Having a Good Memorial Day

Most people like to have sunny warm Memorial Days for the BBQs and parades.  We are having a wonderful respite from the sun,  with overcast and a chance of rain.  It has been two weeks since the last real rain drop fell in Yakutat,  so ANY overcast is a blessing and some rain will be a delight!  Flows right now are hovering at a parched 129 CFS,  making it a VERY slow float.

The flow chart since our last rain on May 11th - the triangles represent what we should be flowing at this time of year...

The flow chart since our last rain on May 11th – the triangles represent what we should be flowing at this time of year…

Are there still steelhead?  Yep.  Quite a few actually,  although more than 4,000 have exited through the weir now.  4,253 to be exact.  They have also officially counted 2 sockeye through the weir,  however a sockeye was caught a week ago by Aaron way upstream.  The weir folks admitted that it can be hard to differentiate between a smallish chrome-bright fresh steelhead and a sockeye when they are zipping by the camera.  A few more of that 70 incoming steelhead may have been sockeye as well.  But…

Red is 2015,  black is 2014 - earlier and departing at a much faster rate than any other recent year...

Red is 2015, black is 2014 – earlier and departing at a much faster rate than any other recent year…

There have been reports that there are sockeye starting to appear in better numbers in the lower river.  I haven’t heard if anyone is subsistence netting down in the estuary yet,  but people have been seeing sockeye jumpers out in the bay over the past week or two.  I think the sockeye are going to be early too,  so be prepared for that and possibly hitting the magic escapement goal for the increased bag limit earlier than normal.

With that said,  Gordy,  our commercial fishing ADFG biologist said we are expecting a good run of sockeye this year,  as all the regions are expecting good runs.  Good fishing,  but for those of us still dependent on gill-netting for feeding our families through our long Alaskan winter,  we’ll be getting a terrible price too.

I have a couple more photos from Sam that I didn't get posted last month

I have a couple more photos from Sam that I didn’t get posted last month

It is 11pm and I can still see by the light outside.  The days are getting longer and soon we won’t really have a night anymore.  At least for a few weeks…  I have had several more steelheaders send me photos to post and one video,  so I’ll get those posted in the next couple days.  This is our deathly slow time at the shop,  so I’ll try to get back in and get a little construction done on the hangar.  Maybe even get the water supply in properly,  so when you need to use the bathroom,  you can!  Cash flow is dead though,  so if you have any gear needs,  feel free to give me a call and we can get anything Simms and Sage drop-shipped directly to you with no shipping or tax charges…  As always…

There's Sam!

There’s Sam!

Yes,  we’ll be open tomorrow for most of the way,  but I plan to take the family out to the cemetery in the morning.  This is Memorial Day and I will make sure my kids understand its meaning.  Veterans Day is for all the men and women who serve our country and protect our freedoms.  Memorial Day is for those special ones who never get to return to their families and loved ones.  1.3 million Americans have paid that Last Full Measure of Devotion.  Never forget them.

Enjoy the BBQ,  but take a moment to think about why you have the right to have it.  Cherish your freedom and know it comes with tremendous sacrifice.

The 5 Sullivan brothers perished when the USS Juneau went down in the Solomons,  1942

The 5 Sullivan brothers perished when the USS Juneau went down in the Solomons, 1942

WWII propaganda from our collection intended for our southern friends...

WWII propaganda from our collection intended for our southern friends…

May they rest in peace and may we find it in their absence.

Yakutat City Job Posting – Grant Writer

The City and Borough of Yakutat is hiring a “Community Catalyst”.  The position is full-time and bridges the City and Borough with activities associated with other SSP Regional Community Catalysts.  The intended purpose of the job will be to work on community development projects,  write grants and manage the grant funded projects.  Funding for this position will come partially from the Borough,  partly from SSP and partly from the tribe (I think…).

Reading through the Southeast Sustainable Partnership stuff,  it smells like “community organizer” for an agenda that our community has already rejected,  but I’m trying to keep an open mind (but not so open that my brain falls out…).  I’ll attach some links for further reading it you are moved to look deeper.  In the meantime,  the job posting is for a city-hired employee that works at the pleasure of the Borough Manager and must be responsive to the wishes of the elected assembly.  NOT the Nature Conservancy…  This a commercial fishing dependent village and the Nature Conservancy does not have protecting that interest at heart.  Beware…

The notice says they will be accepting applications through May 29th,  2015.  If interested,  make contact with the Borough office at (907)784-3323 ASAP!

