Tricking Em' On The Situk
by Christopher Tobias
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
June 2014 Issue
James Reid's Shop
it an amazing Steelhead fishery, it is a great salmon fishery. It’s not hard to see why as one floats along it’s meandering
waterway. The bottom structure is made up of perfect spawning gravel and is full of woody debris that helps provide structure
and protection for salmon and steelhead smolt.
My adventure began long before I hopped on the plane to Yakutat. There were many things to be done, to include dropping my
raft frame off to be sent via air cargo down to Yakutat. After I had carefully packed only the essentials and made sure I had
enough terminal tackle for the trip, the day finally arrived for me to head out on my week long excursion to the Situk.
I arrived on the evening flight to Yakutat, and was greeted by my buddy who had flown in the day prior to get things situated. We
grabbed my bags and waited for the air crew to get back over to the air cargo area so I could get my raft frame. The airport in
Yakutat is small, and the guys that run the air cargo for Alaska Air are the same ones who take care of everything when the
plane lands. So, this meant we had time for a few beers at the restaurant that is located right next to the airport. After patiently
waiting, the crew was back at the counter and they got my frame for me so we could head out. After a few short stops to grab
some essentials, we were headed to the Nine Mile Bridge where we would begin our adventure.
Unfortunately, we had to be down at the landing by the end of the day to pick up an individual who decided last minute to join us
on our trip. So, we would not get to do much hard fishing along the fourteen mile float to the landing, but we did get to do a lot of
scouting to see what the river looked like. The first day was still exciting none the less, and we did manage to locate some fish to
play with along the way. The conditions definitely were not ideal. The water was well below what it normally is, a meager 100
Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) as compared to the normal flow of 350-400 CFS for that time of the year. Not to mention, the sun
was high in the sky and there wasn’t a single cloud in sight. This made for tough fishing conditions for most, but we found what
they wanted and were into fish for most of the day.
After camping, running the river twice, and getting our buddy to the airport for his morning departure flight two days after he had
landed in Yakutat, it was time to get back up to Nine Miles Bridge to finally start our fishing trip and pound some water like we
wanted to. We found plenty of fish in the days prior, but the sun was still out and we had still spent most of the time rowing to get
to locations to have our buddy back to the airport in time to catch his flight. Now with no real time constraints we could really work
the water like we had wanted to.
Mother nature had finally blessed us with some light rain and overcast weather, the morning after starting our third float. We didn’
t make it far from our camp site, one bend to be exact, before we found a run that was full of fish willing to play. We spent the
better part of the morning there as we brought fish after fish to hand. This one run had truly made the day, and I was not
concerned with even hooking or landing a fish after the epic morning we had in the run. Of course we weren’t the only ones on
the water, and we watched many drift boats and one man pontoons float past us. All of them had said the same thing, they had
hit a few fish, but nothing spectacular. Then again, to me, being able to hook and land one wild steelhead is spectacular. Just
being able to be out in such a pristine environment was spectacular. I forgot to mention that cell phone service is nearly non
existent in Yakutat, which is also spectacular! As the day wound on we would get into even more fish and found ourselves just
enjoying our surroundings.
The next couple days as we made our way to the landing was full of bent rods and head shakes. As my GPS kept showing us
getting closer and closer to the landing, I did not want my fishing excursion to the Situk to end, but does anyone ever want such a
great fishing trip to end? We managed to find a mix of fresh fish, and fish that had been wintered over in the lake that drop down
into the river to spawn once the conditions are right. All of them fought hard and one would think that every fish they hooked was
a 20lb steelhead. I can only imagine what a real 20lb steelhead would have fought like. On our way to the landing we passed
over pod after pod of fresh steelhead making their way into the river on the tide that was rolling in. It was a great sight to see and
an awesome way to end an amazing trip.
All of the steelhead in the Situk are wild, and you can certainly tell when you hook one. The way these steelhead fight is not even
comparable to their step brothers and sisters born in a concrete hatchery tank. There is just something special about hooking a
wild steelhead that has made it all the way back to its natal waters after spending the majority of its life living in the ocean
dodging all those predators, commercial fisherman, seals, otters, and eagles etc.
To say the Situk River is a special place is an understatement, you will have to visit it for yourself to see, as words can not
describe how amazing it truly is.
Copyright 2014 Christopher Tobias
Author with a nice Situk Steelhead
he Situk River is located in Yakutat, Alaska, which lies in the Southeast corner of Alaska, and is within the Tongass
National Forest. An earthquake that occurred, long before I was born, caused a new river channel to be created from
Situk Lake, and the river becomes a little wider once you pass the confluence of the Old Situk and New Situk. Not only is