Rain critical for successful river angling
Written by Larry Ellis, fishing columnist   
November 09, 2012 08:54 pm

Ron Rieder from Atlanta, Georgia (left) and Tom Jennings from San Diego, Calif., hold two of the Chinook they caught on the Chetco on Wednesday.The Pilot / Larry Ellis
 

Fishing report for Nov. 2-8

As I sit here writing this column, I find myself looking at an empty rain gauge with disdain. I also just Googled “How to do a rain dance” and got 134 million hits. Most of the South Coast rivers are dropping. We need rain and we need rain badly. Here’s the reason why.

To be successful on the Chetco, as well as other rivers, anglers depend on certain river flows to maintain the river with a certain amount of cloudiness. The cloudier the water, the easier it is to fool a fish into biting.

 

When the local area has not had rain for extended periods of time, like it has been this autumn, the river lowers and becomes clear. When the water is clear, it is more difficult to get a salmon to bite.

What it amounts to is what might be great weather for one person is terrible weather for another.

For sun worshippers, an idea of a beautiful day might be sunny skies for weeks on end, even in autumn and winter. For salmon warriors, it’s the opposite: rain, rain and more rain.

But even with low flows last week, there were many successful salmon fishermen who managed to get a few kings to open their mouths. I was at the Brookings fillet station almost every day last week, and almost every day, people brought in salmon to the tables. Most of them didn’t win any beauty contests.

A lot of successful anglers were getting up at the crack of dawn and using bobbers-and-sand shrimp or bobbers-and-roe to get their salmon to open their mouths. There were also a handful of people fishing the upper river from the South Fork on down, using a combination of techniques such as pulling Kwikfish, back-bouncing roe and using bobbers-and-eggs or bobbers-and-sand shrimp.

Typically, anglers can usually expect to see salmon pushing the 30-pound mark for the first three weeks in November. After that, the Chinook start getting smaller and less frequent.

But this is where that, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” saying comes in to play, in regard to the weather.

Guaranteed, fish will keep coming into the river this month, even when the river is flowing at 1,000 cubic feet per second.

But with gin-clear water, it’s just plain difficult to get them to bite.

If however, the National Weather Service’s forecasts come to fruition, anglers may get what they’ve been praying all season for in the next two weeks: higher and cloudier water, better flows in which to deploy FlatFish and Kwikfish, and more aggressive-biting salmon.

Here’s what the forecast was reading as of early Friday morning.

Sunday night: 50-percent chance of rain.

Monday morning: 90-percent chance of rain.

Monday night: RAIN.

Tuesday: Showers likely.

Now, the Chetco River gauge has been holding at around 1,000 cubic feet per second, but anglers would like the river to rise, and flows increase more than that, for the examples given previously.

According to the aforementioned weather forecast, the Chetco and surrounding rivers should indeed come up, just in time for the best fishing of the season.

The National Weather Service has an advanced hydrological prediction service for the Chetco River based on their own weather forecasts. According to these guys, the Chetco should see rises in river height and increases in river flows all this week.

But as everyone knows, being a meteorologist is the only occupation where a person can be 90-percent wrong most of the time and still hold their job.

That’s why I’ve decided to do a rain dance based on the first, or most popular hit on Google. There’s just one thing I can’t figure out. When the instructions tell me that I have to dance in a clockwise spinning motion, is that from the person’s perspective or from someone looking down from the sky at them? After all, I don’t want to make matters worse.

Tight lines and bent rods.