A rain-packed weekend should bring more salmon and steelhead into the Smith and Chetco Rivers as well as the Elk and Sixes rivers, which usually have their peaks at this time of year.
Jeff Johnson hooked a 32-lb. hatchery chinook on the Smith River this week. Courtesy of Jim Mitchell
Steelhead are spread throughout the Klamath/Trinity system, and the South Fork of the Trinity opened to catch-and-release fishing on Nov. 1 since it has all wild steelhead.
Low and clear water on the Smith and Chetco has made for scrappy conditions, but guides predict that to change this weekend with heavy rainfall expected.
Despite the meager conditions on the Smith, anglers have been able to find a few chinook salmon even though they are not widespread, said guide Tony Sepulveda.
“I never had a goose egg, but we had to grind it out for what we got,” Sepulveda said. “We’ll probably see a bit of an upswing with this rain we have coming.”
Sepulveda has been back-bouncing roe for the most part, save for getting a Kwikfish bite early in the morning.
Guide Jim Mitchell has taken to bobber fishing in the deep holes with the low-water conditions and pulling plugs when the river is high enough. While fishing with Mitchell, Jeff Johnson caught a 32-pound bright hen and a 35-pound copper-colored buck.
Although it doesn’t seem like the last rain brought that many fish into the Chetco, guide Andy Martin said there are fish in all of the big holes.
Martin has been targeting the upper Chetco, switching between back-bouncing roe and running smaller plugs with the low-water conditions.
Some bank fishermen have had luck side-drifting roe in the riffles of the Chetco, Martin said.
Elk and Sixes rivers
The chinook salmon bite in the Elk and Sixes rivers has also been plagued by low water conditions, but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that salmon are spread throughout the Elk River and expected to make a push on the Sixes soon.
Fishing guide Andy Martin thought that these two Port Orford area rivers would be the “best bet” for the weekend.
“They peak in the second half of November, so there should be no shortage of bright fish up there,” he said.
Fishing guide Ed Duggan said a lot of steelhead trout are coming into the system and are spread through out the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.
“Steelhead are looking nice. They’re really starting to show up good now,” Duggan said.
Fly fishermen have been faring the best, he said, with bait fishermen close behind.
“The biggest problem we have is clear water,” Duggan said. But like the other coastal rivers, this weekend’s rains should add some color.
Fishing guide contacts: E.B. Duggan, “D” Fishing Guide at 530-629-3554; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082; Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 707-464-8482; Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures at 707-845-9588.