With enough rain to create great fishing conditions last week and even more in the forecast for this weekend, it almost feels like a regular North Coast winter again.
Steelhead fishing on the Smith and Chetco rivers was fantastic after last week's rain, and although fishing has became tough on the Smith with low, clear conditions, the Chetco is still running strong.
The two to four inches of rain predicted for this weekend is expected to create prime conditions for fishing during the weekend if it's not too high and early next week.
Steelhead fishing on the Smith River was about as good as it gets after last week's rain, but the always fast-to-clear Smith is back down to low, clear conditions until this weekend.
"Fishing this last week has been great, then it died off dramatically the last two days," said guide Kevin Brock. "I did get two nice ones yesterday, but I felt very lucky."
Although the forecast is certain to change, the Smith was predicted to peak at 10.9 feet with a flow of 7,600 cfs on the Jed Smith river gauge early Sunday morning after a continuous rise starting Friday night and going through Saturday.
"The Smith is going to be the place to be on Sunday and Monday," said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
Drought emergency regulations
The California Fish and Game Commission voted on Wednesday to implement emergency regulations in the wake of this season's drought, which was at the request of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The commission's action will completely close fishing on portions of some rivers like the Russian and the American, but on the North Coast it means that low-flow closure regulations will stay in effect through Apr. 30.The low-flow rules usually expire Jan. 31.
The emergency regulations will not go into effect until approved by the state Office of Administrative Law, expected to be in mid- to late-February.
Call CDFW's low-flow closure hotline for the North Coast to double check: 707- 822-3164.
The Chetco River, which is usually slower to clear than the Smith, was still providing great steelhead fishing conditions on Wednesday.
Fishing the lower Chetco, Martin's boat landed five of the 10 steelhead that were hooked.
"There are a lot of fish still in the Chetco," Martin said.
The weekend rain in the forecast will continue to make Chetco steelhead fishing a good bet, although the river could blow out if the watershed receives a substantial amount of rain.
Since the forecast shows rain spread out through the weekend, Martin was hopeful that the Chetco will continue to be at flows conducive for a drift boat, and he was optimistic about how the rain would disperse steelhead.
"Instead of having all the fish in couple spots, it will make them spread throughout the river, andit won't seem as crowded," Martin said.
Crescent City herring
The annual herring run in Crescent City Harbor is still ongoing, but you might have to compete with sea lions to get your catch.
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.
Brookings ocean fishing
Many anglers utilized the herring gathered from Crescent City Harbor to go bottom fishing out of the Port of Brookings-Harbor with stellar results in the lingcod department.
"The bottom fishing out of Brookings was wide-open today. Every boat had its limit of lingcod," said Martin. "They just destroyed them."
Reach Adam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.