Falling rain and rising rivers keeping steelhead anglers at bay

FNC 3_6 photoOptions may be limited for the next four to five days for North Coast steelhead fishermen as the rivers, as well as the weather, remains unsettled. From the Chetco down to the South Fork Eel, every coastal stream is predicted to be on the rise as of Thursday following Wednesday evening’s heavy rains. Expect the rivers to recede on Friday and Saturday, but another rise is forecasted for Sunday morning. Whether some of the smaller streams will drop quickly enough to fish on Saturday remains to be seen. If I were a betting man, I’d bet no. However, there is some dry weather forecasted for next week and all the rivers should come back in to play.

Weather update

According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the heaviest rain will have fallen Wednesday night. “Thursday we’ll see showers that should produce some decent rainfall totals. The Smith Basin in Del Norte County could see anywhere from 3/4 to an inch of rain and the Humboldt area could see a 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. A dry pattern will begin Friday and last through most of the day Saturday. Saturday night through Sunday night, the Smith basin is predicted to see from 1.5 to 2 inches of rain. In Humboldt, we could see up to an inch of precipitation. Next week is looking dry, with the next system predicted for the March 17,” Kennedy added.

 2014 Klamath River Regulatory Options

A Klamath River sport fish regulation informational and public input meeting was held on Monday night. The purpose of the meeting, which was attended by roughly 35 anglers and put on the CDFW, was to present the current regulatory options on the table for the 2014 Spit fishery on the lower Klamath. Presentations included historical fishery trends on the lower river as well as 2013 harvest and escapement numbers. A public Q&A discussion was also held where anglers voiced concerns over the methods and ethics of last year’s fishery. Below are the current options for 2014:

Status Quo – 2013 Regulations – Spit area will close after 15 percent of the Lower Klamath River sub quota is taken downstream of the Highway 101 Bridge.  (Note: This provision only applies if the department projects that the total Klamath River Basin quota will be met.) Option 1; Spit Area will close after 15 percent of the total Klamath River Basin Quota is taken downstream of the Highway 101 Bridge. This option also removes the language that states the spit area will close only if the Department projects that the total Klamath River System recreational fishery allocation will be met. Option 2; Spit Area will close after 15 percent of the Lower Klamath River sub quota is taken downstream of the Highway 101 Bridge. Option 3; Spit Area will remain closed to all fishing all year. This option will close the spit area to all fishing year round to provide protection of KRSC, KRFC, and Coho salmon migrating out of the open ocean into the Klamath River estuary; however, it eliminates a historical fishing opportunity for shore based anglers.

Next up, the PFMC is set to meet March 8-13 in Sacramento to determine if any in-season action for fisheries scheduled to open in April is needed. They will also adopt three regulatory alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries in effect on or after May 1. Final alternatives for public review will be decided on March 13. For more information on this meeting, visit www.pcouncil.org/council-operations/council-meetings/current-meeting.

The Rivers:

Chetco River

Before the river blew out earlier in the week, we were still seeing some fresh fish come in reports guide Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service” With the big rise, we’ll should start to see a ton of downers, and the number of fresh ones will start to decline. If the weather does what it’s predicted, we should have a window to fish Saturday on the upper end,” Borges added. More rain is predicted for Saturday and the river will be on the rise as of early Sunday morning.

Smith River

The Smith fished pretty well the last couple days reports Crescent City guide Mike Coopman. “The river has been a little big, but the fishing has been pretty good. We’re seeing about a 50/50 mix of downers to fresh ones. The next rises should bring more of the downers into the mix and the numbers of fresh fish will probably start to go down. There should be plenty of fish around through the end of the month,” Coopman said. The Smith is forecasted to rise on Wednesday, but conditions look good for both Friday and Saturday.

Eel River (main stem)

After a huge rise on Tuesday, the river dropped close to 10 feet on Wednesday reports Fred Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods. “It looks like we’re going to get a couple more storms this week, so I don’t see it coming back into shape for awhile. Once the rain stops, we’re looking at four to five days easy before its back to a fishable level and color,” said Grundman. The Eel was hovering at 25,000 cfs on the Scotia gauge as of Wednesday, but is predicted to rise again on Thursday and again on Sunday.

Eel River (South Fork)

As of Wednesday evening, the SF was hovering just above 6,000 cfs on the Miranda gauge and starting to rise. It’s predicted to peak at 10,000 cfs on Thursday afternoon, and drop all the way through early Sunday morning, bottoming out at 3000 cfs. There’s a chance the upper reaches will fish Saturday, but it will be a very short window.

Van Duzen

According to Grundman, the Van Duzen is also dirty and will take awhile to clear. As of Wednesday, it was starting to rise and predicted to peak early Thursday morning at roughly 8,000 cfs. It looks like it will drop through Saturday, and be back on the rise Sunday.

Mad River

Anglers hitting the Mad early Wednesday found some fresh steelhead, but the rains turned it off-color by the end of the day reports Justin Kelly of Redwood Marine in Eureka. “I heard there was a small pod of wild fish that moved in, but the river was on it’s way to blowing out. There’s still a bunch of the older fish left, but the weekend rise may see some of those fish move out. Like the rest of the rivers, the Mad is forecasted to rise on Thursday, recede through Saturday and rise again Sunday. My guess is it will be green by mid-week,” Kelly added.

Upper Trinity

The Douglas City area was in great shape on Wednesday, but the winter fish were nowhere to be found reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “The water had a little color and was the perfect height, but we didn’t see any winter fish moving in. Conditions were the best we’ve had in awhile, but the fish just weren’t there. It rained all day Wednesday, so I’m hoping this rise will bring the fish up from the Junction City area,” Huber added.

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

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