Tag Archives: Situk Steelhead

Forecasting the 2018 Steelhead Season

It is another weird winter in Yakutat.  Our November fall run was a bust because it got so cold so quickly the river froze up.  Then it warmed and we were hit by pretty big flooding in December.  Throughout late December and January,  we have had a little snow,  followed by a LOT of rain,  followed by this latest long dry very cold spell.

Looking out the hangar windows,  there is virtually no snow to be seen anywhere (unless you call the 1/2 inch we had yesterday “snow”.  I don’t.  Other than that light dusting,  there isn’t ANY snow in the forest.  Come spring (which is fast approaching),  any rain we see won’t be trickling through a snowbank and cooling the water in the river.  The Situk is going to warm up quickly once it starts.

Looking at the water gage at 9 Mile,  the flow is still not functional due to ice,  but yesterday and today’s slightly above freezing with a light rain popped the water temp up from frozen 32 degrees to 37.  That’s a pretty big jump considering the air temp is only 34F here at the airport.

So…  although the lakes are frozen thick and the river is still mostly ice,  I am expecting the Situk to warm up quickly and early,  drawing the spring run in early.  Probably not so early as we saw two years ago,  but at least a week or two.  We’re heading back into another cold-dry spell,  so we will have thick lake ice keeping the winter fish trapped in the lake later than normal.  So I figure we’ll see the spring fish in early and the winter fish out of the lake late by at least a couple weeks.

If things hold as they are now,  expect the spring run to start in around the last week of March and peak in mid-April,  trailing off before we reach May.  Then the winter fish will flush out of the lake toward the end of April and be throughout the river into the first couple weeks of May.  So the timing of the two runs are backwards…

And of course the disclaimer…  We are in early February right now.  We could get hit by some mega-snow storm that puts enough snow on the banks to keep the water cooler and delay the spring run.  If that happens,  the winter fish are still going to be late.

And it is still “fishing”…  So it’ll do what it does.  But any fear of the run being EXTREMELY early like 2016 isn’t likely.  We were fishing and catching chrome-bright spring fish throughout February that year and that is NOT happening now.

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A Slow Steelhead Season

Things were looking very promising as of my last post,  with the water flows and temperature dropping into “ideal” territory.  But then the trend continued to drop on both counts and we’re low and cold.  Water temp dropped down to 36.5F yesterday and the rain we were supposed to see early this past week didn’t happen.

Last week, w e definitely had more fishermen here than we would expect to see and the fishing was pretty slow.  Reports coming in were that people were catching a steelhead or two every other day or so…  So pretty slow. Beads were doing better than the streamers,  but nothing was really working all that great.

But…  it started lightly snowing last night (for the first snow to stick this year).  Just a trace out on the pavement with nothing sticking to the grass.  It has been continuing to warm though the morning and now is looking more like sleet as flight 61 comes in on final.

And flow isn’t too bad.  Just a hair below 200 CFS,  with the water temp coming right back up over 39 degrees as of 11am.  The coming forecast is for a warming trend through Monday (instead of the teens at night this past week).  Next week will be just below freezing,  but not by much.  Nighttime lows around 30 degrees.  So the coming week is definitely looking better than the past week…

I am a little blind on the river conditions without having Chris obsessively out there every day,  but we did have several first hand reports from the people populating the river form out of town and also Adam from the Yakutat B&B on the Bay.  Adam is shaping up to be Chris’ understudy and becoming a good source of fresh info for me when he gets out there.  Not as frequently as Chris,  but better than me having to go out into the cold and flail all day over empty water…

Although I may break down and head out there with Adam next week sometime.  If the forecast holds,  it may make for really good conditions!  Time will tell.

Cold

I think our fall season is over…  The temperature gage at the bridge is frozen and has been locked in ice for the past week:

graph

The flow gage is still functioning and read 109 CFS today.  It has been really cold for about a week and a half (my water is frozen in both airport buildings with burst pipes…),  but we are seeing a bit of a warming trend now.  “Warmer”,  but still cold.  Yesterday’s forecast was calling for snow today and rain tomorrow.  Gorgeous clear skies instead and the snow is pushed off for another several days.  Maybe if it did rain,  we could see some improvement in the water temp,  but I think we’re pretty much out of time and it’ll remain cold for a while.

