After a slow start, the steelhead season appears to be picking up steam this week on the Wild Rivers Coast. Although the Rogue River was still running fairly high as of Friday, plunkers from shore have been hauling in some steelhead throughout the week.

Closer to the border plunkers also had some luck on both the Smith and the Chetco rivers through the middle of the week. With river levels dropping fairly quickly later in the week, drift boats were also able to get in on the action and finished the week strong.

Meanwhile, storms along the coast have kept anglers from getting out on the ocean, but once the seas start to calm boats may be allowed to start dropping crab pots after some encouraging tests results were released on both sides of the border.

River fishing

The week started off well for steelhead fishermen on the Chetco River. Andy Martin, of Wild Rivers Fishing, said Monday and Tuesday provided some of the best fishing on the river so far this season, with most boats grabbing their limits of wild steelhead throughout the day on Monday.

In the middle of the week, storms sent the rivers on the rise, making fishing difficult by drift boat. Anglers plunking from shore were still able to nab a few steelhead here and there on both the Smith and Chetco rivers, however.

On Thursday Martin said the Smith River was still running high, although it started to round into shape for drift boats. By Friday Martin said the Smith River was enjoying perhaps its best day of the steelhead season so far.

The Chetco river remained blown out on Thursday, but started rounding back into shape on Friday, allowing drift boats back in on the action. Martin said there seemed to be a few more hatchery steelhead in the river by the end of the week.

Both the Smith and Chetco rivers are expected to remain in really good shape for fishermen through the weekend.

Meanwhile flows on the Rogue River have remained fairly high all week long, making fishing difficult by drift boat, according to Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing. Some anglers have still been having luck plunking from the banks of the Rogue, however.

Joe Martin said the Elks River was in a little bit better shape for drift boats than the Rogue River, but steelhead fishing has remained slow throughout the area.

On the ocean

The oceans have been rough this week, so sportfishermen have not been able to get out to target bottomfish in Oregon, where the season remains open. But ocean anglers have also gotten some good news this week.

Both sportcrabbing and the commercial crabbing seasons are currently being delayed due to elevated levels of domoic acid, above the threshold of 30 parts per million, found in the local Dungeness crab.

But in Southern Oregon tests conducted on Jan. 7 came back clean on Friday, with all six crab tested below the threshold for a closure. The crabbing season should open soon, as it was the second such test in a row.

In California, testers had their first clean test out of Crescent City on Jan. 5 with an average level of 16.5 parts per million, with tests ranging from 4.7 to 24 ppm. Sport and commercial crabbers will be hoping for more good news soon, once results from another test scheduled for today are processed.

Fishing contacts: Joe Martin of Rogue Coast Sport Fishing at 541-425-7210; Mike Coopman’s Guide Service at 707-218-4501; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306; Chetco Outdoor Store at 541-469-9151.

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