Tag Archives: alaska

A Busy Week at the Airport

Most of you know that I have been pretty distracted this season as we work toward getting the new airport fuel facility up and running.  This weekend,  we did just that!  We’re officially functional and we sold our first AVGAS!

This project has been 4 years in the making.  The main reason for the delays has been the financing.  No traditional banks were willing or interested in funding the project,  no matter how promising it is as a business because of the remote location and poopy economy.  Add the usual slow pace of getting anything done in Yakutat and we’re 4 years behind schedule.

Our electrician came into town (again) about 2 weeks ago and went to work pulling the final wires and getting everything connected.  We discovered some extra wiring problems with the hangar in the process,  but those have also been remedied now,  till we find something else to worry about.  I can not say enough wonderful things about Smokey Point Electric.  They have been such a pleasure to work with.  Also,  our local power company guys were a huge help in getting things hooked up and functioning too.

The tech guy from Mascott Equipment arrived last Wednesday night to do the final hook-up and system testing.  He discovered some of the pipes had been hooked up backwards on the AVGAS dispenser,  so it was a bit of a challenge to get that fixed with Yakutat’s limited access to parts.  He was able to piece it all together and get it running.  We are still operating manually though because the credit card system is having some challenges connecting through our limited phone system.  Hopefully that’ll be solved today though,  so people can swipe and fuel without me having to be there the whole time.

Our first customer was the perfect guy!  A non-local who comes through a couple times a year.  He has been pestering me for two years every time he passes through about getting AVGAS and we finally had the ability to meet his needs!  We’re far from done though.  Signs should be arriving this week and in the spring,  we will landscape around the pumps to make it all look nice.


I need my plane back,  so I can update this photo with the facility showing.  The tanks are where the snow blob is immediately below the hangar


All the profits from the fuel facility will go to finishing the hangar renovation and to buying artifacts and aircraft for the museum.  It’ll take us a little time to recover financially,  but once we do,  the museum will grow pretty dramatically over the next couple years.  Nice to finally see some real progress on something!

A Bit of a Boost?

I’m chalking up this year’s silver run as a bust,  but…  We’re seeing a late surge of fresh fish right now.  Tsiu is seeing a fresh run coming in this week and there was a bit of a scramble for people to get back out there and fish it again.  Italio,  which normally has a later run,  is going good and has been pretty consistent for more than a week.  A few fish caught on the Lost and Tawah,  so that seems better than it has been.  No fresh reports off the Situk though.

We had another storm roll through late last week,  which brought the flows up above 900 CFS.  Flooded,  but not a blow-out.  Had there been more fish in the river,  this level of flood would have still been very fishable.  As it was,  it scattered the few fish to the winds and I haven’t talked to anyone since the flood that has fished the Situk.  Flows are back down below 500 now, which is normal for this time of year.

I think we’ll have decent fishing through the first half of October,  for the very few people who will be here to see it.  Snow level this morning dropped to only 3,000 feet and the past three days have felt decidedly colder.  We have lost the warmth in these semi-sunny days.  Winter is fast approaching now.

Better News and Not so Better News

This afternoon,  we had a couple reports from the mouth of the Situk.  Some really good fish coming in at last!  And that is with the commercial nets going into the estuary two days ago…  Can this mean we’re finally starting to see the east-side rivers and their runs arriving?  I hope so.  Good reports off Italio for those fishing the mouth of the Middle.  Good fresh fish coming in there as well.  Lots of fish up at the spruce and alder holes,  but those fish continue to ignore what you throw at them.

And for your next weather report…  We’re expecting a 50 knot storm with about 5 inches of rain to hit us tomorrow afternoon.  This looks to be the worst storm of the season so far.  It could be that these fish are pushing in ahead of the storm instead of the run coming in in earnest,  but I’m choosing to still be optimistic.  Once things settle down after the storm,  we’ll see if there are more fish behind these ones.


