Heavy rains curtail coastal steelhead action

FNC 2_5 photo

Placerville resident Larry Holms, right, landed this big Smith River steelhead on Wednesday while fishing with guide Mike Coopman. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Rivers predicted to blow out on Thursday afternoon
After an extremely dry January, it’s hard not to get excited when you start hearing the terms “atmospheric river” and “pineapple express” being tossed around by the local weather folks. A quick system blew through the coast earlier in the week, dropping more rain than predicted and putting just about all the North Coast rivers on the rise, albeit temporarily. But that was just a prelude to the real story. According to reports, we’re in for quite the deluge between Thursday morning and Monday afternoon. Higher elevations in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties could see up to 12 inches of rain, while the low-lying areas could see five to seven. Steelhead fishing on the coastal rivers will likely come to a halt by Thursday afternoon, leaving quick-clearing rivers like the Smith and Chetco unfishable over the weekend. If the second shot of rain hits on Sunday, both aren’t likely to fish until mid-week. The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen and Mad probably won’t turn green until late next week, and it will be even longer for the main Eel and Klamath. As for the weekend fishing opportunities, the upper reaches of the Trinity might be your only option.

Weekend Weather
It’s certainly no secret we’re in for quite a bit of rain over the next few days. According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, the heaviest precipitation will fall between Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. According to Kennedy, there will be lulls in between the systems, and the second good shot of rain will hit us on Sunday. Off and on rain is predicted through Monday afternoon. “Rainfall totals in the Crescent City area are expected to be between six to seven inches, with the mountains seeing up to 10 to 12 inches. Here in Humboldt, five to eight inches is predicted to fall with the higher elevations potentially seeing upwards of 12 inches,” Kennedy added.

Humboldt Steelhead Days awards dinner on Feb. 7
The two-week long steelhead celebration will come to a close this Saturday with an awards dinner catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ. The dinner will be held at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for participants with their HSD ticket. Anglers who sent in their steelhead photos will be entered into a $4,000 prize pool of donated outdoor gear and fishing equipment. For more information, visit www.madriveralliance.org.

Upcoming meetings

California Fish and Game Commission meeting will be held Feb 11-12 at the Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento at 10 a.m. To view the meeting agenda, visit www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2015/Feb/02111215agd.pdf. Topics include the partial closure of Blue Creek and no catch and release at the mouth of the Klamath River.

CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information meeting will be held Feb. 26 at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa. The public is invited to attend CDFW’s annual meeting on the status of California salmon populations and the outlook for 2015 ocean salmon fisheries. For more information, please contact Kandice Morgenstern at (707) 576-2879 or kandice.morgenstern@wildlife.ca.gov.

Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers (HASA) will be holding their general membership meeting on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. Meeting will be held at the Grace Baptist Church, 220 Buhne Street, Eureka. 

THE NORTH COAST RIVERS:

Chetco River
Guide Val Early of Early Fishing Guide Service reports the rain came in harder than expected earlier in the week and the Chetco went straight up on Tuesday. She said, “According to predictions, we’ll get a bit of a break on Wednesday and then more rain will start on Thursday. With the follow-up storms, I’m not sure it will fish until next week sometime. We’ve had lots of mud from such little, continual, rain. Usually we get little rainstorms that keep the river flowing and the creeks cleaned out, but the way these storms have lined up this year they seem to dump hard and then nothing for a couple weeks. Prior to the rain we were low, clear and very little flow.”

Smith River
After a fairly big rise earlier in the week, the Smith dropped back into shape on Wednesday and was full of fish according to guide Mike Coopman. He said, “Unfortunately those fish will be gone once the river drops back in following the storms that are coming, but I’m expecting the fishing to be really good next week as we’re right in the heart of the season. Looking at the river level predictions, I’m hoping we’ll be back on the water by Monday or Tuesday.”

Eel River (main stem)
After Monday’s rain, the upper section of the main stem remained fishable, while the lower started to turn brown from some of the bigger creeks. On Wednesday, it had cleared enough and was fishable from the forks to the mouth of the Duzen. Scores have been consistent, with boats getting between one and four fish per trip. The next series of storms will knock the main out starting Friday and it’s forecasted to hit monitor stage Saturday morning.

Eel River (South Fork)
Monday’s rain missed the South Fork entirely, and it continues to drop. It’s been low and clear for a couple weeks now, and the fishing has been tough. Most of the anglers had long since moved down to the main. The coming storms will blow it out, but it could drop down to fishable shape late next week.

Van Duzen
Monday’s rain blew out the Duzen on Tuesday when it jumped from 300 to 1,200 cfs. It was still muddy as of Wednesday, and probably won’t fish prior to the next round of storms. It’s forecasted to rise above the 13-foot monitor stage on Friday night.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors, the river was low and clear prior to blowing out on Monday. “There were a few fish being caught, but the conditions definitely hampered the bite. The rise that’s coming should push most of the downers out and bring in some new fish. If the river rises like predicted, it may be a week to 10 days before it turns green again,” Kelly added.

Trinity
The storms that are lined up will likely blow out the entire river, except for the very top from Old Lewiston Bridge down to Indian Creek. Depending on the rainfall amounts, it may only fish down to Rush Creek. The gauge at Hoopa is predicting the river to peak at 27 feet (36,800 cfs) on Saturday morning.

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

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