Category Archives: Steelhead

Warming, but…

I’m not ready to call the 2017 season as over…  It has been pretty dismal so far with the extreme cold,  but we keep seeing warming in the forecast.  At some point,  the weather forecasts have to be right.  They can’t be wrong every time,  can they?  Nevermind…  I didn’t ask that.

Last night while I ran to town.  Cory stopped in to give us a report (as translated by Teen…):

Came in Friday, fished Saturday, took Sunday off and Fished today (Monday).
Lower river is frozen over.
# in group:  4.
Report:  super slow
Fished:  9 mile primarily.  Hiked to the meadow most days, and (believe) one day walked to the confluence.
Today:  Landed 6 (between 4 people).
Fish:  very lethargic
Made very clear, SUPER SLOW.

The “today” in the report is really yesterday and you can see why they landed 6 in the water temp graph and not the day before:

WatTemp

Water temp crashed at 9 Mile to 32.5F and the lower river froze over.  Yikes!  But yesterday and today,  the temperature climbed dramatically and although we’re still right at freezing today,  yesterday came up a couple degrees above.  Partly clear skies right now,  but with an occasional flurry of snow and sleet.  Here is the forecast through the holiday weekend:

WX

The weekend doesn’t look so hot,  but a warming trend is on the way INCLUDING RAIN through most of next week.  Anyone who has put off their steelhead trip hoping to see this kind of a trend should be happy.  But it actually has to happen…  We’ve seem these promises before,  only to have the rug yanked out from under us…

Flow is down to just 109CFS.  Without this rain coming,  I would stick a fork in the season and give up.  If the rain comes,  we’ll have some mighty good fishing.  Keep an eye on that forecast!

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Cold Fall

We are having an extremely cold fall,  slipping back into this sunny frigid weather again.  So much for the warmer week we were hoping for!

Gorgeous,  but the low temps have dropped the Situk’s water temperature well below where we want it to be for steelheading.  Fishing is very slow compared to what we usually see in the middle of November.  We only saw conditions in the ideal range for about 5 days,  then we dropped to where we’re seeing ice along the edges of moving water.

Last week we had more fishermen than we usually see this time of year,  but no one did a whole lot.  A group of 4 just left and stopped in before their flight to give me a report.  They said they were landing 3-4 fish for the group each day.  Hey,  not too bad for any river not named “Situk”,  but we have higher expectations than that.  And they are frequent Situk fliers,  coming both spring and fall every year.  They know the river well and definitely were out-fishing most everyone else around.

This weekend,  we are expecting a change in the weather,  but not necessarily any warmer…  Cold dry snow is expected to fall for a few days,  but nothing that will raise the water temp,  or water flow levels.  Air temp dropped to 15 degrees last night,  bringing the water temp to 34 degrees and flows to 135 CFS.  “Normal for this time of year is closer to 300 CFS and temperatures closer to 40F.

There are fish in the river,  but not a lot.  They are catchable,  but only about one hook-up a day.  Not exactly Situk-level reputation.  Unless we see a significant change in the weather patterns (which could happen at any time…),  don’t expect much from this fall’s run.

By the way…  fishing the upper river,  they did see a few relatively fresh silvers with just a little blush.  Not chromers,  but still edible for my fresh Thanksgiving Day salmon…

A Slow Steelhead Season

Things were looking very promising as of my last post,  with the water flows and temperature dropping into “ideal” territory.  But then the trend continued to drop on both counts and we’re low and cold.  Water temp dropped down to 36.5F yesterday and the rain we were supposed to see early this past week didn’t happen.

Last week, w e definitely had more fishermen here than we would expect to see and the fishing was pretty slow.  Reports coming in were that people were catching a steelhead or two every other day or so…  So pretty slow. Beads were doing better than the streamers,  but nothing was really working all that great.

But…  it started lightly snowing last night (for the first snow to stick this year).  Just a trace out on the pavement with nothing sticking to the grass.  It has been continuing to warm though the morning and now is looking more like sleet as flight 61 comes in on final.

And flow isn’t too bad.  Just a hair below 200 CFS,  with the water temp coming right back up over 39 degrees as of 11am.  The coming forecast is for a warming trend through Monday (instead of the teens at night this past week).  Next week will be just below freezing,  but not by much.  Nighttime lows around 30 degrees.  So the coming week is definitely looking better than the past week…

I am a little blind on the river conditions without having Chris obsessively out there every day,  but we did have several first hand reports from the people populating the river form out of town and also Adam from the Yakutat B&B on the Bay.  Adam is shaping up to be Chris’ understudy and becoming a good source of fresh info for me when he gets out there.  Not as frequently as Chris,  but better than me having to go out into the cold and flail all day over empty water…

Although I may break down and head out there with Adam next week sometime.  If the forecast holds,  it may make for really good conditions!  Time will tell.

