Fewer Salmon in the Sea in 2021

Fewer fall-run ocean kings are said to be swimming in ocean waters off the coast of California in 2021. According to CDFW, we’ll likely see fishing restrictions again this fall in both the ocean, Sacramento and Klamath Rivers

The news wasn’t pretty at Thursday’s annual Ocean Salmon Information meeting. Not only are the Klamath salmon stocks struggling, the Sacramento stocks took a nosedive, as well. The Klamath River fall Chinook ocean abundance forecast in 2021 is 181,500. This is slightly higher than the 2020 forecast but still well below the long-term average. CDFW hinted there will likely be constraints to fishing opportunities north of Point Arena this season. The real damaging news came from the Sacramento River, where only 271,000 adult fall Chinook are said to be swimming in the ocean. That’s some 200,000 fewer salmon than the 2020 forecast. “Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecasts and spawner returns have been low over the last few years. Fisheries were limited on the northern sections of the California coast last year to reduce impacts on this stock, and that will likely be the case again this year,” said Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Ocean Salmon Project. “Furthermore, with a reduced abundance forecast for Sacramento River fall Chinook, we could be looking at reduced fishing elsewhere along the coast, as well.” What the PFMC chooses to do with these forecasts will be determined in the next couple of months.

Up next, the PFMC will meet virtually March 2 through March 5 and March 8 through March11. Final regulations will be adopted at the April 6 to April 9 and April 12 to April 15 virtual PFMC meeting. Meeting information can be found at: www.pcouncil.org/council-meetings/upcomingmeeting. To view the salmon preseason process, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Salmon/preseason.

The weather ahead
According to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service Office, rain is in the forecast for later in the week. “The first system is well defined and will arrive Thursday evening and continue through Saturday morning,” said Zontos. “Del Norte could see 2 to 3 inches through Sunday and here locally we can expect 1 to 2 inches. Sunday through Wednesday looks wet as well. I don’t think we’ll see substantial totals, but it will keep things wet and keep the river levels up. Another system is developing for late next week but there’s a lot of uncertainty right now.”

Updated freshwater sportfishing regulations begin March 1
The CDFW announced on Monday new freshwater sport fishing regulations that will take effect on March 1, 2021,  and aim to simplify and streamline the laws regulating inland fishing while maintaining and protecting California’s fisheries. The package of updated regulations was adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission in October 2020. It was the largest regulatory inland sport fishing package in the Commission’s history. 
“The underlying goals were to reduce the complexity of inland sport fishing regulations, increase regulatory consistency and remove regulations that are no longer biologically justifiable,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Inland Fisheries Program Manager Roger Bloom. 

Major changes include: 

  • Separate regulations for inland trout (non-anadromous waters) from those for steelhead and salmon (anadromous waters) to make it easier to understand the bag and possession limits, 
  • Replacement of district regulations with statewide regulations separated for trout, and 
  • Standardize and consolidate ”special fishing” regulations. 

CDFW held a series of community meetings in 2018 and 2019 at locations across the state to publicly introduce and discuss proposed changes to simplify statewide inland sport fishing regulations. CDFW proposals and recommendations from the public were then vetted at the January and March 2020 Wildlife Resources Committee meetings. 
Anglers should review the changes as they affect most of the inland trout waters in California. Updates to the regulations can be found both at wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland and wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations.

Brookings ocean update
Calm ocean conditions resulted in very good lingcod and rockfish action Sunday and Monday reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. “Big swells return this week,” said Martin. “The best action is from Twin Rocks to House Rock. Surfperch are biting well at Crissy Field and Lone Ranch State Park, and the fishing pier next to the Coast Guard station in Brookings. Perch fishing will continue to improve in the coming weeks.”

The Rivers:
Chetco/Rogue
“Steelhead fishing was decent early last week on the Chetco but slowed by the weekend with mostly downers being caught,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Top boats are getting a fish or two per boat, with many now going fishless. Rain this week could draw in fresh steelhead and flush some of the downers from higher in the system. Although steelhead fishing is open through March on the Chetco, fishing likely will be on the slow side for the rest of the month. Rogue River anglers are hoping this week’s rain will bring in the first few spring salmon of the season. Steelhead fishing remains fair, with boaters anchoring and running plugs having the best success. Spring salmon season peaks in late April and early May, but rains in March often bring fishable numbers of springers into the Rogue. The Elk and Sixes are slow for steelhead,” added Martin.

Smith River
The Smith is currently low and clear, holding at just under 8 feet on the Jed Smith gauge. The fishing remains tough and not a lot of boats are still trying. Most have moved to other rivers. The storm coming later in the week could, however, breathe new life into the river. It’s predicted to reach 10.5 feet early Saturday morning. If there’s fish still waiting to come in, this jump should do it. It will also bring down the freshly spawned fish out of the tributaries.

