It's been another solid week of steelhead fishing here on the North Coast. Several weak weather systems have brought light rainfall and kept river levels bouncing around. While none of these storm have packed enough punch to blow things out, we've had to deal with a couple small rises which can make for a tough bite. Once rivers have gone back on the fall the fish start to snap again.
We saw great numbers for the early part of the week on the Eel with scores running up into the double digits on the best days. The Main Stem was fishable it's entire length and the South Fork was holding just enough color to keep the fish from getting wary. A half inch of rain Tuesday night put the river on a slow rise but by Thursday it had settled back in and was fishing great. Friday every boat on the river hooked into good numbers of chrome bright steelhead fishing under a steady drizzle and by Saturday she was again on the rise and a little dingy. Despite less than ideal conditions we manage to put a few in the net by running plugs on the inside edges.
The Mad River has been putting up some great numbers for guys drifting roe and a fish pill around the hatchery and down towards the Blue Lake bridge. Like the Eel, this river has been bouncing up and down a little but the moisture has been so minimal the color has been coming back within a few hours of the flows cresting.
The Smith and Chetco Rivers missed the rainfall early in the week but despite low flows were giving up decent numbers. Scores were running up as high as 6 per boat. With the lack of pressure on both of these rivers the steelhead have been willing to cooperate when you can find them. Most of this success has been for guided fisherman on the lower river but the bankies are getting in on the action fishing up above the forks.
The long term forecast is looking great and I think we'll have some good days ahead. We're starting to see a few downers in the mix but the vast majority of the fish we're catching are in beautiful shape and full of fight. I didn't see any huge ones this week but the grade has been solid with the most of the fish running 6 to 12 pounds.
The picture is of TJ Parker from Davis. This 13 pounder was his second ever steelhead. He landed it plug fishing with me on the South Fork Eel. Before the day was over he bagged two more, one on the same lure and one on bait running his life tally up to 4