Tag Archives: situk river kings

New Situk Closure as of 7-10-17

Fish and Game is closing the Situk to sport fishing from the weir down to the bottom end of the Rodeo Hole.  The rest of the lower river between Rodeo and the train trestle remains open.  The reasoning for this is to protect the king run…  They have only counted about 100 large kings through the weir so far and there have been a TON of them stuck below the weir in those last couple holes before the weir.  Like entire schools of kings!  Some of the people fishing can’t avoid catching a king in those holes because the density of kings has been so great.

So starting Monday June 10th and lasting till August 15th,  the river is closed from the weir to 2,100 feet downstream of the weir.  Here are PDF’s of the emergency order,  news release and map of the closure area.  Deliberately targeting kings anywhere in the Situk system also remains closed.

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2017 Situk Closure Map

And here are lower res jpegs of the same three…

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2017 Situk Closure Map

Sockeyes are VERY Late and/or Poor

“…you have decided to let us guys “whistle in the wind” about the conditions of fishing in Yakutat…”

I know,  I know…  I’m sorry!  It has been hard to get too motivated to post fishing reports though,  since fishing has really bee terrible over the past month.  I’m saying the sockeye run is about 2 weeks late,  although I have no real evidence of that…  Just the lack of fish…  I did hear today from Greg who runs the Yakutat Seafoods fish plant.  He said Bristol Bay and other regions seem to be about 7-10 days behind schedule for their sockeye runs and that just now they hit some milestone to indicate the run is finally starting to arrive.  It has NOT on the Situk yet.

We went nearly another month without a drop of rain again,  so the flows dropped to only 113 CFS this week.  We did finally have a break from all this gorgeous weather,  with rain falling night before last and yesterday.  Flows came up to around 150,  which is definitely better,  but still low.  I was hoping the rain would give us a shot of fish with it,  but that hasn’t seemed to happen yet.

Only about 5,000 fish have passed the weir so far,  making for pretty thin fishing above.  5,000 spread between the weir and the lake is not very many fish.  The past few weeks,  all fishing pressure has been down below the weir,  so even without a lot of people,  it seemed VERY crowded down there.  We should have between 15,000 and 30,000 fish counted by now…  A handful of kings,  but nothing to indicate we’ll see an opening this season on the Situk.

We should have rain off and on throughout the week,  which will help to keep the flows a little higher.  I heard rumor that a showing of fish arrived at Cape Mandy a few days ago,  so maybe the run is starting to appear.  Just not in the rivers yet.

And as always…  I also heard the rumor that there are thousands of fish in the mouth of the Akwe!  Tanis and I start commercial fishing tomorrow out there.  When there are no fish on the Situk,  the rumor that there are THOUSANDS on the Akwe always appears,  even if the fish don’t…  With the water so low and clear,  I bet they could see every single fish from the air,  but my hunch is the Akwe is just as late as the Situk and my expectations are low.  There have been a few day fly-outs to the Akwe and they did NOT report much.  A couple kings landed,  but not much in the way of sockeye.  I love rumors…  On Tuesday,  I’ll be able to confirm if there is anything worth fishing for out there.

OK,  I need to get packing and ready to fly out.  Chris will be in the shop through this opener.

2015 Situk King Closure

SITUK RIVER CLOSED TO RETENTION OF KING SALMON GREATER THAN 20 INCHES IN LENGTH

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that the Situk River drainage is closed to the retention of king salmon 20 inches or greater in length, beginning 12:01 a.m., Friday, May 8.  King salmon 20 inches or greater in length that are caught, may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The Situk River drainage is managed for a biological escapement goal of 450 to 1,050 large king salmon. In 2010-2012 the Situk River king salmon goal was not achieved. In 2013 and 2014 the goal was achieved after restrictions were implemented in the sport and commercial fisheries.  The 2015 pre-season forecast is for a total run of approximately 600 large king salmon.  Given recent fishery and harvest trends, a run of that size is not expected to achieve the escapement goal without these pre-season fishery restrictions.

For further information, anglers should call the Division of Sport Fish, at (907) 784-3222.