Tyler Bishop, of Eureka, holds a nice steelhead caught Monday on the Eel River. Photo courtesy of Alan’s Guide Service

Eel River (main stem)
Running at 2,900 cubic feet per second as of Thursday, the main Eel is in perfect shape. Boats drifting roe or beads are getting one to four fish per trip. There’s a mix of fresh steelhead and some downers are starting to show up. Windy conditions are predicted for both Thursday and Friday. Rain is forecast to hit Friday evening, which will blow the river out for the weekend. Flows are forecast to reach 6,000 cfs by Sunday morning

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork was in perfect shape over the weekend, and there was no shortage of boats. Scores ranged from zero to three fish for boats drifting from Benbow to the forks. The rain coming Friday will push the flows to 1,900 cfs on the Miranda gauge. It could fish again by mid-week with no rain.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was flowing at 300 cfs Thursday and is in perfect condition. Reports have been hard to come by, but plenty of bank anglers are giving it a go. Expect windy conditions Thursday and Friday, followed by rain on Friday night. It’s forecast to blow out Saturday with flows reaching 2,300 cfs.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, the river is in perfect shape and holding steady. “Conditions are just about perfect, but there aren’t a ton of fish around,” said Kelly. “They’re definitely scattered, with mostly fresh ones below the hatchery. There’s also a few above. It looks like the river will fish through Friday, then blow out on Saturday.” The river is predicted to hit 5,000 cfs (10.6 ft.) by Saturday morning.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Now or Never for Coastal Steelhead Season

Rivers conditions are trending toward perfection this week and it’s pretty much now or never for the 2021 winter steelhead season. In what has been called one of the toughest seasons anyone can remember, if the next week or so doesn’t produce some quality fishing, it’s likely the season will go down as a bust. There are plenty of theories about why the steelhead haven’t returned in big numbers but nobody knows for sure. With a little more than a month left in the season, there is time for a resurgence. And if there was ever a time, it would be this week. Conditions on just about every coastal river are — or soon will be — pristine. We’ve had a few “Miracle Marches” in the past and it’s looking like we’re going to need another.

Weather ahead
“We’ll have a few opportunities for light rain in the next few days,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service Office. “The six-day rainfall total, which goes through Monday, is showing less than a tenth of an inch of rain. There is a chance for some rain on Sunday and Monday, but there’s quite a bit of uncertainty right now. If the high pressure moves, we could see some rain. But right now, it looks like most of it will land more to the north. The Chetco is showing a slight increase in flows starting on Monday, March 1. If we do get some rain, it will likely have little impact on the river flows.”

The Beaches
The surfperch bite is starting to heat up along the beaches, depending on the weather conditions. One of the top spots this time of year is stinky beach. Limits are a real possibility using sand crabs or shrimp. King Salmon is also a good location. Surfperch are also biting well at Crissy Field and Lone Ranch State Park near Brookings according to Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters “The action has been improving, with limits possible,” said Martin

The Rivers:
Smith River
The Smith is dropping quickly and is clear, running right around 5,000 cubic feet per second Wednesday. According to guide Mike Coopman, the fishing has been really tough. “We’re getting one to three bites per day,” said Coopman. “There just doesn’t seem to be a bunch of fish around right now. The fish we are catching have been on the small side, running 5 or 6 pounds. I’m hoping we see some fish show up like they did last year in March.”

Parker Lowe, of Yuba City, holds a wild steelhead he caught and released Feb. 20 while fishing the Smith River with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He was using a pearl-pink Corky and roe. Photo courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
“Despite perfect green water, the Chetco is fishing slow after the latest series of storms, with steelhead few and far between,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Half a dozen boats managed just a handful of steelhead on Monday, even though conditions were good. Plunkers had even fewer fish. Spawned out steelhead should appear in the slower runs as the water drops but steelhead fishing likely will continue to taper off in the next few weeks. The Elk and Sixes also have been slow, but have a few steelhead around. The Rogue River is the best bet, with fair fishing.”

Eel River (main stem)
Running at 6.700 cfs as of Wednesday, the main Eel is starting to get a green tint but is still big. Flows are predicted to be around 4,800 cfs by the weekend. It should be in prime condition next week.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork dropped down to a fishable level Tuesday, as flows were right around 2,000 cfs on the Miranda gauge. That’s still a little pushy but the color is good. Fishing is still tough, with boats reporting up to a couple fish per trip. Lots of zeros, as well. River conditions should be good through the weekend as flows will be down to 1,100 cfs by Saturday morning.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was running right around 850 cfs Wednesday and is starting to get some nice color. Flows are predicted to be down to 550 cfs by the weekend and could be a good option.

Mad River The Mad was still high and off color as of Wednesday. Flows were 2,700 cfs and predicted to be down to 1,700 cfs by Saturday. According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, it won’t likely turn green until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Most of the fish being caught are coming just below the hatchery by the liners.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Another Low Return for Klamath Kings in 2020

Following a disappointing 2019 adult fall run on the Klamath, 2020 proved to be only slightly better. Unfortunately, the numbers weren’t enough to get us out of the “overfished” category, and it’s likely we’ll have some severe restrictions both in the ocean and in the Klamath and Trinity rivers in 2021. “Based on this year’s run size, I’d expect very limited fishing opportunity in the coming year,” said Wade Sinnen, senior environmental scientist on the Klamath/Trinity Rivers.

Cam Berloger with a Klamath River Chinook salmon from last fall. Photo courtesy of Fishing the North Coast Guide Service

According to CDFW, the number of returning fall run kings in 2020 was 45,407, which is about half of the long-term average and well short of the 59,068 adults predicted to return. In 2019 only 37,270 adult kings returned. The return of fall Chinook jacks was 9,037 fish, which is also below the long-term average of 17,740. 

Returns to Iron Gate and Trinity hatcheries increased in 2020. A total of 8,331 adults returned to the two hatcheries this fall, while in 2019 on only 5,178 returned. Spawning escapement to the upper Klamath River tributaries (Salmon, Scott and Shasta Rivers), where spawning was only minimally affected by hatchery strays, totaled 5,559 compared to 8,564 in 2019. In 2018 there were 21,109 adults spawned in these tributaries. The Shasta River has historically been the most important Chinook salmon spawning stream in the upper Klamath River, supporting a spawning escapement of 27,600 adults as recently as 2012 and 63,700 in 1935. The escapement in 2020 to the Shasta Riverwas 3,775 adults. Escapement to the Salmon and Scott Rivers was 972 and 812 adults, respectively. 

