Steelhead time, but a few salmon remain

Written by Adam Spencer, The Triplicate December 14, 2012 06:08 pm

Jen Anderson holds her first ever steelhead, caught Tuesday on the Chetco River.
Jen Anderson holds her first ever steelhead, caught Tuesday on the Chetco River. Courtesy of Andy Martin / Wild Rivers Fishing
 There’s a certain color that overtakes the Smith River after just the right amount of rain — or just the right amount of waiting after high water — that makes anglers squirm. 

The river’s summer-jade hue remains, but becomes less translucent, almost milky, signaling it’s time to drop lines.

Prime steelhead fishing on the North Coast has been keeping anglers busy, and the rain forecast looks to provide just enough to maintain that magic color.

Smith River

Bank fishermen were reported to have some luck plunking for steelies last weekend, and this weekend should be optimal for side drifting with some yarn, a small piece of roe and a puff ball. 

Although there are probably a few fresh salmon still to be found in the system, anglers have switched gears for steelhead. 

“There are definitely steelhead out there,” said fishing guide Jim Mitchell, who recommended fishing the shoulders of the river with the murky

current.

Tail-outs just above riffles are where steelhead like to hang out for a rest, Mitchell said.  

Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing holds a 54-pound king caught Tuesday on the Chetco River by Brian Renner, left, of Ferndale.
Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing holds a 54-pound king caught Tuesday on the Chetco River by Brian Renner, left, of Ferndale. Courtesy of Andy Martin / Wild Rivers Fishing

Chetco River

One of the benefits of pulling plugs for steelhead is that there is a good chance you might trigger a bite from one of the later-running salmon. At that point, all you have to worry about is landing a monster chinook salmon with light steelhead tackle.

That was the case for Brian Renner of Ferndale, who hooked a 54-pound salmon on the Chetco on Tuesday while fishing with guide Andy Martin.

It took two hours and three-quarter’s mile of rowing down river to land the wild male salmon since they were using a lighter, steelhead rod just over 7 feet long. The salmon hit a 3.5 Mag Lip Flatfish.

“The fish just kept going downstream and it was hard to put a lot of pressure on it to get it off the bottom — it was heavy,” Martin said.  “For half of the fight, it was six or seven feet down, but it was too heavy and we couldn’t lift it up.”

Renner received the fishing trip as a birthday gift from his girlfriend Jen Anderson. The largest salmon Renner had hooked before the 54-pounder paled in comparison at 20 pounds.

Anderson also caught her first steelhead trout during the trip.

Fishing guide contacts: Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 707-464-8482; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082.

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