Yak Comm Catalyst May 2015 – Job posting in PDF

Yak Comm Catalyst May 2015_Page_1 Yak Comm Catalyst May 2015_Page_2



A Rash of Articles…

Reporter Mary Catharine Martin of the Capital City Weekly came to Yakutat a few weeks ago and interviewed a few of our locals (including me…).  She has been writing a series of articles about Yakutat,  appearing in the Capital City Weekly newspaper,  along with appearing online at their sister paper Juneau Empire.  There have been 5 major articles over the past month.  If you would like to check them out,  here they are…  Click on the linked headline to read the full articles:

The first one was the article about the Alaska Warbird Museum and my interview:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Story last updated at 4/29/2015 – 1:41 pm
Honoring Alaska’s WWII history

In an old Army Air Force hangar in Yakutat, Bob Miller has boxes of World War II-era letters from soldiers to loved ones. He has more than 400 posters exhorting the reader to “do your part,” or fight for “freedom from fear,” or remember December 7. He has Disney drawings from the war…

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Story last updated at 4/29/2015 – 1:41 pm
A Day in the Life of: Kadashan 

Yakutat – After he graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Bertrand J. Adams Sr., who writes under his Tlingit name, Kadashan, didn’t want to go to college…

Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Story last updated at 5/6/2015 – 5:23 pm
Cruisin’ into Yakutat

For the hundred or so years cruise ships have been visiting Southeast Alaska, the residents of Yakutat haven’t been so sure about them. But this summer, prompted by a declining population and economy, the town will come out in force to welcome two shiploads of tourists…

Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Story last updated at 5/6/2015 – 5:23 pm
Hunting for art

Tlingit artist Jeremiah James always knew he wasn’t meant for the 9-5 working life. What he didn’t know is that hunting could be a part of how he makes his living…

Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Story last updated at 5/13/2015 – 10:10 am
Fifth annual tern festival to welcome Aleutian terns

YAKUTAT – Some humans may think of Yakutat as out-of-the-way, but it’s right where one of the world’s largest known breeding colonies of Aleutian terns wants to be. So for the fifth year, organizers of the Yakutat Tern Festival are hoping people will join terns in making Yakutat a destination. “The idea was around for many years to do some sort of wildlife birding festival,” said Yakutat-based wildlife biologist Susan Oehlers. “There’s definitely interest in the community for having folks come in to do more than just fish, but there’s not that awareness…. We’re looking at it from the ecotourism standpoint, and to support the local economy, which is suffering.”…

Nice to have someone else writing about Yakutat now!  I don’t know how many more articles she has on her laptop,  but I’ll keep you posted if any more pop up…

Tonight’s Assembly Meeting May 21st, 2015

We’ll be meeting once again at the Yakutat School Auditorium,  7pm.  Public hearing (second reading) for three Ordinances – school finding,  city fiscal operating budget and property tax mill rate.  We also have a Resolution about participating in AMLJIA Loss Control Incentive Program.  Lots of fun and exciting stuff!

Here are the attachments:

May 21 2015 Notice Agenda & Minutes
Notice,  agenda,  meeting minutes from April 2nd and April 16th,  ORD 15-586,  ORD 15-587,  ORD 15-588,  RES 15-236

May 21 5. Manager PW Clerk Reports
City Manger Report, Public Works Director Report, Assembly absentee report (Paul and I have zero absences – don’t we get something for that???)

May 21 10.1 March Financial
City financial report for March,  2015

Misc letters and attachments:
Cordova LIO
Rep Stutes 17 Apr 15 letter
S Ryman ltr June 5 – 7
SW3A133-20 Yakutat Permit

What Occupies our Day

Ah…  the glamorous life of a fly shop owner…  I used to have guys pass through the shop in the early years tell me they dream of running a fly shop because they love to fish so much.  They don’t say that to me anymore because they know how little I get to fish now…  When the fishing is good,  I’m chained to the counter,  so I can help you guys catch fish.  Still rewarding and a pleasure to do,  but fish…?  Not so much.  Instead,  this is what I get to do…


Our order of 14mm mottled tangerine beads arrived with a problem.  Only about 1/4th of them had holes.  I didn’t realize this until someone came in and complained.  OOPS!  Troutbeads said the plate must have been too hot,  so the holes sealed themselves back up as they cooled.  They sent me a new batch of beads,  but it takes a month to get things up here.  One of the reasons we have to be such a “well stocked” shop – if we don’t have the goods,  we won’t sell the goods.  You can’t wait a month for our order to show up (our Simms order took a month to move from Anchorage to Yakutat this spring!).  We gotta have beads and THIS is THE bead!


