Fall Fishing Report 2020

Fall Fishing Report

As of 8/15/20, fishing at Yakutat Lodge continues to heat up. Halibut, lingcod and rockfish are abundant in Yakutat Bay and over the last week we boated many excellent fish. Halibut are biting jigs and bait fished just off sandy bottoms. Drifts over rock piles are yielding solid lingcod and black rockfish. The key to success is line management and fishing near the bottom, but keeping the jig off the bottom so as to avoid snagging up.


Coho fishing in the saltwater has been spotty so far, so we expect that fishery to pick up through the month. Once silvers are found in catchable numbers, then mooching for coho in the salt can yield lots of action, and big piles of succulent coho fillets.

Pinks are thick in the Situk River and make for great action. They are in prime chrome shape, love to eat pink lures and can be caught in large numbers. There are some big pinks in the river right now. This makes for a fantastic family fishery and is worth noting in this fall fishing report.

Coho are beginning to enter the river and limits are being caught on each trip, with the volume of coho increasing as you drift downriver. Spinners with grub tails, twitching jigs, and Dolly Llama fly patterns are producing quality fish. Fishing for coho on the river will continue to rapidly escalate.
Dolly Varden char are abundant and can be targeted behind schools of salmon. A bead dead-drifted to a group of dollies will usually elicit a bite. It’s a lot of fun to pick out an individual Dolly and try to catch it. Good polarized sunglasses with amber / copper lenses are a solid choice and critical to helping you pick out fish to target.


A trip to Yakutat Lodge this time of year allows you to capture a bounty of bottomfish and salmon, and experience both the river and the ocean. The fall fishing report will remain good until the end of September, come out and enjoy fall with us! To learn about steelhead fishing this spring or how the season has been the rest of this summer check out our blog.

2020 Yakutat Fishing Report

2020 Yakutat fishing reportYakutat Lodge Fishing Report: July 4th, 2020

Hi all, we’re excited to bring you an updated 2020 Yakutat fishing report for the Situk River and Yakutat Bay. It’s been a hell of a summer so far with some challenges and hurdles that we are overcoming, but damn, the fishing has been good lately! Guests are hooking into big ocean-fresh king salmon and wild sockeye. The sockeye had us worried there for a bit, but just like steelhead season, we had a really slow start that kept on building. The sockeye were about two weeks late to show, but are now here in big numbers. The last count showed just over 17,000 sockeye and 300+ large kings with more behind them. The lower river is seeing some pressure from sport fishermen but the upper and middle have little to no pressure and with sockeye distributed throughout the entire system, it is making for easy pickings for our clients who are floating or enjoying a nice hike above 9-mile bridge. The fish this year so far have been on the smaller size but as the days go by the average size coming over the weir is increasing and hopefully by our next 2020 Yakutat fishing report we will start seeing those 6- to 9-pounders we are used to in really big numbers. Kings remain closed on the Situk however this year we are seeing more big fish than we have seen in several years by this time, and ADF&G is optimistic they will reach the short end of escapement this year. Dolly Varden and rainbow trout remain a bit on the elusive side this season so far, but if you’re willing to put in the work and effort, several can be brought to hand on a daily basis.

Water levels are finally beginning to drop as the mountain runoff begins to slow with the summer weather. It was a wetter June than we have been used to seeing in the past couple of years and river levels have remained in the low 200s for most of the month which makes for a nice easy row but as mentioned before, the river is slowly dropping down to our average summer flows. Sockeye daily limits remain at three for the time being but, if we continue the trend of numbers we’re seeing we may be in for bag-limit increases.

Now onto the salt 2020 Yakutat fishing report.

Yakutat is known worldwide for the Situk River, but many people do not know that Yakutat Bay hosts one of the finest saltwater fisheries in Alaska. We have been running two boats almost daily for the past few weeks, and with Captains Larry and Jeff at the helm you can be guaranteed a fantastic day. Halibut fishing has been very good and clients have been finishing up with the ‘butts in the early mornings, giving them plenty of time to focus on the other species such as king salmon, lingcod and black rockfish. King salmon fishing has been absolutely incredible in the bay this year. Guests are typically bringing home a few every day and with the insane amount of feed available in the bay this year, they are coming across the dock nice and fat. The lings have been pretty chompy lately. One of our groups brought back a limit of 50-inch-plus lings just yesterday! As we advance further into the summer we can only expect things to get better by the day.

As a reminder, all guests arriving from out of state are still required to arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel. Reports from our clients who have joined us so far this year have said that the travel end was pretty seamless and finding testing sites is getting easier by the day. The state of Alaska has a website—COVID19.ALASKA.GOV—that can answer all your questions about travel in detail as well as an interactive map showing all the testing sites located near you. If you’re looking for a break from the craziness in the world, remember we’re just a short flight out of Seattle away and we would love to have you come join in the fun with us this summer.

Kraig Holdren

Steelhead Fishing Report: Once in a Lifetime

steelhead fishing report

Written by Kraig Holdren

The steelhead fishing report for the Situk River has thousands of anglers traveling from all over the world to have an opportunity to get their hand at those numbers. Every guide has wondered what it would be like to have their own steelhead stream to themselves. Don’t get me wrong, as guides we love what we do. We love to teach and share our passions with others, but in reality, we would all rather be just fishing. 

Steelhead Fishing Report situk river alaska

As we all know, the pandemic caused by the coronavirus has affected us all in many different ways. For us in Yakutat it was a hell of a crushing blow. Steelhead fishing on the Situk is world renowned, and anglers from all over the state, country and world visit Yakutat each year to take advantage of its crystal-clear waters and rich run of native steelhead. Due to the fear of spreading the virus the State of Alaska quickly instituted a travel ban which not only affected our out-of-state clients but also our in-state anglers as well. That, coupled with The City of Yakutat’s mandatory quarantine, pretty much made it impossible for anyone anywhere to fish here, except a few local fishermen who made the best of a shitty situation. I wanted to write this article as a way of answering that same question that I think every guide and client has asked: “What would it be like to have the Situk River all to yourself?” Well, let me tell you…It was good. 

As a full-time resident of Yakutat, I get to take many liberties that others do not–opportunitiesthat some may never be presented or in which others may not be interested. One of those opportunities is year-round access to the Situk River, however, this year was different. 

Yakutat’s winter was a doozy. The past several years the winters have been mild. Maybe a couple weeks a year the roads got snowed in but for the most part I’ve been able to fish almost year-round. Not this year. From about December 15th until the early days of February it snowed…and snowed and snowed some more. There were not accurate counts because of power outages and other bush problems, but I’d say we got between seven and nine feet of snow in about eight weeks. That’s a lot. There were days towards the end when I was buried up past the doors of the plow truck and cursing Mother Nature. However, I was excited about the one thing–lots of snow brings lots of runoff which means perfect water conditions all steelhead season on the Situk. 

I typically would travel to the 9-mile bridge about every other day by snow machine to check my trap line and look for fish. On February 14th, I was pulling my line as the snow had overcome my sets and I was tired of post-holing for empty traps. Standing on the bridge I could see that all-too-familiar shadow—a glimpse of a steelhead! I raced home, grabbed a float rod rigged with a peach-colored jig, bungeed it to my sled and raced back to the river. 

Steelhead Fishing Report river guide expert

It was 25 degrees out and I was standing in knee-deep snow on top of a berm that is usually a thick rat’s nest of willow and alder. After adjusting my bobber knot, I let fly. The bobber drifted about two feet and disappeared. I was so shocked, I just stood there in wonderment; then up comes the bobber and down goes my self-image. After a few choice words of wisdom to myself and the cow moose on the adjacent bank, who I’m pretty sure was laughing at me for my mistake, I made another cast. The jig hit the water and the float disappeared again! This time I did not hesitate. If it was a lesser fish I think I would have pulled the jig through his skull, I set so hard. Boom! First fish of the season–a nice, chrome hen, nothing of notable size but a damn fine specimen. I didn’t get to fish much over the following 10 days or so due to work (I was getting ready to open the lodge). 

Anyone who has fished the Situk has seen the impressive log jams of ancient hemlock, spruce and cottonwood piled high like a giant version of pick-up sticks. This winter being as snow-laden as it was, I decided to get an early start on clearing the river. I talked to a couple of the other local guides and we planned to meet in the middle, me from the top down them from the bottom up. It takes a lot of work to cut holes in the logjams in that river, and this year was no different. At one point I cut over 10 trees in a ½-mile stretch of river, and the mountain of snow and ice buildup on top of them made it more work than usual…about three weeks, actually. During that time, I would cut, then fish my way back up river. 

During those three weeks I and a few of the other guys who were helping me out would see a fish here, a fish there, and they were all bitey but none were what I consider “fresh” or “spring” fish. Rather, they were the fall/winter run. It was not until we had cut our way down below the halfway point that we started catching the shiny ones. At this point I still had every intention of opening our doors April 1st and was so excited for our clients to show. The water temperatures were low, the water levels were very, very low as it had not warmed up enough yet for the snow to begin melting, but the fishing…The fishing was productive. 

Then along comes Mr. Corona and throws a ratchet in my gearbox. Travel bans and shutdowns forced us to extend our opening to May 1st. We were devastated to have to reach out to our clients and give them the bad news. At that point I and two of our guides who were now stuck in Yakutat had nothing better to do but fish. And fish we did. 

The first two weeks were indescribable. We always tell our clients that at the peak of the run the Situk will have about 500 fish per mile. Depending on water conditions, weather and thousands of other guide excuses, some days are incredible and some aren’t. Pressure has a lot to do with that which you can sometimes find on the steelhead fishing report. In a clear-water stream like the Situk the fish can see you just as well as you can see them and just like any steelhead, when you catch enough in one spot, they stop biting. With normal pressure on the Situk, you will average one or two hook-ups per mile; on a great day it could be many more. During those first two weeks, it was many, many more. Access to the river was still tough; trail fishing was out of the question due to snow and we were many times bulldogged by moose who were trapped in the river corridor. The poor critters really had nowhere to go, and many were pregnant cows. Due to the moose situation, we really only got to fish small sections at a time, but it didn’t matter. In fact, for the first few days we only fished from the takeout to about a mile above the weir. Some days we would go higher; others not so much. 

Weather was still barely getting above freezing and the water levels were painfully low. 12-pound fluorocarbon and 1/8-ounce jigs from Get M Dry or BnR worms were killing it. Doubles, triples and more–it was insane fishing! Make a cast…catch a fish. It was so good on some holes it seemed like it would never end. The fish were aggressive, powerful and plentiful. 

One day in particular stands out above the others. We were at a hole called Renny’s. It was early morning, cold, and the weather called for sun all day. Water levels were hovering around 85 or 90 cfs, which looks good on the steelhead fishing report. When we got on the beach, I fired in the first cast. BOOM! Fish on, fish gone. Then three casts and three fish. Then it was seven casts, seven fish and on and on and on. After seven back-to-back doubles, two triples and several more missed opportunities, we had spent two hours in one spot and had chances at over 40 fish and landed 20. I have never been a numbers guy, but that day will be burned into my memory forever and that was just one of the spots we fished that day. 

As the days got longer, and the temps warmed up the snow began to melt. The water levels were slowly on the rise and staying there (In fact, it’s May 14th as I am writing this, and the levels have not changed much). The water level reached the mid-300’s which is pretty much as perfect as it gets, and the water temperatures were perfect. Fish began pouring in the Situk, and we were taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Some days we fished 1 mile, somedays 10 miles and a couple times the whole 14. Some days were better than others. 

As the month dragged on so did the pandemic and we quickly realized that we would not be having a steelhead season here at The Yakutat Lodge. As we hesitantly decided to continue our closure into June, we continued our fish capades. 

During the final week of April and first weeks of May we slowed our approach. The steelhead fishing report recorded that the spawn started earlier than I had expected. During a normal season, every day we’d drift over a fish, that fish would run away and hide, then come back out to his chosen spot or redd and continue its business. Then along would come another boat and another and another each time the fish would swim off. Not this year. Undisturbed, I think these fish do their business and go when they have the ability to do so. It is now May 14th and the run has stalled. There are very few fresh fish in the river, and many are actually spawning or have completed spawning and have returned to the ocean to rebuild and repair the damages that spawning causes them. The snow is all but gone here at sea level. The moose have moved back to the shaded meadows and the bears are starting to prowl, hoping for a healthy run of salmon after such a harsh winter. The king salmon fishing is picking up in the bay and we are slowly gearing up to open June 18th in time for our annual sockeye run. 

I hope this article report has shed some light on the age-old question of “What if…?”

 

Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 13, 2019

Fresh water:

Silver salmon are pouring into the Situk,Lost,and Tawah creek by the hundreds on every incoming tide. The fresh water guides are having a good time exploring new options and different styles of getting these awesome fish. There are still Pinks and Sockeye Salmon entering the system, so the Situk itself is completely full of all species of Salmon.
Fishing in the old mans hole has been extremely productive for those that are 60 yrs. of age and over. Upstream of the old mans hole is full of fish, and there are also a good number of fisherman. We are looking at rain coming in next week, and with a possibility of a rise in the water levels, this will spread out the fisherman and the fish, creating even more opportunities for fisherman to explore.

Continue reading “Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 13, 2019”

Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 3, 2019

Silver Salmon are on the move up the river and are in the bay. We have not received the rains we were hoping for this last week, so river levels still very low.
Guides are being innovative and venturing out to new locations, to give clients the best possibilities to catch fish. Even though the river level is low, the fishing continues to be really good. Lost river and Tawah creek are producing fish, but they are also feeling the effects of no rain. Ankau bridge is seeing good numbers of Silver Salmon passing by at every incoming tide. Also the Ankau lagoons are producing some real nice fish, which can be reached in one of our skiffs.
Ocean conditions have been good lately with all the sunshine and no wind. Halibut, black rock fish, ling cod and now Silvers Salmon fishing has been real good. Average halibut retained is around 50 to 60pounds, which are the tastiest ones to eat.
Forecast is for rain, but we are crossing our fingers this time it really shows up……..

Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | July 30, 2019

Sockeye Salmon are continuing to make a push up river. There are nearly 50,000 fish now through the Situk river weir, which has in turn allowed fish and game to raise the limit back to 3 fish per day in fresh for the sport angler. Pink Salmon are now also on the move and over 10.000 have passed through the weir the last week. There are also thousands of Dollie Varden char in the system for those that like a little variety.

The river has just shot up from recent large rainfalls. This is will push the pinks up river and make room for the incoming Coho Salmon. Look for this higher water event to be the catalyst to the Silver season. Continue reading “Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | July 30, 2019”

Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | April 23, 2019

The 2019 season has started with a bang!

The river is producing mass amounts of Steelhead all throughout the River system. The low water has given way to rain and snow, bringing those water levels back up to good fishable levels. The weather has kept the campers away and the main push of Spring fish has begun. Fresh spring fish are plentiful!

Call and book now before they’re all gone. Weather Forecasts are looking promising with rain and snow giving way to warmer weather and sunny skies into the weekend. Saltwater fishing is picking up with some good reports on Halibut and there are some Kings being caught on a daily basis. With the better weather it should only get better. Stop on in and say Hi, grab a beer and a burger. Tight Lines.

– The Yakutat Lodge Continue reading “Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | April 23, 2019”

Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 24, 2018

River fishing continues to be tough due to the low water and sunny skies. Rain is forecast for this week and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will be enough to raise the water levels. Click here to view the weather forecast.

Taiwah Creek and the Lost River are producing fish on the incoming tides, but not a super hot bite. The ocean fishing is still producing good numbers of halibut and some silver salmon also. Ling Cod and rockfish are also still being caught in decent numbers.

Continue reading “Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 24, 2018”

Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 9, 2018

The weather is absolutely beautiful, but that is creating a low clear water scenario that is making the river fishing a little more difficult than usual. Large numbers of fish are arriving on every tide and the fishing seems to be best on those fresh fish entering the system before they are trapped in the low water upriver. With no significant rain in the immediate forecast, the fishing will continue to more difficult, but working for the fish sometimes is more rewarding for the fisherman.
Ocean fishing has been great. Large halibut and good numbers of Silver Salmon are still being caught on a daily basis, along with rockfish and Lingcod. Flat-water conditions have made the ocean the place to be the last couple weeks and look to continue for the rest of the month.

Continue reading “Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 9, 2018”

Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 3, 2018

It doesn’t get better than this!

Freshwater Fishing
Silver salmon have filled up the Situk River and continue to come in with every incoming tide. Fishing has been really good for about a month now. All the guides are in full swing and clients are coming back with sore arms.

Saltwater Fishing
Ocean fishing has also been spectacular for halibut and rockfish, with many 100 lb halibut caught this season, and a couple in the 200 lb range. Weather could not be better, with sunny skies for the next 10 days it’s going to be a great time to be in Yakutat fishing. We are excited to show our guests a great time. Continue reading “Yakutat Lodge Fishing Report | September 3, 2018”