Chetco, Smith, Rogue, Umpqua, Elk, Sixes, Coos and Coquille Rivers at their Best! phone_iphone541.813.1082  /  206.388.8988

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. Mick lifts the net after his customers landed a double hookup on the Smith.
Quick photo and release after a double hookup.

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.

A double hookup on the Chetco with Capt. Andy.

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. Andy holds a nice hatchery steelhead from the Chetco in January.

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. Rye with a nice Smith River steelhead.

Capt. Sam has been fishing the Smith and Chetco rivers. He has encountered some nice-size steelhead on both rivers.

Capt. Sam with a nice Smith River steelhead.

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.

A customer gives a thumbs up after catching a steelhead that was placed in a live well to transport it downriver to a holding pen 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

Here are a few of the steelhead from the 2023 season.

Our Signature Trips

•   Chetco River   •

The Chetco is one of Oregon’s premier salmon and steelhead rivers, and our most popular fishery. It produces more kings over 50 pounds.

•   Smith River   •

The Smith River is known for its large run of giant king salmon, as well as numerous steelhead of over 20 pounds.

•   Rogue River   •

The Rogue River is one of the few rivers in the world that has salmon and steelhead fishing twelve months a year!

•   Coquille Bay   •

The Coquille and Coos Bays have most prolific early fall salmon fishing on Oregon Coast!

•   Elk and Sixes   •

For sheer numbers of king salmon, the Elk River is hard to beat. The Elk and Sixes both have late fall runs, peaking in December.

•   Brookings Ocean Charters   •

Capt. Andy Martin spent 10 years guiding in Alaska but now guides and runs charter boats year round in Brookings, Oregon.

Call Captain Andy Martin   •   541.813.1082 / 206.388.8988 Wild Rivers Fishing, P.O. Box 1646, Brookings, OR 97415