Reel Deal: Anglers move from rivers to ocean

Written by Adam Spencer, The Triplicate April 28, 2014 11:27 am

Roy Tuetstad of Windsor holds up a steelhead that he caught on the Smith River with Mick Thomas of Lunker Fish Trips this week. Del Norte Triplicate / Lunker Fish Trips
 As the Smith River’s steelhead season comes to a close, most of the fishing options in the region for the next couple of months will come from the great Pacific Ocean, including surfperch fishing, which is well underway.

Surfperch fishing

Although surfperch can be legally caught year-round, the spawning season around April and May is considered a peak time for catching surfperch on your favorite coastal bluff or beach.

The bluffs along the northern part of Pebble Beach are a popular surfperch fishing spot, with towering sea stacks like Castle Rock providing a great backdrop for fishing.

Redtail and calico surfperch are the two most commonly targeted species  in the shallow water along sandy beaches in Northern California, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Up to 20 surfperch, not including shiner surfperch, can be kept, with no more than 10 surfperch of any one species.

 Redtail surfperch must be at least 10.5 inches to be kept.

Smith River

The Smith River peaked at 10.86 feet on the Jed Smith river gauge Thursday evening, which will probably encourage some down-running steelhead to head to the ocean and might even encourage a few late steelhead spawners to enter into the river system.

The Smith River steelhead season closes Apr. 30.

Local fishing guide Mick Thomas said that this has been one of the best late seasons for steelhead in recent memory, great especially for combination fishing of steelhead and cutthroat trout.

Before the rain, Thomas’s daily catch was about six to 10 downer steelhead, a couple fresh adult steelhead, and lots of cutthroat trout and half-pounders.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s a dull moment out there,” Thomas said.

Minus tides for clamming

Some of the best minus tides so far this year will occur this week, possibly providing ideal clamming conditions if the ocean is calm enough.  

In Del Norte County, razor clams can only be harvested south of Battery Point Lighthouse during even years, including this year, 2014.

Tide predictions

Sun.    5:04 a.m.:  -0.32 feet

Mon.   5:49 a.m.: -0.8 feet

Tues.   6:33 a.m.: -1.07 feet

Wed.   7:15 a.m.: -1.14 feet 

Thurs. 7:56 a.m.: -1.03 feet

Fri.      8:38 a.m.: -0.77 feet

Shelter Cove ocean salmon

High winds kept many ocean-faring anglers off the seas this week, but when conditions were safe, salmon fishing was pretty good with fish averaging 12–15 pounds, according to the folks at Mario’s Marina in Shelter Cove.

Lower Rogue River

Much-needed rainstorms brought the river temperature down on the Lower Rogue River and added a little color to the river, making for some two-salmon-per-boat days, according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

Salmon fishing action was a bit quieter on Friday, but with the river in a “perfect condition” of 3-feet visibility and 54-degree water temperature, Martin predicted that salmon should start moving up the lower Rogue pretty heavily.

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

Reach Adam Spencer at 
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