Wet weekend predicted for the North Coast

F&G Commission adopts emergency angling regulations
If, and that’s a big if, the rains come as predicted this weekend, we should see a parade of steelhead making their way up every coastal river in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. As much as three to five inches is predicted to fall — depending on location. This is the storm we’ve been waiting on in what now feels like years. Most of the coastal rivers are full of fish and the rain should allow them to move up into their spawning tributaries. The rain will also pull a fresh batch of chromers in from the ocean. As of Wednesday, all of the rivers that fall under the low-flow regulations remain open to fishing. Hopefully this big storm is just the beginning of much more precipitation to come and we won’t have to worry about river closures until next year. That being said, CDFW unanimously adopted on Wednesday an emergency regulation that will extend the low-flow closures for North Coast rivers until April 30. (See below for official CDFW press release.)

Weekend rain predictions
A much-anticipated pattern change is taking place on the North Coast, with the ridge of high pressure being forced west allowing storms to finally reach our coastline according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service “We could see up to a third of an inch Wednesday night into Thursday, but the real rain will begin on Friday afternoon, with the heaviest amounts hitting the ground Saturday and into Sunday morning,” Kennedy said. Preliminary forecasted totals for the weekend are; 2 to 3 inches for the Smith basin, 5 to 6 for the Eel basin, 4 to 5 for the Mad basin, and up to 5 inches for the Van Duzen watershed. Monday and Tuesday are looking dry according to Kennedy, but more rain is in the forecast for later in the week.

Fish and Game Commission adopts emergency regulations to close angling
Not wasting any time in response to the state-wide drought conditions, the F&G Commission on Wednesday adopted emergency regulations to close some waters to angling as recommended by the CDFW last week. In a press release issued Wednesday, the Commission adopted the following emergency regulations: 1) Closure of the American River from Nimbus Dam to the SMUD power line crossing at the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park until April 30. 2) Closure of the Russian River main stem below the confluence of the East Branch of the Russian River until April 30. 3) Extension of the low flow restrictions angling closures for the north coast and central coast areas (above San Francisco Bay) until April 30. 4) In the South Coast District (i.e., San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties), close all portions of any coastal stream west of any Highway 1 bridge until April 30. These regulatory actions will become effective upon approval by the state Office of Administrative Law (OAL). At the earliest, these emergency regulations will become effective in mid to late February.

Mad River hatchery back in business
Exact details have yet to be released to the public, but a judge’s decision ruled in favor of the hatchery and steelhead started swimming up the ladder as of Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, hatchery employees were using a seine to collect natural origin steelhead to supplement what comes into the trap at the spawning facility. The first batches of fish were spawned on Wednesday with more to come. Look for the press release on the “Fishing the North Coast” Facebook page later this week.

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries
The Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual ocean salmon information meeting. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented, in addition to the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa. For more information, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/salmonpreseason.asp or contact Erick Anderson at (707) 576-2879.

The Rivers:
Chetco River
We are low and clear currently, with the river dropping steadily each day reports guide Val Early of Early Fishing Guide Service. “There are a few fish around but they are kegged in a few spots and they are not a mystery to anyone — in other words, there are plenty of people targeting the fish. Rain is supposed to start this weekend which should bring relief to these low, clear conditions — for both the angling public and the fish, Early added. As of Wednesday, flows were down to 560 cfs, but predicted to rise to 1,800 by Sunday evening.

Smith River
Predicted to peak at just above 11 feet on the Jed Smith gauge Sunday morning. According to Crescent City guide Mike Coopman, the river has yet to see a good flush and hopefully this storm will do the trick. “It’s definitely going to breath some new life into the system and should bring in a bunch of fresh fish. I’d expect the fish will be moving quickly in the higher water and that’s when the fishing should be at it’s best. Once the river starts to drop, the bite will probably slow. With the Smith being the first to rise and the first to clear, we’ll probably see a pretty good crowd next week,” Coopman added.

Eel River (main stem)
Forecasters are predicting the Scotia area to go from 9.5 feet to 16.1, peaking early Monday morning. Will probably take up to10 days before it’s fishable.

Eel River (South Fork)

Predicted to peak at just over 11 feet at Miranda early Monday morning and should be in good shape by late week.

Van Duzen

The Van Duzen is predicted to rise from less than a foot to 4.3 feet, peaking early Monday morning. Should be in good shape by mid-week, especially above Yager Creek.


Mad River

When the Mad opened last Friday, the fishing was as good as it gets according to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors (formerly Redwood Marine). “As the water has dropped the fishing has gotten a whole lot tougher. The fish are stuck in the holes and they’ve been pounded on for a while now, and they don’t want to bite. No new fish have come in since the last rain, so you’re basically fishing for the same fish. Things should change after the storm goes through this weekend. If the forecast holds and the river peaks at 8 feet early Monday, we should be back to green in just a few days, especially above Lindsey Creek. Cleos, roe, and Spin N’ Glo’s all worked before the river fell out,” Kelly added.

Upper Trinity
The river remains clear, but some winter fish are starting to make their way upriver reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “We’re starting to see more and more winter fish move in, and the rain should help raise the river levels so they can make it over the falls. Hopefully we’ll see enough rain to get the fish in their creeks and tributaries to spawn,” Huber said.

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

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