According to the report, 5,117 fall Chinook adults were harvested in the Klamath Basin recreational fishery, which was well over the 1,296 quota. This was due to the fact that many of the 3-year-old kings were less than 23-inches, and were initially counted as jacks, but in fact were adults. 

Next up is CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information meeting on Feb. 25 from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. The meeting will provide the latest information on California salmon stocks and the outlook for ocean salmon fisheries for the upcoming 2021 season. The public is encouraged to provide comments on potential fishing alternatives for California ocean salmon fisheries in 2021. A panel comprised of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives will be assembled to address questions and collect public input that will be used in developing a range of season alternatives for California salmon fisheries at the March 2-5 and 8-11 Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings. These meetings will be hosted as webinars only and the meeting links, agendas and other materials will be posted as they become available. Contact Ian Pritchard for more information at Ian.Pritchard@Wildlife.ca.gov.

The weather ahead
“We’ll see another round of rain this week that will bring rivers up again then mostly dry weather will follow into next week,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service office. “The next chance for widespread rain will come Thursday through midday Friday. Light rain will continue Friday afternoon into Saturday but will be focused primarily across Del Norte and Humboldt counties. Light rain will dissipate Sunday. Del Norte could see between 2 and 4 inches from Thursday through Sunday. In Humboldt, 1 to 2.5 inches is forecast. Moving into next week, models look really dry. Some models show indications of some very light rain late next week but as of now, it doesn’t look like enough to impact rivers.” 

The Rivers:
Smith River
The Smith was down to 14 feet on the Jed Smith gauge Tuesday and a few boats were plunking. The river will be back to driftable shape for Wednesday and Thursday before going back on the rise starting Friday. Flows are predicted to peak at 13,900 cubic feet per second (13.2 feet) on the Jed Smith gauge early Friday morning. Saturday looks like a plunk day but it should be in driftable shape by Sunday. Fishing remains tough.

Tom Chapman, of Fortuna, left, and son Michael, from San Diego, enjoyed a rainy day on the Smith River last week and landed a nice winter steelhead. Photo courtesy of Tyler Gillespie

Chetco/Rogue
High water has stalled steelhead fishing on the Chetco, keeping drift boats off the river and slowing catch rates for plunkers, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “The river has been blown out for several days and although it could fish Wednesday, it is expected to blow out again at the end of the week and through the weekend. Fishing was slow early last week before Thursday’s decent bite. It has been high and muddy since. The lower Rogue continues to be a solid bet but is also high and muddy now. Guides tried to fish the Elk Monday but it was too high. The Sixes is muddy and over its bank.”

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem is still big and off color and more rain is on the way. Forecast to reach nearly 13,200 cfs on Saturday morning. Will take a week to 10 days to clear, it could fish by next weekend.

Eel River (South Fork)
The higher reaches of the South Fork fished on Monday, but the fishing wasn’t red hot. The lower reaches were green on Wednesday, but not many boats and not many fish reported. Thursday will be it for a few days as the next round of storms will blow it back out. Predicted to reach 3,500 cfs on Friday night, but could be down to a fishable level by Sunday. Next week should be prime conditions.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was running at 1,360 cfs as of Wednesday and never did get close to green. The next storm will push flows back up to 4,000 cfs by early Friday morning. It may be fishable by late next week.

Mad River
The Mad was still flowing around 4,600 cfs on Tuesday and is big and brown. The next set of storms will push it back up to 8,300 cfs early Friday morning. Will likely be off color most of next week. Liners are catching a few right at the hatchery.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on FacebookInstagramYouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Rivers Are Green, But Steelhead Not Easy to Come By

This past weekend saw all of our coastal steelhead rivers turn some shade of green — some emerald and some olive. Condition-wise, it was probably the best we’ve had this season. But pristine conditions only last so long. The next round of storms is forecast for Thursday and that will likely be the end of the green water for now. If you were planning on fishing rivers other than the Smith or possibly the Chetco, you may be out of luck. Green rivers with perfect flows, unfortunately, are only half of the equation that make up winter fishing success. The other is the “silver bullets,” otherwise known as steelhead. And those seem to be lacking in numbers this year. Anglers caught fish over the weekend on all the rivers other than the main Eel but not as many as hoped for, given the conditions. Hopefully the fish show in better numbers soon — we’re starting to run out of days.

The weather ahead
“We’ll have multiple opportunities for rain starting Thursday evening,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The two systems on the way aren’t big storms but they will impact the rivers. The first one will arrive Thursday evening and stick around through Friday morning. A half inch of widespread rain is predicted from Del Norte to Humboldt. The next round will hit Saturday morning and linger into Sunday. This system will impact Del Norte a little more, with up to an inch of rain predicted. In Humboldt, we should see about a half inch.”

Free fishing days this weekend in Oregon
It’s free to fish, crab or clam on the Saturday and Sunday of President’s Day Weekend, Feb. 13-14. During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag and a Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon. Although no licenses or tags are required, all other regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. For more information, visit https://myodfw.com/articles/2021-free-fishing-days-and-events

The Rivers:
Chetco/Elk/Sixes
The Chetco was blown out for a week but fished very well for plunkers Thursday and Friday, and was fair for drift boaters over the weekend, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Flows hit 20,000 [cubic feet per second] from rain and melting snow at the beginning of last week, and dropped to 3,700 by Sunday evening. Big numbers of steelhead shot upriver as flows dropped. Plunkers using large Spin-N-Glos from the gravel bars at Ice Box, Loeb Park and Social Security Bar caught several dozen fish late in the week. Drift boaters encountered dirty water over the weekend but got into a few steelhead side-drifting. Scores were better for boaters that anchored and ran 3.5 MagLips. Prime conditions are expected this week, with another rise by the weekend.”

