EEL, MAD & MATTOLE RIVERS
March 08, 2014
Rain Returns to
South Fork Remains
The South Fork Eel does not look to come back into play until late next
week. Here on Saturday 4-8 morning the Miranda gauge is showing a
slow drop with a current height of 12 feet. With more rain forecasted for
Sunday and Monday it may not be back in until next weekend. The South Fork
is a top producer in March with guides often seeing catches of 5 to 10+ fish
per day. The problem is that heavy rain can blow this system out for a week
or more. At this time the Smith is the only coastal river in play.
South Fork Eel
The rains continue to fall and aside from the Smith most North coast rivers
are high and muddy. Late Monday 3-3 the South Fork Eel crested
at it's highest level yet this season at 18.3 feet at Miranda. Here on
Tuesday 3-4 afternoon flows have dropped from 21,000cfs to 14,000cfs or
down to 14.5. The guidance plot forecasts the South Fork to stay above 9.5
feet through Saturday and the rive will be high and unfishable into early
next week. That said fishing here has been
great and once is does drop back in the
Eel should be Metalheaders best March bet. Until then the Chetco has been
producing solid numbers and the Mad does see a decent run of natives in
North Coast River
This current storm system is mainly bring rain to the area south of Pt
Arena. 24 hour rainfall totals through 5:PM Wednesday 2-26 are: The
Smith river has seen less than .04 an inch and the river has dropped to 8
feet. Guides are reporting 2 to 4 fish scores a mix of fresh run adults and
a few run back fish that have recently spawned. The guidance forecast calls
for just one foot increase in flow on Friday and the river looks to stay in
through the weekend.
The Chetco has been putting out solid counts for the past several
days. Guides are reporting 5 to 8 fish landed with some hooking double
digits. Dave Jacobs reports that over the past few days their counts have
been 6 to 7 fish landed running from 5 to 14 pounds. There have been lots of
big fish landed the past two weeks and here too the river is in great shape
and looks to remain so through early next week. One sad story from this past
weekend is a reminder to drift boaters to ALWAYS were your life jacket.
Tragedy on the Chetco Claims One Angler's Life Others Saved by Quick
The Mad river is green and fishing well reports Gary Blassi at Mad
river Tackle. Anglers tossing roe and others lining are seeing 2 to 5 fish
per day a mix of 60% runbacks and 40% bright fresh fish just moving in. Gary
says that knowledgeable anglers are working through the dark fish and many
are seeing limits of hatchery fish running 6 to 12 pounds.
Moving south rainfall at Garberville on the South Fork Eel has only
totaled .20 and the river is flat lined. The entire south fork is fishing to
the main stem with guides seeing 3 to 7 fish per boat. The guidance plot
calls for a steep four foot rise tonight and if the guidance plot is correct
the Eel will be out on Thursday and will remain so through early next week.
The Russian is closed now to fishing through it should not have this
late in the season. Lake Sonoma has reported 1.40" in just the past 12 hours
and more much need rain is in the forecast for Mendocino County south
through early Saturday. My top bets for the coming days are the Mad, Smith,
Chetco and upper Klamath. All rivers south of Cape Mendocino look to be high
& muddy through early next week.
North Coast Wrap
We are currently seeing some of the BEST river conditions on the North
Coast rivers this season. All the "majors" have dropped into shape and the
fishing is good. Here on Sunday 2-23 evening the Smith has been on a
slow drop currently running at 9 feet, a drop of just 6" the past 24 hours.
Wally Johnson reports both the Smith and Chetco rivers are putting out good
numbers for guides with most of the pros hooking 5 to 8 and landing 3 to 5
fish per boat. The pressure was up on both of these rivers on Friday and
Saturday due to the Cal Ore Rowdy Creek derby but boat pressure should be
much lighter and counts should tick up over the next few days.