I think our season is basically over till March…

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Coho on Crack

Had a visitor today reporting that he couldn’t keep the silvers away from his Dolly Llama.  He said it was like crack to them…  He saw one steelhead,  but didn’t get it to bite.  Unfortunately that is my only fresh report…  Several people/groups have come through on their arrival over the past couple days,  but haven’t been back to give me a fresh report.

Water temp is right at 38 degrees and it did NOT come up much in the day’s sun.  Flow is down to 284,  so conditions are pretty good,  even if the water is a little cool.  Cool,  but not cold.  Supposed to continue to be sunny through most of the weekend,  with a chance of some snow flurries Sunday afternoon.  Then  it will warm up and possibly rain off and on through the early part of next week.

That’s about all I have right now.  Hopefully I’ll get some more reports tomorrow.

Water’s High, but Still Fishable

We hit about 520 CFS yesterday,  then the rain stopped and we’re moving into cold-clear weather.  It is right at 500 right now.  Water temp is between 42 and 43 degrees.  It’ll be hard to wade downstream right now,  but above the West Fork,  the water is pretty darned good.

Chris and Co. went fishing today for a little while.  They hooked 3 and landed 1.  They weren’t out very long.  He was playing coy with me as to where they were fishing,  but it is pretty easy to guess it was probably the Christmas Tree Hole.  Sorry Chris.

Here is the forecast for the next week:

meteogram

We’ll have some more rain over the weekend,  then it dries up and becomes clear and cold.  Possible snow by next weekend.  It is very lightly sprinkling right now,  so the flow will drop some more before it starts rising again.  Like I said at the top though – still very fishable upstream above the bridge and the West Fork.  Still a lot of dollies and resident rainbows throughout the upper river,  but they aren’t hitting as fast and furious as they were in the lower water.

Also some fresh chrome-bright silvers in Tawah Creek for our traditional Thanksgiving Coho.

We Got our Rain!

Rain has been falling pretty hard off and on for the past couple days,  mostly soaking in.  Flows have come up to 261CFS,  which is just the normal average for this date.  258CFS is the mean for today…  So flows are perfect and temperature is 42/43 degrees.  Also perfect.

Had a visitor a couple days ago when the flows were still down at 100.  He wanted to swing streamers and there wasn’t enough water to do it.  He knew it,  but that was what he wanted to do (what I’d want to do too).  He didn’t land any steelhead.  Had some takes,  but caught lots of resident rainbows and dollies to keep him entertained.  It was a short weekend trip,  so not a lot of time on the river.

Today,  Teen had two guys come through the shop on their way home on flight 66.  One of them said he landed 13 today alone.  The steelhead are no longer in hiding and have come out into the river again.

So overall,  I think we have exceptional conditions right now.  We have more rain coming through this week,  but it doesn’t sound like more than an inch or two.  I think as dry as we have been,  we can easily handle another couple inches,  especially since it seems to be coming in showers and breaks.

The run is on.

Lots of Silvers and Dollies

Two weeks ago,  we had really good early steelhead.  About a week ago,  we had a small shot of rain,  that brought in another wave of silvers.  Now,  the water is so low (80 CFS) the silvers have no way to get up into the tributary creeks where they usually spawn and so are really “in the way”…  Lots of silvers and lots of dollies,  but the steelhead have tucked up under the deepest cover and are very hard to get to.

Chris has been out twice this past week.  First trip – lots of silvers and dollies,  but not a single steelhead.  He checked in with the other locals he basically were having the same success…  He said he couldn’t get a decent drift anywhere without having a couple silvers attack.  He went back out day before yesterday (Wed) and did manage to hook (but not land) one steelhead at the logjam below Christmas Tree.  LOTS of dollies and one really nice resident rainbow.

This morning,  a couple from Anchorage came through with a fresh report…  He landed one steelhead at or near the bridge,  but LOTS of dollies.  Lots of silvers.  The steelhead he could see were tucked as deeply as they could be under the logs.

So they are there,  but we need some moisture to get the silvers out of the way.  A little turbidity would be nice too…  We do have some light showers – both snow and rain over the next few days,  but nothing like we need.  These silvers will be dying off over the next week or two and that problem will solve itself regardless.

CFS is 78 right now…