The skies clouded, the rains fell and steelhead fishermen rejoiced. After weeks of drought, coastal river anglers were hoping for a dose of the wet stuff to draw in more of the elusive chrome trout.
With more rain in the forecast through the weekend, steelhead fishing on the Smith and Chetco Rivers should be great throughout the weekend and next week.
The river has been mighty low and mighty clear after weeks without significant rainfall, but after more than 2 inches of rain on Wednesday, anglers did very well on the Smith River on Thursday.
Phil Desautels, of Phil's Smiling Salmon Guide Service, said that one guide landed three fish on the first two goes at the forks: a double hook-up on the first casts and another steelie on the casts right after.
"With periodic showers coming for the next few days, it's only going to get better," Desautels said, adding that as the water clears up more, the fishing will improve. "The water is increasingly getting better."
Side-drifting roe and yarn with a fish pill has been the best technique for most boat anglers. Plunkers were reportedly doing fair to good with fish caught at Ruby Van Deventer Park and the water tower.
After Friday rain put the river on the rise again, the Smith is predicted to start dropping again this morning.
Despite low and clear conditions on the Chetco the past couple weeks, fishing remained very productive. Wednesday's 2 inches of rain just made it better.
Fishing guide Albert Kutzkey landed nine fish Thursday on the Chetco.
While the Chetco rose most of Friday, fishing was slower, but Kutzkey and a team of two other drift boats were still able to wrangle three to five fish per boat.
Several anglers posted at the Social Security bar for plunking Friday.
The usually quick-to-blow-out Chetco should continue to fish through the weekend and next week, depending on what the weather throws us.
"It's holding pretty good because we've been dry for so long that the ground is soaking up a lot of the water," Kutzkey said.
Side drifting bait with yarn and a puff ball is the main technique for boat anglers.
The Chetco may reach a level too high for drift boats by Saturday night, but it should drop back down Sunday night. It all depends on rain.
"It's kind of hard to say if it will fish for the weekend," Kutzkey said. "But I think it'll be pretty darn good this next week."
Fishing guide contacts: Phil Desautels of Phil's Smiling Salmon Guide Service at 707-487-0260; Albert Kutzkey of Kutzkey Guide Service at 530-941-3474; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082.
Reach Adam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.