Manhattan Beach resident Pete O’Campo landed this chrome-bright steelhead on a recent trip to the Chetco River. Photo courtesy of Alan’s Guide Service

Smith River
The Smith is low and clear and the general consensus is the fishing is tough, reports guide Mike Coopman. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of fish in the river right now,” said Coopman. “There were a few days ago but the seals have pushed them through. The fish that are here are spread throughout the river. The fish we’re seeing continue to be real nice ones, with plenty of fish in the teens.” The Smith is predicted for a small rise Friday, with a bigger one coming Saturday. Flows are predicted to peak at 11,700 cfs Saturday evening.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem is starting to turn green but it’s still pretty big. Flows were down to 4,500 cfs on Wednesday but it doesn’t look like it will be in prime shape by the time the next storm hits. Flows are predicted to bottom out Thursday evening at 4,000 cfs, then rise steadily Friday, putting it back at square one.

Eel River (South Fork)
The higher reaches of the South Fork were in perfect shape over the weekend. As of Tuesday, it’s fishable all the way to the forks. Boat pressure was low over the weekend and so were the scores. There were a few more caught Monday and Tuesday, including some downers. The river should fish through Thursday, then increased flows are predicted starting in the evening. It’s predicted to peak at 4,800 cfs Friday afternoon with the next rise predicted for Saturday evening. It will likely be off color through the weekend.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was running at 545 cfs as of Wednesday and has good color. It will be in fishable shape through Thursday, when it’s predicted to blow out again and remain high and off color through the weekend.

Mad River
The Mad was just starting drop into real fishable shape on Tuesday with flows right around 1,300 cfs. The river was still big but the color was looking good. The steelhead fishing remains tough but a few are being caught mainly near the hatchery. With more rain on the way, the green water will stick around through Thursday. Flows are predicted to keep the river high and off color through the weekend.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Green Rivers Headed Our Way

Dick Nettell, of Sacramento, landed a nice winter steelhead Friday while drifting the Smith River. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

After a solid week of rainy weather that turned all the coastal rivers big and brown, it looks like we’re headed toward a green water convergence. Some rain is in the forecast for Wednesday but after that we should begin to see some sunshine and dropping water levels. The Smith will be the first to clear and should be in great shape to drift by Friday. The Chetco will be right behind it and should fish by the weekend. The South Fork Eel will also come into play over the weekend, especially in the higher reaches. The main stem will probably need another week to clear, as will the Van Duzen. The Mad is predicted to be high and off color through the weekend, but should start to green up by midweek. By this time next week, all the rivers should be some shade of green and hopefully loaded with steelhead.

The weather ahead
Following an impressive week of rain, it looks like we’re moving toward a drier weather pattern. “Rain is predicted to fall overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday, but after that, it looks dry,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The models are showing dry conditions through mid-February. There is a chance for rain on the 9th and 10th, but it’s really uncertain at this time. The Climate Center is predicting below normal rainfall through Feb. 15.”

CDFW seeks input on 2021 sport Pacific Halibut season dates
California anglers who are interested in the recreational Pacific halibut fishery are invited to participate in an online survey to help inform the CDFW about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2021 season. Results of the survey, which is open until Feb. 17, will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Pacific halibut fishery takes place off Northern California. The 2021 quota will be 39,000 net pounds, the same quota as in 2019 and 2020.The online survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/RJ6LNGH. For more information on the Pacific halibut fishery in California, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut.

CDFW Annual Salmon Information Meeting
CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information Meeting will be held Feb. 25 from 10: a.m. until 4 p.m. The meeting will provide the latest information on California salmon stocks and the outlook for ocean salmon fisheries for the upcoming 2021 season. The public is encouraged to provide comments on potential fishing alternatives for California ocean salmon fisheries in 2021. A panel comprised of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives will be assembled to address questions and collect public input that will be used in developing a range of season alternatives for California salmon fisheries at the March 2-5 and 8-11 Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings. These meetings will be hosted as webinars only and the meeting links, agendas and other materials will be posted as they become available. Contact Ian Pritchard for more information at Ian.Pritchard@Wildlife.ca.gov.

Brookings ocean update
Ocean anglers out of Brookings will have their first nice ocean conditions of the year this weekend out of Brookings, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Small swells and lighter winds are expected. Fishing may still be tough because of all the freshwater from the Chetco, Smith and Rogue Rivers hitting the saltwater. Bottom fishing is open year round in Oregon.”

The Rivers:
Smith River
The Smith has been blown out the past few days but should be plunkable by Wednesday, according to guide Mike Coopman. “It’s still going to be on the high side the next few days but we should be back to side-drifting on Friday,” said Coopman. “Prior to the latest rise, fishing hadn’t been that great. The top guides were getting a handful of hookups per trip. The fish we’ve been catching, however, are all nice ones. They’re averaging a solid 10 to 12 pounds.”

Chetco/Elk/Sixes/Rogue
The Chetco was fishing well before the latest storms, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Lots of wild and hatchery fish were showing up on the lower river and most guides were getting at least a couple steelhead a day. The river is now high and muddy again, but could fish before the weekend.”

The Lower Rogue has been a bright spot for the whole Oregon Coast and is the only system producing consistent limits or near limits, according to Martin. “Even during Sunday’s sharp rise, steelhead were being caught,” said Martin. “It will be fishable before the end of the week. The Elk reached 7 feet on Monday and is high and muddy. The Sixes is over the bank.”