Steelhead Startin’

Not much activity around here until today…  and yesterday…  Two small groups arrived yesterday and a couple more today,  looking for some steelhead.  Conditions are looking good,  but haven’t heard much off the river of late.  It was two weeks ago that the last word from some out-of-town sportie checked in.  Two guys looking for silvers ran into a group of steelhead fishermen down at the lower end.  It was the week of huge tides and both groups were working the bottom end.  Any fish that did come in would have pushed way upstream before slowing down.

I didn’t talk to the steelheaders,  but the two salmon guys did.  They said the steelheaders saw about 100 fresh silvers up around the weir,  higher than the salmon guys bothered to hike.  No mention of any steelhead seen or caught,  so I suspect they didn’t see or catch any…

A couple days ago,  I heard (again second hand) that our fish and game biologist hiked up to the boundary marker and landed two steelhead.  Flows were still up around 700 CFS,  so not exactly good fishing conditions even way up there.  But that is the first indication that there are steelies in the river now.

Conditions are just now down to where we want them…  Yesterday and today,  the water temp didn’t rise much above 42 degrees,  right where we want it…  Flow on the 27th broke through 1300 CFS,  but is now back down to 401 and continues to drop.  Not looking like there is any precip in the forecast for at least a week,  with sun breaks and overcast.  Temps aren’t supposed to be much below freezing either,  so my guess is the water will slowly continue to drop and water temp will remain relatively stable around 40 degrees.

So conditions will look really good to attract our fall run this week.  May not be a whole lot of them in the river yet,  but that should improve through the week.  Not bad!

And “worst case”…  there are still a few fresh silvers coming into the Situk as well as Lost and Tawah.  No ice on the lakes,  so I may try to squeeze in one trip into Pike Lake before the season comes to a frozen halt.  Without Chris here to help me on the river reporting,  I’m going to have to break down and actually go fishing again – something I haven’t done on the Situk since November last year…

Watching the Temperature

Mid-October and we’re all waiting for the arrival of our fall steelhead run.  The key trigger to push fish into the Situk seems to be water temperature.  As the temp drops into the 6-4 degree C range,  we see fish pushing in. That’s 43-38 degrees F for those of us that are Celsius-challenged…  Once it drops much below that range,  they tend to stop until we ether see a mid-winter warm spell,  or the eventual spring thaw in April.  Really,  about 36 degrees is where everything comes to a halt for the winter for additional incoming steelhead.

As of right now,  we’re still hovering about 2-3 F degrees too warm.  We have been seeing the average temperature drop that much over the past week,  so in another week,  the trend should be right about where we want it to be.  Almost there!

Temp

Looking like a November 1st start for our fall run,  with it improving daily through the first half of the month.  Getting closer,  but no reports of any steelhead in the river yet.  Chris went fishing the past couple days and hooked into a lot of silvers and dollies,  with a couple resident rainbows to round things out.  Also landed a gorgeous sea-run cut on Tawah last night.  He thought he had a steelie that took a drifted egg,  but instead it emerged as a HUGE dolly up above the bridge.  Nope,  not yet!

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!

2017:

2015:

Needing an Update

Yes,  I have been a little busy…  Sorry for the lack of posts…  Especially since we are having a TREMENDOUS sockeye run right now.  Last year,  we had 73 fish total through the weir.  As of two days ago,  we have over 25,000.  And basically no one here.  Is the run really strong,  or just really early…  no way to tell till it happens.  But boy,  the run is really on fire.  The parent year reached 118,000 fish and as of this date had 16,000 fish through.  We’re blowing the lid off that year.

And if you remember,  I predicted we’d see a 10,000 steelhead count…  Um…  it seems to be leveling off at right around 6,000…  In my defense,  we had a good storm right as the bulk of the steelhead were done spawning that flooded the river and made the weir non-fish tight for 4 days.  I’m going to say 4,000 fish escaped when the counters weren’t looking just because I want to be right and I have no other basis to prop up my argument…  It sure felt like a stronger run than that!

In other news…  I have my plane back finally.  It had been sitting in Sitka for the past 10 months,  after receiving a $17,000 annual that I couldn’t pay for till recently.  But she is back and we’re ready to go spend some time at the Italio cabin.  Speaking of which…

This has been a challenging year so far and so we are making a few changes.  My health problems over the past two months have taught me I need a day off occasionally…  We opened the fly shop 10 years ago this season working long hours without many days off for 9 months straight.  This summer,  we are going to be closed Sunday and Monday.  We’ll be back to 7 days a week in mid-August when silver season starts,  but in the meantime,  I’ll closing the doors two days a week to get a break.  Granted,  that probably means I’ll be out commercial fishing the Akwe with the family,  but if it isn’t a physical break,  it is a mental break from the fly shop and things I have to do around here.

It is hard living in your place of business.  You have no escape.  The phone rings 24/7,  customers come and go at all hours of the day and night…  In the past,  we said to just pull up and honk if we were closed and we’d come running downstairs to help.  I just can’t do that anymore…  Sorry.

And maybe I’ll even get a chance to fly fish for some sockeye again!  Haven’t done that in three years,  since I first showed Chris how.