It has been a good week for steelhead fishing on the Wild River Coast. The recent round of storms that have swept through the area have provided nice flows, and brought a little bit of color back to the streams. With conditions improved, anglers are reporting lots of catches on the Smith, Chetco and Rogue rivers.

Although fishing has been promising, prospective anglers should expect a lot of fishing pressure on the Smith and Chetco in particular, as the Rowdy Creek Steelhead Derby kicked off on Friday and will wrap up today, bringing 40 drift boats along with it.

River fishing

There are lots of steelhead in local rivers from the Smith River all the way up to the Rogue, and with the recent round of storms over the weekend and early this week anglers are seeing some of the best fishing so far this season according to Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing.

Martin said on the Chetco anglers are catching a lot of down runners — steelhead returning to the ocean after spawning upstream — while there are still good numbers of fresh fish on the lower river.

“The water has warmed up a bit, and there are a lot of fish in there,” Martin said. “It is peak season.”

Jim Mitchell, of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips, said the Smith River has also been producing steelhead as well this week. Early in the week the plunkers were having the most luck as the river was running high, but as the river has rounded into shape conditions have been getting better for drift boats as well.

Fishing may be a little difficult on the Smith and Chetco rivers today due to lots of competition from fellow anglers as the Rowdy Creek Steelhead Derby wraps up.

Martin also said the rivers are expected to be back on the rise late in the weekend.

“It is going to come up on Sunday,” Martin said. “Sunday may be fishable, especially on the Smith, and the Rogue will still fish. But everything is going to blow out by Monday, and the ocean will be rough as well.”

On the ocean

The ocean has been fairly rough out of Brookings, but the few boats that decided to brave the weather were rewarded with some pretty nice hauls of rockfish, Martin said. Not too many lingcod were brought in out of Brookings this week, but that likely has more to do with the depth that most of the ocean anglers were forced to fish in due to the weather.

Meanwhile, crabbing out of Brookings remains closed.

In Crescent City bottomfishing is closed, but sportcrabbing is still open. Not a whole lot of crab have found their way into pots, however. The season has started off particularly slowly, and it just hasn’t ever really improved.

Mitchell said this has been perhaps the worst year for sport crabbing out of Crescent City that he has seen.

PFMC meeting

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council will be holding its first meeting of the year March 6-12 at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, located at 301 W. Sixth Street in Vancouver.

Throughout the week-long meeting, the PFMC will discuss management plans for salmon, Pacific halibut and groundfish, among other topics.

Fishing contacts: Jim Mitchell of Gotcha Hooked Fish Trips at 464-8482; Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing at 206-388-8988; Englund Marine Supply Company at 464-32306.