There are still steelhead in local rivers but with low flows and clear water on both the Smith and Chetco rivers, steelhead have been getting increasingly skittish and more difficult to coax into biting.
On the ocean, swells were manageable but the drift was fast due to high winds. Bottom fishermen were still able to get out in search of fish, catching limits of rockfish but lingcod fishing slowed some.
Meanwhile, sportcrabbers have been having lots of luck on both sides of the border with lots of crab still wandering into pots. The crab are also reportedly large and meaty.
Another week has come and gone without leaving behind much rain as the Smith and Chetco rivers have continued to drop.
“There are fish but it is tough,” said fishing guide Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips. “You can see them when you stand up, especially if you get out early enough, but a lot of them are in areas with a little cover on them. It is one of those things where you just have to improvise and fish whatever the conditions are.”
Andy Martin said anglers on the Chetco River fished pretty well on Sunday and Monday, but it has since slowed significantly.
“It has been really tough,” Martin said. “The river is just low, and there are a few places you have to drag your boat right now on the Chetco. It isn’t terrible, but you have to get out and push. There are fish; you can see them in the tailouts, but the are really skittish. There are probably more fish being caught right now on plugs than side drifting.”
Both the Smith and Chetco river stand to benefit from rain forecasted Sunday, but Martin said the river may be a little slow to rise due to the rain turning to snow at the higher elevations. Another round of rain scheduled for the middle of next week might add more water to the river systems.
Martin said the first spring salmon of the season was caught on the Rogue River this week.
On the ocean
It has been another good week for sport crabbers on both sides of the California-Oregon border, with lots of crab being caught recreationally out of Crescent City and Brookings.
Sportcrabbers have been reporting the crab adding more and more meat since the season opened in California in December, and Mitchell said they are noticeably more full now than they were just two weeks ago.
Oregon anglers have also been able to get out in search of bottom fish this week, which was a little bit more reliable than fishing the rivers, according to Martin.
He said his clients were able to haul in limits of bottom fish whenever they went out, but lingcod fishing, which had been fairly hot since the season opened in January, were a little harder to come by. Martin said he had to go to Bird Island before finding any lingcod this week.
Meanwhile, redtail surfperch fishing has been really good for anglers on the beach. Martin said some of the most productive spots seem to be at Sporthaven Beach and the Crissy Field Welcome Center.
After about two full weeks in and around Crescent City Harbor, the school of herring finally left the harbor on Tuesday. Mitchell said he had been waiting for them to come all the way into the boat basin so he could make use of his 24-foot net, and he finally got his shot early Tuesday afternoon before the herring left the harbor.
Mitchell said he got about one 5-gallon bucket full of herring with each throw of his net.
Mitchell said he likes to use the herring as bait for everything from fishing for salmon, Pacific halibut and lingcod in the ocean, and the little fish also work pretty well trolling for salmon in estuaries.
Although the herring seem to have left Crescent City Harbor —at least for the time being— a large school was spotted in Oregon this week, outside of Brookings harbor.
Martin said the herring have mostly been spotted between Aiken Point and Chetco Point.
Fishing contacts: Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Chetco Outdoor Store at 541-469-9151; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .