Reel Deal: Early steelhead a good sign

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate December 02, 2013 05:40 pm

Nathaniel Patterson, 10, of Redding, holds his first ever steelhead, caught Friday on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.
Nathaniel Patterson, 10, of Redding, holds his first ever steelhead, caught Friday on the Chetco River while fishing with guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. Courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing
It’s nice when relatives come visit for the holidays and Del Norte — located in California’s only rainforest — is actually getting loads of sunshine.

Unless, of course, you’re a fishermen.

The unseasonably dry fall has made salmon fishing opportunities in coastal rivers few and far between. 

Chetco River

Steelhead have been on the bite in the Chetco River much earlier than usual, a welcome surprise with salmon fishing being slow.

“When you have early steelhead, that’s the sign of a big run,” said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

He was fishing Friday afternoon with 10-year-old Nathaniel Patterson, of Redding, who was visiting grandparents in Crescent City for Thanksgiving when they  treated him to a fishing trip on the Chetco. His boat hooked six steelhead and landed five, including adults, half-pounders and super half-pounders.

A real small presentation of roe and yarn drifting in the tailouts had steelhead acting “extremely aggressive,” Martin said, adding that every tailout has salmon spawning in it.

Martin predicted that the small amount of rain forecast for Sunday will bring salmon to the Chetco and Smith rivers.

Smith River

The Smith is the only coastal river subject to state low-flow closures on the North Coast that actually has enough water to remain open to fishing right now.  

But that doesn’t mean there’s enough water for good salmon fishing. Many boats drifting from the Hiouchi Bridge to Ruby Van Deventer Park have been posting “zeros,” according to guide Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips.

Last week when the flows were up from rainstorms, Mitchell and his clients did well fishing with plugs on Thursday and under bobbers on Friday.

You could tell that the fish had been holding in the river for a while from their darker-colored skin, Mitchell said, but the meat was still firm with a bright orange-red color.

Crescent City crabs

Crabs are meaty but in low numbers, according to recreational reports.

Fishing guide contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and www.wildriversfishing.com, Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 707-464-8482 and www.gotchahookedfishtrip.com.

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