Tongass National Forest

Situk River

A mere twenty miles long, the Situk River unobtrusively slips through spruce forests and muskeg meadows from it?s headwaters in the Russell Fiord Wilderness to the Gulf of Alaska. It?s deep tea-colored pools and mossy log jams don?t shout its grandeur. You wouldn?t crane your neck to stare at it if you were passing by in a car. It is not an immense river like the Yukon River or powerhouse like the Alsek River, but make no mistake, the Situk River deserves to be counted amongst Alaska?s great rivers.

If you did pull over and stare down into one of the Situk River?s deep pools, chances are you would see a fish. From early spring to late fall the Situk River is a vein that pulses pacific salmon. Five species of pacific salmon, Dolly Varden char, and the states largest documented run of steelhead call the Situk River home. In the time that it has been recorded, the annual return of anadromous fish to the Situk River has been about 450,000 fish. That?s over twenty-two thousand fish per main stem river mile!

People have been drawn to the Situk River and the massive runs of fish for hundreds of years. Refreshingly, in today?s world of endangered salmon and concrete tributaries, all kinds of people are still drawn for the same reason to the Situk River. Locals still hunt, fish and trap along the Situk River. A commercial fishery shipping wild Alaskan salmon out to the world operates in the Situk-Ahrnklin Estuary. Finally, anglers from as close as Juneau, Alaska, or from as far as Japan choose the Yakutat Ranger District for a sport fishing vacation on the Situk River.

Fishing in Alaska can be a challenging endeavor. Salmon are highly migratory and their availability at any given time or place is never totally assured. Rain, snow, clouds, biting insects, and bears can make a trip difficult. We hope these pages not only provide a useful tool for anglers visiting the Yakutat Ranger District but will also help to impart a sense of stewardship towards the river. You may come in search of a cooler full of filets, the trophy of a lifetime, or both, but you will leave with memories that will last a lifetime.


Nine Mile Bridge

There are several ways for anglers to get to the Situk River. Forest Highway 10 crosses the Situk River at nine miles from the town of Yakutat. From the bridge anglers can walk along the river to fish. A trail departs downstream on the east side of the river. This trail follows the river for a mile then turns inland and continues to the US Forest Service Eagle and Raven cabins. A spur trail leads to a popular fishing spot at the confluence of the Situk and Old Situk Rivers. Another spur continues downstream past the cabins for another half mile. Hiking this trail requires fording the Old Situk River, so waders are a A man stands in shallow water fishing in misty light while his dog sits on the shore.must. The runway at the cabins makes them accessible to wheeled bush planes.

Those wishing to pursue steelhead in the spring are reminded that the area two miles above Nine Mile Bridge is closed. See the ADF&G Yakutat Regulations for more information.
Lower Landing

Twice daily, tides supply fresh fish to the lower three miles of the Situk River, a feature making the Lower Landing very popular with fisherman. Anglers have the option of parking at the boat landing at the end of Lost River road and hiking upstream or parking at the Maggie John Trailhead and hiking into the river. This area is subject to tidal flow from the nearby estuary so consult a tide table for optimum fishing at the Lower Landing.
Situk Lake Trail

Anglers can also hike in the Situk Lake Trail to access more remote fishing areas. From the Situk Lake Cabin, anglers can follow the trail to Mountain Lake and fish along Mountain Stream. Other possibilities include hiking or paddling around the lake and fishing the upper Situk River below it?s outlet. Directly across from the Situk Lake Cabin is another good fishing site, Mountain Stream Inlet. Situk Lake is also accessible by float plane.
Floating the River

One of the most popular options for anglers visiting the Yakutat Ranger District is a day float of the Situk River. Anglers can launch boats at Nine Mile Bridge and float the 13 miles to the Lower Landing. There are several ways to pursue this option; going with a guide authorized to operate on the Situk River in a drift or jet boat, renting a drift boat from a local lodge, or bringing your own inflatable raft, kayak or other paddle craft.

There are some important considerations implicit in any float trip on the Situk River. There is no road access between the put in and take out on the river. It is a short drive from town, but once you launch your boat, help or rescue are far away. The water is cold enough to cause hypothermia even in July. You should bring all the appropriate safety equipment for any Alaskan river float. If you don?t know what that entails, then you should consider making your first trip down the Situk River with an experienced guide.

The Situk River displays a fairly wide range of flow conditions. The Situk River flow can range from less then 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) to over 1000 cfs throughout the season. If the river is flowing at less then 100 cfs, then be prepared for a long float with the possibility of a lot of strenuous dragging of your boat. Even at moderate and high flows floating the Situk River is at least an eight hour trip. It is very easy to get sidetracked fishing or lingering in the upper river and then return to the Lower Landing very late. A good measure to keep in mind while you float is that you should pass the Eagle and Raven cabins about a third of the way into your planned day. While the Situk River has no traditional white water, there are many tree snags, sweepers and strainers along the length of the river. These are especially hazardous during high flows.

Excellent planning tools for a float of the Situk are the USGS gauging station website, Yakutat Weather Office and the Yakutat Tide Predictions for 2007.
Cabins, Campsites & Camping

For those anglers who don?t mind sacrificing comfort to be closer to the fish, there are several options to spend the night along the Situk. The Eagle, Raven and Situk Lake cabins offer a warm dry place to stay. Located a little over three miles downstream from Nine Mile Bridge, the Eagle and Raven Cabins are especially popular with anglers seeking to extend a day float down the river into a multi-day excursion. It is also possible to camp along the Situk River. There are several designated campsites around Nine Mile Bridge. Camping within 50 feet of the high-water line of the river is prohibited. This means no camping on gravel bars. Good campsites along the river have been identified and marked with a sign. Campers are urged to use leave no trace camping practices and follow appropriate camping in bear country bear safety precautions.

In recent years several native allotments have been granted along the lower Situk River. This means parts of the lower river are privately owned and camping is prohibited in these areas. Please be informed and respectful of these private lands.