Great Steelhead Videos

I was just sent a new video from some Colorado fishermen who came up again this spring for the Situk steelhead run.  I’ll post both of the videos Marty Politte has put together from his last two trips up here.  Both are worth the watch and getting Chris and I excited again for November’s run.  Even though we’re just starting to see the silver run gaining a little steam…  So much fishing,  so little time…  Enjoy!



Early Word from Tsiu

I’m starting to get pestered about what the run is doing on the Tsiu,  so I’d better get a posting of what I know (which isn’t much…).

There has been fish in the Tsiu for a couple weeks now.  The first group from Dierick’s just left and the second group just arrived.  I didn’t talk to them,  but word from YCA is that they said fishing was just “OK”.  Right now,  the river is really flooded,  so probably pretty marginal fishing this early.  They did get a lot of rain (so did the East,  but virtually nothing here in town and on the Situk) out there.

So this isn’t much of a report…  Nothing first or even second hand.  Still pretty early in the season though.  I did talk to some of the Veterinarian group that always comes for this pink salmon season.  They said this was by far the best fishing they have ever had.  Pinks on the river,  silvers in the bay and really good halibut fishing.  Guys were landing big halibut in those little bay skiffs Leonard’s Landing rents.  They were trolling for silvers and catching halibut up high!

As their week ended this weekend,  the bite for silvers seemed to slow down in the bay, indicating those fish are starting to move toward the rivers now.  Also had word from the Italio that there are a lot of fish out there already – sockeye still and quite a few silvers showing up in the Akwe and New Italio.  Still mostly pinks in the Middle Italio.

That’s about all I have for right now though.  Fish and Game pulled the weir and the last counting day was August 10th.  A good run over-all,  with 91,146 sockeye counted (they had over 1,100 counted the last day,  so the run will definitely get over 100,000 when all is said and done) and 1,187 large kings (with an additional 22 counted the last day).  They are tracking the other species this year for the first time,  so showing 263,780 pinks through the weir before it was pulled.  I have no idea how they are supposed to accurately count 25,845 humpies on the last day of the weir,  while also counting those sockeye,  kings,  plus 20 silvers and 51 chum…  Severe thumb cramps,  clicking the hand counter…

My guess is that we see maybe half of the pink run in the Fish and Game total count,  since they are still coming in by 25,000+ daily.  But a few hundred silvers and chum mixed in there for variety.

Good News! Rodeo Hole Opens Tomorrow!

Fish and Game just announced that the fishing closure to protect kings in the Rodeo Hole ends tomorrow!  The usual closure within 100 yards of the weir both upstream and downstream remains in effect,  but the rest of the river reopens to angling.  Targeting and retention of king salmon remains closed anywhere in the Situk though.

Here is the official news release:


And here it is if you want to download the PDF version to frame on your wall…


And we made it to August

Here we are…  the lull between sockeye and silvers.  Also known as humpy season…

We finished our commercial fishing season on the Akwe a week ago because the pinks were really taking over.  Sunday,  we were running about 50:50 pound-wise and since pinks are a little over half the size of sockeye,  the week wasn’t starting off very good.  By Monday and Tuesday,  the pinks slowed dramatically and we were back to being nearly all sockeye.  A few chum and two silvers were added to the mix,  but no kings.  Not quite a salmon grand slam.

So with the pinks coming in in big numbers (10’s of thousands going into the Italio),  we called it a season.  This past weekend,  we did go out again for a couple days to close things out,  pull the boat out of the water and put the nets away.  Gorgeous sunny weather,  so we went swimming and goofing off before we pulled the boat.  And it looks like we should have fished another week…  The humpies in the Akwe dried up and we were back to nearly all sockeye.  Oh well.  We had already put the gear away.

Back in town,  Fish and Game raised the bag limit on sockeye to 6.  Still seeing 1-2,000 sockeye passing through the weir every day and have exceeded 80,000 fish so far.  Fish and Game expects to pull the weir on August 12th and at this rate,  we may see 100,000 escapement by that time.

Pinks are coming in between 10,000 and 20,000 daily.  Yikes!  A cool change this year…  Fish and Game are listing all species on the weir counts page,  so we get to see they are already over 90,000 humpies past the weir.  They officially have 94 silvers and a whopping 30 chum.

The real news though is that we have 826 large kings through.  The past two days have seen 76 and 54 respectively!  It is hard to justify continuing the closure of the Rodeo Hole now that they are nearly double the minimum escapement goal,  so I’d expect them to lift the restriction closing the holes immediately below the weir in the next few days.

