juneau bearing the latest issue of the Capital City Weekly.  It features as the cover story – our museum efforts!  Woo,  hoo!  It is also available on their online site,  if you care to read it.  Or,  come see our “1 1/2 warbirds” sometime!  Here is the article link:

We’re a 501c3 non-profit as well,  so feel free to donate a WWII era plane,  or enough money to buy one any time the urge moves you…

Frank from Italy

We have had a lot of first-time visitors to Yakutat already this season.  Chris has been out guiding all week (instead of tying flies for me!) with a great guy from Italy.  Frank has traveled the globe fishing,  so it has been a real rewarding experience for Chris to get to know him and learn a little along the way.  That was always the thing I treasured most from my guiding – getting to see the world through the people we had with us on the river.

The first couple days,  they just wader fished up above the bridge,  hiking up to the boundary and working their way back down.  Beautiful clear water and no other people most of the time.  Even the young bucks from Anchorage don’t seem willing to walk all the way up there.  Here are some of the photos from their trips upstream.  If I have time and if Chris gives me his camera before he collapses (long days),  I’ll try to post some from their day floating the river tomorrow…

Steelheading on the Situk is always a good way to be introduced to Yakutat...  Perfect conditions since Frank arrived,  with either overcast,  or a light rain every day!

Steelheading on the Situk is always a good way to be introduced to Yakutat… Perfect conditions since Frank arrived, with either overcast, or a light rain every day!

Looks like more blushed winter fish upstream than spring fish - as you'd expect

Looks like more blushed winter fish upstream than spring fish – as you’d expect

Another nice one

Another nice one

Right after having the hook come out of a fish - laughing off the heartbreak...

Right after having the hook come out of a fish – laughing off the heartbreak…

This one is staying hooked!

This one is staying hooked!

Another nice winter fish here...

Another nice winter fish here…

Recovering from the fight

Recovering from the fight

No shortage of dollies in the upper river

No shortage of dollies in the upper river

Frank likes his Dolly Llamas

Frank likes his Dolly Llamas

Recovering from the fight too...

Recovering from the fight too…

Pretty colors

Pretty colors

More break time...

More break time…

They spent much more time swinging the streamers than drifting eggs.  Frank likes to see the fish he is targeting,  so they focused on sight fishing instead of drifting.  Flows dipped below 300 this morning and stayed there all day,  even with the light drizzle falling.  Most of the people left town,  so the pressure is a lot lighter than it was through the weekend.  The fresh fish are still coming in at the lower end,  so the run is far from over.  That is a relief.  I was concerned that we’d potentially run out of fish by May,  but the early run still has plenty of legs.

I think the higher flows will be very healthy for the run.  We have not had a CFS measurement dip below the average yet this entire season.  Survival will be high.

Flows from March 1st to April 28th,  2015

Flows from March 1st to April 28th, 2015

And one more…