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Reel Deal: ‘Everyone is going to catch fish the next few days’

Butch Bray, of Murphy, with a native steelhead trout (estimated at 12 pounds) caught on the Smith River with Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. Courtesy of Mike Coopman
Butch Bray, of Murphy, with a native steelhead trout (estimated at 12 pounds) caught on the Smith River with Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. Courtesy of Mike Coopman
Editor’s note: The Reel Deal fishing column will appear every Thursday.

After the Smith River came back down, steelhead trout fishing continued to be some of the best in years.

The water also changed colors from chocolate brown during the storms last week to the “steelhead green” color that is just cloudy yet calm enough for good fishing, said guide Kevin Brock.

“Everybody is catching fish,” said local fishing guide Mike Coopman.  On Tuesday, Coopman guided three men who hooked six fish and landed four — his first day back since the storms.

With the river still pretty high and Coopman behind the oars, he said he was “beat” from Tuesday’s fishing. He’s hoping the rain holds off, which would make for easier fishing.

“The river is at a fragile stage right now,” Coopman said. “Another two inches of rain will push it over that drift boat level.”

Only about an inch of rain was expected for Del Norte County from Wednesday night through today.

Slight rainfall made the Smith crest at 16 feet at 8 a.m. Wednesday, then start dropping. The river is expected to hover around 14.5 feet Thursday and should decline throughout the dry weekend in the forecast.

Coopman said he doesn’t like  drift boating when the river is higher than 13 feet, but shoreline fishing has been very productive too.

“You don’t need a boat to catch a fish right now — no doubt about that,” Coopman said.

Green-and-red or orange “spin ’n’ glo’s” with or without a piece of roe will be good for plunking (fishing with enough weight to keep the lure in one spot) from the bank or a boat, Coopman said. He recommended fishing the slower water on the inside edges of the main current, where steelies like to rest.

Brock also recommended the time-tested glo bugs yarn, shrimp-pink colored with a little piece of roe.

“Without any large amount of rain, it’ll fish from (Wednesday) through the weekend, Brock said  Tuesday. “Everyone is going to catch fish the next few days.”

Brock said the Chetco might  calm down enough to fish by Sunday, but right now “it’s just too high,” he said.

“Only thing that’s fishing right now in the state of California is the Smith River,” Coopman said, adding that the Chetco and Sixes rivers are “blown out” or too high.

Winter ocean fishing is hampered by surging tides that keep fish away from the shores and keep small fishing boats off the water. If conditions are fair, crabbing is still in full swing.

Fishing tip of the week: Spray shrimp scent on your “Glo bug yarn” and “fish will hang on longer,” Brock said.

Reach fishing guide Kevin Brock at 888-995-5543.  Reach fishing guide Mike Coopman at 707-465-1367.

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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