Category Archives: fly fishing

The Rain has Stopped!

Right now,  this is the first true dry spell we have had this month.  The flow jumped so dramatically because for several days before the storm hit,  we had continuous light rain and drizzle,  which didn’t move the gage,  but pre-soaked the ground.  Once the real rain it,  flows shot up like a rocket to about 2,500 CFS.

Flow

We’re going to remain blown out for another several days,  depending on if the rain has stopped for good.  Since Friday is the only non-rain day in the forecast,  fishing this coming week will be tough.

Forecast

Blasting toward 2000

Let’s just post the gage right now…

Flow

That’s a blow-out with plenty more rain yet to come.  Woo,  hoo!  Say goodbye to the weir for the season.  They did count 56,000 pinks,  25,000 sockeye,  about 60 chum and 12 silvers through the weir before the storm hit.  Reported this morning that a big batch of fresh silvers appeared in the lower river just before the flooding began.  Who knows where they are now,  with high raging opaque water.

What a season!

Sockeye is Over

Well,  we just crossed the line into August and that brings this dismal and depressing sockeye season to an end.  They have 24,000 fish over the weir,  beating 2008’s 23,000 (the only other year we have missed the minimum escapement goal).  But in 2008,  they didn’t close the river the way they did this year,  so we managed to beat 2008 only because of the draconian management decisions of Fish and Game.

With the sockeye behind us,  now we’re looking forward to silvers.  I know a lot of you have been anxious through my lack of posts (pretty hard to motivate myself into typing “fishing is terrible” again and again) to know what the silver run is going to do.  Will it be hit as hard as the sockeye?  Well,  sockeye are unique in many ways.  All the other species have different behaviors,  different food sources and range in different areas of the ocean.  No reason to expect the silver run to be out of the normal.

I heard more than 36,000 pinks have passed the weir and we should be seeing 10,000+ every day from here on out.  A handful of silvers have gone up and another handful have been landed in the lower river below the weir.  That was all in July,  so very early in the run and too early to tell if the run is going to be strong,  weak,  or somewhere in-between.  I know plenty  have been caught out in the bay on charter boats.

Halibut continues to be exceptional for most,  which has really saved a lot of trips this year.  A surprisingly few people cancelled their trips even with the river completely closed to fishing.  They were able to entertain themselves fishing areas and streams they have never fished and doing a lot on the salt.

One thing is for sure…  I have never been so excited about the humpy run.  At least we have fish in the river now!  Boy has this been a slow month in the fly shop.  We literally went weeks without seeing any fishermen.  I don’t think we sold more than 4 dozen flies in all of July.  This is going to be a very skinny winter in Yakutat,  with all the revenue lost from both sport and commercial fishing,  as well as our empty freezers with no subsistence fishing allowed.

4,225 sockeye counted yesterday

 

The rain brought the river up (holding at 585 CFS right now) and all those fish that were stuck below the weir pushed.  4,225 went through,  but unfortunately it doesn’t sound like there are any fish coming up behind them to replace ’em.  And more bad news from Fish and Game:

News Release:  Situk,  Lost and Ahrnklin Rivers Closed to Sport Fishing for Sockeye and Closed Area Below Situk River Weir Expanded

From July 12th to August 15th,  sockeye salmon may not be targeted,  retained,  or possessed in the Situk,  Lost,  or Ahrnklin Rivers;  Sockeye salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

(Translation:  You can still fish for dollies and rainbows,  along with any early humpies that may show up,  but you can not deliberately target sockeye (or kings) anywhere in the Situk,  Lost and Ahrnklin River Systems.)

Back to the News Release:  Additionally,  sport fishing is not allowed between regulatory markers located approximately 300 feet upstream of the Situk River weir (river mile 1.8) to markers approximately 2,100 feet downstream of the weir.  This portion of the river encompasses the entire “Rodeo Hole”.

(Translation:  The area around the weir to 100 yards above and below is always closed to fishing when the weir is in operation.  They just expanded the downstream closure to include the entire Rodeo Hole.  No fishing allowed period.  It remains open for the targeting of dollies,  rainbows and humpies below the Rodeo Hole.  But you can not target kings,  or sockeye at all anywhere in the system.)

