Green Rivers Headed Our Way

Dick Nettell, of Sacramento, landed a nice winter steelhead Friday while drifting the Smith River.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Mike Coopman’s Guide Service

by Kenny Priest
2-4-2021
Website

After a solid week of rainy weather that turned all the coastal rivers big and brown, it looks like we’re headed toward a green water convergence. Some rain is in the forecast for Wednesday but after that we should begin to see some sunshine and dropping water levels. The Smith will be the first to clear and should be in great shape to drift by Friday. The Chetco will be right behind it and should fish by the weekend. The South Fork Eel will also come into play over the weekend, especially in the higher reaches. The main stem will probably need another week to clear, as will the Van Duzen. The Mad is predicted to be high and off color through the weekend, but should start to green up by midweek. By this time next week, all the rivers should be some shade of green and hopefully loaded with steelhead.

The weather ahead
Following an impressive week of rain, it looks like we’re moving toward a drier weather pattern. “Rain is predicted to fall overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday, but after that, it looks dry,” said Kathleen Zontos of Eureka’s National Weather Service. “The models are showing dry conditions through mid-February. There is a chance for rain on the 9th and 10th, but it’s really uncertain at this time. The Climate Center is predicting below normal rainfall through Feb. 15.”

CDFW seeks input on 2021 sport Pacific Halibut season dates
California anglers who are interested in the recreational Pacific halibut fishery are invited to participate in an online survey to help inform the CDFW about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2021 season. Results of the survey, which is open until Feb. 17, will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Pacific halibut fishery takes place off Northern California. The 2021 quota will be 39,000 net pounds, the same quota as in 2019 and 2020.The online survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/RJ6LNGH. For more information on the Pacific halibut fishery in California, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Pacific-Halibut.

CDFW Annual Salmon Information Meeting
CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information Meeting will be held Feb. 25 from 10: a.m. until 4 p.m. The meeting will provide the latest information on California salmon stocks and the outlook for ocean salmon fisheries for the upcoming 2021 season. The public is encouraged to provide comments on potential fishing alternatives for California ocean salmon fisheries in 2021. A panel comprised of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives will be assembled to address questions and collect public input that will be used in developing a range of season alternatives for California salmon fisheries at the March 2-5 and 8-11 Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings. These meetings will be hosted as webinars only and the meeting links, agendas and other materials will be posted as they become available. Contact Ian Pritchard for more information at [email protected].

Brookings ocean update
Ocean anglers out of Brookings will have their first nice ocean conditions of the year this weekend out of Brookings, reports Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters. He said, “Small swells and lighter winds are expected. Fishing may still be tough because of all the freshwater from the Chetco, Smith and Rogue Rivers hitting the saltwater. Bottom fishing is open year round in Oregon.”

The Rivers:
Smith River
The Smith has been blown out the past few days but should be plunkable by Wednesday, according to guide Mike Coopman. “It’s still going to be on the high side the next few days but we should be back to side-drifting on Friday,” said Coopman. “Prior to the latest rise, fishing hadn’t been that great. The top guides were getting a handful of hookups per trip. The fish we’ve been catching, however, are all nice ones. They’re averaging a solid 10 to 12 pounds.”

Chetco/Elk/Sixes/Rogue
The Chetco was fishing well before the latest storms, reports Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. He said, “Lots of wild and hatchery fish were showing up on the lower river and most guides were getting at least a couple steelhead a day. The river is now high and muddy again, but could fish before the weekend.”

The Lower Rogue has been a bright spot for the whole Oregon Coast and is the only system producing consistent limits or near limits, according to Martin. “Even during Sunday’s sharp rise, steelhead were being caught,” said Martin. “It will be fishable before the end of the week. The Elk reached 7 feet on Monday and is high and muddy. The Sixes is over the bank.”

Eel and Van Duzen rivers
It looks like the break in the weather will finally get these systems down to fishable levels. The top of the South Fork should be fishable by the weekend. Flows are predicted to be roughly 1,400 cubic feet per second by Saturday. The main is still dirty and big, but it’s dropping quickly. The top of the main should fish sometime next week. The Van Duzen peaked Tuesday and is on the drop. Flows are predicted to remain above 1,000 cfs, which will keep it off color.

Mad River
The Mad peaked at 6,700 cfs Tuesday morning and was on the drop. According to Justin Kelly of RMI Outdoors, it’s predicted for a small bump in flows Thursday night. “It should be on a slow descent through the weekend, but will likely remain high and off color,” said Kelly. “It should be bait-fishable by mid next week.” The hatchery saw a big return of fish over the last few days, which is good news.


Find "Fishing the North Coast" on Facebook and fishingthenorthcoast.com for up-to-date fishing reports and North Coast river information. Questions, comments and photos can be emailed to [email protected].


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