Tag Archives: situk steelhead report

Not so Bad Yet…

Well,  when I started typing this post this morning,  flow was still down at 389 CFS after raining all night.  Quarter after one and the flow is up to 441.  We’ve reached saturation and now the river is spiking fast.  But still very fishable today…  Tomorrow…  Don’t hold your breath.  Weather Service has updated the weather warning to show an ADDITIONAL 6 inches possible before this is done.  And it is looking like rain through at least Monday morning.

We Gots Some Bad News this Weekend

Special Weather Statement

Special Weather Statement National Weather Service Juneau AK630 AM AKDT Thu May 3 2018 AKZ017-040000-Cape Fairweather to Cape Suckling Coastal Area-Including the city of Yakutat630 AM AKDT Thu May 3 2018 …HEAVY RAIN EXPECTED OVER THE NORTHEAST GULF COAST… A very wet weather front will bring long lasting periods of heavy rain to the Northeast Gulf Coast beginning Thursday night and persisting through Saturday. This front will bring unseasonably high amounts of moisture northward from the subtropical North Pacific into the northeast Gulf. Between Thursday night and Friday night, as much as 5 inches of rain is possible over the area with more heavy rainfall expected on Saturday. Impacts will include rises on rivers and streams as well as significantly reduced visibilities and low cloud ceilings during heavy rainfall.

Fishing has been really great lately even with the big crowds.  Nothing is a real stand-out fly,  but everything seems to be doing OK.  The easy fish have been flogged to death and are done with the Dolly Llamas,  but if you locate a pod of fish in water that should hold fish,  but you can’t see them…  Those are the fish that are on fire.  Avoid the big visible groups.  They have been harassed to death and are not interested anymore…

Still seeing fresh steelhead coming in on every tide,  but we are definitely on the backside of the spring run.  Some spawning activity happening especially in the upper river,  but still not a lot.  Most of the fish are still ripening up and not on redds yet.  A lot of fish in the river right now.

It has been extremely crowded up at 9 Mile and many camps down the river.  We are starting to see lighter fishing pressure though.  Many people moved up into April following the early runs we had been seeing,  so looking like May will still be good on the river,  but with a lot fewer fishermen.

If this storm dumps as much rain on us as they are forecasting,  it’ll definitely blow the river out through the weekend,  but supposed to dry up Saturday night and stay dry through next week.  Been drizzling all day today,  but the flow is just holding steady at 309 CFS.

Water’s Up and so is Fishing

The rain finally came!  Brought the water flow up to 700 CFS at the peak.  Now the sun is back out and flows are dropping quickly.  Passing through 477 CFS right now and we’ll be down to 300 tomorrow (which I think is perfect).  The past week continued to be horrifically crowded up at 9 Mile,  but that was where the best fishing was.


All the lake fish are dropping out,  along with the resident rainbows.  Also seeing the dollies arriving at the mouth.  This will be the big turn-on for the larger flies and streamers,  which have been spotty at best so far.

Water temp got really cold over the past week dropping back down to 36 degrees in the mornings and only getting to 38 in the day.  Not a lot of spawning activity going on et,  although one report was of a couple chrome-bright hens who had already dropped their eggs and were heading out already.

The lower half of the river is pretty slow with the fresh spring fish coming in on each tide pushing about 2 miles upstream before slowing down.  The better fishing will be on the upper half of the float,  or bridge and higher.

Conditions over the next few days are looking really good,  with flow up,  a little sunnier than we’d like for steelhead today,  but changing to rain and/or snow showers through the rest of the weekend and into next week.


Not nearly as crowded this weekend as the past two.  I think the guys in Anchorage were just watching for the first good rain and all flooded us over the past week.  That may be out of their system now though.  A lot more campers down the river than I think we have seen before too.  That has frustrated the driftboats,  with a campsite on many of the best holes and therefore fishermen staking out claim to a lot of water.  Again,  that seems to be lightening now as well.


With the thermometer showing 50 degrees today, here is a look back to March (only a month ago) with the Dangerous River completely frozen solid coming out of Harlequin Lake


About 10 feet along the edge of the Situk frozen solid,  making it a little tough to drop into the river to fish…  Explains why the lake didn’t want to release the winter fish until just this past few days!



With everything in March frozen over,  the eagles were getting a bit friendly looking for a snack to sustain them till the eulachon run arrived.

Only a Steelheader Can Love This

Blowing,  driving rain with an occasional mix of sleet.  Hard to imagine a more miserable day outside.  Perfect steelheading weather.  And with all this rain,  the flow is still just now breaking through the 200 CFS mark (205 as of 330pm).  I had to fuel a helicopter a couple hours ago and was pelted with snotty sleet.  I’m OK with being inside today…

Most reports are that the fishing is just OK.  Plenty of fish,  but they are for the most part very tight lipped.  It’ll improve as we see a little more water and the turbidity picks up.

Stay warm out there!


Another bout of rain

That last batch of rain basically just soaked in and didn’t change too much.  Briefly brought the flow up to 190 CFS,  but then it dropped back down to 170 and stayed there through the weekend,  with just occasional showers to keep it from dropping further.  As the initial rain hit,  a big batch of fresh steelhead came in at the mouth,  but beat tail hard to get to the middle river without stopping.  Bottom end has been pretty devoid of fish unless you time the tide just right and hit the incoming schools as they dart past.  Really not a lot of action down there till you get to the Ox Bow,  which is a pretty good hike from below.

