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Rivers closed for now; rain on the way

hat I wouldn’t give for a full-blown gully washer right now. One to two inches of rain a week is starting to get a little frustrating. The Smith and the Chetco have both been up and down like a Yo-Yo due to the quick rises and even faster drops. It’s been two days of rain, three days of fishing, and then two days of sitting at home waiting for the next storm. That pattern will hopefully end soon, but it doesn’t look like it will be this weekend. The North Coast is forecasted for another couple days of rain coming late this weekend, which in all likelihood will be followed by a few days of fishing. El Niño can’t get here quick enough.

Weekend forecast
According to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service, another round of storms is slated for the weekend. He Said, “We should see the rain begin to fall sometime Saturday evening and will likely stick around through Monday. On and off showers are expected Sunday through Monday. Rainfall totals in the Smith basin could reach up to two inches, with more falling in the higher elevations. In Humboldt, we could see anywhere from one to one and a half inches. As of now, next Tuesday and Wednesday are looking dry, but Thursday we could be back into a wet pattern.”

Trinity River fish trapping update
As of November 1, 699 Chinook salmon have been trapped at the Willow Creek weir. Of the 699, 510 were adults and 189 of those were jacks. In 2014, the season total was 1,071, with 908 adults and 163 jacks counted.

Smith River - Rowdy Creek Hatchery update
As of Wednesday, 30 Chinook salmon have been trapped at the hatchery according to hatchery manager Andrew Van Scoyk. “This is a pretty typical number for this time of the year; I’d say we’re right on track. We only take 25 males and 25 females, so we should be sitting pretty well after the next big rise," Van Scoyk added.

 Pictured left to right are Don Crane from Orange County and Matt Bruder and Roy Webster, with 45 pound Chinook
It took a crew of three to land this 45-lb Smith River Chinook last Sunday. Pictured left to right are Don Crane from Orange County and Matt Bruder and Roy Webster, both of Crescent City. Bruder hooked the big king back-bouncing roe. Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman's Guide Service

The Rivers:
As of Thursday morning, all North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen were closed to fishing. Sections of rivers that are open include the main stem Smith River from the mouth of Rowdy Creek to its mouth, main stem Eel River from the paved junction of Fulmor Road to its mouth and the main stem Mad River from the Hammond Trail Railroad Trestle to its mouth. Be sure and call the low flow closure hotline, (707) 822-3164, to determine if the river is open prior to fishing.

Chetco River
We had good fishing before the “opener” on the November 4, but since then it’s been a little tougher reports Val Early of Early Fishing Guide Service. “We do have a bit of water right now, but many of the fish are dark, so sorting through them to find a good one to keep is the plan. There are a lot of fish on spawning beds already which isn’t surprising considering what we saw for fish in late October. We expect to see some steelhead showing up soon! We are supposed to get a good shot of water again the first of next week so we’ll see if that brings any more fresh fish,” Early added.

Smith River
After last weekend’s rain, the Smith fished really well for a few days reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “The river is loaded with fish from top to bottom right now. We’re probably seeing a few more darker fish than new ones, but there are still plenty of bright fish around. We’ve got more rain forecasted for late this weekend and into the week, so I’d expect the fishing to be excellent beginning early next week.”

Upper Trinity
The entire river is fishable, and there’s definitely some steelhead around reports guide Steve Huber. “Most of the boats are working the Junction City area, but the entire river is fishable. In talking to some of the fish counters, it sounds like there’s a pretty good push of steelhead working their way through the lower river. The fish we’re catching now are averaging between 4 and 6 pounds, with the occasional bigger fish. We’re catching most of the fish in the deeper holes on plugs, but side-drifting roe is also producing some fish,” Huber added

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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