Be a nerd – Get excited about the Chetco opener

By Larry Ellis, fishing columnist October 26, 2012 11:05 pm

Expect large Chinook on opening day of the Chetco, like this 24-pound king caught by Mark Gasich of Brookings in the Chetco Bay last week. The Pilot/Larry Ellis

Fishing report for October 19-25

There are only seven days left before the Chetco River opens above river mile 2.2 on Nov. 3, and according to ODFW, there should be plenty of salmon in the river this year.

OK, I admit it. When it comes to opening days, I’m a real nerd, complete with horn-rimmed glasses, lab coat and pocket protector. The following conversation that took place a few years ago on opening day should exemplify that nerdish virtue (and yes, I believe nerdism is a virtue) that seems to be a part of my persona.


Andy Martin: (whispering) “Now, we’re going to hit the river real early this morning and be the first anglers on the river, so we don’t want to draw any attention.”

Ellis: “No problemo.”

Andy Martin (thinking to himself: “Hmm, that’s way too short of a response to come from Larry,” as he pushes his drift boat away from the ramp)

Ellis: With an impish grin, takes out his Canada goose call and bellows out three short blasts.

Martin: (shaking his head) “I guess I won’t have to ask you not to do that again?”

Ellis: “No problemo”.

Martin (thinking to himself again: “Now I’m really worried.”

I will say in defense though, that the goose call may have inadvertently brought us a little bit of luck that day, because I am a firm believer of the butterfly effect, which basically means that if you were to go back in time and change an insignificant event, it could possibly alter the future as we now know it.

Within 10 minutes, I landed a 44-pound Chinook, and five minutes later, Andy brought a monster on board that was pushing 40 – both caught back-trolling MagLips. It does make one wonder what might have happened (or not have happened) had I not blown that goose call at all? But just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to leave my goose call at home. Or will I?

Nobody actually knows what the river heights are going to be on opening day, so come prepared to fish every technique imaginable, from bobbering to back-bouncing.

If the river doesn’t come up as predicted, boaters will still be trolling the Chetco bay, using a spreader bar.

Tie your main line to the spreader.

On the bottom of the spreader, attach a 20-inch piece of 15-pound monofilament leading to a Duo Lock snap. On the end of the snap, connect a cannonball sinker ranging between 3 and 5 ounces, depending on the strength of the current.

You want to troll very slowly for Chinook, somewhere between .5 and 1.7 miles per hour, making sure that your sinker is hugging the bottom.

Using a flasher is optional, but a Big Al’s Fish Flash in the color chartreuse is always a good bet. Attach the Fish Flash directly to the end of your spreader, and let your rig down slowly or it will become tangled.

On the end of the ball bearing swivel of your Fish Flash, tie a 4-foot mooching leader. Whole anchovies, herring and sardines work well, or you can use a cut-plug herring. Make sure that your bait is spinning good and tight. Tie a 4-bead bead chain in the middle of your leader to prevent line-twist.

Come Nov. 3, if the river rises between 2,000 and 4,000 cfs, then drift boaters should back-troll sardine-wrapped MagLips or Kwikfish.

If by some quirk the river rises between 4,000 and 6,000 cfs, then plunking a No. 4 flame/chartreuse Spin-N-Glo will be the technique that rules the river. Good plunking spots are at Social Security Bar, the confluence of the North Fork and Loeb State Park.

Last Thursday on the Smith River, Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing put his clients on two chrome-bright Chinook. This week they’ll be anywhere from the Forks down to the Sand Hole.

Tight lines and bent rods!