Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

All signs indicate that there is a pretty good steelhead fishing season to be had in nearby coastal rivers; only trouble is that the drought has made it very difficult to go after the prized sea-running trout.

While anglers are waiting for rain, including some light rain predicted for next week, they can wet lines in Crescent City Harbor, where the annual herring run is just getting started, or the lower Klamath.

Rain forecast

The National Weather Service reports that a weak front could generate up to a quarter-inch of rain in Del Norte County from Monday evening to Tuesday morning.

Harbor herring

Every year thousands of Pacific herring pour into Crescent City Harbor, with anglers pulling in the bait fish with remarkable ease.

The popular methods for catching herring are casting with Sabiki rigs or, for those with eyes for larger herring hauls, using throw nets.

Herring are popular bait for targeting halibut and lingcod, and some people even like to make their own pickled herring.

The run appears to be just getting started.

Smith River

Steelhead fishing in the Smith River was reportedly pretty good while the river still had residual water in it from the most recent rainfalls, but the Smith has quickly dropped back down to near-summer flows, making fishing difficult.

"It seems that there are fish in the river but getting to them is almost impossible," said Phil Desautels, of Phil's Smiling Salmon Guide Service.

Without any recent rain, the Smith continued to drop in flows and is likely to be subject to a low-flow closure above the mouth of Rowdy Creek, although all reaches were still open Friday afternoon.

Call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's low-flow river closure hotline at 707-822-3164 to get current information on the Smith's closure.

Lower Klamath River

Winter steelhead are reportedly on the move in the lower Klamath River and fishing conditions are very good.

Chetco River

After several days of good steelhead fishing prompted by the last rain storm, the Chetco is back down to low, clear conditions making it very hard to fish, according to guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

"It's so low and clear that if you're not the first boat on the river, you're not going to get fish," said Martin, who stopped fishing the Chetco this week and headed north.

Umpqua River

Due to the poor fishing conditions, several guides who usually fish the Smith and Chetco rivers have headed up to the Umpqua River, which has just enough green color to it to produce good steelhead fishing, according to Martin.

"It's the best thing going," Martin said.

Fishing Contacts: Phil's Smiling Salmon Guide Service at (707) 487-0260; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and

Reach Adam Spencer at