Tag Archives: yakutat steelhead report

Another Chris Sighting…

Chris called last night to say he went “fishing” again…  This time,  they walked above the bridge to the “braids”,  then worked their way back down to the bridge.  Did NOT see a single fish…  but the river is flowing and looking relatively good.  All the river ice is gone.

LOTS of changes to the river through this area.  Christmas Tree Hole is VERY different,  along with the big log jam just below it.  The big tree that was blocking the entire river there is gone and the hole above the logs is filling in quite a bit.  Some really good changes,  some not-so-good.  Nice to have a winter that rearranges everything and reworks all the holes,  so the first time out seems like you are hitting an entirely new river.

No fish,  but an unbelievably large number of river otter…  Not necessarily a good thing for fishing…  Light dusting of snow last night,  bright sun this morning.  Supposed to be overcast through most of the coming week,  with some snow and a little rain later on.

Like I have been saying…  Looking like the run will be a little early (if things continue to hold like they are now),  but not grossly early like two years ago.  We were catching good numbers of fish this time of February in 2016,  but it is definitely colder now.  It’ll probably be another month before we see anything really start to trickle into the river.  I have heard of just a single fish or two coming in on warmer days down below.

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Warming Up

Chris and Adam hiked up to Situk Lake this week just to see what it was looking like up there.  Thick lake ice,  but water was flowing out from under the shelf at around 50 CFS.  They looked downstream a ways,  but didn’t see any fish in the upper river at all.

This week,  we have seen some warmer weather,  with some mixed rain and snow.  Today is back to gorgeous clear skies with a high air temp just reaching around 33 F at the airport and not quite 31 F at the bridge.  Water temp popped up to 37 degrees and basically stayed up there for 4 days.  That broke the flow gage loose from the ice and is now showing 129 CFS earlier today,  but has dropped back down to 109 this evening as the snow freezes back up and stops flowing into the river.

Chris was supposed to float it today.  It’ll be a long slow drag at 109,  so doubt I’ll hear from him tonight.  But it is looking like the ice has broken out of the river and it is flowing.  Not much flow,  but not desperately low either.  Next change of some rain and/or snow is looking like Wednesday.  Other than an occasional lonely stray,  I doubt there are many fish in the river right now (just too cold still),  but we seem to be trending up a bit and hopefully if we see some real precip,  we’ll have some conditions that may be favorable for landing one or two fresh steelhead early.

I’ll update you if Chris calls in,  but if not…

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.

And… We’re Done

We were looking to a warming trend with a little rain to give us one more shot at our fall steelhead run.  Well,  we got it.  A week of back-to-back storms with heavy rain and winds hitting 50 knots.  Yesterday morning,  our outhouse by the fuel tanks blew over,  even though it was tucked in behind the credit card shed.  Ewww!

Flows hit about 2,500 CFS twice this week and are still up near 1,000,  so the river is definitely blown out.  Water temp bumps between 37 and 39F daily,  so temp is good.  ALL snow everywhere (including where DOT piled it) is gone.  Partly sunny skies right now,  but turning back to rain,  rain and more rain through the coming days.

flow

As badly as I was hoping for a good stretch,  we aren’t going to see it any time soon.  I’m officially writing off this season and closing out my thoughts about fishing for 2017.  Time to move on and start planning for 2018.

An extremely cold-dry November,  followed by an extremely warm-wet December.  One thing though…  This is really healthy for the fish!  Great water conditions to get everyone up into the lake and out of the river,  where they could get frozen out sometime during the long dark days ahead.  Great for these fall steelhead as well as for the baby salmon rearing in the small tributaries and ponds.

Although it is nice and warm here in town (43 degrees right now at the airport!),  snow level is still pretty low on the hills,  with plenty to keep flows higher in the spring than we have had the past three years.

Forecast

 

 

Our Cold-Dry Spell Ends

We have been waiting for over a month for this cold trend to end and it finally has!  This morning’s weather while we worked the mail flight was miserable,  with driving wind and rain.  It just started as we began prepping and by 6am it has calmed right back down again,  but it is supposed to stay “warm” through till Friday morning,  with showers and lower amounts of rain.  The flow gage isn’t broadcasting the updates till daylight comes (it only updates the web page when it is light and the power is being fed by the solar panels),  so we still don’t show much improvement on the flows – dropped down to 80 CFS a day ago,  but was just starting to climb to 111 as the sun set last night.

