Category Archives: Steelhead

My Only 1st-Hand Fishing Report

Night before last,  Patrick came through the shop with a fresh report…  I would have posted this earlier,  but I’m suffering through a really bad cold/flu and have been in bed most of the past week.

So he went down and fished hard down at the lower landing end of the river.  Chased some fish around,  but didn’t touch any.  I haven’t had any success in this fall season down there.  Seems as though these fall steelhead are in a hurry to get upstream and don’t slow down enough to have much success in the lower river.  And his efforts were rewarded by getting charged in the dark by a sow with cubs…  So we still have some bears on the river.

Next day,  he went to the bridge and had better success.  First cast in the bridge hole,  he had a steelhead hammer his bead.  He said he was excited to have a hot fishing day ahead of him.  Unfortunately for a long time,  that was his only hit…  Water was clear,  low and had become pretty cold after a few days of deep freezing clear nights.  Then it started to rain…

The moment the raindrops started hitting the surface,  the bite was on.  He said it was a fish on nearly every cast.  A mix of dollies,  resident rainbows,  steelhead and one huge silver.  Then it got dark and he had to get to the shop before we closed…

So that is the ONLY fishing report I have had.  Right now,  we have one guy at the Forest Service cabins,  three guys in a jet-boat,  Patrick,  two guys arrived last night and two more on today’s morning flight.  There were a couple extra cars in the 9 Mile parking lot,  but the people weren’t seen anywhere…  Pretty quiet.

It has now changed back to rain – well,  scattered showers.  Warmer,  so water temp is back to being perfect.  Flow right at 300 CFS.  Just about perfect conditions through the weekend,  with heavier rain coming Sunday night…

Ideal Conditions this Week

I still have not talked to anyone off the river.  Just a handful of people heading out to fish as they arrived.  So no actual first-hand reports.  But…

The snow we were supposed to see Friday night didn’t happen.  Just a brief flurry before turning to a light drizzle.  An occasional shower this weekend,  but nothing cold enough to stick.  The cooler weather did drop the water temp into the ideal range for the past 4 days,  which should be attracting fresh steelhead into the system.  Flows are still looking really good with it hanging at 224CFS right now.

Everything is just looking spectacular on paper right now for the bridge area.  Weather forecast is for sunny and partly cloudy skies through the early part of the coming week,  with another chance of snow beginning Wednesday.  Showing a mix of rain and snow Thursday where the forecast ends.

Looking so much better than last year’s deep cold that shut the river down this week.

Time to Get Back on Track

And another full month passes without a post.  Just chalk it up as one of those years…

September was unbelievably dry…  October is making up for it.  Back to back storms that have really not let up for weeks.  Including the biggest thunderstorm I have ever seen in Alaska!  We just don’t get them here.  This one a few nights ago lasted for 6 hours.  One strike hit the big FAA radar tower along runway 02/20 while I was watching out the window.  Then we had two strikes on the GCI cell tower about 200 yards from the hangar.  Never have I before actually appreciated having that damn cell tower outside my window taller than my building until it became the lightening rod to draw strikes away from my house!

The last actual fishing report I received was back the first week of October,  so three weeks old.  One of the Yak Lodge guides had his family here as a season closer and they floated the river.  Probably the last boat down the river…  Lots of fresh silvers coming in with the slightly higher water at the time and he reported seeing a school of 8 clearly fresh steelhead in one hole.  Obviously those weren’t the only ones in the river,  so it was a good early sign even with the water still very warm.

First real steelheader came through the shop heading to the Forest Service cabin on Sunday.  Two more heading to the other cabin came through Monday. Won’t see or hear from them for a week,  so still no fresh fishing report.  However,  Kraig from the Lodge stopped in earlier today to say the river is choked off at the top and bottom.  Big jam at the Rodeo Hole that he was able to get around by dragging over the gravel bar,  only to hit a big one not far above that.  He said he cut a path down to the cabins,  but it is pretty ugly with new trees and jams just below.  So floating the river with anything not inflatable isn’t much of an option right now (and probably not till spring).

Current river conditions are really pretty good right now.  Flow has come back down to 371CFS,  from a high of near 2,700 just a week ago.  Yes,  that can knock a lot of trees over!  I think 300 is ideal for this fall run fishing above and below the bridge.  Can’t really sight-fish well,  but they are in there and react really well to swung streamers.

