Reel Deal: Steelhead don’t care about dry weather

Written by Adam Spencer, The Triplicate December 19, 2013 03:56 pm

Doug and Ryan Vernand of Ventura show the results of a double hookup while steelhead fishing Sunday on the Chetco River with guide Andy Martin.
Doug and Ryan Vernand of Ventura show the results of a double hookup while steelhead fishing Sunday on the Chetco River with guide Andy Martin. Courtesy of Wild Rivers Fishing
The insanely out-of-season, dry weather that has been prevailing over the North Coast has made it incredibly difficult for fishing guides who make a living off the rain, recreational anglers who like to fish, and newspapermen who week after week have to write up a fishing report even when the bite is down. 

Chetco River

Despite the no-rain blues, anglers on the Chetco River have been able to hook into several steelhead recently since, as Scott Stewart of the Chetco Outdoor Store put it: “Steelhead come anyway — they don’t care.”

The water is low, the river is clear and the temperature is not far from freezing, but some Chetco anglers are still posting four to six steelhead per day, Stewart said.

When the river water temperature is below 40 degrees, which it was earlier this week, Stewart said, anglers should remember that a flashier presentation is necessary to knock the fish out of their cold-induced lethargy. Stewart predicted Chetco River temps were going to be in the lower 40s for the next few days, however, allowing anglers to go back to a more regular side-drifting presentation.

A No. 3 silver spinner and pink worms will work for catching steelhead in these conditions, Stewart said.

Guide Andy Martin has been finding clients plenty of fish despite the low, clear conditions.

Father and son team Doug and Ryan Vernand of Ventura hooked well over 20 steelhead, fishing with Martin this past weekend.

Most of the steelhead were caught on tiny clusters of roe cured with Pautzke’s Borx O’ Fire fished with small orange Corkies and size 4 Lazer Sharp octopus hooks, Martin said.

Smith River

There’s no way around it. The Smith needs rain.  Check back once it falls.

Ocean fishing from Port of Brookings-Harbor

In 2008, the California Fish and Game Commission squeezed the northern California groundfish season from open-all-year to a meager 4½ months long.

But that’s not the case north of the Oregon state line, where anglers can still target lingcod and rockfish all year long.

Anglers out of the Port of Brookings-Harbor have been doing well fishing 
for groundfish when 
ocean conditions allow, Stewart said, with nice-sized rockfish in the 5–6 pound range.

Although commercial crab fishermen have not been faring well, Stewart said that sport crabbers are still catching a decent amount of Dungeness in about 140 feet of water near the buoys. 

Klamath River sandspit regulation changes

Changes to recreational salmon fishing at the sandy spit at the mouth of the Klamath River are being considered by the California Fish and Game Commission, according to Kenny Priest, who writes “Fishing the North Coast” for the Times-Standard.

Fishing guides presented the commission with a proposal to close shore-based fishing at the spit after 15 percent of the Lower Klamath River sub-quota is caught, Priest reported.

At least 30 percent of the entire recreational in-river salmon quota for the 
entire Klamath-Trinity system was caught at the mouth this fall.

Fishing guide contacts: Chetco Outdoor Store at 541-469-9151; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and Wildrivers
fishing.com.