A wet and wild finish to September, with 6–10 inches of rain reported in some parts of Del Norte County, attracted a large number of chinook salmon into local rivers, starting the season on the Smith River much earlier than usual.
Once the Smith dropped to a fishable level Tuesday, after peaking at 40,000 cubic feet per second over the weekend, several anglers took an early crack at fall chinook.
Fishing guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said that one to three salmon were caught per boat Tuesday and many were in the 30- to 35-pound range.
“I thought that was a good sign to see real healthy, larger-than-normal fish,” said Martin, who fished from the Hiouchi Bridge downstream.
Bob Baitinger of Quincy, Calif., caught a chrome bright king salmon near Peacock Bar while fishing with Martin on Tuesday. The king hit a Fickle Pickle colored T50 FlatFish.
Salmon fishing was much slower Wednesday, with anglers struggling to get one fish per boat or less, Martin said.
Lower Klamath River
The Lower Klamath River peaked at 22,800 cfs over the weekend, but even before the rain came, a large number of salmon was reported to have entered the river Friday, fueling some anglers’ argument that fish sense when the rain is coming.
Only 100 adult salmon were recorded as being caught below the Highway 101 bridge in the last week of September, with another 54 recorded above the bridge, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
That brings the lower Klamath season sport harvest total to 12,701, still well below the 20,003 salmon quota for the season.
Crescent City ocean
Captain Craig Strickhouser of Tally Ho II Sportfishing said that bottom fishing is still in great shape out of Crescent City as long as the ocean is calm enough to get out. Strickhouser was able to find his clients limits of rockfish and three lingcods during a trip last week.
Chetco bubble fishery
The Chetco River ocean bubble fishery started Tuesday and runs through Oct. 13, when anglers are allowed to troll the estuary or fish from the bank for fall salmon.
Guide Martin said the ocean was too rough to troll the estuary on the first two days of October, but he planned on trying the “bubble season” today. It is usually a great time to catch large salmon staging outside the river mouth, but with the early, large rain event, it might be different this year, Martin said.
Fishing guide contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082; Tally Ho Sportfishing at 707-464-1236.