Tag Archives: Situk Steelhead

Officially Opening April 1st, But…

We’re getting closer and closer and almost ready for the beginning of the 2018 Steelhead Season.  Fly Shop hours will be 10am to 7pm every day through the steelhead season beginning April 1st.  There will be a trickle of people coming earlier than that,  over the next week.  Although we may not be officially open yet,  we’re still here and can open for you any time.  You just have to give is fair warning…

Two rental trucks pulled up yesterday,  but bolted before I could get down the stairs.  We’re just above the fly shop in my office all day,  so if you need anything in the shop,  either call ahead so we’re ready for you,  or at lease honk your horn and wait a minute for us to get downstairs.  I’m getting too old to run down the stairs,  only to watch the van pull out without a glance into the rear view mirror…

Two gorgeous sunny days in a row.  Back to sub-freezing temperatures at night,  but a lot of warmth in that sun during the day to melt the remaining snow and keep the flows high enough.  Gage temp was 38F yesterday,  so around 40 at the bottom.  Flow is still right at 150 CFS.  That should mean we’re seeing the trickle of fresh spring steelhead coming in especially on the warmer day tide.

I don’t have a fresh fishing report from Chris because I made him help me mud and tape the apartment in our other building yesterday.  Spring is definitely here.  Warm enough now for me to start juggling my 20 or so projects all at once.  Trying to get the renovations done by the end of the month over there,  so I can be back on this side of the airport for when the fish start streaming in in better numbers.

Expecting the clear weather through this weekend,  then a change back to rain and snow Sunday.

Forecast

Eulachon are in the rivers now too,  with overfed eagles in all of the tree tops.  After starving through much of the winter,  spring feast is already upon us!

Eulachon

Spawning Eulachon from a few years ago in the airport ditches

 

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It can be feast or famine here both for the wild animals and the local residents,  but at least the famine periods are brief (for the wild animals…)

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Road Open…

As of yesterday,  the road was open and freshly plowed to just past 9 Mile.  Then…  it clouded up last night and started snowing.  Not to worry,  only an inch accumulation is “possible” overnight.

Detailed Forecast

Except we had 4 inches by 4am and 6 inches by 10am.  Still drivable,  but we’re now looking at snow throughout the coming week and that should be enough to shut the road down for a few days,  till DOT gets caught back up on the airport and all the roads around town…

Detailed

Chris went Post-Holing yesterday up above the bridge.  Spent about 2 hours stomping around without seeing a fish. The bridge hole is completely iced over except for a little spot directly under the radar gage.  Water very low at less than 100 CFS by his estimate (75 CFS by the gage,  but the gage is completely erratic with chunks of ice causing it to spike and drop).

Gage

We still don’t have a lot of snow,  but the change in the weather trend is definitely scrapping my “early run” prediction and looking like it’ll just be “on-time”.  Our winter finally warmed enough to give us some snow,  after being so clear,  cold and dry through January and February.

But we’re getting closer to spring!

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Photo by Don Newman

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.

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…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.