After a few decent days for drift boats on the Smith and Chetco rivers, plunkers took center stage through the middle of the week as rain sent rivers on the rise. Although neither the Chetco nor Smith rose as much as predicted, both rivers were blown out by Thursday but will likely be in good drifting shape today before more rain falls on Sunday — blowing out the rivers by Monday.
Although the Chetco River has been producing a little bit better steelhead fishing so far this season, the Smith River was reportedly picking up steam late in the week.
Meanwhile, it has been a really rough week of weather on the ocean on both sides of the border this week, and conditions are not expected to improve anytime soon.
Steelhead fishing was fair at the beginning of the week until some storms in the area started to push up the river levels.
Fishing Guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said anglers were doing pretty well on Monday on the Chetco River. Although the Chetco was predicted to blow out on Tuesday, Martin said it remained fishable, though fishing slowed some, through Wednesday.
The steelhead run on the Smith River has gotten off to a little bit slower start than the Chetco, though steelhead have been caught for several weeks on both rivers. The Smith started picking up steam late in the week, however, as plunkers from shore were able to take advantage of the high water for a couple good days on Thursday and Friday. Drift boats should be able to get back out in search of steelhead on both rivers this weekend.
“The Smith will be down low enough for drift boats (Saturday). It is below 10,000 cfs (on Friday afternoon) at the Jed. Smith gauge,” Martin said. “The Chetco is coming down more slowly so it will probably be down around 5,000 cfs (today), which is fishable but still high,” Martin said.
“The problem we have had on the Chetco all year is when it gets high it has been pretty muddy, but that is not the case today. It is already a dirty green color and it is clearing, so it should be good. It will definitely be good plunking conditions on both rivers, and drift boats should be OK on the Chetco and pretty good on the Smith.”
Oregon ocean, California Crabbing
It has been a rough week for ocean anglers, including a hazardous seas warning through the middle of the week becoming a small craft advisory still in effect today. A gale watch will go into effect late tonight and last through Sunday afternoon.
Although bottomfishing is now open in Oregon while recreational crabbing remains open out of Crescent City, most boats have been kept in the harbor throughout the week.
Bottomfishing out of Oregon has been good, contingent on the conditions, since it reopened at the beginning of 2018. Lingcod have been biting exceptionally well.
Although the commercial crabbing season was scheduled to open on Monday, they have delayed the season due to concerns about the quality of crab, which are still more lean than usual at this time of year. Sport crabbers have been having a really good season, however, hauling in fairly easy limits of Dungeness crab. Although they have a little less meat, the quantity available has made it worth throwing a few pots.
Both Oregon bottomfishermen and California recreational crabbers will have to wait at least a few more days before the ocean settles back down, with choppy seas in the forecast through at least Wednesday.
It is still a little bit early in the year for schools of herring to start showing up in Crescent City Harbor, but there have already been a few groups of herring sighted by ocean anglers in the area. It is difficult to predict when herring will make their appearance in the harbor, but it could happen any time over the next month or so.
Fishing contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .