Reel Deal: Steelhead still biting

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate April 22, 2014 07:36 am

Cody Gardner and Jared Fillippa, of Crescent City, show off steelhead caught from a double hook-up on the South Fork Smith River this week. Photo courtesy of Cody Gardner
 There’s less than two weeks left in the steelhead season for the Smith River, and then there will be limited local fishing options until the ocean salmon and groundfish seasons open for Del Norte County in mid-May.

April and May are usually prime surfperch fishing time in the interim.

Smith River

It’s late April and yet some anglers are still catching chrome steelhead from the Smith River that resemble the type of fresh-from-the-ocean fish that you’d expect in December.

Fishing guide Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips said that he saw new spawning beds near Walker hole indicating that there are still fresh steelhead coming into the Smith River system.

“There are fish all over the river system,” Thomas said. “And talk about some fighters!”

Thomas’s boat was landing about three adult steelhead per day this week, but they have also been hooking up with a lot of half-pounders and cutthroat trout.

Local anglers Cody Gardner and Jared Fillippa have been finding a lot of steelhead in the upper stretches, and they even had a double hook-up from the bank of the South Fork Smith this week.

Shelter Cove

In Shelter Cove, where the ocean salmon season is already open (south of Horse Mountain) the action has been pretty good, according to Russ Thomas of Mario’s Motel and Marina.

All of the boats that went out fishing Friday reported limits of chinook salmon with a “sprinkling of 18 20-pound” salmon thrown in the mix, Thomas said.

Mario’s Motel has reopened its bar and is serving some food, like burgers and fries.

The ocean salmon season in Crescent City and Brookings opens May 10.

Rogue River spring salmon

Spring salmon fishing on the Lower Rogue River was a bust this past week, but not for lack of effort.

As little as three salmon were caught Thursday, although there were up to 30 boats out fishing, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

Some rain predicted this week could turn things around, Martin said.

Ocean groundfish

Before ocean conditions took a turn for the worse, the bottom fishing was great out of Brookings, according to Martin.

The groundfish season north of Cape Mendocino, including Crescent City, opens May 15.

Fishing contacts: Fishing contacts: Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips at 707-458-4704 and; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 541-813-1082 and; Russ Thomas of Mario’s Marina in Shelter Cove at 707-986-7595.

Reach Adam Spencer at 
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