by Mark Glassmaker
Springtime in Alaska is marked by longer days and melting snow. It reveals a drab landscape of dead vegetation, void of color, and is without question the least appealing face of Alaska’s distinctive four seasons. But beneath this sullen exterior, a bounty of new growth awakens from its winter slumber. Perhaps nowhere is this new growth more vibrant than in southeast Alaska rivers. For beneath the retreating shore ice and remaining snow is an anadromous silver lining. Though spring snowstorms are a possibility, fishing the Situk is definitely rewarding.
Beginning in late March, spring runs of wild steelhead are entering these tea colored streams after their instinctive sojourn at sea. White bellies, black backs, and parasitic sea lice represent their life in the ocean. As they push forward against the relentless current of their natal rivers, many fall victim to awaiting predators, the most efficient of which are hungry sea lions that guard the river mouths where fresh and saltwater meet. Telltale scars, missing fins, and torn flesh reveal that many returning steelhead came very close to never again seeing the gravel they emerged from. This content is available for subscribers only.
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