SMITH RIVER






March 27, 2014    Headlines
Chetco and Smith Steelies


North Coast Rivers Rise
The steelhead season ends on March 31st but Mother Nature and rising flows are putting the final touch of a frustrating steelhead season to bed a bit early. Rain on Tuesday 3-25 pushed river levels up on all North coast streams and most are high and off color. With heavy rain forecasted this weekend and with most rivers closing to fishing next Monday at sunset this will end our reports for the 2014 season.
In a nutshell it was a long frustrating year dominated by low flows and little rain all season until mid February. Once the rains arrived we did see some great fishing when conditions were right with the Chetco, South Fork Eel and Mad all producing good numbers of fish. Other systems like the Smith never gained much traction due to the lack of rain while the upper Klamath was a steady producer of smaller fish all winter. This will be our last steelhead coastal steelie report of the season but come May we will be covering Springer fishing on the Rogue and Klamath.
The Smith remains open to fishing through April 30th but the catch will be a mix of bluebacks and down bound steelies. Be sure to check out our ocean report pages as the salmon season below Cape mendo opens next weekend.


Rivers Drop Out, Rain on the Way
The Smith had dropped to 7.5 feet and is crystal clear here on Sunday 3-23. The fishing has been tough with guides seeing 1 to 3 fish a mix of blue back and downers. It is getting late in the season and most of the fresh adults have already made it into our Northern rivers.
A series of smaller systems is expected to impact the North Coast beginning late Monday and lasting into Thursday. These first three systems are expected to bring showers and light rain. Beginning late Friday and into Saturday a much stronger system is expected to impact the Oregon border area with heavy rain and quickly rising main stem rivers. The forecast may change but as of this writing the weather models are in agreement that this will bring significant rains to far Northern Cal next weekend.
The Chetco is seeing light pressure and those still fishing are seeing lots of runbacks in the lower river. This next push of water will likely increase the numbers of post spawn fish but I would suspect that by next weekend most rivers will return to high and muddy.
The Mad is green and running at 6.4 feet. Bankies are seeing a few down-runner hatchery fish with a few bright late season natives around to keep things interesting. Work roe and a Fish Pill in the Deeper holes and slots.
The South Fork Eel has dropped out as well with the Miranda gauge showing just 7.8 feet or 520cfs. Guides have dropped down to the main stem but with Tony Sepulveda on vacation we don't have a current report. I would expect that most are still seeing 5+ fish per day working plugs and roe from the Forks to Stafford.
The Eel, Mad, Van Duzen, Redwood Creek and Mattole close to fishing on March 31st. The Smith is open through April and the Klamath and Trinity are open year round.


The BnB Hiouchi Lodge
For readers looking for river front fishing access and lodging a reader turned us on to this little gem. The BNBHiouchi.com 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 in 2011. 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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