EEL, MAD & MATTOLE RIVERS





Captain Dave Jacobs 530 646-9110

January 29, 2015    Headlines
 Eel Steel

Time to Think BIG
All North Coast rivers are dropping and getting "skinny" here on Thursday 1-29. The Smith is down to 7.3 or just 1900cfs. Flows this low are not what any steelhead angler wants. Yes there are fish in the system but approaching them much less hooking one in these ultra low clear flows is tough to impossible. Rain is needed on the Smith before we see the action improve.
The Mad has greened up and is flowing at 6.6 feet or under 500cfs. This means that anglers bouncing roe in the holes or under a bobber are going to out fish the flossers and liners by a wide margin. Fishing here was solid all this past week but will be more challenging each day that we don't see rain.
Now is a good time to think big or at least big water. The South Fork Eel is in to the main stem and has lost most of it's color. Many guides like Tony Sepulveda are now working the main stem and being a bit quiet on what they are finding. I can't blame any guide who is staying mum when there are only so many good floats available. Earlier this week Tony reported 6 fish hooked each day on the south Fork. I would bet he will be on the main stem Eel until the rains return.
Wally Johnson has been scratching out a few fish on the Chetco says he may be breaking out the jet sled to fish the lower Klamath by this weekend. Two weeks ago under similar low flows he was reporting up to 5 adults and a dozen half pounders each day. They were drifting roe from Blue Creek to the Glen. This is a good bet until the rains return.
I have not received a Chetco guide report sine the weekend but private anglers are seeing good action and some big fish working the lower river. The fishing is not wide open but some toads are in the mix.
On the Russian with the lack of rain and ultra low releases off the dams flows are down to 260cfs at Healdsburg. I have received only a handful of mostly dead slow type reports the past two weeks but second captain Jared Davis on the Salty Lady sent in a get video of a bright fish hooked in a "frog water" hole on Tuesday. It appearded to be hooked on a bobber and bait setup.
Pray for rain as if we don't see some soon many rivers could close due to low flows.
The bottom line is that if you are fishing with a top guide they have both the knowledge and skill to put their clients onto the best fishing available. That said there are fewer options as the rivers drop out.


Rivers Dropping, Some Fishing Others Low and Clear
With the lack of rain most North Coast rivers are back to low and clear after a decent rise last week. Here on Tuesday 1-27 Tony Sepulveda reported in from the South Fork Eel. Tony says the river is in great shape and the action is good but not as great as the past few seasons. Over the past two days working the lower river from Myers to the main stem his clients hooked 6 fish both days. He is working both roe and plugs with most coming on bait. The south Fork is at a great flow but Tony said is more clear at the current level than he would usually expect. He will be floating the South Fork and Main stem Eel until the rains return. Lower left is a picture that Tony sent in today of a big native that was released on the Eel.
The Smith is down to 7.6 feet and is low and clear. There are a few fish being hooked but in these low flows are hard to approach much less hook.
On the Chetco it is also low and clear. Wally Johnson reports that guides who know where to find fish in low water are still getting a few each day. Top boats saw up to three fish today but overall Wally says that most are working hard for 2 or three hookups.
The Mad river is dropping into shape with a current level of 6.8 feet or 600cfs. Fishing here last weekend was good with most anglers tossing beads for limits. As the color drops out it's time for the roe and spoon tossers to show how to make a fish eat and bait or well placed spoon or plug.

North Coast Fish Wrap
There is some great fishing and some tough fishing depending on which river you wish to target. The Smith has dropped back to low and gin clear running at 7.9 feet or 2500cfs here on Sunday evening 1-25. Overall the fishing on the Smith has been slow at 1 to 4 fish for top guides last week and as it drops the fishing will only get tougher.
Many guides have been jumping over the border to the Chetco where we saw good action late last week but lots of boats and bankies working in close quarters and scores dropping from 3 to 6 to 2 to 6 over the weekend reports Wally Johnson.
Working South Fork Eel looks like a top bet for those booking with a guide or slinging roe from the bank. Tony Sepulveda was off this weekend but reports that the South Fork Eel is in perfect shape at 8.3 at Miranda this evening. The south fork should be fishing all the way to the main stem by Wednesday. By Friday the Main stem looks to come into play due to the lack of rain. Tony says he is getting reports of 3 to 6 fish released and up to 10 hooked.
The Mad river is dropping with a current level of 7 feet. It's still a tad muddy but by mid week should have enough viz to bounce bait by the Wednesday. Gary Blasi with Mad River Tackle says that all knowledgeable anglers are coming off the river with easy limits. Most are still flossing and beading but that will change to the best scores found by those tossing bait.
Both Tony and Wally have dates open for North Coast steelie trips. 

