I never suspected that it would be one of the driest seasons on record and that we would be saying the same thing for Christmas. But there I was yesterday, enjoying the persistent sun with visiting family and looking at a Smith River that was running as low as it looked in July.
It has not been a good season for coastal river fishermen. The rivers are low, clear and sometimes too cold.
Somehow, some anglers are still posting decent adult steelhead numbers, however, including the North Coast’s U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman who caught a nice adult steelhead in the lower river while fishing with guide Mike Coopman.
On the Chetco River, guide Andy Martin admitted that fishing is tough, but he said fresh steelhead are coming from the salt daily with the tides.
Some adult steelhead are certainly in the Smith River right now despite the low, clear flows, but they will take some work to catch.
Fishing guide Jim Mitchell said he whacked the half-pounders on “yarnies” dipped in roe juice or shrimp oil in the lower Smith recently and also hooked up with some larger steelies that got away.
Whacking half-pounders is a poor replacement for side-drifting on a steelhead green river and most anglers are looking forward for the rain to come.
Fresh steelhead and even the occasional fresh salmon continue to move into the Chetco River daily with the tides, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
“Fishing conditions are challenging, however, and except for a few stretches on the lower river, the Chetco is too low to side drift,” Martin said. “We have been pulling over to the shore and drift fishing small roe clusters and tiny Corkies.”
There has been a good number of steelhead in the 15 to 18 pound range and even the occasional bright salmon, Martin said.
“We caught two (salmon) last week while steelhead fishing,” Martin said. “In the upper river, there are groups of steelhead everywhere the salmon are spawning.”
Since there is no rain in the Chetco’s forecast, Martin said he is considering fishing on the Umpqua River for awhile, where the steelhead season is starting nicely.
Willow Creek Weir Count
Report by E. B. Duggan, “D” Fishing Guide:
The weir was removed Dec. 11. The 2013 Fall Chinook return to the Trinity River is not even half of what returned last year at this time.
Week ending Dec. 11, 2013: Fall Chinook: 0, for a total of 823 chinook (2012 season total: 2,603); Coho this week: 0, for a total of 571 coho (2012 season total 2,603); Steelhead ½ lb’ers this week: 2, for a season total of 112; steelhead adults this week: 0, season total 2,033 steelhead adults (2012 steelhead adults season total: 3,594).
Fishing Contacts: Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at (707) 464-8482 and www.gotchahookedfishtrip.com; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and Wildriversfishing.com; E.B. Duggan “D” Fishing Guide at 530-629-3554; Mike Coopman’s Guide Service at 707-218-4501.