Deluge predicted to blow out North Coast rivers

Alan Borges of Eureka landed this nice winter steelhead on Thanksgiving day while drifting the main stem of the Eel River. Following this weeks powerful storms, steelhead season should be in full swing here on the North Coast. Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

Alan Borges of Eureka landed this nice winter steelhead on Thanksgiving day while drifting the main stem of the Eel River. Following this weeks powerful storms, steelhead season should be in full swing here on the North Coast. Kenny Priest/Fishing the North Coast

Upper Trinity should remain fishable

If these lofty rainfall predictions come true, it’s quite possible the Eel River could see the highest water level since the 1964 flood. Wow! On the other hand, if the forecasts come up short, the Smith River could be fishing by the weekend. Talk about a wild swing. What we do know is all of the coastal rivers are predicted to rise high and quick, with a few possibly venturing into flood and/or monitor stage. And the descent should be just as rapid. The ground here is extremely dry due to the drought, and it will likely take multiple storms to recharge the groundwater. The storm that’s upon us now, which some are calling the most powerful in the last 40 years, should be a good start.

Weekend forecast
According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, after Wednesday and Thursday’s downpour, showers will likely linger through Friday, with Saturday looking dry. He said, “The next system is set to move into the area on Sunday and will stick around through Tuesday. Light rain and showers are forecasted over this three-day period, with up to two inches of rain predicted.”

More Klamath spit fishery changes on the table
In an effort to protect Chinook stocks from excessive catch and release mortality, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with the Yurok Tribe, is proposing the following change to the 2015 fall Chinook spit area regulations: All legally caught Chinook salmon must be retained. Once the adult Chinook component of the daily bag has been retained, anglers are required to cease fishing the spit area.

This regulatory proposal does not preclude anglers from leaving the spit and fishing other areas once their adult daily bag limit has been taken. Anglers may fish other areas outside of the spit to fill their jack (salmon 22 inches and less) component of their daily bag limit. This regulation also does not preclude anglers from filling a daily bag composed entirely of jack salmon while fishing the spit area. For more information, visit

Upcoming events:
2nd Annual Humboldt Steelhead Days – Jan. 23 to Feb. 7
Brought to you by Mad River Alliance & California Trout, this two week family-fun, fishing event encourages all ages to get outside, learn about our watersheds, and to fish both the Mad and Eel Rivers for steelhead. With your $25 donation, you’ll receive a ticket to #HumboldtSteelheadDays. The event starts with a kick-off party at Mad River Brewing Co.’s Tap Room. You’ll also be registered to win outdoor and fishing prizes donated by Pacific Outfitters, RMI Outdoors, Ace McKinleyville, Kokatat, Thule, Mad River Bait & Tackle and more! Tickets can be found online at or locally at Mad River Bait & Tackle, RMI Outdoors, Pacific Outfitters and Grundman’s Sporting Goods. For more information, visit or or contact Dave Feral at 707-382-6162 or

Rowdy Creek Steelhead Derby
Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery is pleased to announce the 33rd Annual Steelhead Derby is February 19, 20 & 21, 2015. Team registration is $3,000.00 per team of four anglers, which includes two full days of fishing, one day on each of the Smith and Chetco Rivers. Also meals are included from Thursday evening through Saturday, including a hosted bar each night. The annual steelhead derby is the primary source of funding for the hatchery. For additional information or assistance, please contact Kimberlee Swift, Derby Coordinator at 707-218-7049 or

Chetco salmon carcass collection
On Tuesday, the Oregon South Coast Fishermen, in cooperation with ODFW, did a carcass collection for salmon according to Val Early. She said, “Over 130 spawned out and dead Chinook were sampled. Size, sex and scale samples were taken and the information is added to the database to help with future run predictions as well as giving information about the age composition of the current run. The OSCF volunteer their time to help with the data collection efforts. This was the biggest one-day sampling they’ve ever had. The storm hitting now will probably bring more carcasses down for their efforts next week.”

The Rivers:
Chetco River
Not a whole lot of activity on the Chetco this week, most of the action was up north on the Elk and Sixes reports Val Early of Early Fishing Guide Service. “The effort on the Chetco has dwindled because there hasn’t been too many fresh salmon being caught. There are a few steelhead around every day, but not in any big numbers yet. The storm should really jumpstart the steelhead season. If the storm hits the area with the force and length of time they are predicting, it will be early next week before the river is at a driftable level. It should be in good enough shape to plunk on Sunday, or maybe even Saturday,” Early said.

Smith River
With the different rain forecasts going around, it’s tough to say when it will fish again reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “If we end up getting five inches, it’ll fish by the weekend. If we get 10, it’s going to be longer. When we get these powerful storms like this, there’s always the potential for slides, which could really change things. When it does drop down to a fishable level, we’ll definitely be targeting steelhead. It’s still fairly early in the steelhead season, so it might be tough fishing or the river could be full of them. We won’t really know until we get there,” Coopman added.

Main Stem Eel, South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, and Mad
All are predicted for big rises, and when they drop back into fishable shape will depend on the strength of the storms that are forecasted for next week. It’s possible the South Fork Eel, Van Duzen and Mad could all fish sometime next week. For river level predictions, visit

Upper Trinity
The river is in good shape and ready for this storm reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. He said, “The water flow now is the most we’ve seen in the last couple years. This storm will blow out the river below Douglas City, but the stretch from Lewiston Bridge to Rush Creek will fish this weekend. If Rush Creek levels off early, you will be able to fish down to Indian Creek. The river has some older steelhead spawning at the top, and the increased flows will start to push in the winter run fish. If you’re on the water this weekend, you’ll want to be careful due to the higher flows and debris coming down.”

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

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