Yana continues to be the star river for the region,  with Italio limping in a distant second.  Akwe reports have been pretty poor for most,  but a couple people out there did just fine.  Akwe is an odd animal and you really need some experience to know where the fish like to hold and where they don’t.  This year with the runs being so late,  that only gets magnified without waves of silvers stacking up everywhere.  Also a mixed bag from the East River.  One good report and several poor ones.  Depends on if you are on the fish or not…

The bite had been very slow the past few days on the Situk,  with the few fish coning in pushing far upstream before they settle down.  As high as 8 miles before the fishing gets good,  so the early part of the float was much better than the end.  That is opposite of what we normally expect this time of year,  with most people rowing downstream to get to the lower half as quickly as possible.  But with a fresh batch coming in today,  we could be back to “normal”,  whatever that is now a days…

Still Slow

I’ll lead with the rationalization that a bad day here is still a pretty good day…  But…

This year’s silver run continues to be mediocre at best.  At least for the Situk,  Italio and the other east-side rivers.  Starting out at the Italio…  of all the fly-outs I have talked to over the past week,  all but one has struggled to justify the cost of the fly-out.  A group of 10 came back with 12 fish and that seems to be the typical experience out there.  The Italio River Adventures group that traded out yesterday said they had to work hard to get fish  unusual for the Italio.  Although they said there was plenty of fish in the usual places,  there are fewer fish than usual and the bite continues to be slow.  The guys who have been camping nearly every September for going on more than 35 years also said it was slow this week.  Italio continues to underperform its reputation.  Apparently just two guys have flown out and caught their limits,  but I didn’t talk to them directly.  They may just be a rumor…  But the Italio has just about the latest run in the area and the fish may still be coming

Situk is also slow for most,  but not all.  On foot,  it has been challenging with the higher water and not a whole lot of fresh fish coming into the river this week.  You can still get your limit of two a day,  but it takes a lot more effort than we have come to expect.  One exception though…  The guys fishing with Frank reported landing about 30 a day,  while coming back to town fairly early.  Otherwise,  the Situk reports have been consistently weak.  As one guy described it…  “It was OK.  Not great,  but OK.  Better than being at work.”

As disappointing as it has been so far this side of Yakutat Bay,  reports off the Yana have been universally great.  Right now,  that is definitely the best fly-out option.  Tsiu is also having a great season.  I have yet to hear a negative report from any river west of Yakutat.  Those runs are earlier than on the Situk,  which makes me suspect we still have a lot of fresh fish to come on this side of the bay.  The Tsiu can be so much earlier that a typical year we’d already be seeing the run on the decline by now.  Not so this year – still at its peak.

In other words,  I still have hope that the run is late and not just dismal.  And like the guy said above,  a bad day on the river here is still a pretty good day…

The Storm has Passed

The storm petered out a little earlier than I was expecting.  Intense,  but short.  It dumped a lot of rain over the course of a few hours and the flows skyrocketed to just over 800 CFS.  But the heavy rain ended around 4pm and although we’re continuing to see some drizzle,  the river is already dropping fast.


Down to 741 before darkness turned the gage off.  By morning,  it’ll probably be back into the 500’s,  which is still very fishable and this higher water should finally entice some fish into these east-side streams from Lost and Tawah,  to Situk,  Italio,  Akwe and East.

Nasty WX Today!

It is blowing hard with expected gusts to exceed 60 knots and potentially up to 5 inches of rain TODAY.  It is intense,  but also supposed be short-lived,  with rain ending around 7pm.  All I can say right now is that it is miserable out there right now!


Then best and most consistent fly-outs have been to the west-side streams.  Yana and Yahtse have been exceptional this weekend.  Italio seems to still be hit-and-miss,  with some groups doing fine and others not-so-fine.  Akwe has been good though.

We need this rain,  but hopefully it won’t blow the rivers out.  The wind is the problem right now.  Situk has had good fish coming in,  but the bite has been inconsistent at best.  Lost and Tawah just picked up a couple days ago.  Still takes work,  but getting better.