Read the full Emergency Order text here:
2015 Situk King Closure

King salmon stacked up in the 9 Mile Pool

King salmon stacked up in the 9 Mile Pool

More King Closure Info – 2014

Gordon asked what Fish and Game was doing to restrict the commercial fishermen,  since they announced restrictions this week on the sport fishery for the Situk River.  It was a great question that I didn’t have the answer to.  He was genuinely curious about how a netter can differentiate between kings and sockeye – most kings bounce off the smaller 5 1/8th” sockeye web,  but a few are caught anyway.  Fish and Game is adding some additional restrictions to help eliminate the king by-catch as best they can.  I called today and checked with Gordy,  the commercial fisheries biologist at the local Yakutat office.  Here is what he said:

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Subsistence:
As of yesterday,  the subsistence fishery in the Situk Ahrnklin Inlet is closed to the taking of king salmon.  We are still weeks away from the expected arrival of the first kings in the inlet anyway,  but they have cut off subsistence already.

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Commercial set-net:
The commercial fishery does not open until the 3rd Sunday in June (June 15th,  2014).  When it opens,  fishermen can not retain any mature king salmon.  They must release any fish caught immediately.  If a king is killed in the net,  it must be turned over to Fish and Game and it will be distributed to local elders and people of need in the community who apply to be on the list.

The area immediately in front of the Situk River outlet is always closed to commercial netting,  however the area in front of that and immediately downstream of the Situk will also be off-limits to nets.  This essentially triples the closed area in the Ahnklin Inlet and protects the zone where traditionally 75% of all kings are caught.

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Typically the commercial fishery is open for 2 1/2 days each week beginning Sunday 6am and closing Tuesday 6pm.  That leaves 4 1/2 days of unrestricted access for the fish to come into the Situk system.  If Fish and Game does not see the numbers they believe are needed to reach at least 750 large kings through the weir,  the fishing time for sockeye salmon (the primary target species of the nets) will be further reduced.

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Some additional thoughts:
Most of you know that I am also a commercial fisherman and I’m told possibly the only commercial fishing fly shop owner in the world…  Having a foot firmly planted in both worlds can have the tendency to piss off both sides when I try to take a balanced approach to resource allocation.  Oh well.  My thoughts…

Sport fishing tourism is an important and growing part of Yakutat’s economy.  Healthy runs are vitally important to keeping this industry alive and well.  But…  sport fishing is still a young user group in Yakutat and far more of the resource is utilized by the older and more broadly practiced subsistence and commercial fisheries.  Sport is important,  but Yakutat disappears without the commercial fishery that established almost all of her infrastructure (except for the WWII airport).

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It can be easy to look at our particular viewpoint as the most valued,  but Yakutat must work hard to straddle a diverse group of users and interests.  For instance,  Trout Unlimited continues to push to include the Situk/Ahrnklin in their Tongass 77 legislation – an effort to create additional protections for 77 watersheds within Tongass National Forest.  The effort involves changing the Forest Service land designation to LUD2 (roadless).  They mostly fear logging,  but without some logging,  we don’t live in houses made of wood…  And you wouldn’t be accessing 9 Mile Bridge,  since there was no access to the Situk before they built a logging road that crosses the river!  No logging,  no access,  no sport fishing industry.  1/2 of the entire Yakutat Forelands is already LUD2.  TU wants to lock up the rest.  The compromise is already having 1/2 of our public lands protected,  but a small user group wants to take it all.  That is not balanced.

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I type these words every year as a reminder that we all need to work together…  That Alaska Airlines jet probably stops flying here if the commercial fish catch stops flying as cargo and also if the sport fishermen’s butts don’t fill the seats.  We need both to make it work,  so we need to strike a balance.  Before anyone complains about those %$#@ nets killing all the fish at the mouth,  understand that you wouldn’t be standing on this beautiful river without those commercial fishermen making that daily jet service profitable.  Same goes for the net guys upset that the sporties kill fish after they have been counted through the weir and therefore are harming the escapement numbers after they were counted.

It takes both for Yakutat to survive,  just as it takes both for me to successfully feed and clothe my family.  You need both,  I need both and Yakutat needs both.

And if it looks like they are on track to reach 750 large kings,  they will open retention for you to keep your trophy fish.  And for the guys with the nets to sell them.  The food you buy at grocery stores and restaurants come from somewhere.  For the sport fisherman,  this is just a vacation.  To most people in Yakutat,  it is their entire livelihood and means earning their power bill,  or feeding their children,  or heating their house through winter.

Balance.

A couple short videos of Tanis picking fish out of his commercial fishing net on the Akwe River…  Shows one king coming out and lots of sockeye: