Steelhead fishing on the Situk River is nothing short of adrenaline-drenched chaos. These sea-run rainbow trout are near the pinnacle of sportfish in Alaska, and once hooked, you will soon understand why. Their Olympian-like athleticism, strength, agility and endurance will leave even the most seasoned with an ear-to-ear grin. There are a wide range of techniques and lures that anglers use, and it pays to have a variety of presentations in your tool kit so that you can be prepared to find the hot offering. Learn the best methods of how to fish for steelhead on the Situk.
Anglers catch them casting and retrieving spinners; drifting jigs, aeropuffs, Glo- Bugs and beads; swinging streamers; you get the point that there are a plethora of methods to latch into a metalhead.
For spinners, size 3 and 4 that feature silver or gold blades, and green, blue, and black bodies are a good option. We use R and B spinners.
There are many jig brands on the market. A 1/4-ounce marabou steelhead jig in the nightmare pattern is a good choice. Many other patterns will catch fish too.
For beads, we generally use size 8mm through 14mm. Hard beads work fine, while BnR Tackle soft beads have also proven to be effective. Colors range from peach to orange to red, with various textures either built into the bead or applied. Some anglers apply various nail polishes and paints to beads to achieve the desired color and effect. Bring toothpicks to beg you beads; BnR soft beads come with a T stop to pin the bead in place.
When drifting beads, aero-puffs, Glo Bugs or jigs, a float / strike-indicator is normally used. For jigs, match the size float to the appropriate sized jig. For the beads, Glo Bugs, and aero-puffs, use a small indicator that will not be pulled under by the weight of your weights and lure.
Streamers are a personal choice, best left to the angler. Recommended patterns include the Dirty Hoh, Intruder, Articulated Leech, Woolly Bugger, Egg-Sucking Leech, Green-Butted skunk, and Dolly Llama.
Anglers typically use single-hand, 7- or 8-weight fly rods, from 9- to 11 feet long. The river is narrow, and brush lined, and roll casting is most often employed to put the offering on target. With that in mind, we recommend a floating line that is forward- weighted with a taper most suited to roll casting. In places, anglers have room to back cast, but being a good roll caster is essential on the Situk. Leaders are typically about 9 feet long and taper from 20-pound-test butt to about a 12-pound-test tippet. We recommend using fluorocarbon, as the Situk runs clear and steelhead have good eye sight.
Anglers casting hardware or drifting a bobber and jig will want rods in the 8- to 9- foot range and rated for 8- to 15-pound-test line. While a specialized rod for each technique would be preferable, a medium-fast action rod with enough backbone to turn a big fish, and a soft enough tip to allow a steelhead to grab a lure and turn without feeling too much resistance, would be a good all-around choice. For line, 12-pound-test fluorocarbon is a good choice. Some anglers may also choose to run braided line and use a fluorocarbon leader.
Guides at Yakutat Lodge are dialed in to what’s working best and can help you catch steelhead. We also offer full DIY packages, so you can rent a drift boat and vehicle from us, and go out and do it on your own. We’ll help shuttle your rig so that it’s waiting for you when you are done with the float. And then you can come back to the lodge and enjoy our excellent cuisine and full-service bar, while reveling in a day spent on the amazing Situk River.
Steelhead begin to return to the Situk in late March, and anglers can expect to see these piscatorial marvels in good numbers by mid April. Come visit us at Yakutat Lodge, hook a steelhead, and you can become one of our many guests that return year after year to fish for and hopefully land one of the most exciting fish to swim in Alaska’s waters.