Reel Deal: Early steelhead a good sign

Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Rainstorms earlier this week did not noticeably change the amount of fresh salmon in the Smith River, causing anglers to admit that it's more or less time to switch over to steelhead fishing for the Smith.

But indications for a strong steelhead season are good, with many half-pounders reported to be in the system after the week's rain.

Smith River

Tim Reichlin caught one keeper salmon ranging from 25 to 28 pounds on Tuesday. It was not a fresh-from-the-ocean fish, "but it was an eater, not a smoker," said Don Vecchetti, of Reel Time Guide Service.

The pair caught a couple other spawned-out salmon that they let go, and then spent the rest of the time targeting steelhead.

"Personally I think salmon is about done," said Vecchetti, adding that he was fully switching over to steelhead. Although they only caught one small adult steelhead, "the half-pounder action was nice and that seems to be a good prelude to the steelhead season."

Andrew Van Scoyk, general manager of the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery, said that only two adult salmon were caught in the facility's fish weir after Sunday and Monday's rainstorms. The hatchery usually tries to get 24 wild female Chinook salmon in order to produce next year's fry, but only two wild females were caught this year.

In an off-year for rain, the hatchery has only had 29 male salmon, 13 females and 48 jacks show up in its weir.

Southern Oregon rivers

There are still a few salmon milling around the Chetco River, but anglers are mostly targeting steelhead and doing well, according to Scott Stewart of the Chetco Outdoor Store.

"There's a fair number of steelhead," Stewart said. "A friend caught six adults the day it rained."

Chinook runs on the Elk and Sixes rivers are still doing quite well, Stewart said, with some anglers catching their limit by the early morning.

Brookings-Harbor ocean

Over the state line, where bottom fishing never closes, Stewart said that anglers are still doing quite well fishing for lingcod and black rockfish when ocean conditions allow passage.

Minus tides

A set of minus tides is under way on the North Coast, but it might be difficult to harvest mussels and clams since the tides are in the evening after sunset as we approach the shortest days of the year.  Check the bottom of Page A1 for tide times.

Fishing contacts: Don's Reel Time Guide Service at 707-487-2309; Chetco Outdoor Store at 541- 469-9151.

Reach Adam Spencer at .

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Sunday October 23, 2016

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