Multi-agency Cannabis Pilot Project Finishes Successful Three-Day Inspection of Marijuana Grows in Eel River Watershed

An innovative multi-agency partnership involving state and local agencies today finished inspections of 14 private properties with active marijuana grow operations along Sproul Creek within the Eel River watershed. The three-day effort, which began Jan. 21, is intended to ensure existing and future marijuana grow operations on private lands aren’t impacting nearby waterways and wildlife.
The partnership includes staff from the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Rights, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, biologists and wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and members of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt County staff.
Sproul Creek is home to five endangered salmonid species, including one of the most important populations of coho salmon in the Eel River watershed. This stream went dry last year for the first time in many years. This is most likely a result of water diversions for marijuana cultivation combined with the ongoing drought conditions.
In addition, the agencies are concerned about potentially significant pollutants entering the watershed from sediments, pesticides, fertilizers and other contaminants that, when not properly regulated or monitored, degrade the environment and threaten native plants and wildlife.
“Sproul Creek is one of several at-risk watersheds this multi-agency partnership will be visiting and inspecting in the weeks and months ahead where known grow operations exist,” said Cris Carrigan, Chief of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is specifically focused on compliance with existing environmental regulations. “What we are seeking from the growers is a commitment to work with us to solve the water quality and water supply problems in the watershed.”
Carrigan said the goal of the integrated effort is to be proactive with our enforcement resources in acutely impacted watersheds and hold those responsible for existing environmental damage accountable, while providing a pathway toward compliance for those operators who want to cultivate in an environmentally sound manner.
The Water Boards and CDFW hope that most or many of the growers will be interested in working with state and local agencies cooperatively to prepare for and then enroll in permits that may be required, such as a conditional waiver of waste discharge requirements and/or streambed alteration agreement. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is creating a conditional waiver to better monitor and regulate activities associated with cannabis cultivation much like it regulates and monitors other activities on California’s North Coast. Currently, grow operations are not regulated for potential environmental impacts.
“Voluntary compliance with the law is the best-case scenario and we expect to see an increase in the number of permit applications following these inspections,” said Lt. DeWayne Little of CDFW’s Watershed Enforcement Team. “We do have the authority to serve search warrants, cite those who are damaging the environment and confiscate crops. We hope to not have to resort to those measures, but it is imperative that we take every precaution to avoid the loss of the coho run for a second year in a row.”
Following this inspection effort of the 14 locations, state and regional water board staff observed a variety of potential and actual violations that will be addressed in the coming weeks. Possible violations appear to be unlawful diversion and storage of water for growing operations, and discharge of waste to waterways including some indications of the use of pesticide or fertilizers in ways that could degrade nearby waterways.
Individuals on site at a majority of the inspected parcels gave consent for the team to look at the operations and were cooperative in identifying areas of interest for the inspectors, negating the need to serve administrative warrants to enter properties to perform the inspections.
The state and regional water board staff will be studying the evidence, and providing inspection reports to the property owners detailing any issues that need to be addressed. Those reports should be finalized in the next several weeks. Following issuance of those reports, formal enforcement orders may follow from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and/or State Water Board to ensure compliance with all applicable Water Code provisions.
During this inspection effort, no grow operations were eradicated and Proposition 215 cards were not reviewed.
For more information on the activities of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement efforts relative to cannabis cultivation, please visit our resources page here.


Rivers Dropping Back In!
Rain late last week and over the weekend brought rivers up on the North Coast with little change in flows to those south of the Mendo / Sonoma county line.
The Smith is quickly dropping and came into shape on Monday 1-19.
It is currently flowing at 9.8 feet or down a foot in the past 24 hours. On Tuesday 1-20. Curt at the Hiouchie B&B said there were lots of boats drifting by this morning but overall the action was spotty with his sources reporting counts of under 3 fish per boat. 
Wally Johnson was on the Chetco on Monday 1-20 and said it was still a tad high and colored. He reported one fish hooked and lost for his twosome. He said that was the story for most guides on the river with a top score of three landed for one other guide but most struggling to get more than an opportunity or three. He has not received any guide reports from Smith which has seen less than stellar action all this season. 
The South Fork Eel at Miranda is at 9.4 feet here on Tuesday 1-20. The river needs to drop another 14 -18" before it comes into play. So far this year the South Fork has been a top producer and one that I would advise anglers to keep an eye on.
Over on the Mad river flows have dropped to 1250cfs or about 7.8 feet. Gary Blasi at Mad River Tackle reports that the hatchery run is in and the fishing is great. He says that most anglers "in the know" are seeing easy limits of dime bright 6 to 10 + pound fish.  Most anglers are beading right now with the muddy flows but with a dry weather forecast this coming week roe will be the way to go by the weekend.
Wally Johnson was on his home waters of the upper Klamath on Saturday 1-18 and reported great action. His twosome hooked 8 adults landing 5 to 6 pounds and he said they lost count on the smaller half pounders at 15+. They were drifting roe in the Seiad Valley. Wally says the numbers of fish in the upper Klamath and warm water temps have the fish on the bite and this is a top bet.

 


River Levels:



For river status (low flow closure) updates from Fish and Game please call +1.707.442.4502 for the North coast and +1.707.944.5533 for Central coast streams. Be sure to check out the California Fish and Game regulations before you go. Regulations vary on every river and you need to pay attention to bait and hook restrictions. Due to winter closures on HWYs 5, 101 & 299 we recommend you check Caltrans road conditions as well.

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