Tag Archives: yakutat fishing report

The Rain has Stopped!

Right now,  this is the first true dry spell we have had this month.  The flow jumped so dramatically because for several days before the storm hit,  we had continuous light rain and drizzle,  which didn’t move the gage,  but pre-soaked the ground.  Once the real rain it,  flows shot up like a rocket to about 2,500 CFS.

Flow

We’re going to remain blown out for another several days,  depending on if the rain has stopped for good.  Since Friday is the only non-rain day in the forecast,  fishing this coming week will be tough.

Forecast

Blasting toward 2000

Let’s just post the gage right now…

Flow

That’s a blow-out with plenty more rain yet to come.  Woo,  hoo!  Say goodbye to the weir for the season.  They did count 56,000 pinks,  25,000 sockeye,  about 60 chum and 12 silvers through the weir before the storm hit.  Reported this morning that a big batch of fresh silvers appeared in the lower river just before the flooding began.  Who knows where they are now,  with high raging opaque water.

What a season!

Sockeye is Over

Well,  we just crossed the line into August and that brings this dismal and depressing sockeye season to an end.  They have 24,000 fish over the weir,  beating 2008’s 23,000 (the only other year we have missed the minimum escapement goal).  But in 2008,  they didn’t close the river the way they did this year,  so we managed to beat 2008 only because of the draconian management decisions of Fish and Game.

With the sockeye behind us,  now we’re looking forward to silvers.  I know a lot of you have been anxious through my lack of posts (pretty hard to motivate myself into typing “fishing is terrible” again and again) to know what the silver run is going to do.  Will it be hit as hard as the sockeye?  Well,  sockeye are unique in many ways.  All the other species have different behaviors,  different food sources and range in different areas of the ocean.  No reason to expect the silver run to be out of the normal.

I heard more than 36,000 pinks have passed the weir and we should be seeing 10,000+ every day from here on out.  A handful of silvers have gone up and another handful have been landed in the lower river below the weir.  That was all in July,  so very early in the run and too early to tell if the run is going to be strong,  weak,  or somewhere in-between.  I know plenty  have been caught out in the bay on charter boats.

Halibut continues to be exceptional for most,  which has really saved a lot of trips this year.  A surprisingly few people cancelled their trips even with the river completely closed to fishing.  They were able to entertain themselves fishing areas and streams they have never fished and doing a lot on the salt.

One thing is for sure…  I have never been so excited about the humpy run.  At least we have fish in the river now!  Boy has this been a slow month in the fly shop.  We literally went weeks without seeing any fishermen.  I don’t think we sold more than 4 dozen flies in all of July.  This is going to be a very skinny winter in Yakutat,  with all the revenue lost from both sport and commercial fishing,  as well as our empty freezers with no subsistence fishing allowed.

Heavy Rains May Bring in Some Fish?

It has been raining all day and the river is near getting blown out.  Probably past that point for sockeye.  Not pleasant for the people here right now,  but the river has been so very low,  this rain could help attract some sockeye into the system.  Just about 200 fish through the weir yesterday and one day this weekend saw just a single fish counted.  But there are quite a few fish in the lower river that have seemed to be stuck there with no drive to push them above the weir. That brings us to only 5,200ish total so far.  A far cry from the 40,000 we should have by now.

I spent some time going through ALL the ADG&G rivers to see how they are doing.  Since the Situk is one of the lower rivers,  we tend to be a little later than farther north/west.  Some of the rivers are looking very promising,  some not-so-promising.  The Copper River count indeed was more than 200,000 fish behind last year.  That deficit has shrunk to about 90,000 now,  so they have been making up a lot of ground the past couple weeks.  Copper is really the next river up the coast,  so should give us an indication whether there are fish coming this way.  Some of the other rivers are downright dismal though,  but one stream was well ahead of last season this date too.  Kind of a mixed bag of encouragement/discouragement.

Wish I had better news,  but this is our reality right now.  The whole town will be struggling financially this coming winter unless something changes soon.

Episode IV – A New Hope

Maybe I’m just a little desperate to get some good news,  but I think I have some good news!  Late last night,  a big push of fresh sockeye came in (along with hundreds of kings).  One of our long-time guides the lower river was just thick with fish,  large schools parting around his boat.

This is the first positive news I have heard off the river,  but unfortunately I don’t have any confirmation on this story yet.  I heard it second hand and along with the sockeye,  the report said there were 500-600 kings…  So sounds like there could be a touch of exaggeration…

And talked to Chris this morning.  He said the fishing is getting better.  He was off the river yesterday by 6pm,  so he didn’t see the wall of reds come in,  but he at least said it was getting better.

Fish and Game did update their weir count page.  Now we’re up to 4,924 as of Thursday.  Yes,  last year’s year-to-date number was 43,729…  1,272 passed on Wednesday alone,  which is our first thousand+ day of the season.  Wed had 12 large kings pass as well,  so it was a good day.

Weather is changing from the gorgeous sunny skies turning to overcast and rain through the coming week.  Flows are extremely low,  so the water is needed.  This weather change could be what is starting to push the fish into the system and out of the ocean too.

I’ve Been Stalling…

It is so hard to get motivated to post a dismal fishing report,  so I have not posted much lately…  And the sockeye run right now is dismal.

As of yesterday,  the weir count total was just 1,410.  Compared with last year the same date,  we had 36,629.  The optimistic side of me wants to throw out 2017 (and 2016 and 2014…) and compare to the 2015 run.  That year the count reached 94,987 – even higher than last year.  But…  as of yesterday’s date,  the 2015 count was 5,596.  We’re still at a quarter of the fish through the weir,  but that run arrived late and was just starting to pick up as of this time.  A week from now (in 2015),  we were seeing between 2,000 and 4,000 fish every day.  Right now,  we’re still seeing double digits most days with the top day having a little over 700 fish.

The pockets of fish down in the lower river are all getting hammered on pretty hard.  You can get a limit,  but it takes all day and a lot more work than we are used to.  Yes,  fishing is going to improve,  but this year’s run is a pretty big disappointment.  I know a lot of people are cancelling their trips,  which is probably a good thing.  It will leave more space on the river for those who are still coming and give them a better experience without heavy crowds.

This is looking like a really tough year for Yakutat.  Without some more sockeye showing up,  both the commercial and sport industries are really going to suffer,  making this coming winter a challenge.  Let’s hope the run is late and will be coming in after all.  But it isn’t looking too good right now.

On slightly brighter news…  I flew down to Sitka a few days ago for the annual on the plane.  Flying over the Akwe River,  there looked to be some good pockets of fish throughout the river.  Not huge numbers,  but enough.  Tanis and I will NOT be fishing this year though.  He will be leaving for AVTEC mid-summer and there is too much to do around here before he leaves.  First time I haven’t commercial fished sockeye since Eden was born 15 years ago.  OK,  maybe that wasn’t all that bright of news…  The fish – yes.  The not fishing – nope.

Alive and Well…

Yes I’m alive and no,  the website is not down…  I just haven’t made a post in nearly a month.  Teen,  Tanis and I have all been battling the horrible lung infection/cold that has been tormenting Yakutat since last fall.  Finally feeling better now.

Few if any fishermen through the shop over the past couple weeks (good,  so I didn’t spread my disease to anyone).  A couple of our frequent fliers for steelhead just left. I think they had 4 trips this season???  We’re well into June,  so I suspect they are our final steelheaders.  They said not many fish in the upper half of the float,  but they camped in a couple spots down closer toward the weir and had a 50 fish day yesterday.  Mostly chromers that have continued to trickle in,  even though we’re seeing thousands going out.

Yes,  ADF&G did eventually get the weir in…  Due to the high water flows,  they missed about 2 weeks of out-migrating kelts this year.  No idea how many fish they missed and no real way to estimate.  A LOT could have left during the flooding.  The count as of right now is 2,846 kelts.  And they don’t show a single sockeye going through upstream yet,  even though a couple have been caught up above already.  Looking like the sockeye runs may be a week or two behind normal right now.  Over on the Alsek River,  subsistence nets have not been catching any sockeye and by now they should.

I have lots more to say,  but my noggin isn’t firing on all cylinders yet and I’m going to end this here before I embarrass myself…

And by the way…  with business as dead as it is right now,  the fly shop will be closed Sunday and Monday for the next couple weeks.  We’ll be back to daily ops when people start showing up again.