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Humboldt Steelhead Days begin Saturday

Fishing the North Coast by Kenny Priest, author badge,

he 3rd annual Humboldt Steelhead Days will take place this weekend — fishable rivers or not. Parties and demonstrations will kick-off the event this Friday near three watersheds — the Mad, Eel, and Trinity rivers. Register for the fishing and photo contests and learn more about all the events going on during the two-week period at either the Mad River Brewing Co. Tap Room in Blue Lake, the Fortuna River Lodge in Fortuna or at Coho Cabins in Willow Creek. All three kick-offs begin around 5 p.m. and each event is slightly different. For all the details, visit the Humboldt Steelhead Days website ( or the HSD Facebook page.

Demonstrations will be held in Fortuna, along with the kick-off party where the theme is “What’s happening in the Eel River?” HSD guests can walk through the River Lodge and take a virtual tour of the Eel River watershed. Speak to the people who work on restoration of fish passage, improvement of fish habitat, recovery plans, monitoring Eel River fish, and learn the latest information about catching Eel River steelhead. Catch the film “Wild Reverence, the wild steelhead's last stand,” by Shane Anderson from 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Ashley Kay with big hatchery buck from chetco River, Photo couresty of Tony Sepulveda/GreenWater Fishing Adventures

Ashley Kay from Arcata landed this big hatchery buck on a recent drift down the Chetco River while fishing with Tony Sepulveda of Green Water Fishing Adventures. Photo courtesy of Tony Sepulveda/Green Water Fishing Adventures

The HSD prize pool is nearly $4,000, with two guided river trips (Klamath and Eel) as well as an ocean trip (Trinidad) going as the top prizes. Enter your steelhead photo (please keep the wild ones wet) by sending it to the HSD Facebook page with the hashtag #humboldtsteelheaddays anytime during the contest (Jan. 23 to Feb. 6). Anglers will also have a chance to win rods, reels, fishing lures, boat heaters, a Thule car rack, Kokatat life jackets and propane. Gift certificates totaling $250 were donated by Pacific Outfitters and Mr. Fish Seafood.

Weather update
After a small break in the storms, more rain is on tap beginning Thursday according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Light rain will fall on Thursday, but a wetter system will arrive in the evening and last into Friday. Rainfall predictions range from one to two inches in both Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Another system will roll into the area on Friday night, bringing with it another one to two inches. We’ll have a brief dry period beginning Sunday and lasting through Monday. A weak system will move in on Monday night into Tuesday, dropping up to three-quarters of an inch. At this point, next Wednesday is looking dry, but more storms are forecasted for Thursday through Saturday,” Kennedy said.

Input wanted on Klamath River sport fishing regulations
At the February 11, 2016 meeting, the Fish and Game Commission will determine which options to include in its notice of proposed changes to the Klamath River Basin sport fishing regulations for 2016.

In April 2015, the Commission adopted changes to the Klamath River Basin sport fishing regulations, including seasons, bag limits, possession limit, a prohibition on catch and release fishing of legally caught salmon in the Klamath River spit area, and closures to all fishing in the Klamath River between June 15 and September 14 from 500 feet above to half mile downstream of the mouth of Blue Creek and from September 15 to December 31 within 500 feet of the mouth of Blue Creek.

The Commission is interested in receiving specific recommendations concerning the fishing closures at the mouth of Blue Creek or any other specific recommendations concerning Klamath River Basin sport fishing. You may submit your recommendation in writing to the 1416 Ninth Street, Room 1320 Sacramento, CA 95814 or to Written recommendations are requested by 5:00 p.m. on January 28, 2016, but must be received by noon on February 5, 2016. While the Commission will also accept recommendations presented in person at its February 11, 2016, meeting, early submittal of recommendations is most effective. The meeting will be held in Sacramento on February 10-11 in the Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA.

Spawning begins at the Mad River Hatchery
Following a two-week delay due to a budget issues, spawning season is now underway at the Mad River Hatchery. On Tuesday, hatchery employees and volunteers sorted through hundreds of steelhead with the goal to gather roughly 20 pairings. Each pair will include a native origin steelhead to help with the gene pool in the Mad River. Spawning season on the Mad will last through the middle of March with the goal to mate 124 pairs.

The Rivers:
Chetco River
Running at 8,800 cfs on Wednesday afternoon and dropping. It’s forecasted to dip down to 5,400 cfs early Friday. If the river is anywhere near green, the plunkers should be out in force.

Smith River
The Smith remains just about the only game in town reports guide Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “When the rivers been at a fishable height, the plunkers have been doing well. There’s seems to be quite a few fish in the river, even with all the high water we’ve had. Looking at the forecast for the next few days, we should get a couple days of side-drifting in.”

Eel and Van Duzen rivers
As of Wednesday, the main stem Eel was running at nearly 60,000 cfs and starting to drop. With more rain on the way, it’s predicted to jump up to over 90,000 cfs by Saturday. The entire South Fork is still high and muddy, and flowing at 12,000 on the Miranda gauge as of Wednesday. The incoming storms will likely push it to 20,000 cfs. After reaching flood stage last Friday, the Van Duzen has dropped back down to 5,700 cfs on Wednesday. The reprieve will be short lived, the next round of storms should put it right back 20,000 cfs, which is near monitor stage.

Mad River
After reaching 41,000 cfs on Sunday, the Mad was back down to 9,000 cfs on Wednesday and dropping. It should drop low enough for the liners to get back on the water Thursday, but we’re a long ways away from anything close to green water.

The very top of the Trinity is the only place where you’ll find green water at the moment reports Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service. “It’s really only fishable from Lewiston Bridge down to Rush Creek. Both Rush and Weaver Creek are full of mud, making fishing below tough to impossible,” 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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