Tsiu is Very Good Right Now

“Tsiu is very good right now…”

Received a message from David Crawford off the Tsiu.  Every fall,  he sends me a fishing report from his stay at the Tsiu.  Unfortunately our internet has been down for the past two days,  so I wasn’t able to get this posted immediately…

“Lots of fish in the river, hitting multiple different color flies, big and heavy worked best with my 8wt floating line. Polliwogs worked at times which is fun. The river is productive all day but it tends to slow down around mid day.  Early morning and late afternoon were the best times to fish. When we left everyone was saying their are some storms on the way with significant rain.  At times it was so good if you didn’t get a hookup in 1 or 2 casts you would check your fly to make sure it was ok.

Must have Chartreuse flies. Pink, black, and purple colors also worked very well at times.


I’ll have a report off the rest of the rivers later today…

In Dire Need of Rain

Flows on the Situk are down to 177 CFS this morning,  so we’re in dire need of some rain.  Be careful what you wish for…  It has started to lightly sprinkle and is supposed to rain (or shower) throughout the coming week.  It’ll take quite a bit of rain to saturate our parched ground and bring the river up.  Probably not happening today,  but by Tuesday we should see the river where we want it.  It looks pretty light through most of the week,  with occasional sunbreaks Wednesday,  Saturday and again next Monday.  Not that we expect the forecast to be right a week from now…


Flows down to 177 CFS right now


The forecast for the next 2 days


Better reports off both the Situk and Italio.  The past two days have been good for everyone I talked to on their Middle Italio fly-outs.  Good fish holding in the lower river and a few starting to stack up in the upper holes.  Also heard good things from the Akwe,  with the people staying at John Latham’s Akwe River Camp.

Everyone seems to be doing better on the Situk.  Still plenty of fish moving in,  but now they seem to be more interested in biting.  A quick comment/opinion about fish behavior…  Since many people and most biologists insist that all salmon stop feeding once they hit fresh water and you are basically just pissing them off with your fly or lure,  why would we see all the rivers turn off for two days.  Did they take something to calm them down for two days?  They wouldn’t be stoned,  since that would give them the munchies and the bite would have been on…  Nevermind…


Stomach contents of a silver salmon in fresh water…


There are fish in the lagoon for the first time and a lot of fish in Ankau.  No reports off the Tsiu for the past couple days.  No groups trading out,  but I’m pretty sure it is still on fire.


My typical collection of poppers


More fun than should be legally allowed…


I don’t think color matters.  Just the disturbance on the surface.  These float better than the spun deer hair poppers and the deep cup attracts a lot of attention.


So easy,  a kid can do it…  At least a kid that grew up on the river like this one did…

Still Unpredictable…

So I had a good report off the Italio a couple days ago…  yesterday,  a group of 20 went out and between the lot of them,  they landed only 9 fish!  Yikes!  I talked with Hans about the run out there and he said tonight,  there was a good batch of fish way down at the mouth.  They haven’t pushed upstream to the trees yet.  Just hanging low in the river apparently.  Of course a day is a long time this time of year and by tomorrow there could be thousands of fish there.  There is another group heading out tomorrow and they promised to give me a fresh report.

After two frustrating days on the Situk,  today was a good one.  We had two days of good fish moving in with virtually none of them willing to bite.  It is a rare day when the silvers are this lock-jawed,  but it does happen.  I think having a lot of non-biting fish is worse than not having fish…  Much more frustrating.  In years past,  when this happened,  the only fish we caught were on poppers.  Anything subsurface and they ignored us.  I had a report that one group was catching when no one else around them were…  They were just using chartreuse yarn on a hook with splitshot.  That was working,  when all the Dolly Llamas turned off.  Of course a day is a long time this time of year (I think I already said that…).  Today,  the Dolly Llamas were on fire.  Primarily the black and white,  or the chartreuse and white.  Flow is down to 220 CFS.  Rain expected by Sunday night,  but we’re already parched and in need of some moisture.

