Steelhead fishing tough, but nice fish around
The 2023 steelhead run on the Chetco and Smith rivers, as well as most coastal rivers in Oregon and Northern California, is turning out to be below average, with tough fishing and challenging conditions. After weeks of high water in December and early January, the rivers are now low and clear. Fish numbers appear to be down coastwide.
The Wild Rivers Fishing team of guides has been finding some nice fish the past several weeks. With less fish around, anglers are having to make every bite count to end the day with a fish or two. Catch rates improved in early February, as most out-of-town guides left for other rivers. Aside from the Chetco and Smith, a few steelhead are being caught on the Eel, as well as the Umpqua rivers.
While the overall action has been slow, there have been some highlights. Capt. Mick has got customers into several double-hookups this year. After a few hours of no bites, he has encountered schools for fish that suddenly want to bite.
Capt. Andy also got customers into a double hookup on the Chetco. The fight was entertaining, as one fish raced upstream while the second ran downstream.
Rain expected this week should bring in some late fish. Historically, the last weekend in February yields good fishing. That was the traditional time of the Rowdy Creek Derby on the Smith and Chetco. The derby is not being held this year.
Capt. Rye has been focusing on the Smith, where he has been getting customers into some really nice steelhead. The Smith is a big draw not only for its large steelhead – it is home to the California state record – but also the spectacular scenery. There is nothing like catching steelhead next to towering redwood trees.
Capt. Sam has been fishing the Smith and Chetco rivers. He has encountered some nice-size steelhead on both rivers.
The Wild Rivers Fishing team of guides has donated several fish to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife broodstock program on the Chetco. Wild fish are used to produce eggs for the hatchery program.
Steelhead season remains open on the Chetco through March. The Smith River in Northern California is open to steelhead fishing through April. Wild Rivers Fishing guides Andy Martin, Rye Phillips, Mick Thomas, Sam Stover and Shane Brooks will run trips through the season, while also shifting gears to lingcod and rockfish out of Brookings. For more on ocean charters, visit www.brookingsfishing.com.
Here are a few of the steelhead from the 2023 season.