Green rivers galore — options aplenty for steelheaders

A great day on the Chetco River for San Francisco residents Allan and Peter Maris produced a limit of chrome-bright hatchery steelhead while fishing with guide Mike Stratman of Redwood Coast Fishing.

A great day on the Chetco River for San Francisco residents Allan and Peter Maris produced a limit of chrome-bright hatchery steelhead while fishing with guide Mike Stratman of Redwood Coast Fishing.

A green water convergence of all the rivers on the North Coast only happens a handful of times each winter and right now is one of those times. Every river on the North Coast is green and in fishable shape. If you’re a steelhead fisherman, there’s absolutely no excuse not to be on the water this weekend. Every creek and river from the Chetco down to the South Fork of the Eel is fishable and is likely full of steelhead. The Smith is starting to clear a bit and the main stem of the Eel is just turning green, but every river in between is primed for great winter steelhead fishing. So, put down your TV remotes, set your TiVo and put on your waders. It’s time to be outside. The green water convergence doesn’t happen very often and it won’t stick around for long.

Weekend Forecast
According to Nancy Dean of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the North Coast will remain dry through next Tuesday. “We should see some rain on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s not going to be a huge storm, Del Norte could see up to an inch and the Humboldt area can expect up to a half-inch of rain. After that, it looks dry until the weekend,” Dean added.

Razor Clam beach openers/closures
A reminder for the clam diggers: In 2015, Little River Beach between Strawberry Creek and Moonstone Beach will be open to the take of Razor Clams. The beach between Strawberry Creek and the Mad River will re-open in 2016. In Del Norte County, the beach north of Battery Point is open to clamming in 2015.

Pacific Halibut input needed
The Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA) is asking for help in providing the CDFW on 2015 season structure for Pacific halibut. HASA has prepared some different season structure strategies that will meet the requirement of “harvest=allocation” in 2015, and they are soliciting input on those strategies based on your fishing preferences and experience from the 2014 August block closure. The survey, which can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FTHHY7N, will allow you to participate and provide input on four potential season structures, and to suggest adjustments or new strategies. The survey will stay open until Monday, January 19 after which the data will be compiled and analyzed and brought forth during the February 5 general membership meeting. The Board will vote on a recommended season structure to submit to CDFW based on discussion.

Steelhead report cards due
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds anglers that they are required to return their 2014 Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Cards between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2015. Anglers are requested to review their cards carefully and complete the information as accurately as possible. Information collected from report cards provides CDFW with data necessary to monitor and manage California’s steelhead fisheries.

The Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Card are a fishing report as well as a catch report. Steelhead anglers record where and when they fished, even if no fish were caught on a given trip. Anglers are encouraged to submit steelhead report card data online at www.dfg.ca.gov/steelheadcard, but report cards can still be submitted by mail. Information must be submitted regardless of whether or not the angler fished for steelhead. Additional information can be found on CDFW’s Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Card Program webpage, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Fishing/Monitoring/SHRC/

Humboldt Steelhead Days will commence on Saturday, Jan. 24 after the kick off party at Mad River Brewing Co., the night before. Visit madriveralliance.org for more information about this 2-week long fishing contest.

Mattole River open to fishing
The Mattole River opened to fishing on January 1, 2015 from 200 yards upstream of its mouth to the confluence with Stansberry Creek. Only artificial lures may be used and barbless hooks are required. The Mattole is also regulated by low flow closures, with a minimum flow of 320 cfs at the Petrolia gauging station. As of Thursday, it’s flowing at roughly 900 cfs.

The Rivers:
Chetco River
Alan Borges of Alan’s Guide Service reports the Chetco is in good shape, though it’s dropping and clearing everyday. He said, “The action has been a little like a roller coaster —one day you’ll get em’ real good and the next day you’ll get one. This past week it was all about being in the right place at the right time. Boats are averaging one to two fish per day, and some of the guides who fish it everyday are landing up to five. There doesn’t appear to be a ton of fish in the river yet, but we’ve caught them from the top to the bottom.”

Smith River
The steelhead bite has been a little tough on the Smith this past week, with scores ranging from zero to a couple fish per trip. Guide Mike Coopman had the hot hand this week, landing 4 steelhead on Saturday and another 6 on Sunday. The river is starting to clear, which will push the fish into the deeper water. Like the Chetco, the river isn’t full of fish yet, but more and more should be entering the river now that we’re into January.

Eel River
Main Stem
The water color on the main stem is looking good, but the it’s still pretty pushy reports Fred Grundman of Rio Dell’s Grundmans Sporting Goods. He said, “It’s getting more fishable each day, and it should be in prime shape in a couple days. As of Wednesday, it was slightly off color, but I’m you could catch em’ on both bait and plugs.”

South Fork
The river is in great shape and fishable from the top all the way to the forks. The reports I’ve heard is the boat pressure has been fairly heavy, and there seems to be quite a few steelhead around.

Van Duzen
Flowing at 600 cfs on Thursday, the Van Duzen is in great shape according to Grundman. Without much snow to keep the flows up, it will clear quickly. It should remain fishable until the next storm hits, which should be around the middle of next week.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, a fair number of steelhead have been caught the past few days. He said, “The best bite has been below the Blue Lake Bridge as most of the fish have been holding lower. Once the water starts coming down the ladder, we’ll see more fish around the hatchery. A few have been caught right at the hatchery, but not nearly as many as below. As of Wednesday, the visibility was about a foot and a half, but the river was still a little high. Roe and Mad River worms have been the top producers.”

Trinity
The Trinity is in great shape and should be fishable from the top to the bottom reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “The flows in the Douglas City are 450 cfs, but the water has a little color to it. My guess is there’s slide in one of the creeks. The boats have been averaging about three adults per trip, with a 50/50 mix of fresh and downers. The hatchery has started releasing some of the spawned fish, so there are quite a few downers around now to go with a few fresh ones. This time of year, there’s fish spread throughout the system and all the way into the Klamath. It’s been extremely cold in the mornings, making for a tough bite. Plugs have been the ticket until the temps start to warm,” Huber said.

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

#ChetcoRiver #SmithRiver #VanDuzen #MattoleRiver #EelRiver #Steelhead #Salmon #TrinityRiver #NorCalFishing #NorthCoastFishing #FishingTheNorthCoast #FishHatcher #PacificHalibut #RazorClams #HumboldtSteelheadDays

2 thoughts on “Green rivers galore — options aplenty for steelheaders

  1. Great conditions but indicators point to a slow start. Spent two days on one of the prime systems mentioned above; water conditions couldn’t have been better but the fishing has been difficult. On a positive note, Coho have been pretty common. The ocean temps are still high. It would be interesting to better understand the relationship between ocean temperature and steelhead migration. Praying for more rain.

  2. Hey Andrew – sorry I missed your comment here. It’s been a tougher than normal steelhead season, wondering if the drought is finally having an effect on the steelhead?

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