Tag Archives: situk river report

Sockeye Slowing

A great run this year so far,  but the past week has been significantly slower.  Not as many fish pushing in at the mouth of the Situk.  Still,  37,000 sockeye through the weir compares with only 8,000 fish same time last year…  So slower is relative…

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A nice slightly blushed buck who had been previously snagged in the back by someone downstream

Still not many fish at 9 Mile and above.  Either they are just not pushing up the river,  or they are pushing really fast and getting to the lake inn a hurry.  I’m inclined to go with the first theory,  since flows are a bit below 200 CFS.  Not a whole lot of river to encourage them to head upstream,  but still plenty to make floating relatively easy.

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Chris and Adam (from Yakutat B&B on the Bay-formerly Bayview Lodge) have been out a couple times and Chris finally gave me some photos to populate my infrequent fishing reports..

Heading out to the cabin in a few minutes,  but I’ll post another update from our trip last week next…

The Start of Our Season

Tanis and I head out to the Akwe River tomorrow to open up the cabin and get ready for our commercial fishing season.  As we flew home from Juneau last week,  it was high tide – sun glare in my eyes – wind whipping whitecaps on the river,  so I could not see any fish in the Akwe,  or New Italio.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t fish,  but that I couldn’t see…

The Situk run is still going gangbusters though.  The commercial fishery opened last Sunday there and it definitely took the edge off the number of fish in the lower river.  Sunday was still great,  but by Monday and Tuesday,  the fish were few and far between.  The best fishing right now is in the middle river from the cabins down. Although 33,000 fish have been through the weir as of Monday,  they haven’t made it up to 9 Mile in any great numbers yet.  So that’s 33,000 sockeye between the bridge and the weir…  WOW!

I talked to the fish plant manager yesterday and he said the fish are huge.  As in 10lb sockeye…  He said loading fish boxes was like silver season.  That plays into my delusional fantasy that last year’s dismal run is also coming this year…  Sockeye can be a 4 year or a 5 year fish.  Possibly if conditions were bad last summer,  the 4 year olds could have decided to be 5 year olds…  That’s my hope anyway,  since last year’s Akwe run was horrible.

Last year,  Tanis and I set our nets and immediately caught a nice big king (that I dropped and didn’t land).  That was the only fish we saw for the week!  Not even a dolly for dinner!  I had never had a zero fish week before.  The next two weeks,  we managed to land about 1200lbs of sockeye total with both nets.  Fish and Game shut us down for the season after that.  The Akwe has been having issues in recent years anyway.  The glacier no longer comes into Akwe Lake (it used to hang over a huge cliff and drain into the lake cooling the water).  Now the Akwe is just foreland drainage.  On an overcast day,  the water is 73 degrees F.  The majority of the sockeye just hang out in the New Italio/Akwe confluence hole for weeks and eventually they give up on the deadly Akwe temperature water an go up the Italio at a cozy low-40’s temp.  Sockeye are extremely temperature sensitive,  so they need cooler water.

The past couple years,  we have had warm summers.  In the Situk/Ahrnklin Inlet,  the water along the edge warms more than the deeper center.  The nets are usually along the edge,  so we have seen decent weir counts only because all the fish bypassed the warmer edges of the inlet and swam past the nets.  Not so this past week,  where the commercial guys had a really good opening week.  They also did really well out in the bay.  Lots of fish out there in the ocean moving slowly up the coast.

I’ll have a proper first-hand report from out at the Akwe for the guy renting the Ryman cabin on Tuesday.  In the meantime,  spectacular fishing on the Situk with not a whole lot of people out fishing.

May Steelheading on the Situk

Just a quick update…  My flu came back and I have been mostly in bed this past week.

The fishing is…  spectacular.  There are so many fish in the river right now.  Flow is up to between 300 and 250 CFS.  Lightly raining for the past couple days.  Not that many people on the river now.  Even the weekend had a couple open tent platforms at 9 Mile.

If you don’t go in before 7pm and fish from then till dark,  you will not believe how many fish are in there!

OK,  I’m heading back to the couch now…

With a Little Rain

The rain actually came last night and this morning.  Most of it just soaked in,  but the river did come up to 172 CFS.  Not a huge gain,  but in the right direction!  Our average for this date is about 250,  so we’re looking significantly better right now.  Looks like we started to see some of the lake-locked winter fish trickling out over the past couple days and the big 12 foot tides are driving those tidewater steelies into the river now.  From all indications,  there are going to be a LOT of fresh fish in the system this coming week.

Fishing was good this week even when it was sunny.  We had an overcast cover move in one day early in the week with some very light rain and it should have been on fire…  Oddly,  it was a struggle for most people that day.  Weather cleared up again and the bite was better.  Weird.  The rain returned last night and through mid-day,  but now we have clearing coming again.  Supposed to be sunny Sat and Sun,  with rain returning Sunday night and continuing through the next week.

