Tag Archives: situk river sockeye

4,225 sockeye counted yesterday

 

The rain brought the river up (holding at 585 CFS right now) and all those fish that were stuck below the weir pushed.  4,225 went through,  but unfortunately it doesn’t sound like there are any fish coming up behind them to replace ’em.  And more bad news from Fish and Game:

News Release:  Situk,  Lost and Ahrnklin Rivers Closed to Sport Fishing for Sockeye and Closed Area Below Situk River Weir Expanded

From July 12th to August 15th,  sockeye salmon may not be targeted,  retained,  or possessed in the Situk,  Lost,  or Ahrnklin Rivers;  Sockeye salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

(Translation:  You can still fish for dollies and rainbows,  along with any early humpies that may show up,  but you can not deliberately target sockeye (or kings) anywhere in the Situk,  Lost and Ahrnklin River Systems.)

Back to the News Release:  Additionally,  sport fishing is not allowed between regulatory markers located approximately 300 feet upstream of the Situk River weir (river mile 1.8) to markers approximately 2,100 feet downstream of the weir.  This portion of the river encompasses the entire “Rodeo Hole”.

(Translation:  The area around the weir to 100 yards above and below is always closed to fishing when the weir is in operation.  They just expanded the downstream closure to include the entire Rodeo Hole.  No fishing allowed period.  It remains open for the targeting of dollies,  rainbows and humpies below the Rodeo Hole.  But you can not target kings,  or sockeye at all anywhere in the system.)

Total count as of yesterday for sockeye is 9,489.  Year-to-date last year was above 52,000.  Yesterday was a good push and it came after the Emergency Order was issued.  If fish continue to move in like yesterday,  then we could see a reopening.  In the meantime…  ADF&G does not expect us to reach the minimum escapement goals for sockeye and kings this year.  If we don’t start seeing multiple day counts above 4,000 fish,  you can essentially write off this year.

Here is the Emergency Order in PDF:  20_E0-01-RS-H-20-18(F)1

And just in case we have all forgotten what sockeye look like:

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No Good News

There have been rumors that the runs have arrived up in Kenai and Copper River,  or there are a lot of jumpers out in the bay…  but nothing has materialized around here.  Yet.  Weir count as of Monday (they haven’t updated the site over the holiday) is still stuck below 3,000 – 2,897 to be exact.  We saw over 500 go through on the 2nd,  but we should be seeing a couple thousand every day by now.

So nothing good to report.  I have heard several day-trip flights go out to Akwe and Italio,  but no idea if they were successful.  Hope you had a good 4th.  Boy,  it was hot here in Yakutat.  Miserably hot.  We cracked 75F!  We closed the shop and Teen and I went for a lovely stroll along the beach,  while everyone else was in town for the parade.  Peaceful,  just a couple eagles circling,  quiet surf lapping at our feet.

Gotta do something if the fish aren’t in…

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ADF&G News Release – Situk Closure 2018

Well,  I seem to be making up for my lack of posts today…  Our local ADF&G biologist just stopped in to give me the bad news…  As of Sunday morning July 1st,  retention of sockeye on the Situk River System will be prohibited until further notice.

23% of the run should be in the river and already counted by the 28th of June.  We only have 1,678 as of today.  Barring a miracle,  we will not be coming even close to the minimum escapement goal.

Commercial fishing on the Situk/Ahrnklin Inlet is also closed until further notice.  The news release says,  “ADF&G will continue to closely monitor sockeye salmon returns and TAKE ADDITIONAL ACTIONS as necessary.”  I can’t imagine what more they can do than closing sport retention and commercial fishing.  Subsistence for local rural Alaska residents will still be allowed for the time being.

Retention is closed.  Catch-and-release is still legal,  so if you aren’t looking to fill your freezer,  this can still be a fun time to be on the water.  Especially since most of the visitors will be thinking about cancelling their trips,  leaving the river vacant to other anglers.  Also,  there were decent fish in the Akwe when I flew over.  I didn’t really look hard in the East River other than for kings at the mouth,  so I don’t know what is happening there.  But this closure only effects the Situk and not Italio,  Akwe,  East and any other rivers in the area.

