Recreational crabbing is now open on both sides of the California-Oregon border as crabbers in Southern Oregon were allowed to start dropping pots last Friday. Although the crabbing has been slow out of Crescent City, reports from Brookings since the season opened have been a little more optimistic. Meanwhile, last weekend provided some of the best steelhead fishing of the season on both the Smith and Chetco rivers. There are still reportedly lots of fish in both streams, though the bite has been a little slow as the water temperature has fallen throughout the week.

On the ocean

Sport crabbing in Northern California remains slow, and it appears that there just aren’t that many crustaceans left in the area. The few crab that have been hauled seem to be fairly decent sized, however.

Recreational crabbers out of Oregon have had a little bit more luck since the season opened last Friday, however. Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said sport crabbers seem to be having more luck closer to shore where several crabbers were able to haul in limits in the first week of the season. Martin said fishermen dropping pots in deeper water have found Dungeness crab a little more difficult to come by.

Meanwhile, bottomfishing is still open up in Oregon, and it has been another solid if unspectacular week for anglers targeting bottomfish.

“In the House Rock area they are getting some fish,” Martin said. “They have to hunt around for them, but they are doing good on rockfish and getting a few lingcod while they had a window to get out.”

River fishing

Steelhead fishing on the Smith and Chetco rivers was hot over the weekend last week. Martin said Friday and Saturday especially were perhaps two of the best days of the season.

A front of cold weather, along with snow early in the week dropped water temperatures, making coaxing a bite out of the fish a little more difficult, but there are still a lot of steelhead in the systems.

Martin said steelhead seem to have moved up river a little bit quicker on the Smith River through the middle of the week, but there are still lots of steelhead in the Chetco River.

“Every day they are seeing really good schools of fish coming through, but the water is really cold, so the bite isn’t red hot. We are getting two to four a day on the Chetco right now, but you have to work hard on them and present it really slowly.”

Up on the Rogue River, John Anderson of Memory Maker’s Guide Service said steelhead are biting pretty well on plugs on the lower end of the river, including some fairly large steelhead.

The Rogue River is currently running a little bit higher than either the Smith or the Chetco, so the Rogue River is likely the best bet for anglers fishing from shore at the moment.

“There is still pleanty of flows from plunking (on the Rogue),” Martin said. “The Chetco and the Smith are getting on the low side, but because of the rain and the snow melt the color is still really good.”

Although the Chetco and Smith Rivers are getting low, the fact that so much snow fell in the mountains early in the week may help the rivers drop more slowly over the coming days, or even go on the rise without any additional precipitation if the weather starts to warm.

Herring in Cresecnt City

Although sport fishermen in California are not allowed to target bottomfish this time of year, anglers have been able to get out inside the harbor to nab herring which come in close to shore every year around this time.

Herring started showing up near Crescent City through the middle of the week, and by Friday they were all over the place. It is hard to say how much longer the herring will stick around, but interested anglers may be able to catch a bunch of the little fish over the weekend.

Chetco Broodstock

The Chetco River Broodstock Program is back in full swing this year. The program collects some of the best looking and oldest steelhead caught in the Chetco River and transported them up the the Elk River Hatchery in Bandon, Oregon.

The broodstock program has received up to 58 steelhead this week (26 males and 32 females), according to Andrew Wells of the Chetco Broodstock EBA.

Fishing contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306; Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 464-8482.