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Rain brings in fresh kings to Smith, Chetco

series of rain storms moved across the North Coast earlier this week bringing sizable rises to the Chetco and Smith rivers on Tuesday. With off and on rain in the forecast, both rivers should fish well for the next few days. Prior to the rain, fishing was tough for the masses, but the guys who are out there every day were catching their share. With the increase in flows, the rivers should see a pretty good influx of new kings, and should push the older fish into their spawning grounds. We’ll likely see a few early steelhead begin to show as well. For the Humboldt rivers, including the Mad, Eel, and Van Duzen, the rain coming this weekend will put them out of commission for a while. All three are forecasted for dramatic rises beginning on Saturday.

Weekend weather and forecast
After a break on Thursday, rain will be back in the forecast beginning late afternoon on Friday and will stick around through Monday morning according to Reginald Kennedy of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “Rainfall totals for the four days will be decent, with two to four inches falling in Del Norte and one and a half to three falling in Humboldt. The next system will roll in on Tuesday afternoon and will last through Thanksgiving Day. Del Norte and Humboldt counties can be expecting two to three inches. We’ll see another break on Friday morning, but more rain is predicted by Friday afternoon,” Kennedy added.

The weekend marine forecast is calling for winds 10 to 2 knots out of the SE on Saturday, with waves S 6 feet at 9 seconds and W 16 feet at 15 seconds. Sunday looks slightly better offshore, with winds out of the NW 5 to 10 knots and W waves 13 feet at 13 seconds. The forecast will likely change, so before you head out, check the marine forecast at and click on the marine tab. You can also call the National Weather Service at (707) 443-7062 or the office on Woodley Island at (707) 443-6484. To monitor the latest Humboldt bar conditions, visit:

Crabs plentiful for offshore anglers
Tim Klassen of Reel Steel Sport Fishing is reporting excellent crabbing out of Eureka. On an overnight soak, he’s getting between 10 to 15 keepers per pot. According to Klassen, the north side of the entrance sounds like it’s fishing a little better, but the south side is still really good with limits coming easily. “We’re not seeing the jumbos yet, but the crabs are in great shape and really full. The forecast doesn’t look good for the weekend, but we’re hoping to get out Thursday and Friday,” Klassen added.

Smith River - Rowdy Creek Hatchery update
As of Wednesday, 55 Chinook salmon have been trapped according to hatchery manager Andrew Van Scoyk. “It feels like a normal year so far. We’re not getting a ton of fish back, but we are catching regularly. The early rains brought us quite a few fish, but they were too fresh," Van Scoyk added. According to Van Scovk, 25 wild pairs are needed to meet their spawning needs.

Smith River Salmon, Photo courtesy of Fred Contaoi
Del Kelly of Arcata landed this monster Smith River salmon while fishing the lower river on Wednesday. The Smith should be in great shape on Thursday and Friday, however conditions over the weekend will be marginal due to the incoming storms. Photo courtesy of Fred Contaoi.

The Rivers:
All North Coast rivers subjected to low flow fishing closures, including the Smith, Eel, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Van Duzen are currently open to fishing. The low flow closure hotline for North Coast rivers is (707) 822-3164.

Chetco River
Before the Chetco blew out on Tuesday, salmon fishing had slowed reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. “Most guides were only getting a fish per boat, with a few guides getting a couple. There are still some bright fish on the lower end, but above Ice Box there are salmon spawning in most of the tail outs. A few steelhead have already been reported. This latest rain should bring in a few more and by December we may have decent numbers of steelhead,” Martin added.

Smith River
The Smith came up pretty good on Tuesday, making for a decent bite on Wednesday reports Mike Coopman of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service. He said, “There were some nice fish caught on Wednesday, and I’d say the average was about one per boat. The river should be on the drop the next two days, so I’d expect the fishing to be really good. With more rain coming late Friday, conditions for the weekend are looking marginal,” Coopman added.

Upper Trinity
The upper Trinity River has returned to being clear and low according to Steve Huber of Steve Huber’s Guide Service He said, “We’re seeing some steelhead move around the system, with boats averaging one to two fish per angler. Fly fishing, back trolling plugs, side-drifting roe have all been effective methods. There are a few new salmon in the system and we’re starting to see a few Coho in some of the holes. Be prepared to work and spend some time on the river,” said Huber

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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