Eel and Van Duzen rivers
It looks like the break in the weather will finally get these systems down to fishable levels. The top of the South Fork should be fishable by the weekend. Flows are predicted to be roughly 1,400 cubic feet per second by Saturday. The main is still dirty and big, but it’s dropping quickly. The top of the main should fish sometime next week. The Van Duzen peaked Tuesday and is on the drop. Flows are predicted to remain above 1,000 cfs, which will keep it off color.

Mad River
The Mad peaked at 6,700 cfs Tuesday morning and was on the drop. According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, it’s predicted for a small bump in flows Thursday night. “It should be on a slow descent through the weekend, but will likely remain high and off color,” said Kelly. “It should be bait-fishable by mid next week.” The hatchery saw a big return of fish over the last few days, which is good news.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Coastal Rivers Brace for More Rain

McKinleyville resident Scott McBain holds a nice wild steelhead landed on Monday while fishing the Eel River. Photo courtesy of Joe Polos

Just as the steelhead season began to show signs of life, another round of wet storms is set to wreak havoc. All the coastal rivers are bracing for increased river flows certain to curtail any hopes of green water for some time. But these storms bring a little good news with them. For the first time this year, we should see a good amount of snow in the hills. That’s money in the bank for winter steelhead fishermen. As the storms move through and the rivers begin to recede, the runoff from the snow will help keep the water at fishable heights and color. Looking ahead, the Smith could be the river least impacted by the storms. It’s predicted for a big rise overnight Wednesday, but a lot of that precipitation could fall as snow. If that plays out, the Smith could remain fishable. All the other coastal rivers will likely be high and off color well into next week.

The weather ahead
According to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service, we’re in for a wet week with very few breaks. From Tuesday through early Friday morning, 2 to 4 inches of rainfall is forecast for the Smith basin,” said Zontos. “We’ll likely see up to 3 inches in Humboldt. A weaker system is predicted for Friday and into Saturday with a quarter to an inch forecast for Del Norte. Rainfall amounts will be lower here locally. A more powerful storm is forecast for Sunday, bringing another 1 to 2 inches of rain in the Smith and Eel basins. Conditions will begin to calm down Tuesday, as the Climate Center is predicting below normal rainfall through Feb. 9.”

CDFW Annual Salmon Information Meeting webinar only
CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information Meeting will be held on February 25 from 10: a.m. until 4 p.m. The meeting will provide the latest information on California salmon stocks and the outlook for ocean salmon fisheries for the upcoming 2021 season. The public is encouraged to provide comments on potential fishing alternatives for California ocean salmon fisheries in 2021. A panel comprised of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives will be assembled to address questions and collect public input that will be used in developing a range of season alternatives for California salmon fisheries at the March 2-5 and 8-11 Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting. This meeting will be hosted as a webinar only and the meeting link, agenda, other materials will be posted as they become available. Contact Ian Pritchard for more information at Ian.Pritchard@Wildlife.ca.gov.

SF Eel Pikeminnow information wanted
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Wiyot Tribe, and Stillwater Sciences are working together to learn more about how seasonal changes affect invasive Sacramento Pikeminnow distribution in the Eel River. They are looking for data to inform management of the species. If you encounter any Pikeminnow while fishing on the South Fork Eel River between now and March, report the location, date, and approximate length. You can report at https://www.inaturalist.org/, email to pikeminnow@wildlife.ca.gov. or leave a message at 707-725-1015.

The Rivers
Smith River
“Fishing has been pretty good this week,” said guide Mike Coopman. “The river is low and clear, but there’s a few spots that are holding fish. If your timing is right, you can do well. We’re averaging between three and six hookups per day, and all the fish are nice ones. Quite a bit of rain is predicted this week but if it stays cold, the river could remain fishable. It all depends on if it falls as rain or snow. Boat pressure has been light,” he added.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes/Rogue
Bigger tides have brought fresh schools of steelhead into the lower Chetco but rains could blow the river out again by the end of the week, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Fishing is still slow to fair but some guides are getting two to three steelhead a day,” said Martin. “The best fishing has been on the lower river, where hatchery steelhead are showing up at Freeman, the North Fork and Glassy Flat. Plunkers had a few good days last week and should do well again with this week’s rain.”

Athena Hartley of Ashland, Ore., holds a wild steelhead she caught Jan. 23 on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The fish was donated to the hatchery broodstock program. She was using a Corky and roe. Photo courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing

The Lower Rogue has been fishing well near the old mill, according to Martin. “Boaters are anchoring and catching wild and hatchery steelhead on 3.5 MagLips. Plunkers are getting fish at Huntley Park and Lobster Creek. The Elk and Sixes have been slow overall for steelhead, but should see new fish with this week’s bigger tides and rain,” said Martin.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem Eel has been fishing since last week and was just starting to kick out some decent numbers of fish. The river blew out on Wednesday, and a bigger rise is predicted for Monday. It’s forecast to hit 65,000 cfs early Tuesday morning. It’ll need a week to 10 days of dry weather to clear.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork was in great shape over the weekend and there were quite a few boats taking advantage of the conditions. There were a few fish caught and scores ranged from zero to three fish per boat. It’s also blew out Wednesday, but forecast to be down to a fishable level by the weekend. Don’t expect green water. It’s predicted for another steep rise on Monday topping out at roughly 12,000 cfs.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen had been in fishable shape for the past week, but that looks to change. Flows were under 200 cfs Tuesday but predicted for a small rise up to 800 cfs on Thursday. It will likely be off color through the weekend. Another big rise is predicted for Monday where it could reach 13,500 cfs.

