Reel Deal: Steelhead still biting

By Michael Zogg / The Del Norte Triplicate / @DNTripSports

Fishing on the river picked back up this week just in time to provide anglers a place to fish while escaping the swells on the ocean in Brookings that kept most sport fishing vessels in the harbor throughout the week.

Smith River

With the Smith River rising to fishable levels this week, anglers were able to get at the steelhead that are still in the system.

Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips said he took a guided trip out onto the Smith on Thursday and hooked six fish, catching three of them.

"There are still some fish out there - a few fresh ones, but most of them were downers. That is a good thing," Thomas said.

The Smith River will remain open to steelhead fishing throughout the month of April and anglers are hopeful that the steelhead will still be around.

"So far it looks like April should be a pretty good month," Thomas said. "It is still that time of the year when there is fish out there to be had."

While the Smith remains open through April, the Chetco River recently closed to steelhead. Tuesday was the last day for fishing on the Southern Oregon river. Although the Chetco had been running low for several weeks, late March rains brought the flows back up and returned color to the water, providing anglers with a strong final few days of fishing.

"It was really good," Thomas said. "It all closed on the 31st, but it closed on a good note."

The Smith River will be closed to fishing from May until after Memorial Day, when the trout season opens up.

Spring salmon

Spring salmon fishing will open on the Klamath River sometime in May, but anglers looking for early salmon fishing have been keeping an eye on the Rogue River. Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said that salmon fishing is still slow on the Rogue, but there have been several catches reported nearly every day.

"A good rain coming Sunday through Tuesday should get things going," Martin said.

Brookings ocean fishing

Fishing on the ocean in Southern Oregon was tricky this week as swells made things difficult.

Martin said Friday was the first day that conditions allowed an ocean fish trip. Although his crew of five fishermen hauled in five lingcod and some rockfish, Martin said things have certainly slowed down from ocean fishing that has been red hot through March.

"We were struggling; we had to pick away at them slowly. (Friday) was the first day that the ocean was even fishable this week, and for the most part it is slow," Martin said. "That is partly because there are a lot of krill and bait fish scattered all over the place. I think that is why the fish aren't very aggressive and biting really well."

Ocean salmon season

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council and its advisory bodies will meet April 10-16 in Rohnert Park. Among the many agenda items scheduled for discussion, the PFMC is expected to adopt the final regulations for the 2015 ocean salmon.

There are currently three alternatives that the council will decide between. The first starts May 1 and the second May 9, but both include a 20-inch minimum size restriction. The third option would have the season open on May 24 with a minimum size restriction of 24 inches.

All three options would include a two fish daily bag limit with fishing allowed seven days a week. All types of salmon except Coho will also be allowed under all three alternatives.

Other items on the agenda include adopting incidental catch recommendations for Pacific halibut in salmon troll fisheries; determining the scope of issues to include in an amendment to revise groundfish Essential Fish Habitat, Rockfish Conservation Areas, and associated management measures; and to adopt management measures for sardine fisheries.

A full list of items on the PFMC meeting agenda can be found atpcouncil.org.

Big fish tales

The Reel Deal column is looking for a little bit more local flavor straight from Del Norte anglers. If you or someone you know has a picture of a big fish you caught or a particularly intriguing fish tale, please share them with the Triplicate atmzogg@triplicate.com .

Fishing contacts:

Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips at 707-458-4704; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and Wildriversfishing.com .

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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