Why Am I Home?

Ard

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The water is too low to safely operate my boat on any but the glaciated rivers. Water temps are way high and levels lower than ever in my 15 year experience here. Any salmon are sitting still and not moving up river for obvious reasons. This is like end times if you love Spey casting for salmon....
 

cooutlaw

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Hang tough my friend....this too will come to pass.....hopefully sooner than later. Fall/Winter can be great equalizers.
 

jpbfly

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Ard I talked about you and the situation in Alaska to a friend ....it was hard for him to believe me.Such a lack of water is not surprising here of course but difficult to imagine in your corner of the world.sad and worrying indeed.I know what you feel my friend.
 
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karstopo

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United States Drought Monitor > Current Map > State Drought Monitor

Hate to hear about the drought. The link above shows some of the extent of the drought. It’s a big area considering just how big Alaska is. And I have no idea how accurately the link lines up with the actual conditions. It tracks pretty well with conditions in my area, but Alaska might be different in that regard. Certainly drought puts a lot of stress on the flora and fauna and can have long term consequences.

Hope you get relief soon.
 

Ard

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There was one period of rain about 4 weeks ago now, over a 3 day stretch we got 1.20 inch. Other than that no real water since the snow melted in April here and May in other parts. The mountains are void of snow and smaller glaciers in danger of disappearing. Currently it's 75* at the house at 11:46 AM and getting sunny so look for 80's later.

Valley Silver Salmon are in a very bad way but the department of fish & game has not even hinted at a closure as of today. The counts are below 50% of the Low Escapement Goal on every river and the rivers are warming and drying up.

I e-mailed yesterday with a laundry list of my observations over the past 14 days and have had no reply from the regional biologist who oversees the fisheries in the valley. I am at a loss for thought as to what they are waiting for. The fish are packed into any spots that have water and are being targeted by any means when there is no trace of enforcement officers or closures.

I am witnessing the death of these runs.
 

Joey Bagels

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Last weekend as I was fishing along the Denali highway, some friends from work were hunting caribou (successfully). They told me I brought Texas weather with me because it’s always been cold, wet, rainy, sleety, and even snowy up there this time of year. But this year...partly sunny, warm (for Alaskans) and DRY. To me who doesn’t know any better it seemed great! To them who do...they’re worried.


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Ard

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I recognized a stream in your post and looking at the photo realized how low it looked. Those creeks up there are generally ripping at this time of year. Good for walking and wading though, here everything is very very low.
 

Ard

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While it may seem to many that I live in a fishing paradise things are turning bad as the years go on here. I am now landlocked. Other than the silt filled glacier fed rivers every stream and small river in my area is too low for me to use the jet boat. The boat will skim over a mere 2 1/2 inches of water if there are no stones protruding at the surface but there are stones now in all the tailouts of the runs and pools.

Any salmon in the rivers are sitting still in any water over 2 foot deep and the water continues to warm and drop. No rain and regardless of what national weather pages on computer screens say the temp here was an even 80 yesterday with the sun just pounding away at those glaciers that supposedly are not really melting away....

Anyone who doesn't recognize what is happening at an accelerated rate here either lives thousands of miles away or have zero skills of observation and comprehension.

There are still people trying to use boats on these shrinking flows, still trying to get their limit of those trapped fish! I am here apparently to witness the beginning of the end.

Sound a bit Chicken Little? The sky is falling.... I've been watching this approach for years, many years, and what I am seeing as culmination of the past decade of continued warming and drought is not the imagination of a tree hugger. This is really happening and the results will be long lasting.

PS. I would have said "The boy who cried Wolf" but we have killed over 90% of those off through the aerial shooting and ground trapping programs over the past 10 years. It's war on the wolf, and war on the salmon in my part of Alaska.
 

okaloosa

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I trust what you report more than some politician or actor lecturing me from their yacht on how to reduce my carbon footprint when they are burning 1 gallon of diesel per mile in the Mediterranean after flying across the atlantic in their private jet....
 

Ard

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Gotta love that 16 year old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg crossing the North Atlantic on a sailing boat to attend the climate conference in NY. The kid is serious.
 

Ard

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I can't begin to tell you all exactly how this is affecting me on a personal basis. With the King salmon season closed and my having ominous feelings for the silver salmon returns I did not book a single fishing trip for the season. I told people the truth, the truth being that I believed the season in this part of Alaska would be dismal. I don't think I could have predicted just how bad things would get back in January and February.

