Reel Deal: Rain may have steelhead coming and going

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate March 08, 2013 01:45 pm

Paul MacClanahan and Jessica Long of Santa Clara hold three steelhead caught March 2 on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
Paul MacClanahan and Jessica Long of Santa Clara hold three steelhead caught March 2 on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Courtesy of Andy Martin / Wild Rivers Fishing
A few welcome bursts of rain on the North Coast over the past few days are expected to bring fresh steelhead trout into local river systems while encouraging spawned-out, down-running steelhead to swim back to sea — doubling the catch opportunities.

In some Oregon rivers, anglers are already targeting spring-run salmon. 

On top of all that, surfperch fishing has returned to the North Coast.

Smith River

Although many guides took a break during the low, clear conditions on the Smith River the past few weeks, as recent as last week a couple guides were able to get scores ranging from five to nine steelhead per boat, according to guide Phil Desautels. 

Del Norte received almost 3 inches (2.88) of rain from Tuesday morning to Wednesday afternoon, which is expected to make steelhead fishing even better.

“I’m imagining here in the next couple days it should be really good. This could be the last blast for the season,” Desautels said.

The Smith was expected to peak late Wednesday/early today just under 12 feet on the Jed Smith gauge, providing for good plunking conditions Thursday followed by side-drifting flow through the weekend.

Chetco River

The rains blew out the Chetco River, but guide Andy Martin expected the stream to be back in shape by Friday.

The rain will probably attract a few new, chrome-bright hatchery fish, push the fish holding in the lower river into upper stretches, and bring some spawned-out fish out of the system, Martin said. 

“There will be good flows to spread the fish out, providing much better conditions for fishing,” Martin said.

After a couple days on the Chetco, Martin plans to tackle early spring-run salmon on the Rogue River. There have already been reports of springers caught on the Lower Umpqua River.

Trinity River

Near Willow Creek, steelhead fishing picked up Monday and Tuesday with several fresh, adult wild steelies caught, according to guide Ed Duggan. Streamer flies were the ticket.

Tuesday and Wednesday rains added much-needed color to the Trinity from South Fork down, Duggan said.  Visibility went from 6–8 feet to 2–3 feet, he said.

Fishing with bait should open up as early as today, but “not until Friday for flies, plugs, hardware — the whole works,” he said.

Fishing guide contacts: 

Phil Desautels of Phil’s Smiling Salmon Guide Service; E.B. Duggan “D” Fishing Guide at 530-629-3554; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082.

Reach Adam Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it