Here is my going-out-on-a-limb prediction…  Next week and the week after are going to be our peak this year.  That basically puts the run overall about a week later than the “normal” first of May peak.  I think the average usually puts that two-week peak window straddling the last week of April and first week of May.  There have been a LOT of fish in the river for all of April,  but the thick lake ice holding the winter fish a month longer and the extreme low water slowing the spring incoming has delayed us just a bit.

I also think we’ll have a stronger than average run,  with the weir count hitting 10,000 (or close to it).  The weir won’t be in for another two weeks,  so I’m really just pulling that number out of my butt…  It just seems like we have a lot of fish right now without the full spring run in yet and the lake fish not adding to the below-the-closure part of the river.

So…  looking really good for the next two weeks,  especially if the next rain actually happens,  while not blowing us out…

And the Sun Keeps Shinin’

Yet another hot and dusty summer day in sunny Yakutat.  The river is down to about 120 CFS.  Reports of a big batch of fresh steelhead down at the mouth that comes in on the tide…  then drops back out as the tide drops out.  Probably perfect conditions to go down and cast into the estuary with big streamers,  as the fish are hesitant to come into the extremely low river with such clear water.  Just stacking up out there waiting and waiting…

But there are a lot of fish already in the river and most people are still doing quite well.  Have had a couple people come through saying they had the best trip of their lives to the Situk.  One this morning said that before he flew out on the morning jet.  Camped about 2 miles from the bottom,  so they were into plenty of fresh fish down there.  I do think any that are trickling in are beating tail to get a ways upstream in a hurry.  Probably starting to settle down right about where they happened to camp.

Very crowded up around 9 Mile.  A LOT of pressure this weekend with fewer floating the river due to the lower water.  There is one logjam that is problematic in this low water that people are having to drag around.

We did have overcast and a light drizzle yesterday morning.  Not enough to help the river,  but it did help the bite while it lasted.  Back to sun now through the weekend with a chance of rain starting Monday and through next week.  Weather Service keeps pushing the rain off as we get closer,  but hopefully we’ll see a change and this high pressure will dissipate.  If not,  expect to explain why you have a good tan from your fishing trip to Yakutat…

Best fly is still the stupid Black and White Dolly Llama,  but people are starting to come in for other things.  Smaller beadhead buggers,  Polar Shrimp,  Money Bugs,  etc.  I think the Dolly Llamas are starting to get over-used on the fish that are in the river right now. Some fresh fish and higher water and they will be the hot ticket again,  but I think the fish just need to see something else.  Beads and yarn are doing well too,  now that a few fish are digging redds.

If I Had Bunny Slippers, I’d be Wearing Them

I know…  This was the wrong week to go silent on the steelhead run.  We all came down with a nasty case of the flu and this was a struggle just to get off the couch this week.  Teen and I playing Rock,  Paper,  Scissors to decide who answers the phone…  My lungs completely filled and I felt like I was drowning in green phlegm.  But…  we’re coming out of it now,  have been sterilizing everything in the shop and hangar and starting to feel like we are part of the living again.  Best part…  Teen and I sharing a warm mug of Thera-flu® as we open the shop together each morning.  Building memories…

So…  a week of crystal-clear sunny skies.  Flow is down to 140 CFS.  Yes,  it is still floatable,  but much of the float is devoid of fish at the moment.  Devoid,  or they are just deep under cover.  The upper river has a LOT more fish than the lower half,  but there are fresh chromers down near tidewater too.  They seem to be hesitant to come in over the bar during the day tide,  but are trickling through in the evenings.  There are a LOT of fish in the river right now and most people are still doing surprisingly well in the bright sun and low clear water.  Best in early mornings and late evenings when the shadows cast across the holes.

The forecast is calling for a chance of rain (and snow) starting Thursday night and through the weekend…  I’ll believe it when I see a cloud again and at the moment I see no trace of such a thing.  Wish we could have enjoyed this week of gorgeous weather,  with the whales passing off Cannon Beach and cutthroat in Tawah Creek,  instead of choking on phlegm.

Oh,  by the way…  halibut fishing in the bay has been really good lately too.

Spawners Already?

Yep.  Yesterday the water temp topped 42 degrees and we have had several reports of fish shaking eggs already.  HOT sunny weather is taking the edge off the bite for most people,  pushing the steelhead deep under the cover of shade,  making them harder to get.

More fish are spread throughout the river system,  but the lower landing slowed down the past couple days with fewer fish coming in over the bar in the bright sun.  Flows are down to around 180 CFS – still floatable,  but it’ll get more challenging as the water continues to drop.  No rain anywhere in the forecast right now.  Just a chance of some cloudcover on Saturday.