Speaking of dolly llamas…  We have had a bunch of new color combinations tied up custom.  Colors I want to fish with…


Row 1 – black/variegated olive,  light pink/dark pink,  purple/gold (Huskies),  Orange/white,  more huskies.

Row 2 – pink/black, pink/blue, pink/white,  black/black, light pink/tan, olive/white, red/black

Row 3 – chartreuse/white, pink/purple, pink/chart, blue/chart (Seahawks), black/chart, blue/black, fuchsia/chinchilla

Row 4 – black/olive, white/dark olive, white/chinchilla, brown/tan, #6 black/white, #2 black/white, white/white

Good stock of everything except the black/red.  Not usually a popular color,  so I didn’t order them this year and now they are going out the door…  Oh well.  I especially like using the blue/chartreuse,  olive/black and fuchsia/chinchilla.

Italio is Starting

Two reports today off the Italio…  First off,  an absolutely dismal report from the group who spent the past week at the cabin out there…

They were able to limit for their week at the Akwe/New Italio Confluence.  The fish were laying upstream along where the Back River comes in.  They saw NOTHING in the New Italio.  They did see about 15 fish streak past them on the Middle Italio,  but then they were gone and they didn’t see any more.  They flew back to town yesterday and went home today.  But apparently one day makes this report obsolete…

Had a group of day fishermen fly out today and they reported lots of fish in the Middle Italio!  What a difference a single day can make!  I would guess the fish are mostly in the lower river,  with not a lot stacked up in the Spruce and Alder Holes.  They said the water was very low.  These sunny days have been very warm and dry,  so the Middle and Old shriveled up.

Had another Tsiu report of exceptional fishing.  Several reports (lots of reports from the rather crowded stream we have right now…) off the Situk that said good fish are moving in at the lower end,  even with the commercial nets in the estuary.  Most said it was a little tougher in the bright sun,  but still limiting out today.  Flow is down below 340 CFS now.

I had been sending several groups through the higher water out to the Log Dump.  All of them reported having a great time,  but they only caught pinks…  There are silvers mixed in and there are some techniques for weeding out the pinks and hooking the silvers…  There are so many fish out there that it is definitely worth the experience just to see them all jumping and swirling around the cove.  Over the next week or two,  the ratio of silvers to humpies will increase till it is mostly silvers and few pinks.

Love fly fishing the saltwater for silvers!  One of my favorite fishing experiences is wading out into the surf at the Middle Italio mouth and stalking the schools and pockets of fresh fish as they await the tide to bring in enough water to clear the bar.  It is the open ocean,  so you have to work at it,  but it is a wild ride when you hook into one!

Here is an old video from my guiding days:


And here are my photos from flying over the still-flooded rivers on my way to Sitka last Friday…  Not much in the way of fish,  but the Akwe especially was still dark and hard to see into:


One of the tributaries to the Ahrnklin Inlet – dark coffee mud joining the Ahrnklin’s lighter mud…


This is the Dangerous River as it crosses the sand flats.  There are two clear tributaries right at tree-line that clearly discolor the unflooded Dangerous when it rains


Here is the lower one as it joins its larger brother,  before entering the Dangerous.  Both streams have their own silver runs,  as well as sea-run cutthroat throughout the summer.


These streams are each about the same size as the Old Italio.  Not quite as many fish as the Old,  but well worth the remote experience.  The Old is out there across the flooded flats in the upper right corner.


A slightly flooded Middle Italio.  You can see the mouth is pretty long this season,  offering several good holes to fish.  The weird pool in the dead center is where the mouth went out last year without having any big curve.  That hole is chest-deep and should hold fish pretty well as the season progresses.


Flying over the Akwe,  which was far more flooded than the Italios.  Nearly opaque water,  so hard to tell if there were any fish.  According to the first report,  there were…


And on my way home,  flying over the Middle from the Alaska Airlines jet.  They seem to make a turn every time flight 61 approaches Yakutat right over the Middle Italio.