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Weekend storms could open the Smith

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest author badge,

he season’s first decent storm is on track to hit the North Coast on Sunday, and if the forecast holds, the Smith River could potentially open to fishing above the low flow closure boundary. As of Wednesday, the forecast is calling for the Smith and Klamath watersheds to get up to one and a half inches of rain over the course of Sunday and Monday according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “It looks like it’s going to be a wet one; and we’ll see the temperatures drop as well. Here in Humboldt County, we’ll likely see close to an inch of rain over the course of the two days,” Kennedy added. So, if the rain falls as planned, salmon fishing on the Smith could be a real possibility for Monday. With the first river rise of the rainy season, I would expect there to be lots of debris coming down the river, and hopefully a lot of chrome bright kings heading the opposite direction. To see the Smith River levels and predictions, visit this webpage. To get the low flow lowdown on all of the North Coast rivers, call 707-822-3164.

 Crescent City resident Trina Gheen, with the help of Jason Costello, pictured right, hold her first ever Klamath River salmon. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service
Crescent City resident Trina Gheen, with the help of Jason Costello, pictured right, landed her first-ever Klamath River salmon last week while fishing with guide Mike Coopman. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

Weekend Weather
After the storm moves out on Monday, a weak weather system will move in on Tuesday according to Kennedy. “Rain will mostly fall to our north, with Del Norte seeing up to a quarter inch. As of now, next Wednesday through Saturday is predicted to be dry,” Kennedy added.

Rockfish seasons set to close
The recreational rockfish season for boat-based anglers will come to a close on Saturday, Oct. 31. The weekend weather doesn’t look to promising for a last minute run to the Cape, or anywhere for that matter. Friday’s forecast is calling 8-foot waves at 14 seconds. Waves will be 10-feet at 14 seconds on Saturday and Sunday looks worse, with 13-foot swells at 13 seconds.

CDFW Simplifies Steelhead Report and Restoration Card
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) has simplified its 2016 steelhead report card according to a press release issued on Monday. The new card will be shorter and easier to fill out. It provides anglers with clear and concise reporting instructions, consolidates location codes and better defines the data being collected.

Major changes to the 2016 card include:

  • A reduction of location codes from 73 to 20
  • The addition of a “did not fish” check box above the reporting section
  • Simplification of report card language
  • Clarification of reporting instructions

The consolidation of location codes benefits the angler by making it easier to identify which location code they are fishing in, while the simplification of language helps anglers more easily determine what data must be recorded and how to comply with the reporting requirement.

The steelhead data collected by anglers is important and aids CDFW in making management decisions, and is used to determine catch trends for specific watersheds. Revenue generated by report card sales is dedicated to steelhead restoration projects, which contribute to the conservation and recovery of steelhead populations and benefit both the species and anglers.

Reporting online is preferred as it increases the accuracy of data and reduces data entry and administrative costs, and allows for more funds to be used for statewide steelhead restoration. For more information regarding the Steelhead Report and Restoration Card Program and how data is utilized, please visit this webpage. To enter your steelhead report card information online, please login to the CDFW online license sales and service system here.

The Rivers:
Smith River

According to Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service, the Smith is loaded with salmon as far up as Hiouchi. “The rain we’re getting now and what’s coming this weekend should really put them on the move and will bring in some fresh fish. And I’m hoping we get enough rain to open the river to fishing above Rowdy Creek. Trollers starting at first light have been doing well at the Sand Hole using anchovies or herring. There’s been quite a bit of illegal angling taking place at the Sand Hole. If you see something, be sure and call the CalTIP hotline at 1-888-334-CalTIP (888-334-2258),” Coopman added.

Reminder: A North Coast Salmon Report Card is required to fish for salmon on the Smith River. The daily bag and possession limit is 1 Chinook salmon and no more than 5 wild Chinook salmon over 22 inches per year.

Flows came up a bit last weekend and scattered the salmon throughout the lower river. Salmon were reportedly caught below Nook on Wednesday as the flows were back on the rise from Tuesday’s rain. Anglers are reminded that from the power line crossing at RM 2.2 upstream to Nook Creek (RM 14) from Sept. 1 through Nov. 3, angling is restricted to fly angling and bobber angling only, with 1 single point hook. Fly angling gear must include a strike indicator. Bobber angling gear must include a bobber and a leader no longer than 36 inches in length. Any weight (except the bobber or strike indicator) may be no more than 36 inches from the hook when suspended vertically. The leader below the bobber or strike indicator must remain suspended in the water column and not resting on the river bottom. The daily/seasonal bag limit is 2 Chinook daily, only one may be unclipped/20 seasonal, no more than 5 may be unclipped.

Lower Klamath
A few bright, big kings are still trickling into the Lower Klamath according to Coopman. “It’s pretty typical for this time of year. Some of the big tributary fish are starting to show up. There are also quite a few silvers as well as steelhead making their way through the system,” Coopman added.

Upper Trinity
Tim Brady of Weaverville’s Trinity Outdoors reports the steelhead fishing on the Trinity has been consistent, but certainly not red hot. He said, “Most of the action is taking place from the North Fork down to Big Bar. The salmon fishing hasn’t been great, but guides are seeing a few around. Most of the boats are working from Junction City down to the North Fork.”

Find “Fishing the North Coast” on Facebook and for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to

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