Total count as of yesterday for sockeye is 9,489.  Year-to-date last year was above 52,000.  Yesterday was a good push and it came after the Emergency Order was issued.  If fish continue to move in like yesterday,  then we could see a reopening.  In the meantime…  ADF&G does not expect us to reach the minimum escapement goals for sockeye and kings this year.  If we don’t start seeing multiple day counts above 4,000 fish,  you can essentially write off this year.

Here is the Emergency Order in PDF:  20_E0-01-RS-H-20-18(F)1

And just in case we have all forgotten what sockeye look like:

Heavy Rains May Bring in Some Fish?

It has been raining all day and the river is near getting blown out.  Probably past that point for sockeye.  Not pleasant for the people here right now,  but the river has been so very low,  this rain could help attract some sockeye into the system.  Just about 200 fish through the weir yesterday and one day this weekend saw just a single fish counted.  But there are quite a few fish in the lower river that have seemed to be stuck there with no drive to push them above the weir. That brings us to only 5,200ish total so far.  A far cry from the 40,000 we should have by now.

I spent some time going through ALL the ADG&G rivers to see how they are doing.  Since the Situk is one of the lower rivers,  we tend to be a little later than farther north/west.  Some of the rivers are looking very promising,  some not-so-promising.  The Copper River count indeed was more than 200,000 fish behind last year.  That deficit has shrunk to about 90,000 now,  so they have been making up a lot of ground the past couple weeks.  Copper is really the next river up the coast,  so should give us an indication whether there are fish coming this way.  Some of the other rivers are downright dismal though,  but one stream was well ahead of last season this date too.  Kind of a mixed bag of encouragement/discouragement.

Wish I had better news,  but this is our reality right now.  The whole town will be struggling financially this coming winter unless something changes soon.

Episode IV – A New Hope

Maybe I’m just a little desperate to get some good news,  but I think I have some good news!  Late last night,  a big push of fresh sockeye came in (along with hundreds of kings).  One of our long-time guides the lower river was just thick with fish,  large schools parting around his boat.

This is the first positive news I have heard off the river,  but unfortunately I don’t have any confirmation on this story yet.  I heard it second hand and along with the sockeye,  the report said there were 500-600 kings…  So sounds like there could be a touch of exaggeration…

And talked to Chris this morning.  He said the fishing is getting better.  He was off the river yesterday by 6pm,  so he didn’t see the wall of reds come in,  but he at least said it was getting better.

Fish and Game did update their weir count page.  Now we’re up to 4,924 as of Thursday.  Yes,  last year’s year-to-date number was 43,729…  1,272 passed on Wednesday alone,  which is our first thousand+ day of the season.  Wed had 12 large kings pass as well,  so it was a good day.

Weather is changing from the gorgeous sunny skies turning to overcast and rain through the coming week.  Flows are extremely low,  so the water is needed.  This weather change could be what is starting to push the fish into the system and out of the ocean too.

Something Good to Talk About

Back in May,  I stumbled onto a blog post for someone who was coming up to fish steelhead in the Situk for the first time (Living on River Time).  Since we’re in a lull right now,  I went back to see how her trip went.  She has three posts about her Yakutat trip,  but Amanda’s other posts are well worth reading too.  She is definitely doing a better job of posting than I have been!

Looks like they arrived just before the river blew out and got to see a lot of rain fall.  Not exactly ideal conditions for a once-in-a-lifetime trip,  but we’ve all had our trips turn out a little uninspiring on occasion.

Here are the three posts about Yakutat

Trip Prep:
https://livingonrivertime.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/last-frontier-pre-trip-prep/

The Adventure:
https://livingonrivertime.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/last-frontier-the-adventure/

The Reflection:
https://livingonrivertime.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/last-frontier-the-reflection/

Like I said,  she is a good writer and worth taking the time to read.  I’m adding a link to my “Fly Shop Friends” links…  Bummer I didn’t get to meet them,  but maybe next time…  I rarely get to fish anymore,  so it is nice to at least get to experience the adventures of others…  Thanks Amanda!  Keep it up.