I've fished through flooding and low water events for years and always managed to find some fish but the present conditions are simply not fishable. As each day comes and goes adding another number to the date window of my watch conditions continue dry with humidity below 20% daily. The water levels creep downward with each passing day as well. The land has given what it had by means of snow melt and wetland run off. Some wetlands that I passed on the way to the Kenai Peninsula last week are actually dry for the first time in the 15 years I have been a resident here. Places I stopped to take photos of huge expanses of Lilly Pads flowering with snow pack and Hanging Glaciers visible on the mountains making up the background are literally gone. The ponds are dry and the once huge sheets of blue ice suspended from the alpine Cirque's is in many cases totally gone.

I don't know how many if any other residents are taking stock of these changes but I find them unavoidable to my eye & memory. There is no cure at this point for what I see. The ice that was once hanging in those Cirque's took God knows how many eons to form to the extent I witnessed just 15 years ago and for the large part it is gone. Rivers that were filled with salmon to an extent that I could in good faith schedule fishing trips with people from all over the world as well as America are at less than 35% of their sustainable population levels.

But still the mighty Kenai sees massive returns and it should be explained, how is it that while many languish the Kenai endures even under extreme fishing pressure? The Kenai is a big swift and deep river who's flows are supplied by the Snow River Glacier, Trail Glacier and many smaller glaciers. The run off from these ice masses is impounded first by Trail River and Lakes as well as The Snow River and its many small glacial ponds formed by ice and end moraines. The glacial marl settles a bit in Kenai Lake where the water takes on that famous aqua marine green color. The color to the best of my understanding results from the amount of finely pulverized quarts minerals suspended in the water columns.

From Kenai Lake downriver to Skilak Lake the river is currently running somewhat high. Not to say flood levels but high on the shores when considering the extreme drought conditions the area has experienced this entire year. All the way to its mouth at Cook Inlet in the city of Kenai the flow remains high and the fish have no clue that their habitat is currently completely supported by glacial melt water. My prophecy? I see a day, a year when there will not be enough snow and ice left to support the rivers volume coming and I don't believe it'll take 50 years to arrive. The past 90 days have been devastating in that there has been no appreciable rains and the temperature has been setting new records on a daily / weekly basis.

Once the mighty Kenai comes under threat I believe people may take notice, I say "may" because I reserve doubts about my fellow mans powers of observation. As a side note I just read a report stating that the Aleutian Islands are experiencing the driest season of the past 90 recorded years so this pain will be shared throughout south central and western Alaska for sure.

Currently my fishing will be reduced to long road trips and fishing for grayling and trout. The water conditions here at home don't bode well for my fall steelhead dreams at this point either.

Ard
 

ia_trouter

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Ard,

I really hate what is transpiring. I know it's a punch in your gut that seemingly won't stop. I know you aren't crying wolf, or being dramatic.

My first trip there was five years ago. You said visiting AK now was much better than later. It was very true. The run numbers were already cut by at least 1/3 or more from the good old days. I had much success and wondered what good fishing was like if this was degraded.

Two more trips since then and even I noticed the difference each time. Snow gone on the mountain tops, glaciers receding, low water. Fishing cut in half (that's probably conservative).

Now we can't know if this is permanent, but we have now been through the full life cycle of salmon. If things magically got better tomorrow and stayed that way, it might take a human generation to return to the degraded status of five years ago. Perhaps a glimmer of hope for silvers, but Kings and Sockeye? It sure looks bleak. I don't think you will see all the closures you desire. It cost the state too much tourism money. They'll lose it in the end, but I don't think they have the stomach to end the revenue stream now.

Fishing aside, I'm not sure most realize that salmon feed the entire ecosystem. They transport the food source from the sea to the interior. For pretty much everything that lives in AK. Even the forests depend on the salmon runs for nourishment.
 
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Joey Bagels

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And then there’s the whole Pebble Mine debacle thanks to Alaska’s fantastic new governor and his coziness with the pres. sad that the few can ruin so much of the world for so many, all the while crying victim.


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Ard

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I don't want to become the complete forum buzz kill but...…………… Soon to follow will be pictures of all the trees here near home. I'm talking about birch trees not the spruce. Unless my eye deceives me the trees are dying, this is the third year of relative drought out of the past 4 and they are dying. It's only August 18th and all the leaves are brown and many on the ground as I type this. I'll go out and take a couple pictures and add them shortly.

