Anglers on the Chetco River have been consistently putting up better numbers of steelhead than on the Smith River, although fishing guides said hookups unexpectedly took a plunge on the Chetco as well mid-week.
Without rain in the forecast for either drainage until next Tuesday, steelhead fishing conditions should only get worse.
But as fishing guide Al Kutzkey put it, there’s no better way to check than by hitting the river yourself.
“Just go out, and see what you can do,” he said.
Despite having Goldilocks flow, color and weather, boats on the Chetco went from posting five to nine steelhead per boat over the weekend and on Monday to just one to three fish per boat, according to Kutzkey.
“Conditions are great but the bite just went down a little bit” on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kutzkey said, “On Monday we did very well with seven or eight fish and then — boom! We’re down to two fish.”
Although the bite slowed, Kutzkey said the steelhead caught Wednesday were trophies, with three over 15 pounds.
On the best days in the last couple weeks, guide Tony Sepulveda said anglers were posting double-digits for steelhead on the Chetco.
Guides are side drifting bait, sometimes with yarn and usually fish pills.
Last week’s heavy rain brought more anglers to the Smith River over the weekend, but crowds dropped this week.
One to three steelhead per boat was the average catch this week, according to Phil Desautels of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service.
“Fishing has been fairly good on the Smith if you make some good casts and get your bait rolling nice,” he said.
Guide Tony Sepulveda started fishing the Smith and Chetco the last couple weeks after the main stem of the Eel River came up and went off-color.
“The Smith was giving up a few hookups each day but it was far from wide open. You knew you were only going to get a limited number of opportunities which put the pressure on to make them count,” Sepulveda said in an email.
Fishing guide contacts: Phil Desautels of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service at 707-487-0260; Albert Kutzkey of Kutzkey Guide Service at 530-941-3474; Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures at 707-845-9588.