Mad River
According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, fishing remains a little tough on the Mad. “It hasn’t been great but it does seem that more fish are starting to show up,” said Kelly. “Most of the fish are still congregating near the hatchery. With the storms coming this week, conditions will change dramatically. The river is predicted to blow out Wednesday and will likely be dirty through the weekend.” Kelly added. As of Thursday, the river was flowing at 2,300 cfs and rising. Predicted for a big rise starting Sunday night, peaking around 8,500 cfs on Tuesday morning.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Rivers Are Prime but Steelhead are Slow to Show

Eight-year-old Bryson Blevin, along with dad Tyler, are all smiles after the young angler landed his first-ever steelhead while fishing the Mad River on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Ashley Christie

Last week’s storms finally provided some of the flushing and scouring our coastal rivers desperately needed. As they’ve all now dropped back into fishable shape, the question has become, “where are the fish?” Other than the Chetco, which is dealing with some slides, all the coastal rivers are some shade of green and fishable. There just seems to be a lack of steelhead in all the rivers. But before we it the panic button, we went through this same scenario last year. For reasons unknown, the fish were late to show last year as well. By the time February rolled around, all the rivers were full of steelhead. Let’s hope for the same this year.

Weather outlook
According to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service, our next chance for rain will be Thursday and Friday. “It will be wet but totals will be very small,” said Zontos. “We could see up to 1/10 of an inch but it won’t be enough to increase any river flows. The next system is forecast for Sunday through Monday, but the totals are still up in the air. There are indications that a bigger system is building for next Tuesday that could stick around through the week. There’s some uncertainty with this one but the Climate Prediction Center is predicting above normal precipitation from Jan. 24 through the 29th.”

Low flow fishing closures set to end
Special low flow regulations that went into effect on Oct. 1 for the Eel River, Mattole, Redwood Creek, Smith, Van Duzen, and Sept. 1 on the Mad, will end on January 31. Until then, low flow restrictions remain in effect. Currently, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures are open.

The Rivers
Smith River
River conditions were excellent over the weekend but the fishing was tough. With the Chetco still off color Saturday, the boat pressure was extremely high on the Smith. A few fish were caught but not many. The river is dropping and clearing, and conditions will get tougher. Hopefully the next round of storms will bring in more fish.

Santa Rosa residents Rob Crane, with fish, along with Dan Sayre landed a nice steelhead last Saturday on the Smith River. Photo courtesy of Aaron Walker

Chetco/Elk/Rogue
A couple slides have prevented catch rates from busting wide open on the Chetco, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Flows are below 3,600 cubic feet per second and there are plenty of signs of fish, but slides on the South Fork and just above Loeb Park have visibility down to just a foot. Steelhead can be seen splashing as they move upriver and plunkers are getting some fish, but drift boaters are finding them few and far between. Expect the color to improve significantly as the river drops.”

Fishing has been good on the lower Rogue for shore-based plunkers and boaters anchoring and running MagLip plugs, according to Martin. “There are hatchery and wild fish being caught, and flows are good for steelhead fishing. The Elk also has been fishing fairly well. Pressure is up since some other rivers are still high and muddy,” added Martin.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem is fishable and dropping quickly. Flows were down to 3,600 cfs on Monday and it was turning green. Predicted to be down to 2,200 cfs by the weekend with lack of rain this week, it will be a good option.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork was in great shape over the weekend and drew quite the crowd. The fishing wasn’t red hot. Most boats got the opportunity at a fish but there were plenty of skunks. It’s predicted to be around 600 cfs by the weekend.

Van Duzen
The Van Duzen was down to 300 cfs as of Tuesday and is very fishable. There were plenty of bank anglers taking advantage over the weekend but reports were hard to come by.

Mad
The Mad is in perfect shape and flowing at 450 cfs as of Wednesday. Prime conditions drew lots of boats and bank anglers over the weekend, but the fishing wasn’t red hot. Anglers caught some nice fish at the hatchery, including one that weighed nearly 20 pounds. The river should be in great shape the rest of the week and it’s probably your best option to land a steelhead.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Steelhead Fishing on Hold as Storm Blows Through

A powerful yet quick storm blew through the area on Tuesday, forcing winter steelhead anglers to hit the pause button. The bad news is it dumped a bunch of water quickly, turning coastal rivers brown. The good news is it didn’t stick around long. As quickly as the rivers rose, they are forecast to drop nearly as fast. The rivers to our north, the Smith and Chetco, took the brunt of the storm. Both will reach their highest flows this season but, miraculously, will be ready for fishing by the weekend. There’s an outside chance the higher reaches of the South Fork Eel could be ready by Sunday. The Mad should round into fishing shape by early next week and the main Eel will be right behind it. With drier weather on the horizon, expect to see some prime steelhead conditions next week.

Weather outlook
A fairly sizeable storm moved its way across the North Coast Tuesday and Wednesday, taking with it the rivers that were on the verge of turning steelhead green. “Over the course of the two days, the Smith basin will see 3 to 6 inches, with the higher amounts falling in the mountains. Locally, we’re looking at 1 to 2 inches,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “We’ll begin to dry out on Thursday and the rest of the week through the weekend is looking dry as well. There is another chance of rain mid next week but there’s quite a bit of uncertainty in the models. It’s looking more like it will move well to our north. Through Jan. 25, the climate center is calling for below normal precipitation

The Rivers:
Smith River
The Smith blew out Tuesday as flows hit 76,500 cubic feet per second (25.8 ft.) on Wednesday morning on the Jed Smith gauge. It was plunkable on Thursday but it was big. Conditions are looking good for Friday through the weekend for drifting. Overall, the fishing has been tough. Scores are ranging from zero to two per boat, with a lot more zeros than twos. Hopefully, the big rise will bring in more fish.