And we started to see winter fish dropping out of the lake about 4 days ago.  Just one or two initially,  but now they are starting to actually populate the river above the bridge and to about 2 miles below.  A few bright spring fish are also starting to move up above the bridge finally,  but the fishing pressure this weekend was tremendous.  Huge number of campers at 9 Mile,  described to me yesterday as 2 fishermen for every 1 fish above the bridge…  Bordering on horribly crowded…  But today is Sunday and we’ll probably see the weekenders head home today and tomorrow.  Hopefully.

Nothing is really a stand-out fly,  or method.  We still have zero dollies in the river and haven’t seen the resident rainbows drop down from the lake yet.  So…  no egg-eating predators for the steelhead to get aggressive toward.  Meaning the Dolly Llamas and big streamers haven’t done much.  A few more caught with the all-whites than the black and whites,  but still nothing too exciting.  Everything works a bit,  but nothing stands out right now.  Even the beads have been just hit and miss,  since none of the fish have started dropping eggs yet.

Water temp crashed to 36 degrees with the cool rain,  so that is slowing down the eagerness to spawn.  Even had a squall of ice pellets at noon yesterday and some snow flurries on the river.  After a couple weeks with sunny 55 degree temps,  boy does this feel cold again!  Here is the forecast for the coming week…  100% chance of rain every day through Thursday…


And here is the flow chart as of right now…


Notice the spike on Wednesday?  That’s a group of guys in a drift boat sitting directly under the radar on the bridge jigging for steelhead that have already been harassed to death to no avail…  They must have sat there a LONG time to register on the gage!  That always cracks me up.  So after rain all morning,  we are still only at 184 (still mostly soaking in) and still slightly below the average.  300 really is ideal in my opinion,  but 200 is still a heck of a lot better than 70!

And this will be the last batch of “bait” I’ll post from Chris’ trip to Colorado this winter…

OK,  some of these aren’t “bait” sized…  Possibly crossing the line into “real fish” zone!

A Forecast to Celebrate!

I really like the looks of this:


Finally some real rain to do what we need!  Flow is still hovering around 100 CFS,  or just below.  Tanis floated yesterday (3 more beaver) an said there are a LOT of fish in the river right now.  Even with the low flows,  the spring run is starting to push in anyway.  Looking from the reports to be around 1,500-2,000 fish in the river now.  Decent numbers coming in on every tide lately.

Quite a few campers along the river this past weekend with most of them just sitting tight on whatever hole they saw the most fish in.  That has been a frustration from the people floating.  But we’re seeing more fish spreading out into more and more holes now,  rather than just a small few holes worth fishing.

Chris fished inter-tidal yesterday and they saw a lot of fish coming in,  hooked quite a few.  Also had two guys end their trip yesterday,  spending most of their time fishing all the way down at the estuary.  Something I had been trying to encourage people to do,  but they said they were alone in doing it.  Conditions were absolutely ideal for it,  with small tides not pushing much water in and therefore not pushing on the fish either.  Very low/clear river making it tough to get the steelies to want to cross the bar.  And the sea lions have moved on now that the eulachon run has come and gone.  Bigger tides this week and with the rains expecting to bring the CFS up,  the estuary opportunity looks to have passed.

Still no sign of any of the winter fish coming out of the lake and no reports of any significant number of spring fish above the bridge.  It is all downstream of 9 mile still.  But with the coming rain,  all that will change.  It’ll bring the fish that remain down in the estuary into the river proper,  spread the fish throughout the entire river system and should lift the lake level to start breaking up the ice and release anything trapped in the lake.

Expect the coming week to be really good,  so long as we don’t get more rain than we need and the river blows out.  Well even if it does blow out,  I think we’ll still see a LOT of fish come in and bring them into the upper river where there are fewer tributaries to flood the main channel,  keeping it fishable.

I’m excited for the coming week!  And here is another batch of Gordon’s photos from Situk Lake and the upper-upper river:

Ahh! The Sun!!

The sun continues to shine and it is darned warm around here.  The air temperature has been hitting or exceeding 50 degrees every day this week,  melting what remains of the snow along the banks.  It is keeping the flow right at 100 CFS (97.9 right now) and water temp at the bridge exceeded 44 degrees today.  So 46ish at the bottom…

Dinky tides this week,  but the warm water is still dragging steelhead into the river and out of the estuary on every tide.  Not a lot of them,  but a few every tide.  Still virtually no fish above the bridge anywhere.  You may run into a pocket here and there upstream,  but few and far between.

No sign of anything coming out of the lake yet.  How many winter fish this year is a bit of a mystery anyway,  since the river conditions were terrible for fishing throughout the “season” in November and extremely flooded through December.  It’ll be interesting to find out how many overwintered.

The forecast this weekend is calling for a chance of rain and/or snow showers,  but if this does happen,  I really doubt it’ll raise the river any. A 30% chance of showers means a 70% chance of NOT showers…  And the ground is so dry most of it would soak in.  Then back to sun again Monday…


A couple years ago,  we had a warm winter with little lake ice.  One of our fly shop friends rented the lake cabin and had a wonderful time up there.  Unfortunately this year,  he won’t have the access with thick lake ice.  He is coming next week to very different conditions and after e-mailing with him today,  I discovered I had misplaced a batch of photos he sent me from up there.  So today,  I’m finally posting some of Gordon’s photos of the upper river and of Situk Lake from 2016.  Enjoy,  because some of these are really stunning!

Photos from Gordon Nelson