Tag Archives: situk river steelhead

Limiting on Sockeye Already?

Yep.  Two guys came through last night and said they caught their sockeye limit at the lower end.  Happened to stumble into two groups totaling around 100 fish.  This is VERY early.  Lots of jumpers out in the bay.  Here’s hoping we see a good run this year.

Even though the steelhead run is still alive and well,  no one has been out there that I have talked to for the past several days.

And if anyone wants to send me some photos from their trip this year,  I can post some more interesting content…

And the Run Continues…

Light drizzly rain yesterday and today,  not enough to change the flow gage,  but in the right direction!  Slight bump from 140 CFS to 150 this morning.  Still very low,  but floatable.  The overcast is the good news though.  We had a couple sunny days that turned the bite off,  but most people didn’t have any trouble hooking up.  Who am I kidding…  What people?  This place is a ghost town right now!

Three guys left a couple days ago.  They said the last three days of their trip,  they did not see a single other fisherman.  There are a couple guys here while their wives are doing work for either the city or the tribe and they are out fishing somewhere.  Not much else.  The river is devoid of fishermen and there are fish everywhere.  Including fresh ones at the lower end.  The guys said they floated out and the fresh fish were still stacked up below the weir.

Water temp spiked to 58 degrees a few days ago,  but is now back down to 50.  That has put a lot more fish on redds,  but still not the majority.  We have another excellent fishing weekend coming up with rain and overcast throughout,  no one here and a ton of steelhead.  It would be nice to see one more shot of people taking advantage of this run.  I know Yakutat Lodge is completely empty right now,  along with Glacier Bear,  Leonard’s and everyone else.

Reports of sockeye jumping already out in the bay and at least one ball of them came into the Situk.  I hope this bodes well for a good strong run,  especially after last year’s struggle.  Fish and Game will start the season with a king salmon closure again,  till they start to see how many fish are coming back.  My guess is that they will keep it closed to targeting kings this season.  But as always,  it is still open in the bay,  as well as in the Akwe and East Rivers.

Halibut has been hit and miss,  depending on how far people were able to go out.  Once that sunny westerly kicks up,  it is hard to be out there in the wide bay.  A few kings are being caught.  Talked to a commercial fisherman who landed 6 one day and 5 the next.

Transitioning to the salmon part of the season now,  even though we are still within the peak weeks of steelhead on the Situk.

Back to the World of the Living

I’m on the mend and feeling much better.  Thank you for your prayers and concerns…  Been upright for the past three days,  although I have had to take a nap mid-day every day.  At least the projectile vomiting was only for one day.

And as you know,  I have the best wife!  She made me home-made chicken noodle soup,  while covering the fly shop AND fueling planes.  She closed the shop for half of one day,  which was good.  And she lets me live in an old WWII hangar in an Alaskan village and play with planes and fish all the time…

Gorgeous sunny days this week – not good for my head,  or the steelheading.  Not very many visitors through the shop,  which either means no one is here,  or they are avoiding the plague and me…  Or both.  The sun is making it tougher mid-day and the warmth is making a LOT more fish spawn,  but there are a LOT of steelhead that are not yet ready and some nice little batches of fresh ones still coming in!

I believe we had peak season last week,  so running about 2 weeks late.  We are definitely on the backside now,  but as I said,  the fishing is still excellent.  I had some friends here last week (through the worst of my illness) and they landed a lot,  lost even more and had a great time (while avoiding me).  I’ll just attach a bunch of their photos,  so you can gage how the run was last week and continuing to be this week…


New guy in the group… Mark’s first steelhead of his life!


OOPS of the week… Pink leech fully embedded in the cheek and a visit to the clinic…

This was one camera from the group and only their first half of the trip…  That should give you a feel for how the fishing was and still is…  Only now all the people are gone and it is just you and the fish…  Still time to come and do this!

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.

Warmer and Clouds Rolling In

The extremely cold temps continued since my last post,  so I didn’t see any point in telling you everything is the same…  Again…  But now we do finally have a change on the horizon!  We currently have a thin overcast layer covering Yakutat and the forecast is for snow for the next several days.  Not any big accumulations,  but we are breaking out of the single digit streak and getting closer to the upper 20’s/low 30’s.

Teen and I were going to drive out to the bridge and lower landing to see what the river looked like,  but it didn’t happen.  I’m blaming the %$#@ Daylight Savings Time!  That or the Russians…  Word is that 9 Mile has been completely frozen over for about a week.  It really isn’t expected to get above freezing in the coming week,  so I’m not expecting the river to start popping steelhead any time soon,  but at least the trend is starting to get a little closer to where we want it to be.

All the gages are still frozen and non-functional.

Don’t Expect an Early Run

Although we have NOT seen much snow this winter,  we have seen extremely cold temperatures through most of this winter.  Usually about 2-3 weeks of cold,  with a few days of warm,  then back to clear and cold.  Not much precip at all unless we’re hit by one of those brief warm storms,  followed by everything freezing in place for weeks.


The white smudge was where the showpile was yesterday – DOT hauled it away (again)


Night before last,  we hit about 3 degrees F.  Last night was “warm” only reaching 9 degrees.  Tonight is supposed to hit 3 again.  Thick ice on all the lakes.  So…  my prediction…  Drum roll please (or dumb roll since I’m rarely right)…

Don’t expect the run to be early at all.  As much as I would love to see some traffic (and cash flow) as early as possible,  there won’t be much in the way of fish.  The river right now is freezing from the bottom and growing some thicker surface ice even in the flowing sections.  I did hear that the river went up over the past couple days and the weir radar gage confirmed that (the other gages are frozen).  Must have been some sort of ice dam upstream that let lose,  because the river didn’t add any water…  Enough to break up some of the ice sheets and coat both banks with slime.

Chris did go out last week with nothing to report.  He saw two fish and they looked frozen to the gravel.  No movement at all.  I can’t say I blame them…  One chrome and one blushed.  I know a few locals have been going out since we have such good road access,  with little or no success.  Yes an occasional steelhead has been hooked,  but I think that comes from just happening to hit the fish in the face with a jig,  or something.

Without the snowpack,  once it does warm up,  it will get warm quickly and stay warm.  When will that happen?  No idea.  We have single digit nights as far as the weather forecast goes right now.  There is nothing to entice any steelhead to come into the river now and for at least a couple weeks.  I believe the river will warm up quicker this year than the lake ice will melt.  VERY thick lake ice,  but no snow to filter the rain (if we ever see any rain) through to cool it down.

I think this season is looking a lot like 2011.  The 21st of March,  the river at the lower landing was still frozen over more than a foot thick – even below tideline,  but by April 1st,  we had a warm rain and all that ice flushed out.  It was another low snow year with easy road access all winter,  but very cold temperatures to freeze everything up.  That year,  we didn’t see significant outgoing kelts until about the 23rd of May.  Just a few days earlier than in 2012 and 2013,  so expect a relatively on-time run…  And if I really wanted to go out on a limb,  we’ll see the spring fish starting to come in first and second weeks of April,  lake winter fish dropping down 3rd and 4th weeks of April.  This is what the lower landing looked like in 2011:

It isn’t this frozen right now,  but with another couple weeks of these temperatures,  it could be…  And here are a couple photos of a frozen eagle Chris took a while back and I never posted…  The juvenile eagle tried to pick up a fish in the river when the temperatures were this cold.  He became coated with ice and couldn’t take flight and couldn[t climb out of the water with the ice-covered banks.  A couple days later,  we went fishing again and the trail was covered with his feathers after someone ate him.  Nature is tough,  especially at temperatures like this!