Ryan Parhaniemi of Maple Valley, Wash., holds an 18-pound hatchery steelhead caught Jan. 9 on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He was using a 3.5 MagLip plug. Photo courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing

Chetco River/Lower Rogue
“Steelhead fishing was improving on the Chetco before this week’s big storm arrived,” said Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “During high water conditions late last week and on Monday, fishing was fair, with most boats getting a fish or two, and plunkers catching steelhead on the lower river gravel bars. Side-drifting roe or beads, or running plugs in the softer water close to shore produced steelhead to 18 pounds over the weekend. Depending on how much rain falls mid-week, the Chetco could fish again by Saturday, but also could be blown out through the weekend. Expect peak season type fishing as the Chetco drops.”

According to Martin, the Sixes has been blown out for more than a week, while the Elk fished slowly for steelhead on Sunday, with lots of boats and only a few fish caught. “The lower Rogue was a good bet before Monday night’s storm, with plunkers and jet boaters getting fish over the weekend.”

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem was days away from fishable water but the storms will push back any chance of green water for quite a while. Flows were down to 3,500 cfs Tuesday but the rains have it hitting 19,000 cfs mid-day Thursday. It’s predicted to drop quickly and could fish late next week.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork dropped into fishable shape Monday, but was back on the rise as of Tuesday afternoon. There were a few fish caught Sunday and Monday in the Benbow area, but it was not red hot. The river was at 8,900 cfs and still rising on Wednesday afternoon at Miranda. It’s forecasted to drop to a fishable height by the weekend, but the water color could be an issue.

Van Duzen
The Duzen was down to 500 cfs and was fishable Tuesday. Unfortunately, flows were headed back up as of Tuesday afternoon. Flows were at 2,800 cfs Wednesday afternoon and still going up. It’s forecasted for a quick drop, and could be under 600 cfs by early next week.

Mad River
The Mad was just turning green on Tuesday morning, according to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors. He said, “The river was bait fishable on Tuesday, but it was starting to get dirty in the afternoon. Fishing has been a little slow, most of the action has been right at the hatchery. There have been some caught below, but not as many. Looks like it will be brown through Saturday but it might start to drop back in on Sunday. Next week should be prime.” Flows were at ,5,000 cfs on Wednesday afternoon and starting to level off. It’s also forecast to drop quickly, and should be green sometime early next week.

Kenny Priest (he/him) operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Smith River Best Bet for Green Water

If you’re in pursuit of steelhead-green water this weekend, you’ll probably need to head north. With the Chetco blown out for potentially another week, the Smith may be the only game in town for quite some time. It looks to be a little unstable through Saturday but is forecasted to remain at fishable levels. Friday looks to be marginal for drifting but should be good for the plunkers. Locally, all stretches of the Eel, Van Duzen, Mad and Redwood Creek are currently blown out. A couple smaller storms will move through the area this week, keeping local rivers dirty through the weekend and well into next week. If you’re looking get your steelhead fix this weekend, your best bet is to head north.

Weather ahead
According to Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service, there are a few more opportunities for rain this week. “The first system will arrive on Wednesday,” said Zontos. “The Smith basin could see up to a half inch, and Humboldt will see between .5 and .75 inches. The next chance of rain will be late Thursday and will stick around through Friday. The Smith can expect 1 to 1.5 inches while Humboldt may see up to .75 inches. There is a chance of rain over the weekend but the models are showing that it may fall to the north. There are additional opportunities for rain on Monday and Tuesday in the Smith basin, but it probably won’t add up to much.”

The Rivers:
Smith River
Steelhead fishing is still pretty tough on the Smith, according to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. “The river was high on Tuesday and very few boats out. I did hear of a few caught by the plunkers. But overall, there just aren’t many around yet. They’ll show when they show,” Coopman added. Flows on the Smith are predicted to fluctuate through Friday, but conditions for the weekend are looking favorable.

Fred Simon of Klamath Falls, Ore., holds a 12-pound hatchery steelhead caught New Year’s Day on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
Just as the Chetco was showing signs of getting good, the big New Year’s Day rain blew everything out, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Several boats got into hatchery steelhead on the lower end Jan. 1, while plunkers also were catching steelhead,” said Martin. “The river blew out Sunday morning and will be too high all this week for drift boats. Expect plenty of fish throughout the system as it drops next week.”

The Elk and Sixes also blew out Sunday, according to Martin. “The Elk should be fishable before the end of the week, but the Sixes will be high and muddy for a while. The Elk reached 6.5 feet. It fishes best around 4 feet or less. The lower Rogue was also just getting good on New Year’s Day before it also blew out. Guide John Anderson got three steelhead anchoring and fishing MagLip plugs on Jan. 1,” added Martin.

Eel River (main stem)
The main stem blew out Monday and will likely be off color until sometime late next week. Prior to blowing out, boats were getting zero to a couple chances per trip on adults. There are plenty of half-pounders around to keep you busy.

Eel River (South Fork)
The South Fork peaked at roughly 5,200 cubic feet per second early Tuesday morning, running high and muddy. After a couple smaller rises later in the week, it could be fishable early next week, predicted to be around 1,000 cfs by Sunday morning.

Van Duzen
The Duzen hit nearly 6,000 cfs Monday evening and will likely be muddy through the week and weekend. Predicted to be down to 650 cfs by Monday. Should have plenty of fresh steelhead around once it starts to turn green.

Ten-year-old Asha Quinlan, of Arcata, landed this nice hatchery steelhead on Dec. 31,2020, while fishing the Mad River. Photo by Richard Burrow

Mad River
The Mad has been the most consistent steelhead producer in Humboldt and even that has been slow, according to Justin Kelly of Eureka’s RMI Outdoors. He said, “The river blew out on Monday and, prior to that, it had been pretty quiet. You had to move around until you found something. It was slow for the boats as well; they were lucky to get a fish per boat over the weekend. There just wasn’t a lot of fish around, hopefully these rises will bring in a bunch.” With more rain on the way, the Mad will be off color through the weekend. Visit the Mad River Steelhead Derby website to view the current leaderboard.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com

Steelhead Anglers Dealing with Tough Conditions

Dave McGrouther of Menlo Park holds a 15-pound steelhead he caught and released Dec. 27 while fishing the Smith River with guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips. He was using roe near Jedediah Smith State Park. Photo courtesy of Lunker Fish Trips

From high water to low water back to high water, North Coast rivers are all feeling the effects of the yo-yo syndrome. We’ve had some good storms roll through the area, bringing with them some decent river rises. Unfortunately, dropping flows have been as abrupt as the rises. This recipe does not make for quality steelhead angling. Having storms closer together keeping water levels a little more consistent, along with some snow in the hills, would be ideal. But this is 2020 and Mother Nature is going down swinging. And it looks like more of the same on the horizon. Storms later this week will bring the river levels way up, but they’ll descend just as quickly, making for a narrow window of opportunity.

The weather ahead
“We have two batches of rain headed our way,” said Scott Carroll of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The first system is forecast to arrive Wednesday afternoon and stick around into Thursday. A more significant storm is set to arrive Friday night and will linger through the weekend, with the majority of the rain falling on Sunday. The Smith basin could see an inch on Sunday, and we’ll see slightly less here locally. Rainfall totals for both of these systems combined is roughly 3 inches in the Smith basin, and up to 2 inches in Humboldt.”

New sport rockfish regulations coming in 2021
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the CDFW announced multiple changes to the sport rockfish regulations starting in 2021. Changes that pertain to the Northern Management area, which runs from the CA-OR border south to Cape Mendocino include:

  • Elimination of sub-bag limits for black rockfish, canary rockfish and cabezon within the 10-fish Rockfish, Cabezon, Greenling (RCG) complex daily bag limit.
  • A new sub-bag limit of five vermilion rockfish within the 10-fish RCG complex daily bag limit.
  • The ‘All Depth’ fishery in the Northern and Mendocino Management Areas will continue each November and December, unless modified by an in-season action.

For the complete list of regulation changes, visit https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/new-recreational-groundfish-regulations-for-2021/
The 2020 rockfish season in the Northern Management area will close for boat-based anglers on Thursday, Dec. 31. Rockfish is open year-round for divers and shore-based anglers. For more information about recreational groundfish regulations, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Groundfish-Summary#north

Mad River Steelhead Derby to start Jan. 1
The Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association’s (NCGASA) second annual Mad River Steelhead Derby starts on Jan. 1 and run through March 31. Anglers must be signed up prior to Jan. 1 to be eligible to win cash and prizes. Only hatchery steelhead can be entered. The largest steelhead wins $500, second place $300 and third place $150. A youth division winner (16 and under) wins a $150 tackle gift card. In addition, anglers who submit a winning video of their catch in action get a $100 gift card to Bucksport Sporting Goods. Anglers can sign up online at www.ncgasa.org or in person at RMI Outdoors and Bucksport. Part of the proceeds benefit the Mad River Steelhead Stewards volunteer angler’s broodstock collection program that works in concert with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information, visit www.madriversteelheaderby.com #madriversteelheadderby

The Rivers:
Smith
The Smith dropped back into shape on Sunday. Boat pressure was very light, and only a couple adult steelhead were landed. There continues to be no shortage of half-pounders. Should remain in fishable shape through Saturday before blowing out on Sunday. Might not fish until mid next week.

Chetco/Elk/Sixes
The Chetco blew out over the weekend, reaching 9,000 cubic feet per second on Saturday, but was down to 5,100 cfs on Sunday night reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “It will be in prime shape this week before another big storm arrives to start the new year,” said Martin. “Plunkers caught a few steelhead Sunday in the high water. Catch rates tend to accelerate in early January on the Chetco, and often remain good through February.”
According to Martin, the Elk and Sixes are kicking out a few late salmon. He said, “Guides reported catching salmon and steelhead on Sunday on the Elk while the Sixes was still blown out. Salmon season ends Dec. 31 on the Sixes, but continues into January on the Elk, where fish will trickle in all winter.”

Main stem Eel
The main stem was fishable as of Wednesday and dropping quickly. Predicted to be at 1,300 cfs on the Scotia gauge by Thursday, but will begin to rise in the afternoon. Should remain fishable on Friday, but will likely blow out on Sunday.

South Fork Eel
The South Fork was below 300 cfs on Wednesday, but is forecasted to rise on Thursday. It should be fishable through Friday, but might be off color for the weekend. A few bright steelhead have been caught.

Van Duzen
Flowing at just below 200 cfs as of Wednesday. Wednesday night’s rain has the flows reaching 600 cfs on Thursday morning. Muddy conditions are likely through the weekend. Reports have been hard to come by so far, but there should be some steelhead around once it clears.

Mad
The Mad has been the place to be for winter steelhead. The river isn’t plugged with fish, but there are some really nice fish being caught each day. Following rain on Wednesday night, the river is predicted to blowout on Thursday. Will likely be off color through the weekend. Muddy conditions haven’t slowed the angling pressure.

Kenny Priest operates Fishing the North Coast, a fishing guide service out of Humboldt specializing in salmon and steelhead. Find it on
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.fishingthenorthcoast.com. For up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information, email kenny@fishingthenorthcoast.com