Unrelenting rain in the last few days has eliminated the fishing on most North Coast rivers, but when the Smith River's low and calm enough, there are still plenty of steelhead.
From March 9 to March 20, there were 554 adult fish moving upstream and 180 downstream fish, said Zack Larson of the DIDSON sonar fish counter at Fred Haight boat launch on the Smith.
That brings the Smith River season net total (Oct. 1 to March 20) of upstream adult fish to 32,059.
"During the last few weeks we've observed an increase in numbers of
fish migrating downstream, fish which are very likely to be steelhead
kelts," Larson said.
Kelts are fish that have already spawned, but with the total amount
of fish coming into the system rather than out, steelhead fishing should
continue well into April.
The DIDSON study is funded by the DFG Fisheries Restoration Grants
Program, Steelhead Fishing Report and Restoration Card, and Smith River
Plenty of fish were caught at the 2012 Chopper Derby last month, which took place on the Smith and Chetco Rivers.
Fishing guides Gary Klein and Kevin Brock led their teams to victory
with seven steelhead trout caught and released (all fish are released in
the derbies). The steelhead measured a total of 208 inches.
The Chopper and Hank "Raider" derby are the primary fundraisers for
the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery, which is the only privately run fish
hatchery in the state of California and produces the only steelhead you
can keep on the Smith, since currently wild steelhead must be released.
Reach Adam Spencer at email@example.com.