Steelhead season ending on a wet note

It doesn’t appear the rainy weather will come to an end any time soon, but unfortunately, the winter steelhead season will. Enough rain has fallen over the past week to keep the majority of the coastal rivers high and off color, essentially washing away the last week of steelhead season. As of Wednesday, the only green water available was to the North on the Smith and Chetco. And it looks like those are the only two rivers that will fish prior to the season closing after Sunday. But as one season comes to a close, more will soon open. As the calendar nears April, it’s time to change gears and look towards the next angling opportunity. The rockfish and Pacific halibut openers are right around the corner, and ocean salmon season will open in Shelter Cove mid-April. It’s also time thing about all the spring salmon on the Klamath (hopefully) and the lower Rogue river. There’s redtails to be had from all the local beaches, and the lagoons are full of trout. It’s been a wet and wild steelhead season, but I for one am ready for the next adventure. And a little sunshine wouldn’t hurt either.

Steelhead rivers openings/closures
The main stem of the Smith will remain open through the end of April from its mouth to the confluence with the Middle and South Forks. The Middle fork will also remain open through April from its mouth to Patrick’s Creek. The South Fork is open through April as well, from its mouth upstream approximately 1,000 feet to the County Road (George Tryon) bridge and Craigs Creek to Jones Creek. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from the fourth Saturday in May through Aug. 31. Only barbless hooks may be used from Sept. 1 through Apr. 30. The bag limit remains the same, two hatchery steelhead per day.

The main stem Eel, from its mouth to the South Fork is open to fishing all year. From the mouth to Fulmor Road, only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used from April 1 through the Friday preceding the fourth Saturday in May. Only barbless hooks may be used from fourth Saturday in May through Mar. 31. From Fulmor Road to the South Fork, it’s open from April 1 through September 30. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Only barbless hooks may be used from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.

Sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers are open to fishing, but are subject to in-season changes. For more information, visit The following rivers will close to fishing after March 31: The South Fork Eel, Van Duzen, Mattole, Mad, Redwood Creek, and the Chetco.

Shelter Cove crab feed
The Shelter Cove Fishing Preservation will be holding a crab feed fundraiser on April 13 at the Gyppo Ale Mill Brewery, 1661 Upper Pacific Dr. in Shelter Cove. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased at the general store or from Jake Mitchell. The event starts at 6 p.m. and live music will be provided by Steve Mitchell & Ray Bevatori. Money raised will be going towards startup costs and to the purchase of a new tractor. For more information, visit

HASA fundraiser coming April 27
HASA will be holding their annual fundraiser and social event at the Arcata Community Center on April 27. In 2019, they’re focusing on creating a social event, with less emphasis on some of the fundraising activities. There will still be lots of great door prizes and silent auction items, but the simpler format will allow more time for socializing and telling fish stories. The food will once again be provided by Ramones Bakery and Catering. Tickets are available at the following locations: Englund Marine, Bucksport Sporting Goods, and Pacific Outfitters. For more info, visit their Facebook page at

Brookings ocean update
“Ocean fishing out of Brookings was tough last week with a strong drift from big tides and a mixed swell,” said Andy Martin with Brookings Fishing Charters. “We were able to limit on rockfish daily with a few lingcod mixed in. The ocean has been rough so far this week, but the weekend forecast is looking good.”

Bob Pimmentel of Santa Clara holds one of several steelhead he caught over the weekend fishing the Chetco River with guide Andy Martin. Steelhead season will close on most of the coastal rivers, including the Chetco, on Sunday March 31. Photo courtesy of Andy Martin/Wild Rivers Fishing.

The Rivers:
According to Martin, the Chetco has fished well for so late in the season. “Steelhead fishing closes Sunday evening. The guides still fishing are getting three to six steelhead a day, with a few bright fish mixed in. The plug bite was especially good over the weekend,” added Martin.
Hatchery steelhead are still showing up on the lower Rogue, but it has slowed reports Martin. He said, “A mix of hatchery and wild spring salmon are being caught, and fishing for springers will improve in April, especially once water temperatures rise above 50 degrees.”

Smith River
If you haven’t got your fill of steelhead, the Smith could be a good choice for the weekend. Pressure has been extremely light, and flows are looking good for the weekend. Wednesday’s rain is forecasted to push the river up to 11 feet, which should get the downers on the move and will likely bring in some new fish.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem is predicted to rise back up to 36,000 cfs on Friday, and should drop quickly through the weekend. By Monday it will be back down to 15,000 cfs, which means will need a solid 10 days of dry weather before it gets close to fishable.

Eel River (South Fork)
As of Wednesday, flows were 3,000 cfs on the Miranda gauge and rising. It’s predicted to peak at 8,500 cfs early Friday morning. It’s not likely to drop into fishing shape, even in the upper reaches, by the time is closes on Sunday evening.

Van Duzen
On the rise as of Wednesday and predicted to hit 9,200 cfs by Thursday morning. It’s safe to say the Duzen is done for the season.

Mad River
The Mad is also likely done for the season as it remains high and muddy. Flows are predicted to be right around 4,200 cfs on Saturday, which will keep it off color.

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