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Reel Deal: Rain means time to fish the Smith

Don’t drop anchor when other fishermen are present on rivers

Courtesy Wild Rivers Fishing Jeff and Brandon Chambers of Sacramento hold up a pair of king salmon caught Thursday on the Smith River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The salmon were caught on MagLip plugs with a sardine wrap. They drifted from the Outhouse to the county ramp on Fred Haight Drive.
Courtesy Wild Rivers Fishing Jeff and Brandon Chambers of Sacramento hold up a pair of king salmon caught Thursday on the Smith River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The salmon were caught on MagLip plugs with a sardine wrap. They drifted from the Outhouse to the county ramp on Fred Haight Drive.
Nobody loves the rain more than a Smith River fisherman, and dozens of anglers took to the Smith this past week to get in on some chinook salmon action with the first big rains of the season.

Even though it’s late in the Klamath River season, the bite continues with monster-sized salmon reported to be entering the system.

There’s still five more days left for catching groundfish on the ocean (Del Norte’s season closes Wednesday), but the forecast doesn’t look calm enough to take advantage — but it’s your call.

Smith River

Since Monday, the Smith River has been above the low-flow closure and therefore fishable above the mouth of Rowdy Creek. The river should remain fishable through next week, although it’s dropped quickly as usual.

The flows on the Smith were high enough this week for back-trolling plugs, which were used to catch many chinook, with the best time being in the early morning hours.

“There are bright fish spread out from the Bailey Hole all the way to Jed Smith,” wrote fishing guide Andy Martin in an email Thursday. “From the Forks to Jed Smith it’s mainly darker fish and a lot of jacks.”

Fishing guide Jim Mitchell recommended Kwikfish plugs, using the smaller sizes (k14) for faster water, the big size (k16) for slow water, and k15 for medium-fast water.  An evenly placed piece of sardine tied to the lure with something strong like Spiderwire line will add enough smell to make it more appealing. Use fresh sardines and replace them after being in the water for a half-hour.

But now that the river dropped back down, Mitchell said it’s time for fishing with bobbers, which can also be done from the bank.

First figure out how deep the hole is where you plan to fish, using a heavy weight and a piece of yarn to mark the length on your fishing line. Then fish a couple feet off the bottom, using a large chunk of roe, a three-foot leader, a slip weight, and a slip bobber.

In the early morning hours, Mitchell recommended fishing from the bank or boat with glow-in-the-dark lures or slowly retrieving Kastmasters from a boat or the bank.

River etiquette

Don’t plop your anchor down in a hole when there are other fishermen present, Mitchell would like to remind the angling community.

Proper river etiquette is to take turns passing through the hole when you’re back-trolling plugs or back-bouncing roe, and plugs work better when they’re slowly pushed through a hole via back-trolling.

Klamath River

The lower Klamath River is reported to be taking in some huge chinook salmon, even this late in the season, said Tony Sepulveda with Green Water Fishing Adventures, whose group landed a 34-pounder this week.

“Further upstream we’ve had wide open action on fish that are a little colored up. While not prime eaters, we’ve had some fun days with huge numbers,” Sepulveda said.

“There are still a few hardy souls out fishing. This week’s rain may bring in some more fresh fish, but the majority of the fall fish are in the river already,” said Sara Borok, environmental scientist with the state’s Klamath River Project. There have been 8,006 adult chinook caught in the lower Klamath beneath the falls at the Highway 96 bridge. More steelhead have been moving into the system, Borok said.

Trinity R., Willow Creek

The Redding Record Searchlight reports: “ Good numbers of big steelhead are swimming upstream through the lower river centered on Willow Creek, and are being taken by both driftboaters pulling plugs, as well as bank anglers swinging lures and even flies.”

Fishing guide contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082; Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 707-464-8482; Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures at 707-845-9588.

Reach Adam Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  

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