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Real Deel: Season’s best steelhead fishing on Smith

Cody Gardner, of Smith River, caught this trophy-sized steelhead on the Smith River near the covered bridge Saturday.
Cody Gardner, of Smith River, caught this trophy-sized steelhead on the Smith River near the covered bridge Saturday. Photo courtesy of Cody Gardner
Smith River steelhead anglers were treated to the best fishing of the season so far this past week, after hundreds of steelhead pushed into coastal river systems with recent rainstorms.

Smith River 

Although the steelhead bite  on the Smith River dropped off a bit Wednesday with a dropping river, fishing was great for most of this week with high concentration of steelhead from the Hiouchi Forks down to the Hiouchi bridge reported by guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips.

The steelhead were more scattered in the lower river below U.S. Highway 101 on Wednesday, but his group still hooked a few fish, Thomas said.

“Even for low, clear conditions, there are quite a few fish in the system,” Thomas said, adding that he’s been primarily side-drifting yarn and a puff ball with bait.

There was still plenty of water in the Smith on Wednesday for the newly arrived steelhead to be on the move nightly, swimming further up into spawning grounds.

Bank fishermen have been doing really well above the Hiouchi Forks on both the South Fork and Middle Fork Smith, Thomas said.

Chetco River

Even though the Chetco river had upwards of 40 boats fishing on the lower river Wednesday, anglers were still limiting out on steelhead, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

And the steelhead bite was even better Monday and Tuesday when Martin said the river was “wide open.”

Scott Stewart of the Chetco Outdoor Store said several boats caught steelhead in the double digits earlier this week, with anglers doing well plugging, plunking, side drifting, back-bouncing and drift fishing from the bank.  As the river drops back down to an estimated 700 cubic feet per second Sunday, the steelhead bite has cooled off a bit.

“The river still has a nice color, even up high, but it’s definitely dropping fast,” Martin said.

The high fishing pressure on the Chetco might drop off with regional rivers like the Coquille and South Umpqua coming into play, but Martin plans on sticking to the Chetco “because there are a lot of fish,” he said.  “This seems to be a pretty big run this year.”

Plunkers at Social Security Bar were watching several pods of steelhead go by this week, Martin said.

Lower Klamath River

The weekend rain wasn’t much for a giant river like the Klamath, but it seemed to be just enough to provide some prime steelhead fishing for the clients of Per-gish Carlson of Blue Creek Guide Service.

On Tuesday, Carlson’s groups landed 14 adult steelhead in the 7- to 8-pound range, with the largest being a 14-pounder caught near Blake’s Riffle, Carlson reported to Myoutdoorbuddy.com.

Fishing contacts: Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips at 707-458-4704 and Lunkerfishtrips.com; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and Wildriversfishing.com; Blue Creek Guide Service at 707-482-0579.

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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