Here is the press release:
Sockeye Closure

And we made it to August

Here we are…  the lull between sockeye and silvers.  Also known as humpy season…

We finished our commercial fishing season on the Akwe a week ago because the pinks were really taking over.  Sunday,  we were running about 50:50 pound-wise and since pinks are a little over half the size of sockeye,  the week wasn’t starting off very good.  By Monday and Tuesday,  the pinks slowed dramatically and we were back to being nearly all sockeye.  A few chum and two silvers were added to the mix,  but no kings.  Not quite a salmon grand slam.

So with the pinks coming in in big numbers (10’s of thousands going into the Italio),  we called it a season.  This past weekend,  we did go out again for a couple days to close things out,  pull the boat out of the water and put the nets away.  Gorgeous sunny weather,  so we went swimming and goofing off before we pulled the boat.  And it looks like we should have fished another week…  The humpies in the Akwe dried up and we were back to nearly all sockeye.  Oh well.  We had already put the gear away.

Back in town,  Fish and Game raised the bag limit on sockeye to 6.  Still seeing 1-2,000 sockeye passing through the weir every day and have exceeded 80,000 fish so far.  Fish and Game expects to pull the weir on August 12th and at this rate,  we may see 100,000 escapement by that time.

Pinks are coming in between 10,000 and 20,000 daily.  Yikes!  A cool change this year…  Fish and Game are listing all species on the weir counts page,  so we get to see they are already over 90,000 humpies past the weir.  They officially have 94 silvers and a whopping 30 chum.

The real news though is that we have 826 large kings through.  The past two days have seen 76 and 54 respectively!  It is hard to justify continuing the closure of the Rodeo Hole now that they are nearly double the minimum escapement goal,  so I’d expect them to lift the restriction closing the holes immediately below the weir in the next few days.

LOTS of silvers in the bay,  with the charter boats able to get their limits for going on a month now…  Still some kings out there too.  So…  we have ridiculous numbers of fish right now and very few people here to fish them.  It’ll be pretty dead for the next three weeks,  till the silver season begins in earnest and we get crowded again.

What it Takes for a Perfect Photo

This was just sent to me and is worth sharing…  Dominica holding a deep red buck for a perfect photo:

Dominica Schaaf1

Beautiful sunny day,  big buck in spawning colors in the upper river.  But what did it really take to get this?

Dominica Schaaf2

We have all been there-done that…  Fish flopping all over kingdom come right when you snap the shutter.  They had a great trip with a variety of weather (including a rare sunny day) and loads of fresh fish.  Here are a couple more of the keepers:

Thanks Dominica for sharing these and sharing the fun moment with us.

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.

Needing an Update

Yes,  I have been a little busy…  Sorry for the lack of posts…  Especially since we are having a TREMENDOUS sockeye run right now.  Last year,  we had 73 fish total through the weir.  As of two days ago,  we have over 25,000.  And basically no one here.  Is the run really strong,  or just really early…  no way to tell till it happens.  But boy,  the run is really on fire.  The parent year reached 118,000 fish and as of this date had 16,000 fish through.  We’re blowing the lid off that year.

And if you remember,  I predicted we’d see a 10,000 steelhead count…  Um…  it seems to be leveling off at right around 6,000…  In my defense,  we had a good storm right as the bulk of the steelhead were done spawning that flooded the river and made the weir non-fish tight for 4 days.  I’m going to say 4,000 fish escaped when the counters weren’t looking just because I want to be right and I have no other basis to prop up my argument…  It sure felt like a stronger run than that!

In other news…  I have my plane back finally.  It had been sitting in Sitka for the past 10 months,  after receiving a $17,000 annual that I couldn’t pay for till recently.  But she is back and we’re ready to go spend some time at the Italio cabin.  Speaking of which…

This has been a challenging year so far and so we are making a few changes.  My health problems over the past two months have taught me I need a day off occasionally…  We opened the fly shop 10 years ago this season working long hours without many days off for 9 months straight.  This summer,  we are going to be closed Sunday and Monday.  We’ll be back to 7 days a week in mid-August when silver season starts,  but in the meantime,  I’ll closing the doors two days a week to get a break.  Granted,  that probably means I’ll be out commercial fishing the Akwe with the family,  but if it isn’t a physical break,  it is a mental break from the fly shop and things I have to do around here.

It is hard living in your place of business.  You have no escape.  The phone rings 24/7,  customers come and go at all hours of the day and night…  In the past,  we said to just pull up and honk if we were closed and we’d come running downstairs to help.  I just can’t do that anymore…  Sorry.

And maybe I’ll even get a chance to fly fish for some sockeye again!  Haven’t done that in three years,  since I first showed Chris how.