Reel Deal: A lower Chetco draws a crowd

Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

After being blown out for almost two weeks, the lower Chetco River became fishable over the weekend, drawing dozens of anglers seeking some steelhead action.

Steelhead fishing on the Smith River hasn't produced big numbers every day, but folks are catching fish.

The Trinity River has dropped to a fishable level and has a nice steelhead green, but very cold conditions have made the fishing pressure and steelhead action pretty slow.

Chetco River

Ever since the Chetco dropped to a fishable level over the weekend it's been crowded with anglers, but even with high pressure there has been

really good fishing, according to fishing guide Tony Sepulveda.

With only light rain in the forecast, the river is predicted to continue to drop, but good fishing should stick around.

"I think it will hold up pretty well. Last year we were fishing it really low and still doing well," Sepulveda said.

"Unlike salmon, steelhead continue to enter the rivers in even the lowest water and I've actually

really come to like fishing those conditions," Sepulveda wrote in his online report, adding that last year his group caught a 20-pound Chetco buck in 2 feet of gin-clear water.

Graham Curry, of Tucson, Ariz., caught and released the first steelhead of his life, a 35-incher, on the Chetco River on New Year's Day with Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. The steelhead hit a cluster of roe cured in Pautzke's BorX O'Fire fished with a size 2 Lazer Sharp octopus hook, Martin said.

The Chetco isn't wide open like it was when it first opened up, but they are still catching four or five fish a day, Martin said.

"There are a lot fish spread throughout the river. From the North Fork down, there's pretty much fish in every run," he said.

Smith River

Steelhead fishing on the Smith has been "tough," according to guide Phil Desautels of Phil's Smiling Salmon Guide Service.

"The water is getting low and almost gin-clear and there are not that many fish," Desautels said, adding that he's been workinghard for one to two fish a day. "It's still early in the season, but we should have more fish than we have."

"We're definitely hooking fish every day, just not huge numbers," Sepulveda said.

Trinity River

In the Willow Creek area of the Trinity River, fishing guide Ed Duggan said there is roughly 2- to 3-foot visibility, a perfect steelhead green.

Only problem is that frigid weather has kept many anglers off the water and has made the steelhead bite slow.

"When it gets that cold the fish are very lethargic," Duggan said. "You have to get your bait right in front of them. They are not going to move around that much."

Fishing guide contacts:

Phil Desautels of Phil's Smiling Salmon Guide Service; E.B. Duggan "D" Fishing Guide at 530-629-3554; Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures at 707-845-9588.

Reach Adam Spencer at

aspencer@triplicate.com .

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