Water temp is still a little warm,  but close to where we want to be.  Didn’t get our first real frost till just this past weekend.  Riding between 43 and 45 degrees right now,  but hasn’t quite dipped below that 6C perfect number yet.  Just one degree off…

Probably no point in giving you a weather forecast,  but here goes anyway…  Was supposed to be 100% chance of rain today,  but it has been dry all day.  Now it is saying 30% of showers tonight,  then clear through Friday.  That will definitely give us some cold nights to drop the water temp.  Then a chance of snow Friday night and into Saturday morning before turning back to rain.

If that actually happens,  this could actually be a great week out on the river.  But that is a big “if”…

And FYI…  The shop is open Tues-Sat 10am to 6pm.  Closed Sunday and Monday.  If you are coming in on the evening flight and want to come by,  give me a heads up and we’ll wait for you.  Just in case the flight is a little late.

A Glance Back at Steelhead Season

The July issue of the Alaska Sporting Journal had an article on the Situk.  Written by our friend Tony Ensalaco and features a photo of Tanis holding a nice-big-trophy…  beaver.  Also a nice picture of Ryan,  from the Glacier Bear,  holding a big steelie.  The magazine was a month late coming to newsstands,  so it is probably still on the shelf now.

If it is gone from the shelves and you missed it…  Here is a PDF of the article:

Alaska Sporting Journal 7-18 pg54

And some left-over steelhead pictures of Chris and Adam…

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.

Alive and Well…

Yes I’m alive and no,  the website is not down…  I just haven’t made a post in nearly a month.  Teen,  Tanis and I have all been battling the horrible lung infection/cold that has been tormenting Yakutat since last fall.  Finally feeling better now.

Few if any fishermen through the shop over the past couple weeks (good,  so I didn’t spread my disease to anyone).  A couple of our frequent fliers for steelhead just left. I think they had 4 trips this season???  We’re well into June,  so I suspect they are our final steelheaders.  They said not many fish in the upper half of the float,  but they camped in a couple spots down closer toward the weir and had a 50 fish day yesterday.  Mostly chromers that have continued to trickle in,  even though we’re seeing thousands going out.

Yes,  ADF&G did eventually get the weir in…  Due to the high water flows,  they missed about 2 weeks of out-migrating kelts this year.  No idea how many fish they missed and no real way to estimate.  A LOT could have left during the flooding.  The count as of right now is 2,846 kelts.  And they don’t show a single sockeye going through upstream yet,  even though a couple have been caught up above already.  Looking like the sockeye runs may be a week or two behind normal right now.  Over on the Alsek River,  subsistence nets have not been catching any sockeye and by now they should.

I have lots more to say,  but my noggin isn’t firing on all cylinders yet and I’m going to end this here before I embarrass myself…

And by the way…  with business as dead as it is right now,  the fly shop will be closed Sunday and Monday for the next couple weeks.  We’ll be back to daily ops when people start showing up again.

Fishing is Good, I’m Not…

OK,  lack of reports and posts because I have been sick the past week.  This is the first time I have sat down at the computer in several days.  Just a cold,  but it was a bad one for both Teen and I.  Kids have managed to avoid it though!

So…  just before I crashed…  I stumbled on this blog post:

Living on River Time

They were planning their first trip to Alaska – to the Situk,  staying in the Forest Service EAGLE cabin and I think they are here RIGHT NOW!  As far as I know,  they haven’t been through the shop,  so I haven’t met them,  but I’m excited to see what they post after the trip.  They should have some pretty incredible conditions…  Of course I haven’t posted anything for nearly 3 weeks,  so I gave them no heads-up leading up to their trip.  OOPS!  Makes me feel bad,  especially after the nice things they said about me…  Now they may be wondering…  Bad Bob!

Today was yet another sunny day.  Flows are right at 300 CFS.  Water temp has been upwards of 50 degrees.  We are definitely on the backside of the run now,  with very few fish coming in on the tides now – but still seeing a few new ones.  Only one group of out-of-towners has been through the shop the past couple days,  but they have been doing great and happy not to be seeing anyone else on the river.

In May,  we ended up having back-to-back storms that kept the flows high most of the time.  Just now dropping back to 300 now.  Supposed to see some more rain in the coming week,  but doesn’t look like enough to cause any problems.

And that is about all I have tonight.  Still feeling crappy,  but getting better each day.  I definitely need some downtime,  so we’re going to start being closed Sundays till the sockeye show up.