Category Archives: Yakutat

100 Years Ago – a War that Never Ended

Who’s ready for a long rambling post?  In 12 minutes Alaska time (as I start typing this),  we mark the official ending of The Great War – the War to End All Wars.  It didn’t end anything.  Didn’t solve anything and didn’t prove anything.  As part of my hangar tours,  I say that there really wasn’t two separate world wars.  Just one conflict between mostly the same belligerents with a 13 or so year armistice in the middle.  (WWII began in 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria,  not in Euro-centric 1939…)

On 11/11/1918,  most soldiers on both sides had no idea what was happening.  3,000 servicemen died on the morning of November 11th,  as the Americans crossed the Meuse River,  leaving the bodies of Marines behind as they pushed through the fire of the German Maxim guns.  The Americans were seizing the high ground,  pushing the Germans back toward their homeland.  Then everything went silent.  Orders came forward from General Lejeune that our men were to retreat to the position they held at 11 o’clock.  Retreat to a position with our backs against the river with no escape,  should this prove to be just another rumor.  Back – past the piles of bodies,  who until moments ago had been their fellow marines,  friends,  brothers.  All killed AFTER the armistice.

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A 1917 Bond Drive poster from our collection

Japan and England were allies in WWI.  England asked them to strike Germany’s colonial outposts in the far east.  Japan wondered why they were doing this for England and not for themselves…  They spent the next 13 years reorganizing their society and building an army and navy capable of taking over half the world.  Italy too changed sides,  joining Germany and Japan,  after being on the side of France,  England,  Russia and the United States in the Great War.  An end to active fighting on 11/11 didn’t end the anger,  hatred,  jealousy,  coveting and desire for revenge.  Another 100 years passing hasn’t changed that either.

As part of our WWII hangar tour,  I show two infantry rifles from our collection.  One is a Japanese Koishilawa rifle made around 1927 or 1928.  The Japanese stopped making these in 1929.  The other rifle was actually my dad’s hunting rifle.  It is a Smith Corona 30.06.  I call it my “typewriter”,  because it was made by the Smith Corona typewriter company.  These two artifacts together really illustrate the difference in preparedness between Japan and the United States at the start of WWII.  Japan thought they were so well-prepared for their global conquest that they literally stopped making these infantry rifles in 1929!  The US was so ill-prepared,  we had to have typewriter companies like Smith Corona and IBM make WWI-era rifles for our soldiers to carry.

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Um…  we had a US Department of Labor CHILDREN’S BUREAU in 1918???

Our two Coastal Defense cannons on Cannon Beach are WWI guns.  They were supposed to be installed on a new battleship in 1919,  but after signing the Naval Agreement,  the size of everyone’s navies (except Germany and Japan apparently) was restricted.  The new ship was scrapped and the guns placed in storage.  In early 1942,  these guns were pulled out and shipped throughout Alaska.  WWI supplying the defense of Alaska in WWII.

If you go to the Aviation Museum in Anchorage,  look for two framed pieces of WWI aircraft skin on display.  They come from the aircraft of Charles H Russell,  a member of the Lafayette Escadrille in France during WWI.  The Lafayette Escadrille (originally called the American Escadrille,  but the Germans complained and so they changed the name…) consisted of a group of American volunteers flying for France prior to the United States’ direct involvement in WWI.  Basically an all American “French Foreign Legion” group of pilots.  A wonderful book that covers the Lafayette Escadrille (along with Manfred von Richthofen,  Pershing,  Patton) is To the Last Man,  by Jeff Shaara.  The Russells are a very prominent family in Yakutat,  since Charles H’s son moved here about 60-70years ago.

At the end of WWI,  we all held hands and signed treaties to reduce our military effectiveness voluntarily.  We didn’t change human nature.  We deliberately weakened ourselves,  making us vulnerable to aggressive psychos who’s goal was/is to subjugate and dominate the world.  Those people haven’t disappeared after 100 years.  They are still looking-hoping for a weakness to exploit.  Our only defense is a military so strong and deadly that the world fears a conflict with it.  And to keep our own aggressive psychos in check,  an armed populace to strong and deadly that our government fears a conflict with it.

And a hope that we never have to use either.  Thank you to all our veterans on this and EVERY day.

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This 1917 Navy recruiting poster with “Christy Girl” is our most valuable propaganda poster in the collection (so far)

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…

Yakutat Land Sale November, 2018

The City and Borough of Yakutat is selling 5 lots located along Ocean Cape Road.  Two are directly on Ocean Cape Road,  while three are back behind on a platted,  but non-existent Water Tank Loop Road.  The “water tank” in question is upland from the Delta Western bulk facility.  These lots are along the road to the Ankau,  less than a quarter mile past The Mooring Lodge,  Delta Western and the AC grocery store.

CBYLandSale

The deadline for the initial offering is December 3rd,  2018.  Before placing a bid,  check to see how far away basic utilities are from the lots.  My guess is they are within easy reach,  since the West and South Additions are beyond these lots and you can tie into water and sewer relatively easily compared to some of the other properties offered lately.  These look like pretty good lots!  Zoned “industrial”,  you can pretty much do anything you want with them…

Here is the complete packet on PDF:

CBY Land sale Nov 2018 (2)

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.

Last Day of Sept – May Hit 70 Degrees!

When all is said and done,  we will have had only 4 wet days in the entire month of September.  Our wettest month!  21 straight days of sun started off the month,  then a brief batch of rain on the 22nd that raised the river from about 121 CFS to 136.  Then another gorgeous sunny day,  followed by heavy rains that mostly soaked on in the 24th and 25th.  That initially brought the Situk up to about 270,  but was back down under 200 CFS by the morning of the 24th.  Another brief batch of drizzle on the 27th and we’re back down to 135 CFS…

This was enough water to turn on some of the smallest rivers and finally allow fresh fish to come in,  like the Middle and Old Italio’s and Yana.  East and Akwe Rivers continue to be good and will be throughout most of October.  Situk continues to be a struggle for most people,  although many are doing just fine.

We’re back to being “too low” again,  but Wednesday night is supposed to turn back to rain again for a few days.  So I think anyone coming mid-week and throughout the following week will have really good conditions.  Providing that rain actually comes of course…  I know the big lodges are already shutting down,  but most of the B&B’s will continue to operate throughout the year.  I believe there I still a LOT of silvers yet to come in!

Another hot spot is Ankau…  Spectacular fishing just outside of Kardy Lake!!!  Log Dump is spotty…  Sometimes silvers,  sometimes nothing but humpies.  Yakutat Coastal stops flying on October 12th this year.

City and Borough of Yakutat Elections 2018

Our local elections are coming up in about 3 weeks.  We have 7 positions open on the assembly and school board including the mayor position.  Go to the city office to register as a candidate.

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If you are looking to declare candidacy,  you have till September 26th at 5pm local to do so…  Election takes place October 16th.

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You can be the mayor of the largest city in the world (by area)…