So…  Chris,  Teen and I spend an evening going through every single bead packet,  sorting the ones with holes from the ones without,  then we drilled about a thousand holes in plastic beads.  We started off trying to melt the hole through with a heated safety pin.  It worked OK,  but usually left a black spot on the bead.  Out came the screw gun and a search through the hangar for drill bits small enough.


About 4 hours later,  we had some packets of 14mm mottled tangerine beads to sell.  And a couple holes in my finger.  So much for getting to bed early that,  or getting a blog post in that night…


I have a lot of days that go like that.  Not exactly productive,  but you had beads to fish with.  At least someone got to fish with them,  ’cause it sure wasn’t me…  Did I mention I needed a day off?  I’ll be less crabby when I get back from a couple days at the cabin.  I promise!


Now that the season is winding down,  I may actually get to go rip some lips again.  Maybe…

Winding Down

The 2015 steelhead season is winding down.  Still a lot of fish in the river,  but just sporadic pockets of fresh fish coming in at the bottom.  The run is in and much of it is actively spawning.  Yes,  still lots of fish NOT spawning yet.  Not over,  but definitely winding down.

Blushed winter fish

Blushed winter fish

Conditions are wonderful for fishermen,  but not so great for fishing.  Beautiful clear sunny skies,  warm air,  warm water and warm fish.  By the time you see them,  it is already too late.  They are tight under branches and cover.  If you can get the fly deep under the wood from a good distance,  you can easily hook fish.  A real mixes bag of reports lately…  Those who know where the fish will be and how to approach them are doing great.  Those who need to get on top of them just spook them away.

Way back last month when the flow were higher

Way back last month when the flow were higher

After passing through our usual phases of flies,  nothing now is a great stand-out and nothing isn’t working.  We see the Dolly Llama fad come and go replaced by the beads.  For the past week,  just about anything has been working,  especially little dark stuff.  Small (by Alaska standards) black or olive buggers,  copper johns and anything that looks buggy.  Some people have said the Garcias were the only thing working,  followed by someone who said they did nothing on Garcia and only on natural orange.  And others who only caught on the white Dolly Llama…  Others on beads,  etc.  Just fish what you want to fish with.  The fish will do what you expect them to do right now.

Sunny through the coming week

Sunny through the coming week

Weather will continue to be sunny throughout the forecast.  Nothing but dry sun.  Expect the flows to drop and drop,  with water temps raising into the upper 50’s.  55 yesterday,  topped at 54 today with a little thin overcast and haze for much of today.

Forecast for the next couple days

Forecast for the next couple days

If you are coming in over the next couple days,  Chris will be covering the shop.  The family is heading out to the cabin to see if we can get the outhouse tipped back upright again.  Chris will be more than happy to badmouth me while I’m gone,  about how little I fish the river and what a bad boss I am…  He spent a LOT of time on the Situk this spring and has more first-hand stories than I do now.  I definitely need a few days out and away from the shop.  It has been a busy and hectic and fun spring,  but I need a day off!  Haven’t had one since March…

Chris has spent so little time around here that Eden doesn't want him to leave...  apparently.

Chris has spent so little time around here that Eden doesn’t want him to leave… apparently.

They’re Off and Counting!

Speaking of the weir yesterday…  they started updating the ADF&G web site today with steelhead counts on the Situk.  They seem to change the web site URL every year,  so this may change at some point,  but…  here is the new link to the counts section.  From there,  select Situk,  choose your species,  year,  etc.


Graphing the past 4 years - 2015 red, 2014 black,2013 blue, 2012 green and 2011 purple.  The red speck of this year is jumping early,  ahead of even last year's VERY early run.

Graphing the past 4 years – 2015 red, 2014 black, 2013 blue, 2012 green and 2011 purple. The red speck of this year is dumping early, ahead of even last year’s VERY early run.

Brian Marston,  local ADF&G biologist sportfish division also has a reports page at this address:


As of last night,  a total of 118 kelts have been counted since they started counting on May 4th,  with 47 upstream.  River rumor had it that a hundred went upstream a couple days ago and that obviously was wishful thinking.  Still seeing a trickle of fresh fish,  along with a trickle of down-streamers.


Flows are stable today at around 220 CFS.  Temperatures also dropped to about 48 degrees at the bridge gage.  Just two campsites occupied at 9 Mile with very few people in town fishing.  The run is still going strong and should continue for another two weeks at least.  Lots of spawners,  but also lots of fish not ready for prime time.  Basically,  the fishing is good because there is so little competition for the good spots now.  Much easier to find the pockets of steelhead that are not on redds,  with no one else hording the good holes.