Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Fishing report for

February 3-9

Chetco River steelheaders were down in the dumps last week as they watched river flows abate to 668 cubic feet per second, but a series of upcoming storms should brighten everyone's spirits as the river slowly begins rising this week, ushering more of the silver missiles into the river.

Preliminary forecasts suggest that the Chetco may rise today toward 1,000 cfs, and that should be enough water for bank anglers to do a little drift-fishing and for boaters to practice some side-drifting.

"Right now drift-fishing is what's going on," says Monica Fischer from the Chetco Outdoor Store in Harbor. "We've got some showers coming and the Chetco's supposed to come up to 3.3 feet (1,120 cfs)".

Generally speaking, fish don't bite well on a rising river, but sometimes fishing can improve on a slight rise, as is predicted this weekend. An extra 400 cfs might be just enough flow to add a little more color to the already gin-clear stream, sparking fish to go on-the-bite.

On Monday, the river is expected to rise to 1,300 cfs and then level off for a few more days by Thursday. Another storm is anticipated to hit the area on Friday, sharply raising the river toward 5,000 cfs approximately one week from today.

Those who caught fish last week had to drop down in leader size between 6- and 8- pound test and remain as stealthy as possible. Both bank and boat anglers have been forced to go camo and tiptoe through the tulles.

Meanwhile Rogue River anglers have been catching steelhead off and on by anchoring up from a driftboat and setting out plugs such as Brad's Wigglers, Wee Wigglers and Hot Shots, and waiting for the chrome locomotives to whack the plugs on their way up to their spawning grounds.

I was fortunate enough to have fished last Friday with Chuck Smith and Tom Olsen, when we literally spanked the scales off some heavy metalheads. Of the five fish landed, every single one of them was a hatchery fish and as bright as a freshly-minted quarter.

There were three other savage take-downs, each with the rod tip meeting the water and line screaming off of the reel. One of the fish even showed color and spit the hook immediately before one of us had a chance to grab the rod. That was some of the fastest action I've ever seen on the Rogue.

"There's fish pretty much up and down the Rogue," said Larry Cody from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach on Thursday. "The fishing's not red hot but we are seeing fish in the 12- to 18-pound range. I actually weighed in a steelhead the other day that weighed 18 1/2 pounds."

Cody said that the bulk of the action was from Quosatana Creek up to the town of Agness and even into the Illinois River. Anglers were anchored up in sleds and either setting out their favorite plugs or back-bouncing roe. But boaters weren't the only ones catching fish last week.

"The bankies are still catching steelhead plunking with Spin-N-Glos," adds Cody. "They're in the usual spots like Canfield Riffle and Huntley Park, but I'm also hearing about a fair amount of action up around Lobster Bar as well."


Herring fishermen andndash; start your Sabikis! Pacific herring are starting to make their presence in Crescent City Harbor as they prepare to spawn.

In California you can fish from a man-made pier without a license, but most of the herring are usually caught from one of the public docks near the pier. If you fish from one of the docks, you will need to buy a California fishing license.

Catching herring is an absolute blast! There's nothing more fun than loading up all of your jigs with herring. A lot of people will be catching herring to use as lingcod bait in the future. Here's how to rig up.

I like to use a medium action, 7-foot freshwater rod with a reel loaded to the very edge with 6-pound monofilament. Loading up your reel in this manner will help you make extremely long casts if the need arises.

You'll need to buy a Sabiki Rig that has six jigs already attached. You can buy these for a few dollars from Four M Tackle, the Chetco Outdoor Store, Loring's or from Englund Marine. You'll also need some bank or cannonball sinkers ranging from one-quarter to one ounce.

Another must-have item is an ice chest in which to place your herring. I prefer to use one with wheels on the back end.

In order for your herring to be effective bait, it is extremely important that they retain all of their scales. To prevent them from flopping around and losing their scales you'll have to kill them immediately. The best way I've found to do this is to use a combination of ice and salt.

Empty one bag of ice in the bottom of your ice chest. On top of the ice liberally sprinkle a layer of salt. Add another layer of ice and then sprinkle another layer of salt on top of that. This creates a slurry mixture of water and ice. When you close the lid to your ice chest, the temperature will drop below freezing.

After loading up your Sabiki Rig with herring, place them gently on the ice and close the lid. The fish will almost instantaneously stop flopping around.

From time to time you will have to check on your herring because they will eventually become frozen. If they're curled up when they freeze, they will retain this shape until they thaw. Checking your herring periodically and making sure they remain nice and straight makes packaging them up a breeze.

After I get home I like to vacuum-pack my herring so they lay side by side, usually around 6 to a package. When the time comes to do some bottom fishing, you'll have the best lingcod bait on the coast.

For up-to-the-minute herring reports, call Englund Marine in Crescent City. Fishing licenses are available at Ship Ashore in Smith River until 11 p.m.

Tight lines!