Brian Steele on Stikuk Steelhead

by Brian Steele

Alaskan Steelhead

Rodman's Revenge (above)

Black Eggsucking Leech
Green Butt Skunk


1) Rodman's Revenge pattern

2) A fine specimen of a Situk steelhead.

3) Brian's broken Sage SP 5 wt. Rod broke after hooking a huge fish he watched for 20 minutes.

4) Clint Waggoner - CnR steelhead, 12# test, 7 wt. Loomis.

NEW Closed Section
The MIDDLE three-mile section of the seven-mile long Situk River upstream of the Nine Mile Bridge is closed to sport fishing by regulation on April 15th until midnight May 15th.

ADFG Field Notes

  • Bears are out at this time of year in the Yakutat area, and generally spend most of their time near the ocean beach during this period. However, brown bears do frequent the upstream areas so "bear safe camping" is a must to prevent an encounter.

  • Bringing a handheld VHF radio is advised (there is NO cell phone coverage).

  • Snagging is prohibited in freshwater. Fish kept must have been hooked in the mouth.

  • Bait is prohibited in the Situk River. Do not use bait. If you hire a guide your guide will probably lose the privilege of guiding on the Situk, and the fine might spoil your trip.

Fishing the Situk for Spring Steelhead
(Trade Secrets)

Rodman's Revenge brings huge metal heads to the bank on the Situk River. This is the name I've given to one of the Situk's most effective flies. The colorful, flamboyant, and often controversial NBA star always comes to mind when I start tying these simple but effective Situk slayers. The pinks, blues, oranges, and purples I use are strikingly similar to the hair style of the former world champion. The simple flies are nothing more then a dime sized multicolored ball of yarn on a hook. If you look close, most of the local guides on the river will have something resembling the "Rodman." You won't find these in your standard fly shop so you may have to break out your vise and get busy or bribe your friend to tie some for you. I recommend that everyone heading down to the Situk this spring carry an ample supply.

Conditions on the river in mid-April 2003: The water is very low and clear and the fish are ultra wary and often spooked out of their lies giving you just a glimpse of movement as they darted for cover. We worked the river wading very slowly upstream along the river's edge, patiently concentrating and combing beneath the water's surface for any signs of holding fish. I liken this to hunting fish, and for me also adds a dynamic to clear water fishing that heightens the steelhead experience. I generally cast to any variance in water color. Look for schools of fish in slack water, particularly in the tail end of large pools with cut river banks or tree cover. This spring has been extremely mild and dry in Yakutat. The banks are free from snow and hiking along the river is easy. Try hiking upstream from the nine mile bridge or downstream to the forest service cabin approx 3 miles down river. Most of the fish are concentrated in the upper half of the river in early to mid April. I landed six fish using the Rodman, one on a green butt skunk, a one on a black egg sucker. The dark colors seem to work better when the fish were spooked or in the heat of the day.

Equipment -Situk Slayer

Fly rods in the 7 to 8 weight range are perfect for this river, and believe me, the fish get huge in this system and you'll wish you had more if you hook into one of those monster 20 plus pounders.

(Guides Secret) Try using straight monofilament (12 lb. Maxima Chameleon works great) on your fly reel instead of standard fly lines. The brackish tint of the line blends perfectly with the stained water of the Situk and works surprisingly well. Also, multicolored yarn flies "Dennis Rodmans" produce a lot of steelies in this fishery. I tie them in orange, pink, white, chartreuse, and purple on a # 2 hook. Switch to dark flies like black egg suckers when the bite slows or in the heat of the day.

Special Note: The river is becoming harder to fish for the do-it-yourselfer nowdays - at least from a drift boat. The US Forest Service has nine permitted outfitters and guides on the Situk River. They are each permitted a certain number of "boat days" for use on the Situk each year. The total number of days permitted varies depending upon the particular outfitter and guide. For each boat day, one boat with 3 clients is allowed to float the Situk. Every outfitter or guide service can provide either outfitting (rent and shuttle boat to and from the river for the anglers) or fully guided service providing the guide, boat, shuttle service and gear.

For a permitted outfitter and guide, a "boat day" is more economically valuable to them as a "guided day" than a rented boat "outfitted day." So, they may not be as willing to use their valuable boat days for outfitting; they save them for fully guided trips. Finding a permitted outfitter to provide you with the service of boat shuttling may be difficult because they are choosing not to provide you this service, not because the Forest Service doesn't allow them to do it.

Some lodges no longer do drop off fishing and many have increased their prices for their rental boats. Call ahead for information and prices.

Spring in Yakutat is also a killer time for saltwater King Salmon staging in the bay as well as barndoor sized halibut. If you get the chance, spend a least one day on the salt and max out your baggage weight with some fine eating to take back home.

Brian Steele
Situk 4/13/03

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