By Larry Ellis
Pilot staff writer
Get out your plunking boxes because it looks like bank fishermen are going to have first crack at the Chetco this weekend. After a week filled with rain and its subsequent series of raises, the river was dropping from 17,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Wednesday to 10,000 cfs midnight on Friday.
If the present weather forecast holds true, the river should be dropping anywhere from 8,000 to 6,000 cfs this weekend, perfect water conditions for plunkers.
Now that most of the leaves and moss have been flushed out to sea, you can actually spend a lot more time fishing rather than taking gunk off your line.
If the water's got between 1/2- to 1 1/2 -feet of visibility, try casting a No. 2 Spin-N-Glo in the color flame tiger stripe to get their attention. Once the water clears past the 2-foot mark, switch to a No. 4 or 6 winged bobber in colors flame chartreuse (stop-and-go) or sherbet (Tequila Sunrise).
In water clarity of less than 2 feet, chop your leader to 18 inches. Remember, the cloudier the water, the shorter the leader; the clearer the water, the longer the leader.
Good numbers of steelhead were caught downstream from Ice Box on Monday and Tuesday, before the river got blown out.
We're extremely fortunate to live in an area within a 40-mile radius of three top-notch steelhead rivers: the Smith, Chetco and Rogue. Only 27 miles away from Brookings, the Rogue has been kicking out fair numbers of cookie-cutter steelhead between 8 and 12 pounds.
Often on days when the Chetco is blown out, the Rogue is still fishable, due to the fact that its water levels are regulated to a large degree from the outflows at Lost Creek Reservoir.
If, and only if, the gauge at Agness reads below 4,500 cfs, you can actually side-drift from Foster Bar down to Agness. Otherwise, the Rogue is definitely a plunking situation on the lower 12 miles of the river, from Quosatana Creek down to The Willows.
Four great plunking holes are at Canfield Riffle, Huntley Park, Orchard Bar and Dunkleberger Bar.
This river caters to larger Spin-N-Glos than the Chetco, sizes 2 and 1/0. Gray Ghost is the Rogue's signature color. Use treble hooks on the Rogue and match the same size trebles to the same size winged bobbers.
On the Rogue, hatchery steelhead may be retained all year, but from Hog Creek downstream, all wild steelhead must be released until January 1, when the retention returns to one per day, five per year, 24-inches minimum length.
Looking for great stocking stuffers for your significant other? Lures work every time. Hot Shots, Kwikfish, FlatFish and Spin-N-Glos will always get smiles from your fishing-addicted family member.
TWAS THE BITE BEFORE HOOK-UP
Twas the bite before Christmas, when all through the riffle,
not a fisher was sneezing, not even a sniffle.
The cows were all mooing, so we practiced some farm-calls,
in hopes that some chromers would gobble our yarn-balls.
The steelies were nestled all snug in their redds,
while visions of Spin-N-Glos danced in their heads.
With roe in their egg-loops, and rods in their snaps,
we all settled in for our pre-hook-up naps.
When out on the surface there arose such a clatter,
I woke from my slumber, to see what was the matter.
Away from my pickup I flew like a plover,
picked up my G-Loomis, which was doubled over.
The light of the sun, which arose o'er the dale,
gave the lustre of chrome to each shimmering scale.
When, what to my favorite river of lunkers,
with clubs in their hands, came eight helpful plunkers.
Such furious thrashing, robust from the get-go,
I knew that this trophy had come from the Chetco.
More rapid than eagles, my coursers they came,
and I hooted and hollered and called them by name:
"Now Martin! Now Mansur!
Now, Ramsay and Mitts!
On, Shurtleff! On Welter!
On, Loring and Pitts!
From the top of my lungs!
Should I happen to fall, I yelled!
Bonk away! Bonk away!
Bonk away all!"
My coursers forewarned me, that my goose was cooked,
they wondered if this one was truly fair-hooked.
When up toward the skyline the metalhead flew,
with my sinker in sight, and the Spin-N-Glo too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard with a crash
the leaping and falling of each separate splash.
As it drew in its head, and it turned from the south,
I could clearly see this one was hooked in the mouth.
I imagined him mounted from his head to his tail,
in a cabinet varnished from rail to rail.
A placard inscribed with my name well preserved,
would let everyone know, it was duly deserved.
His eyes--how they twinkled! His cheeks--like chianti!
And he had a hooked-nose, just like Jimmy Durante!
His small little kype was drawn up like a bow,
and the gums on his chin were as white as the snow.
The shank of the hook he held tight in his teeth,
and my line had encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a big, fat round belly,
that shook when he jumped, like a jar full of Smelly-Jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old buck,
then I mocked him, and called him a conquered old schmuck.
But a wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had something to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
the magnificent chromer had just gone berserk.
When twisting his head in the rocks with his nose,
not an angler could help me, not even Bob Rose.
He sprang to the air, a most ominous sign,
then my line parted ways; this prize wasn't mine.
But I heard him exclaim, as he leaped toward Seattle,
"You might catch me next year, but for now, thanks for the battle!"
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.