“This is the worst I’ve seen it in 22 years of guiding,” said fishing guide E.B. Duggan about the current drought.
Since fishing is tough, the fishing pressure is really low, so if you go out, at least you’ll have most river spots to yourself, Duggan said. But those who try are having to work hard to get a handful of steelhead, and the steelhead that have been caught are not fresh from the ocean, Duggan said. They are more often fish that have been holding in deep pools waiting for the river to rise so they can swim up smaller tributaries to spawn.
Since the water is cold (40 to 45 degrees) anglers must get their bait right in front of the lethargic fish, Duggan said. But then it’s easy to spook them because the water is so clear “you could read a newspaper in three feet of water,” Duggan said.
“Those that are catching fish are catching mostly on glow bugs,” Duggan said.
Today and Sunday will be the last days of minus tides in the most recent wave of opportune times for collecting mussels, clams and other coastal goodies.
The areas allowed for clamming in Del Norte rotate every year, and in 2014 the beaches south of Battery Point are open for clamming.
You might need to bring your headlamp though, as today’s minus tide reaches its lowest point (-0.8 feet) at 7:57 p.m. Sunday’s minus tide will bottom out at -0.13 at 8:43 p.m.
Brookings ocean fishing
With the drought keeping coastal rivers at low levels, fishing guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing has been taking clients out bottom fishing, which is open year-round in Oregon.
Lingcod are returning to coastal waters to spawn earlier than usual, Martin said, providing some good fishing.
On Thursday, Martin’s three customers all took home limits of lingcods and released five others.
The rockfish bite is pretty good as well, Martin said, but neither is wide open since there is such an abundance of krill and baitfish around. Since the fish aren’t that hungry, Martin has had the best luck on smaller baits, especially rootbeer-colored grubs.
“It’s going to remain good for lingcod clear through spring,” Martin said. “More fish will come through March.”
Bottom fishing right now is resembling the “same kind of action you have during the peak of the season in the spring,” Martin said.
Crabbing, on the other hand, is dismal. “We’re not even dropping pots,” Martin said.
The Smith needs rain.
Every part of the Smith River system above Rowdy Creek has been subject to a low-flow closure (below 600 cfs at the Jed Smith gauge) since last week, and there has not been much reported fishing for steelhead below Rowdy Creek either, according to staff at Englund Marine Supply Co. in Crescent City Harbor.
The lower Chetco River is reportedly packed with steelhead, but with low-water levels the only way to fish them is from the bank and the banks are getting mighty crowded, Martin said.
Fishing Contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and Wildriversfishing.com; E.B. Duggan “D” Fishing Guide at 530-629-3554; Englund Marine Supply at 707-464-3230.