LOTS of silvers in the bay,  with the charter boats able to get their limits for going on a month now…  Still some kings out there too.  So…  we have ridiculous numbers of fish right now and very few people here to fish them.  It’ll be pretty dead for the next three weeks,  till the silver season begins in earnest and we get crowded again.

What it Takes for a Perfect Photo

This was just sent to me and is worth sharing…  Dominica holding a deep red buck for a perfect photo:

Dominica Schaaf1

Beautiful sunny day,  big buck in spawning colors in the upper river.  But what did it really take to get this?

Dominica Schaaf2

We have all been there-done that…  Fish flopping all over kingdom come right when you snap the shutter.  They had a great trip with a variety of weather (including a rare sunny day) and loads of fresh fish.  Here are a couple more of the keepers:

Thanks Dominica for sharing these and sharing the fun moment with us.

The Bears this Year

Most of you have probably already seen this,  but it is worth posting here too…  Cody,  who guides for the Yakutat Lodge was driving along the airport road and this happened…  This is right next to Situk Leasing!  Sorry for his f-bomb,  but you’ll appreciate why…  This is about 200 yards from the fly shop and it has charged several other cars,  including most recently Greg who runs the fish plant when he was driving out here to pick up our load of fish…

The comment section is pretty funny too…  The people who insist this is fake and obviously have never been to Yakutat.  One said it was animation…  Dorks!  Best comment though is the following:

Gabriel Martinez1 week ago

in my opinion, the initial charge looks like a bluff charge, the bear comes at you bouncing off with the front paws, then it stops. Then, it charges again, as you hit the gas. This demontrates that you should never run from a bear, your best chance is to stand your ground, use bear spray or fire arm, but never run from it, or it will come after you. Great video, glad you were inside a car”

One guy with a lot of common sense…  If you run away from a charge,  it’ll chase.

Out on the Akwe,  the bears have been just as bad.  No video though…  Tanis and I had a really skinny sick-looking bear come down to the edge of the water and pull on our corkline when we were in the boat about 30 feet off shore (holding to the same corkline).  This week,  he and his brother tore Tanis’ net to shreds and skinned several dozen sockeye.  They look for hens and just suck the eggs out of the belly.  A few humpies were also bitten,  but it looked more like they realized it was a mistake and spat the humpy out as fast as they could…  If you have sockeye,  why dirty your taste buds with humpy?!?!

In addition to having my Honda ATV seat eaten,  one of our fish cans we load into the plane was chewed up last weekend and leaks fish goo all over the plane floor.  Not anything life threatening though.  Just a Nuisance.  Around the cabin on the Middle Italio,  there is a big male that has chased off the sow with three cubs.  She is now over at the New Italio/Akwe confluence.  She is a good bear mommy though and is training her kids to run away as soon as they see us.

Life in Yakutat!

Another Commercial Week on the Akwe

The kids and I are back from our commercial fishing opener on the Akwe.  We are having a slightly above average run this season (after last year’s total disaster run),  but certainly nothing record breaking.  Caught our first two silvers this week,  along with several chum and 4 kings (3 jacks).  We set the gear at 6am Sunday and started our week catching about 1/4 humpies.  At that rate,  we’d expect to switch over to majority pinks next week (we only get paid 25 cents per pound for pinks,  so hard to justify fishing for them financially).  Then Monday and Tuesday the pinks dried up and we were almost exclusively sockeye.

River is low and we were having outboard challenges.  We ended up putting on a new outboard right in the middle of the high tide we were supposed to be fishing,  so missed out on a lot of fish,  but the new (refurbished 20 year old Yamaha) outboard runs so much better.  60 hours of fishing with few breaks is getting harder to do as I transition to fat old man and lose all my youthful energy.  Thankfully I have Tanis to pawn off as much work as possible.  He laughs at me because I ask to sit and rest,  but get so frustrated watching him slowly pick fish that I’m back up in about 20 seconds to get the fish out of the web.

Weather has been consistently crappy – fog,  drizzle,  etc.  Perfect fishing weather.  Not so perfect flying weather.  Was grounded a couple times I needed to haul fish to town due to the zero visibility.  Now I’m just exhausted and in need of a nap.  Thank you for your patience with Teen in the fly shop and with our Sunday/Monday closure.  The season has only one more week for us out there – possibly two.  Then we hit the August humpy lull before all heck breaks loose for silvers.