Tag Archives: yakutat steelhead report

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


About 500 fresh steelhead have moved into the lower half of the river in the past couple days.  The big rain we had didn’t move the needle much (CFS popped up to 100,  but back down to mid-80’s again now),  but the overcast was enough to get the fish down in the estuary to overcome their hesitation and move into the Situk proper.

Upper half is still pretty slow.  There are fish up there,  but they have been pestered enough to keep their mouths shut right now.  Once these fresh fish come up and mix in,  it’ll turn the bite back on for the older fish,  but these haven’t pushed too far yet.

Still nothing to brag about above the bridge.  You can start to see a fish or two tucked in under the debris,  but they are few and far between.

And to dress up this boring post…  here are some more bait photos from Chris in Colorado…

The Float Report…

Not much to say about Tanis’ trip down the river…  He was scouting for beaver and not fishing.  He said he saw about 150 total fish as he went down,  but never bothered to get his fly rod out.  He set 9 beaver traps though.

Then Chris arrived well after dark.  He said he counted about 150 fish too,  with most of them in the middle river.  A few up high near the bridge,  but then most were lower.  It slowed down toward the bottom until he hit fresh tidal influence,  where they saw a few small batches rushing upstream as the tide backed up.  They rowed upstream again to try to hit those fish,  but they were gone in a shot.

Water is very low,  but still floatable.  Started the morning at 71 CFS and ended the day at 81 with the snow melt in the warm sun.  Water temp hit 45 degrees at the bridge!

Chris hooked 4,  Adam hooked 3.  None landed though…  That was all I could get out of him before he fled my interrogation.  He looked a bit tired…  They launched at about 730am and he was back at the hangar around 10pm.  A LONG day.

Here are some photos from Chris’ winter trip to Colorado catching what we’d call “bait”…

Low Water Continues

The gage is reading 71 CFS for the past several days and I don’t think it can go any lower with the little bit of snow we still have dribbling into the river.  Water temp at the gage hit 43F yesterday on a mostly overcast day.  Bright sun again now.  Tanis is floating the Situk today in the driftboat he salvaged from the dump and repaired,  with Chris and Adam following him. Should be a very long day with so little water.

Had two reports yesterday from up above the bridge…  A couple we see every year from Valdez spent about 3 hours hiking upstream and did not see a single fish.  Chris had his first client of the season and they were spending the day exploring and not really fishing hard,  so the guy could learn his way around the river for the rest of his week.  They hiked up to the closure boundary and also did not see a single fish.

Decent batch of steelhead under the bridge and you don’t have to go far downstream to run into many more.  They are just not going up beyond 9 Mile yet.  Chris and Co went to the lower landing and walked up to the weir.  Ran into a pocket of a dozen or so,  hooked 4 and landed 1.

Not exactly on fire,  but there are fish to be had if you go to the right places.  Those places just may not be where you usually go…  Hopefully I’ll have an update this evening from their float today.

Here are some of Chris’ photos from the past week…