February 26, 2015    Headlines
Winter Steelies

All Rivers In
All North Coast rivers are in but most are seeing low clear conditions. Lack of rain the past two weeks has the Smith and Chetco both running low and very clear. While showers / light rain is expected on Friday 2-27 and into the weekend it does not look to be enough to change the river conditions.
 The 2nd Rowdy Creek fish derby of the year will be held this Friday and Saturday 2-28 on the Smith and Chetco. Last weekend the action was slow with the top team out of 24 total seeing a combined 8 fish. This week with even more challenging conditions and lower flows  22 teams will be facing tough conditions but I'm sure everyone involved will have a great time supporting Rowdy Creek hatchery. After all that is what this derby is all about.
The Smith is currently running at 7 feet here on Thursday 2-26 evening. It's low and gin clear and giving up just a few adults and runbacks the past several days.
The gauge at Miranda on the South Fork Eek is reporting a current flow of 1150 feet. The Miranda gauge has been over reading for the past two weeks but guides are reporting the entire south fork is in and giving up 1 to 6 fish hooked per boat. For the coastal rivers the Eel has been the top producer this season.
The Mad river action has slowed this past week. The river is down to 7 feet or about 700cfs and is sporting 12 to 18 inches of viz. Bankies are scoring a few fish on roe while others are lining but scores have dropped from easy limits two weeks ago to a fish per stick for knowledgeable anglers.
Wally Johnson reports they are seeing 5 to 10 adults and 15 to 20+ 1/2 pounders working the upper Klamath in the Seiad Valley the past few days. Wally says the fishing pressure has been extremely light and it's rare to see more than one or two other boats even working the same stretch of river. Wally is headed back over to the coast to fish in the Rowdy Creek derby this weekend and will be back on his home waters next Monday. Numbers wise the upper Klamath is a top bet (if) until the rains return. 

All North Coast rivers are in and fishing but the catching has been tough on many.
The first of two derbies supporting the Rowdy Creek hatchery on the Smith was held on Friday 2-20 and Saturday 2-21. There were 24 teams (two boats per team fishing the Smith one day and the Chetco the other) and high team had a combined score of 8 fish. Wally Johnson reports the action was spotty. His twosome landed 1 fish over the two days out of 6 hooked. With the low water and extra pressure that the derbies bring, the catching was tough. More fish were landed north of the border but there were some larger fish caught on the Smith which is low and clear.

Wally was back home on the upper Klamath on Sunday 2-22 and reports "this is where the steelies are". This past week he has been averaging 4 to 8 adults and 12 to 20+ half pounders per trip. He says the river is green and has a good 2-3 feet of viz and with the warm water temps around 50 degrees the fish are biting.
He will be back on the coast for next weekend's 2nd Rowdy Creek derby (the guides all give up their guide fee to support the hatchery) but plans on fishing his home waters through March. Wally has been bringing many of his coastal clients over to the upper Klamath the past three low water year; Once the see the numbers available they forget about landing a trophy 20 pounder and are more than happy hooking 20 fish.

The South Fork Eel is fishing to the main stem. Fishing here too has been spotty and after four years of drought will likely get slower is the years ahead. Overall guide counts are running at a respectable 3 to 6 fish hooked and about half landed. All are seeing some good days where they landed 4 or 5 but there are slow days mixed in where they are happy for a single photo opportunity.

Gary Blasi, six pack captain on the Sea Weasel and owner of Mad river Tackle reports anglers are finding good conditions on the Mad. Those in the know are still picking up limits of fish and with the river greening up those tossing roe are seeing good and even better counts than the liners. Most are working the deeper slots and holes from the hatchery to Blue Lake.

The BnB Hiouchi Lodge
For readers looking for river front fishing access and lodging a reader turned us on to this little gem. The is located right on one of the best holes of the main stem, just below the Forks flat and directly across from the "Covered Bridge". 
They have three rooms, a single and two doubles and very reasonable rates that include breakfast or lunch and just a nominal fee for dinner if you wish. You have full access to their private bank access, great meals and clean comfortable rooms. Rates are VERY reasonable and you will never stay in a hotel when fishing here again.  I'm making reservations for February and can't wait to go! 510 967-4615

Rules for the Smith River
 New rules have been adopted by the Cal F&G commission for the Smith River. Only barbless hooks will be allowed in all reaches of the Smith River. The  Klamath-Trinity Salmon Report Card has been renamed North Coast Salmon Report card and will now be required on the Smith River also. The annual bag limit for  wild trout or steelhead was reduced to zero and no more than five wild Chinook may be kept per year.

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.
Prime steelhead flows on the Smith river are between 12 and 9 feet. Fish are caught in higher flows by those plucking and even in the low and clear waters below 8.5 feet but prime fishing is always found with a dropping river in the 9 to 12 foot range. No one can predict the best day or conditions but put in a few days in and you will be rewarded. All of our sponsors have room available for the prime January - mid March period. Please call the DFG flow information hotline at 707 822-3164 for additional information.

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