Then there's that stuff sprayed at extreme high altitude in the effort to shield the suns rays. Eastern sky in the morning - southern sky by 1 PM and west by late day, all summer long every summer! This is something I never post about because 'officially' it isn't happening and people like me who look to the sky and see it as it occurs are either conspiracy theorists or fringe lunatics.

I know what I see when I see it and when I consider the hundreds of metric tons of chemical compounds that have been dispersed over this landmass I can see no good coming from it. Why would it officially not exist? I'm not so ignorant as to not be familiar with the expression 'black book operation' and I don't believe all black book ops involve the Navy SEAL's Whoever flies those planes - the people filling the fluid tanks, every one of them is signed of on the detail and they will never disclose.

What I am saying is that this happens over everyone's heads at around 36,000 feet or more and the trails stretch from horizon to horizon. They spread out covering the entire ceiling above us and people are so conditioned to seeing it (especially the young) that it just seems normal. Me? I remember jets flying over me in 1960. I remember contrails. I remembering them dissipating and disappearing while the jet was still in view. Here there is a regular fleet of high altitude and very large aircraft that prowl these skies daily working regular patterns from morning till evening following the angle and location of the sun. There is no way on Gods green earth I will ever not believe the clouds they produce in their wake are not meant to slow the inevitable warming and drying of this area of the earth.

Dead trees coming soon......
 

MCHammer

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I've been following this thread from the beginning, and I don't know what to say. It's like reading the news (which I do obsessively) and there's nothing but more depressing stuff to read about.

Because I've clicked on the Anchorage Daily News a few times in Google News, it comes up in my feed fairly regularly. A few days ago there was an article on fishing for Silvers in Bird Creek, with no mention of the low water (which was apparent in the photo that went with the story) or the diminishing returns.

I feel for you, Ard. If anything close to what you're dealing with was happening where I live, I would be freaking out too.
 

Ard

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I've been following this thread from the beginning, and I don't know what to say. It's like reading the news (which I do obsessively) and there's nothing but more depressing stuff to read about.

Because I've clicked on the Anchorage Daily News a few times in Google News, it comes up in my feed fairly regularly. A few days ago there was an article on fishing for Silvers in Bird Creek, with no mention of the low water (which was apparent in the photo that went with the story) or the diminishing returns.

I feel for you, Ard. If anything close to what you're dealing with was happening where I live, I would be freaking out too.
I feel like the only person who is seeing the real picture Mike. Everyone else seems ready to ride this horse until it drops with no plan for what comes after... Bird creek is a man made run augmented with fingerlings yearly. It is however a mere trickle unless the tide is in and the numbers are down. Still the recent transplants to Anchorage flock there in hoards to flog at the fish.
 

Ard

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Here's looking West North West



Turn a bit to the south where the sun is and the sky is milky white but blue where the sun is not. This looks the same with the naked eye as the photo shows here.



Point being, look at how many trees have no leaves and are dead on the stump or in the process of dying.....

Here are leaves gathering on the back lawn on August 18th, no yellow leaves this fall for us here.



Here looking West by North West, many trees with no leaves and those retaining leaves are turning brown day by day with no water to keep the trees alive. Notice how all the vegetation looks brown and dying?



From back deck looking east



Typically the birch trees retain green leaves until mid September when they turn brilliant gold. The drop depends on elevation and frost frequency and they will hand on until October 1st some years at lower elevations.
 

ia_trouter

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I feel like the only person who is seeing the real picture Mike. Everyone else seems ready to ride this horse until it drops with no plan for what comes after...
That seems to be the mindset. I can't help but believe many have given up. They can't fix the weather, and they'll all be long retired before their efforts would bear fruit if things did work out. They invest in fish counts and then do very little constructive with the collected data. Here we treat our man made impoundments with more respect and intelligent regulations because that's what we have. They need to shut down commercial salmon fishing now. Sportmen shouldn't have to bear the entire burden. Don't hold your breath on that one buddy.
 

Ard

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One last picture, I am amazed at this at this early date! Right out front where the leaves tend to gather by the porch, notice they are desiccated and have just fallen from the trees....



Trust me, I'd much rather be posting pictures of rainbows and 12 pound silvers at this time of year!
 
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