The South Fork Eel is fishing from top to bottom but the lower river
is the place to be with flows at Miranda at 475cfs being a tad low. Guides
here are seeing 3 to 10 fish hooked and up to 6 landed and released as this
is a C & R fishery. The action of the lower south fork from Myers to the
Main stem should be great through Tuesday. The forecast calls for rain to
return on Wednesday and with a strong system expect Friday we expect most
rivers to be out by next weekend. The South Fork is my top bet through
The Mad had dropped to 6.7 feet and is starting to sport some good
color. Anglers tossing roe should see good opportunities the next two to
three days and those lining are seeing big counts with lots of two hatchery
fish limits being found below the hatchery.
Here's Why Your Weed
Habit Is Bad for California's Salmon
Should we be sacrificing wild salmon just to get high?
Jason Best has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense
An increasingly stark problem is facing California, a state in the
middle of a
historic and crippling drought: salmon or weed?
For all its happy, laid-back, live-and-let-live connotations, marijuana
isn’t so benign when it comes to the environment, at least when we’re
talking about its cultivation.
seems, is that more apparent than in the “Emerald Triangle” of Northern
California—the counties of Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt—which
comprise what experts believe is the largest
pot-growing region in
the United States. As
Jefferson Public Radio, the NPR affiliate out of Southern
Oregon University, reports: “As the hills have sprouted thousands of new
grow operations, haphazard cultivation is threatening the recovery of
endangered West Coast salmon and steelhead populations.” Overfishing and
industrial impacts of logging and farming have dramatically reduced
salmon stocks in California waterways such as the Eel River, which runs
through the Emerald Triangle.
Although new conservation efforts have helped populations to
rebound—30,000 salmon and steelhead swam up the Eel to spawn in 2012, up
from 3,500 two years before—the new, booming industry is hurting the
nascent recovery. In part that’s because growing marijuana requires a
lot of water, some three to six gallons per plant. “It’s possible that
in some watersheds, marijuana cultivation is consuming all the water
available for fish,” one salmon recovery expert with the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife tells the radio station.
Humboldt County, for example, can ill afford to spare the water right
U.S. Drought Monitor
last week declared the entire county is suffering extreme drought
It’s not just pot growers’ unquenchable thirst that’s causing problems
for salmon recovery, though. There's also the pesticide and fertilizer
run-off, the severe erosion—the kind of industrial-scale impacts you see
with industrial-scale agriculture. In places like Humboldt County, weed
farming increasingly resembles the chemical- and resource-intensive
monocrop approach practiced with corn and soybeans in the Midwest.
In the almost 20 years since California legalized the sale of medicinal
marijuana, thousands of new growers have set up shop. An aerial tour
using Google Earth created in 2011 by Anthony Silvaggio, an
environmental sociologist with Humboldt State University, and posted by
shows some of the devastating impact, with large swaths of forest
mowed down to make room for illicit grow operations.
This goes on pretty much entirely unchecked. “The fact that it’s
unregulated is a real problem,” Silvaggio says in the video. “Talking
with agricultural commissioners of different counties, they report to me
that it’s difficult for them to help growers that want to do the right
thing because they can’t talk about it because it’s federally
prohibited, and they get federal dollars.”
Yes, that’s right: In yet another bizarre consequence of the country’s
schizophrenic position on pot, even as states like California allow
medicinal marijuana to be sold—and quasi-legally grown—the feds don't,
leading to another nonsensical “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation (and we
all know how well that worked with gays in the military).
“There’s just this tremendously complicated legal environment which
makes it really hard for farmers who would like to come into compliance,
who would like to use best practices on their farms, to make progress,”
Hezekiah Allen, an environmental consultant and third-generation
Humboldt County resident, tells Jefferson Public Radio. Allen, however,
has helped to develop a “manual of best practices” for growers, which
details how they can minimize the environmental impact of their
“There’s probably no such thing as a perfect, zero-impact farm,” Allen
tells the radio station. “But if we give people the information and the
knowledge they need, they will make improvements.”
The salmon sure hope so.
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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