So a morning with heavy rain and water temp back up to 38 degrees.  The weekend is supposed to dry out and drop to just below freezing with warm rain returning Sunday night and throughout next week.

In other words…  those of you who wanted to push your steelhead trip till December may hit the jackpot.  Flows and temps are coming up at long last!

The only group last week I talked to struggled just as much as everyone else this season.  They left a couple days ago and said everyone caught ONE fish for the week (except the girl who caught two…).  They had pretty poor conditions,  but still made it work.  But it is looking like conditions will be improving finally.  I’m still not ready to call the season over…

*****NOON UPDATE*****

The rain was short-lived this morning,  with sunbreaks now.  Flow came up to only 125CFS.  Not much rain coming in the next couple days,  but looking like warm rain throughout the entire next week.  I may even have to drag my own butt out and go steelheading!  I haven’t had time to wet my own line since November last year!

Temperatures are in Celsius,  but 5-8 degrees C is 41-46.4 degrees F.  Thursday is looking pretty darned good right now!

WX

Look how low we are compared to “normal”…  Should be around 300 CFS…

flow

Warming, but…

I’m not ready to call the 2017 season as over…  It has been pretty dismal so far with the extreme cold,  but we keep seeing warming in the forecast.  At some point,  the weather forecasts have to be right.  They can’t be wrong every time,  can they?  Nevermind…  I didn’t ask that.

Last night while I ran to town.  Cory stopped in to give us a report (as translated by Teen…):

Came in Friday, fished Saturday, took Sunday off and Fished today (Monday).
Lower river is frozen over.
# in group:  4.
Report:  super slow
Fished:  9 mile primarily.  Hiked to the meadow most days, and (believe) one day walked to the confluence.
Today:  Landed 6 (between 4 people).
Fish:  very lethargic
Made very clear, SUPER SLOW.

The “today” in the report is really yesterday and you can see why they landed 6 in the water temp graph and not the day before:

WatTemp

Water temp crashed at 9 Mile to 32.5F and the lower river froze over.  Yikes!  But yesterday and today,  the temperature climbed dramatically and although we’re still right at freezing today,  yesterday came up a couple degrees above.  Partly clear skies right now,  but with an occasional flurry of snow and sleet.  Here is the forecast through the holiday weekend:

WX

The weekend doesn’t look so hot,  but a warming trend is on the way INCLUDING RAIN through most of next week.  Anyone who has put off their steelhead trip hoping to see this kind of a trend should be happy.  But it actually has to happen…  We’ve seem these promises before,  only to have the rug yanked out from under us…

Flow is down to just 109CFS.  Without this rain coming,  I would stick a fork in the season and give up.  If the rain comes,  we’ll have some mighty good fishing.  Keep an eye on that forecast!

Cold Fall

We are having an extremely cold fall,  slipping back into this sunny frigid weather again.  So much for the warmer week we were hoping for!

Gorgeous,  but the low temps have dropped the Situk’s water temperature well below where we want it to be for steelheading.  Fishing is very slow compared to what we usually see in the middle of November.  We only saw conditions in the ideal range for about 5 days,  then we dropped to where we’re seeing ice along the edges of moving water.

Last week we had more fishermen than we usually see this time of year,  but no one did a whole lot.  A group of 4 just left and stopped in before their flight to give me a report.  They said they were landing 3-4 fish for the group each day.  Hey,  not too bad for any river not named “Situk”,  but we have higher expectations than that.  And they are frequent Situk fliers,  coming both spring and fall every year.  They know the river well and definitely were out-fishing most everyone else around.

This weekend,  we are expecting a change in the weather,  but not necessarily any warmer…  Cold dry snow is expected to fall for a few days,  but nothing that will raise the water temp,  or water flow levels.  Air temp dropped to 15 degrees last night,  bringing the water temp to 34 degrees and flows to 135 CFS.  “Normal for this time of year is closer to 300 CFS and temperatures closer to 40F.

There are fish in the river,  but not a lot.  They are catchable,  but only about one hook-up a day.  Not exactly Situk-level reputation.  Unless we see a significant change in the weather patterns (which could happen at any time…),  don’t expect much from this fall’s run.

By the way…  fishing the upper river,  they did see a few relatively fresh silvers with just a little blush.  Not chromers,  but still edible for my fresh Thanksgiving Day salmon…